TOP: OIGC and SKRUK in Molde Domkirke in 2015 - Molde, Norway
BOTTOM LEFT: OIGC DIrector, Terrance Kelly; BOTTOM RIGHT: SKRUK Director Per Oddvar (Prots) Hildre

The single favorite moment of the tour for me was when the combined choirs held hands and sang Kyrie in the parking lot at Napa with Terrance directing. I was holding hands with Prots and trying as hard as I could to blend with him and stay in perfect intonation as he sang the bass part. I can attest that he is a real bass with excellent technique!

Carl R. - OIGC Tenor

While I have been Facebook friends with some of the SKRUK members for almost 3 years, I didn't really know them! Unfortunately, I was sick during our tour in Molde, so I didn't get to hang out and get to know them very much then. I think I more than made up for it this time around, especially now that I work as a staff member of OIGC!

My favorite part was the first day, when SKRUK had just arrived to Church Divinity School Of The Pacific campus where they were staying. Some of them had just dropped off their luggage, and came back down to the main room for our first meal together. Before we started dinner, we shared with them our practice of praying together, ending with "we send joy, we send peace, we send love!" Then a hum began from one corner of the room, and I realized that they were singing the blessing I heard 3 years ago when we first arrived in Molde! The same corporeal feeling came over me - and when they were finished, I couldn't help but jump and say out loud, "SKRUK IS HERE!"

Isa C. - OIGC Alto

It was a joy for everyone in the OIGC community to have our Norwegian family SKRUK visit for the “Roots from the West” Bay Area tour from June 28th-July 5th, 2018. The five-concert series covering Oakland, Napa and Walnut Creek saw a seemingly unusual partnership blossom as the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir and SKRUK shared the stage, changing hearts and breaking down barriers. The two choirs reunited three years after performing together at the 2015 Molde International Jazz Festival in Molde, Norway.

Members of SKRUK Choir with OIGC Intern, Dan Ankenman

Members of SKRUK Choir with OIGC Intern, Dan Ankenman

I had the privilege of serving as a production assistant for the choirs’ three performances in Walnut Creek and Oakland, which gave me a front row seat to hear and see much of the tour. The two choirs may seem an unlikely pair given SKRUK’s entirely a cappella repertoire of hymns, masses and other traditional Christian choral music both ancient and modern, and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir’s soulful gospel music and traditional Negro spirituals. Nevertheless, the two choirs share a love of music and a love of people, making any differences between them insignificant in comparison to the higher purpose that motivates both organizations. SKRUK and OIGC are both world-class choirs, and the combination of the two together was truly transcendent.

SKRUK Soundcheck at Allen Temple Baptist Church - Oakland, CA

It was exciting for me to see how OIGC director Terrance Kelly and SKRUK director Per Oddvar Hildre (known as Prots) adapted the concerts to each audience and venue. Each performance was unique, but the general structure was that one of the choirs would perform the first set, while the other would perform the second set and both choirs would join together for a final set. The performances I saw in the Lesher Center for the Arts in Walnut Creek, Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland, and the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland each brought a different audience to the choirs. Terrance and Prots never failed to direct the choirs to provide audience members with messages of love, acceptance, unity and peace, as well as give everybody a reason to dance. The performances were truly dynamic and varied, inspiring the full gamut of emotions. I felt chills and a deep sense of reverence every time I heard OIGC perform “Lord, How Come Me Here?” or SKRUK’s version of the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. Hope always won the day, though, as I was filled with jubilation hearing the choirs come together to perform songs such as “Kyrie” and “I Love The Lord.”

It was an amazing experience for me to stand in the First Presbyterian Church of Oakland and be surrounded by the members of SKRUK spread throughout the church, singing a mixture of modern Norwegian hymns and ancient Christian songs. SKRUK’s operatic range, pure vocal blend and virtuosic attention to detail encircled me. It was equally enthralling for me to stand in Allen Temple and join OIGC in making a joyful noise. More than any of this, what stands out to me is the implicit and explicit message of the tour that people can come together in unity and love regardless of apparent differences. In stark contrast to the pervasive and persistent messages we often hear, this tour demonstrated for the whole world that love, peace, unity and civility are possible not only in spite of but because of differences. That truth is certainly something worth making a joyful noise about!

Dan A. - OIYC Alum/OIGC Summer Intern