2004 – 2005

This album combines the categories of “childrens songs” and “music & poetry”. Henrik Wergeland is probably  the major contender for the title “National Poet of Norway” He lived from 1808 to 1845, and wrote many kinds of literature – including poems for and about children. Cultural entrepreneur May Britt Haug approached Nedland Kultur with an idea to make an album of songs created out of  Wergeland’s poetic child universe. Haug and Nedland challenged many Norwegian artists to make songs from the old poems, and the response was amazing. 

Henrik Wergeland is someone all Norwegians know and appreciate. We have read his poems in school, learnt about his life and work, and most of all we hear about him every year on May 17th, Norway’s Constitution Day. Wergeland was the one who started the tradition that still lives on today, where children walk in procession with Norwegian flags and people fill the streets everywhere to celebrate. While most other nations celebrate their National Day with military parades, Norway celebrates focusing on the nation’s children – thanks to Henrik Wergeland.

But even though Henrik Wergeland is very much alive in the minds and hearts of most Norwegians, May Britt Haug felt that his many poems for children lived too anonymous lives these days. When she came to Nedland Kultur with the idea of making an album of Wergeland songs for children, it seemed obvious that this was an important thing to do. We started asking around for artists who wanted to contribute. 19 Norwegian artists took up the challenge. Old melodies were put into new contexts, new melodies came into being, and a full album of inspired interpretations of poems for children written more than 150 years ago was created. Some of the poems are known by almost every Norwegian, and some of the artists also brought less known poems into the limelight with new, beautiful melodies.

May Britt Haug

All the artists were given a number of poems from the production of Henrik Wergeland to consider, some of them household pieces of poetry in Norway, some largely forgotten and little known. Project leader May Britt Haug and producer Sigbjørn Nedland then had a dialoge and discussions with each artist, and then it was decided which poem each artist would chose to record for the album, and how he or she would present it musically. Most of the poems already had a melody, but still almost all of the artists decided to compose new melodies. Thus they brought the old poems closer to the present, and molded them into their own musical language. They wrote arrangements that reflected their individual styles of music. This resulted in a project with a wide scope musically, but still with a coherent feeling to the whole album. The CD “I børnekammeret” (“In The Children’s Room”) was released in 2005, but was perhaps given even more attention in 2008, when the 200 years anniversary of Henrik Wergeland’s birth was celebrated.

Some of the artists that participated in the album:

From top left: Hanne Krogh, Terje Formoe and Helene Bøksle.

Below: Benedicte Adrian, Kirsten Bråten Berg, Bjørn Ole Rasch, Annbjørg Lien and Lars Bremnes