The band Music for a While, fronted by Norway’s uncrowned queen of the cabaret, Tora Augestad, are celebrating their tenth anniversary this year by releasing the album “Canticles of Winter”, an album they themselves describe as “a selection of low-key winter songs with a hint of Christmas”. It is miles away from a traditional Christmas record, although some of the loveliest Christmas songs ever written can be heard here.
Music for a While’s trademark is the group’s personal, organic and creative approach to the material, regardless of its origins. Whether the point of departure is Kurt Weill’s familiar cabaret melodies or songs and pieces from the classical repertoire, two elements consistently stand out: vocalist Tora Augestad’s vocal control and unique communication skills, and the band’s elegant, seamless and genre-crossing treatment of the material.
Norwegian radio personality Erling Wicklund said in a review that the band “tear down genre boundaries and challenge us to rediscover our European music heritage”. The record “Canticles of Winter” presents music composed by John Dowland, Henry Purcell, George Frideric Handel, Carbonelli and Bach, among others.
In addition to Augestad, Music for a While features a dream team of Norwegian jazz musicians: accordion player Stian Carstensen (Farmers Market), trumpet player Mathias Eick (Jaga Jazzist, Manu Katché), tuba player Martin Taxt (Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, Koboku Senju) and drummer and percussionist Pål Hausken (In the Country, Susanna, Ida Jenshus).
On the band’s critically acclaimed debut album, “Weill Variations”, they presented fresh, original versions of Kurt Weill’s immortal music. Their previous album, the highly praised “Graces that Refrain”, presented boldly conceived “cover versions” of classical compositions ranging from John Dowland to Poulenc.
“Canticles of Winter” is the band’s most powerful and beautiful release thus far. It was recorded at Rainbow Studio in Oslo with the legendary Jan Erik Kongshaug as technician and producer.
Tora Augestad was born in Bergen and studied at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo and the Royal College of Music in Stockholm. She holds a Master’s degree in cabaret singing. She has a wide repertoire and performs regularly as a soloist with European ensembles such as Klangforum Wien and Ensemble Modern. Since 2007 Augestad has lived in Berlin, where she has built a solid European career, including musical theatre stage collaboration with the renowned director Christoph Marthaler.