Mount Angel Abbey concert features ‘Danish Songs and Dances’

Danish Songs and Dances by Ensemble Aalto

July 12 in Portland and August 3 in Mount Angel Abbey Library. Click poster to see more.

MT. ANGEL, Ore. – Ensemble Aalto from Mount Angel Abbey will perform “Danish Songs and Dances” on Sunday, August 3, at 2 p.m. in the library auditorium at Mount Angel Abbey.

Ensemble Aalto includes Brother Niels Aage Nielsen, OSB, a monk at the abbey who plays douçaine, along with Marjory Lange on viola and Christopher Wicks on piano.

The program features many of Brother Niels’ arrangements of Danish fiddle tunes, medieval ballads, and jazz and popular standards by Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, sometimes known as Bent Fabric, of “Alley Cat” fame. The concert will also feature compositions from Wicks based on tunes from the Danish National Song Treasury.

Before beginning his monastic vocation at Mount Angel Abbey, Brother Niels, known then as Aage Nielsen, was an adjunct professor of music at the College of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University. He served as the bass clarinetist with the Boise Philharmonic for 23 years, the Sun Valley Summer Symphony for 11 years, and the chamber ensemble Darkwood Consort for 19 years as it performed throughout the United States, Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands. While performing with Darkwood Consort, he honed his comedy skills in a style dubbed “stand-up chamber music.”

Brother Niels has emerged as a leading player and scholar of the douçaine, a rare early oboe discovered on King Henry VIII’s flagship, “The Mary Rose,” which sank in 1545, was discovered in 1971, and was raised from the ocean bed in 1982. The Mary Rose instrument is the only extant douçaine, and there are only approximately 60 replicas worldwide. The douçaine’s chameleon quality enables Brother Niels to perform everything from medieval melodies to traditional, jazz, popular and new music.

Marjory Lange, an oblate at the Queen of Angels Monastery in Mt. Angel, Ore., is an English professor at Western Oregon University, a visiting scholar with the Mount Angel Abbey Library, and a performing violist and violinist.

Christopher Wicks is an organist, pianist and composer based in Silverton, Ore. He holds a master of music in composition from the University of Montreal, and a master of music in organ from the University of Oregon.

The concerts are free, and all are welcome. Freewill donations will be accepted at the door.

Mount Angel Abbey Library is located at Mount Angel Abbey, on the hilltop above the town of Mt. Angel. For more information about the concert, call 503-845-3263 or email


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