Northern Lights

  • Composer: Ola Gjeilo 
  • Publisher: Walton Music WW1615
  • Canadian Composition: No
  • Duration: 4:10
  • Sample Track:

Conductor Notes:

SSSSAAAA a cappella

Ola’s “Northern Lights”, well-known in its original SATB setting, was written for Elektra in 2014. The sound recording was originally available on iTunes as a single track, and as of October 2015 is also included in Elektra’s 13th CD: “Still”.

This is a robust and demanding work, harmonically challenging and requiring strength and flexibility in equal measure. Note that in the preparation for the premiere and the recording, Ola encouraged us to take the tempo as written and not to let it get bogged down.

Composer / Arranger Notes:

Most of all, this piece and its text is about beauty. About a ‘terrible’, powerful beauty, although the music is quite serene on the surface.

Looking out from an attic window one Christmas close to Oslo, over a wintry lake under the stars, I was thinking about how this ‘terrible’ beauty is so profoundly reflected in the northern lights, or aurora borealis, which, having grown up in the southern part of the country, I have only seen once or twice in my life. It is one of the most beautiful natural phenomena I’ve ever witnessed, and has such a powerful, electric quality that must have been both mesmerizing and terrifying to people in the past, when no one knew what it was and when much superstition was attached to these experiences.


This lists any discs, concerts or collections where this piece is included.





Pulchra es amica mea, suavis et decora sicut Jerusalem, terribilis ut castrorum acies ordinata. Averte oculos tuos a me quia ipsi me avolare fecerunt.


Thou art beautiful, O my love, sweet and comely as Jerusalem, terrible as an army set in array. Turn away thine eyes from me, for they have made me flee away.