I had a wonderful time at the Sissel concert, and was completely satisfied personally, but it must have been a tough experience for her and her entourage. I also thought some improvements could have been made in view of the venue.
From what I hear, she and her crew only arrived at the hall an hour or two before the show was scheduled. Passport problems had delayed them. The festival canceled the usual noontime color ceremonies in order to allow them to set up and do sound tests.
Høstfest had decided to book Sissel for two concerts this year (I went to the early one at 1:00 p.m.). I applaud the sentiment of giving her two shows, but it was probably a mistake. Sissel deserves two concerts and more, but she’s just not a big name in America, and it’s the big names that the Høstfest attendees come to see. The first night was Ann-Margret and Tony Orlando. Also scheduled were Charlie Pride, Ronnie Milsap and Bill Cosby, among others. None of these are as talented as Sissel, in my opinion (except perhaps for Cosby, in his own way), but they are famous to the ordinary Midwesterners who come to the festival. Sissel they don’t know. As it turned out, the festival wasn’t able to move all the tickets, and ended up giving a lot of them away to servicepeople at the nearby Air Force base.
Whoever planned Sissel’s concert could have tailored it better to the crowd. The program began with three extremely sophisticated pieces in the classical vein (including a vocal arrangement of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures At an Exhibition”). This would have been great in Chicago, or in Minneapolis. But in Minot, they would have done better to start with something like “Marry Me.” If they’d done that at the start, the crowd would have been eating out of her hand, and she could have done anything she liked afterward.
As it was, a few people walked out at the beginning (Philistines!).
Which was too bad, because the music got more popular as she went on. I can’t recall all the numbers, but I remember that she did her lullaby, “Sarah’s Song,” which I consider pretty saccharine, but which the crowd liked. She also sang “Bruremarsj” (Wedding March), which always goes over well in any language, since it has no actual words. She got a standing ovation in the end, and came back with “Koppången” (oddly enough in an English translation) and “Going Home,” which I’d never heard her do before. Lovely.
She was accompanied by a six-person ensemble of Norwegian musicians, all top-notch and worthy of their material.
Great concert, and I clapped my hands raw. But it was a rocky production.