Nordic Nativity

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VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers
Sara Pajunen, fiddle
Philip Brunelle, conductor

Released in October 2015, Nordic Nativity is a wonderful exploration of beautiful music from Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark—some of it familiar and some of it new. The Nordic composers have a marvelous way of spinning a melody that gets inside you and stays there!
Of course, the Christmas season is a perfect time for this and including some new music helps us realize that the Christmas season is about our thoughts of the past and our celebration of the present. Tying it all together is the fiddle—an instrument beloved in all these countries and one that adds just the right touch to a Nordic Nativity.

Read the texts of the music online here.

1 Jul, Jul, Strålanda Jul (Gustav Nordqvist)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers

2 Vanhahaa Maassi (Fiddle March)

Sara Pajunen, fiddle

3 Suomalainen rukouskirja (Einojuhani Rautavaara)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers

4 The Song of a Shepherd (Rachel DeVore Fogarty)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers; Sara Pajunen, fiddle
*2014 Welcome Christmas Carol Contest Winner

5 Det är en Ros Utsprungen (Michael Praetorius, arr. Jan Sandström)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers

6 Dejlig er den Himmel Blå (arr. Philip Brunelle)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers; Clara Osowski, soloist; Sara Pajunen, fiddle

7 Guds Son är född (arr. Otto Olsson)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers; Ryan French, Brock Metzger and Mari Scott, soloists

8 Det Finnes en Dyrebar Rose (Egil Hovland)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers; Anders Eckman and Clara Osowski, soloists

9 Gammel Reinlender (Fiddle Schottische)

Sara Pajunen, fiddle

10 The Holly and the Ivy (arr. Ola Gjeilo)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers

11 Corpus Christe Carol (Agneta Sköld)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers

12 Cradle Hymn (Kim André Arnesen)

Women of the VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers; Julia Persitz, Alastair Brown, violin; Emily Hagen, viola; Sally Dorer, cello; Christopher Brown, Bass

13 From Heaven High (Martin Luther, arr. Gunnar Idenstam)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers; Sara Pajunen, fiddle

14 Julvisa (Sven-David Sandström)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers; Anders Eckman, soloist

15 Miles and Miles (Justin Merritt)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers; Anna George Meek soloist; Sara Pajunen, fiddle
*2014 Welcome Christmas Carol Contest Winner

16 El Hambo (Jaakko Mäntyjärvi)

VocalEssence Ensemble Singers

17 Eklunda Polska #3 (Traditional Swedish)

Sara Pajunen, fiddle

18 Ringen i Klockor (arr. Gunnar Idenstam)

VocalEssence Chorus & Ensemble Singers; Sara Pajunen, fiddle



VocalEssence, called “one of the irreplaceable music ensembles of our time” by Dana Gioia, past chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts—and the choral ensemble that Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones says “sings magnificently”—is a leading arts organization that impacts thousands of students, singers, and composers each year through its innovative programs, contests, and support for original art. Often featured on “A Prairie Home Companion,” VocalEssence is in demand whenever choral music is required—performing with everyone from Eric Whitacre and Rufus Wainwright to James Earl Jones and the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Founded in 1969, VocalEssence has debuted more than 240 commissions and world premieres. For more information, visit

Trained as a classical violinist, Sara Pajunen performs, records, and composes using ideas from various genres. Recent work explores the strong pull toward her Finnish ancestry. The results include four recorded albums with Finnish musicians and a conceptual project entitled Laatikko/Box, which invites connection between literal immigration and personal change. Whether playing jazz, Nordic folk, electroacoustic, or tango, Sara aims to create an open space for the power of sound to speak to the collective self.

This recording is made possible in part by:

Sons of Norway

Hognander Family Foundation of The Minneapolis Foundation

Swedish Council of America