Royal visit helps cement links between Orkney and Norway

Flower girl Josie Gibbon, nine, presents a posy to Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway, accompanied by the Crown Prince Haakon. The Norwegian royals were visiting the St Magnus festival
Flower girl Josie Gibbon, nine, presents a posy to Crown Princess Mette Marit of Norway, accompanied by the Crown Prince Haakon. The Norwegian royals were visiting the St Magnus festival
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The centuries-old links between Norway and Orkney have been strengthened following a visit by Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit to the 2017 St Magnus International Festival.

The visit by the Norwegian royals came as the event marks the 900th anniversary of the death of St Magnus.

Their Royal Highnesses attended the world premiere of I, Pilgrim at St Magnus Cathedral in Kirkwall last night which was performed by the Trondheim Soloists and the BBC Singers. They were joined by soloists Ann-Helen Moen and Simon Bailey.

Composed by festival director Alasdair Nicolson to a libretto by Norwegian writer Jon Fosse, the opening night work is part of the Magnus 900 celebrations.

Crown Prince Hakon said that the events to commemorate the death of Earl Magnus Erlendsson 900 years ago lay at the heart of the history shared by Orkney and Norway.

“I hope that the already strong cultural ties between us will be further strengthened through the festival,” he said.

“We are proud that so many Norwegian artists and musicians are represented this year. The performance of I, Pilgrim has united the forces of the two countries together in the best possible way. Reflecting on homelessness and migration, I am confident that this work will shed new light on this subject of deep concern for our world today.”

Mr Nicolson said that the connections between Norway and Orkney were a special feature of the festival and that the presence of Prince Haakon and Princess Mette-Marit had added drama to the occasion.

Until 1427 Orkney was ruled by Norway and St Magnus Cathedral was part of the parish of Trondheim. I, Pilgrim will also be performed at St Olaf’s Cathedral in Trondheim as part of a pilgrimage festival.