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Oslo International Church Music Festival is held for 10 days each March. The festival's concerts are held in the churches of Norway's capital city, with Oslo Cathedral as the main venue. The festival program is announced on 1st of December each year. Oslo International Church Music Festival was founded in 2000 by Bente Johnsrud, who took the initiative and developed the concept for the festival. Today she is artistic and festival director.

Future festival dates:
March 2nd to 11th 2018
March 22nd to 31st 2019

What the media say about the festival

«The success is the work of artistic and festival director Bente Johnsrud and her enthusiastic staff. It's hard to imagine how much time that has been spent searching the international "market" to find the world's best musicians and directors. In addition, or not least, the festival comissions new works, and upholds the tradition. This has to continue.»
Olav Egil Aune, Vårt Land, 07.03.16  

«The large turnout in Uranienborg Church confirms that the festival is on target when it not only preserves the European cultural heritage, but also showcases the Norwegian. When Uranienborg Vocal Ensemble presents the multiple dimensions of this tradition, the bridge between the practical and artistic aspects of the hymnal form becomes an exciting musical place to be».
Ida Habbestad, Aftenposten, 12.03.16   

«It is hard to imagine the history of classical music without the church. The other way, it is hard to imagine a church without music. Oslo International Church Music Festival has through the last 15 years showed us what church music can be, beside adding new elements to the repertoire by presenting comissioned works, and initiating cooperation projects between musicians and between genres.» 
Magnus Andersson, Klassekampen, 09.03.2015  

«When German RIAS Kammerchor conducted by Hans-Christoph Rademann sang at Oslo International Church Music Festival’s closing concert last Sunday I caught myself thinking about what a choir in a church actually can be at its best. A powerful sound – balanced but also with a peculiar, almost personal, yes, human character – filled Oslo Cathedral. The nuances were there in the faint sounds, the fullness and the riches lit up in the intense parts. And then the direct communication.»

Emil Bernhardt, Ballade, 04.04.2014

«A festival’s opening concert is like a child’s thought about the weather on their birthday – good weather leads to a good year. If Friday’s concert says something about what’s possible at Oslo International Church Music Festival we are in for some very interesting days. The night as a whole contained so many bull’s-eyes that the concert was more than special, promising for the rest of the festival.»
Magnus Anderssson, Klassekampen 24.03.2014

«One is sometimes overwhelmed at how wonderfully beautiful early music can sound to us today. Such a moment was given to us at Oslo International Church Music Festival yesterday, in fact a golden moment. It takes good musicians and singers to master this as effortlessly as last night. He wouldn’t have been ashamed, Rosenmüller, if he’d had the opportunity to hear his own music played at this level.»
Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet, 27.03.2014

«Nederlands Kamerkoor was at the centre of attention together with a first class orchestra, Le Concert Lorrain. An unusually skilled group of soloists topped the team with names such as Andreas Scholl, Ruth Ziesak, Yorck-Felix Speer and last but not least James Gilchrist as the evangelist in a class by himself. However, the performance was more than just the sum of single achievements. Christoph Prégardien tied it all together from the conductor's podium with a deep understanding of Bach's masterpiece. It was exquisite, nothing less, and a grand finale of this year's Church Music Festival.»
Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet, 19.03.12, St. John's Passion - Festival's Closing Concert

«This year's focus is the Passion. Bach's great works form the framework, and many new works complete the program. The presentation has a solid core and a broad artistic span. This kind of programmatic statement is, in my opinion, one of the finest a festival can create.»
Ida Habbestad, Aftenposten, 13.03.12

«Oslo International Church Music Festival's program has been solid and impressive for many years, and reminds us that there are few publicly funded cultural events that give so large a return as the festivals.»
Ingrid Røynesdal, Aftenposten, 28.03.11

«That such a broad festival deliberately exposes contemporary music as an important part of its programme is remarkable and will hopefully contribute to opening new ears and doors to the newest music.»
Ingrid Røynesdal, Aftenposten, 28.03.11

«From our cultural ancestry we do not find one source but an intertwined network… We were reminded of this yesterday evening during Música Antigua’s concert in Gamle Aker church, brought to us by Oslo International Church Music Festival… The musician’s performance was outstanding… it was a meeting with a foreign mother tongue enriched by the fact that this is a central yet different part of European tradition. It is good to be reminded of this in such a delightful way.»
Ståle Wikshåland, Dagbladet, 29.03.11  

«When the soul feels dead and the world is like a jungle, when words are many, the heart hard and the brain empty after a long and dirty winter, Oslo International Church Music Festival arrives as sure as the swallows.»
Olav Egil Aune, Vårt Land, 10.03.08

2017 marks the seventeenth Oslo International Church Music Festival. We are an inclusive forum for church musicians, choirs, orchestras and ensembles, and for people regardless of their affiliation or belief. The festival is a central institution in the development of church music in Norway, and makes a major contribution to Oslo's recognition as an international music capital in Europe. «The festival is Norway's largest exhibition of early music and associated international specialist performers» (Astrid Kvalbein, Aftenposten), while we garner considerable international attention in our efforts to make contemporary music more visible and accessible through development efforts and educational initiatives. Oslo International Church Music Festival proves that contemporary music is very much alive in Norway. It is not only accepted, but listened to, and not only by experts. The festival presents classics such as Charpentier's "Te Deum" and Händel's "Messiah," but what makes this festival so interesting are the works of contemporary composers. 
The church music festival consistently works to develop projects that move the church music genre forward. We focus on the diversity of church music as a historical genre and we both preserve the tradition and develop it further. The festival's roots in Oslo, combined with the depth of our international performers, make us the leading presenter of church music in Norway and ensures a high level of professional excellence. The person responsible for taking the initiative for the festival and developing the concept is artistic and festival director Bente Johnsrud . The festival is organized as a private foundation with Oslo's bishop as the chairman of the board. The foundation's board also includes representatives from Norway's church, music, cultural and business communities. In addition, the festival has an artistic council consisting of prominent members of the Norwegian music scene.

• to present the diversity of church music - from medieval to modern times - at a high quality level and to the widest possible audience
• to stimulate innovation, renewal and recruitment in the field of church music
• to use and explore the church as a venue for the presentation of music and art
• to build bridges by facilitating collaborations across institutions, art forms and cultural and religious boundaries
• to be an inspiring meeting place for the national and international church music community
• to present projects where the cultural heritage of the church is passed on to children and young people
• to commission and premiere new works of church music


The King's Consort, Det Norske Solistkor, Latvia Radiokor, Trio Mediæval, Gabrieli Consort, Nederland Kamerkoor, Monteverdi Choir, Svenska Radiokören, Theatre of Voices, Oslo Kammerkor, RIAS Kammerchor, Collegium Vocale Gent, Ensemble 96, Oslo Domkor, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, Gesualdo Consort Amsterdam, København Drengekor, Nidarosdomens Guttekor, The Tallis Scholars, Collegium Vocale zu Franziskanern Luzern, Svenska Kammarkören, London Handel Orchestra, Sølvguttene, Ars Nova Copenhagen, Dresdner Kammerchor

Orchestras and ensembles: 
English Baroque Soloists, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, Accademia Bizzantina, Le Concert Lorrain, Concerto Copenhagen, Concerto Köln, London Baroque, Kringkastningsorkesteret, Ensemble Pygmalion, Musica Antigua, L’Armonia Sonora, Oslo-Filharmonien, Leipzig String Quartett, Trondheim Solistene og Det Norske Blåseensemble

Robert King, Marcus Creed, Laurence Cummings, Lorenzo Ghielmi, Grete Pedersen, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Eric Ericson, Marcus Creed, Raphaël Pichon, Peter Szilvay, Simon Phipps, Paul Hillier, Simon Gaudenz, Harry van der KampDaniel Reuss, Paul McCreesh, Peter Neumann, Ottavio Dantone, Reinbert de Leeuw, Hans Christoph Rademann og Christoph Prégardien

Sonia Prina, Carlos Mena, Olivier Latry, Maria Keohane, Terje Rydal, Dame Gillian Weir, Laurence Cummings, Marianne Beate Kielland, James Bowman, Emma Kirkby, Håkon Austbø, Andreas Scholl, Robin Blaze, Hana Blazikova, James Gilchrist, Peter Kooij, Leo van Doeselaar, Bugge Wesseltoft, Sinikka Langeland, Henning Kraggerud, Arianna Savall, James Gilchrist, Arve Henriksen, Anders Jormin


15 000 visitors annually
1 000 performers annually
30 productions annually
35 partners
There have been 16 festivals completed


Oslo International Church Music Festival is a private, non-profit foundation with Oslo's bishop as the chairman of the board. The foundation's board also includes representatives from Norway's church, music, cultural and business communities. In addition, the festival has an artistic council consisting of prominent members of the Norwegian music community.

Artistic and festival director: Bente Johnsrud


Administration and marketing coordinator: Fredrik Akselberg
Administration and text coordinator: Petter S. Stordahl
Text producer: Sigurd J. Bræin
Logistics & economy coordinator: Johanne Lundebrekke Myskja

Technical staff during festival period:

Sander Bergh (Technical manager) and Klaus Axel Johnsrud Odden

Producers during festival period:

Maren Serine Andersen, Per Mejlænder Brynning, Dagfinn Hovland, Katinka Høeg, Martin Kvam, Thomas Møller, Klaus Axel J. Odden, Hege Knarvik Sande and Carl Einar Traaen 

Volunteers during festival period:

Silvia Alfreider, Kristin Bolgård, Ingeborg Marie Brekke, Ivar Bruun, Ellen Margrethe Haugsten, Svetlana Jensen, Heidi Marie Lindekleiv, Mari Lorange, Violina Medonyte, Åsa Ruud, Bjørn Storsanden, Inger Sjønnesen, Berit Elisabeth Tangvik, Åge Ullevold, Ulla Uberg and Silje Willumsen

English translation: Glen Farley

Would you like to volunteer at the Church Music Festival?

Please contact us at info(at)

Board of directors:
Bishop Ole Christian Kvarme (Chair), dean emeritus Olav Dag Hauge (Vice-chair), investor Ola Mæle, cathedral organist Kåre Nordstoga, lawyer and HR manager Sikke Næsheim, Martha Bronder M.A. and director Torger Ødegaard.

Artistic council: cathedral cantor Kåre Nordstoga, oboist Johan Nicolai Mohn and cathedral cantor Vivianne Sydnes.

Artistic and festival director: Bente Johnsrud



Program 2017
torsdag 16. mars
Åpen prøve for studenter og andre interesserte

fredag 17. mars
Mesterklasse med Hans Fagius

Åpningskonsert: J.S.Bach Johannespasjonen

lørdag 18. mars
Orgelkonsert med Marcus André Berg


Familieforestilling: Telemann for barn

Urfremføring: Prison Poems

Senkveld med Hans Fagius

søndag 19. mars
Festivalhøymesse i Oslo domkirke

Festivalhøymesse i Svenska Margaretakyrkan

Festivalhøymesse i Akershus Slottskirke

Festivalhøymesse i Østre Aker kirke

Bach er utenkelig uten Luther


The Romantic Legacy of Renaissance Polyphony


mandag 20. mars
Urfremføring: Tidekverv

tirsdag 21. mars
Åpen prøve for studenter og andre interesserte

J.S. Bachs Luther-kantater

onsdag 22. mars
Passions and Lamentations

torsdag 23. mars
Mesterklasse med Daniel Reuss

Åpen prøve for studenter og andre interesserte

Urfremføring: Luther-suite

fredag 24. mars
G.P. Telemann: Die Donner-Ode

The Half-Finished Heaven

lørdag 25. mars
Matinékonsert med Inger-Lise Ulsrud

Dead Pope on Trial

Senkveld med Kåre Nordstoga

søndag 26. mars
Festivalhøymesse i Oslo domkirke

Festivalhøymesse i Grønland kirke

Festivalhøymesse i Frogner kirke

Festivalhøymesse I Uranienborg kirke

Festivalhøymesse i Nordberg kirke

G.P. Telemann: Harmonischer Gottes-Dienst

Avslutningskonsert: W.A. Mozart: Requiem