Swinging Christmas in Oslo


Last Sunday, Solveig Sings presented a perfect kick start to the festive period at Amsterdam Café in downtown Oslo. Vocalist Solveig Borgen, accompanied by Harald Galåen (piano) and Einar Bergem (bass), celebrated the season with Norwegian and international Christmas gems.

It’s no wonder why the almost three hours’ long Christmas show by the likeable Solveig Borgen received warm applause from the enthusiastic visitors. It was an evening with a sleigh full of swinging holiday hits, including Christmas standards as ‘The Christmas Song’, ‘Jingle Bells’ and ‘White Christmas’.

It was an evening of sublime, cool and swinging holiday mood interlaced with Solveig’s smooth-as-silk takes on the beloved songs with her acclaimed performers Harald Galåen and Einar Bergem on piano and bass, respectively.

Solveig Borgen was educated at the famous Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts, also known as the Paul McCartney School. She has lived in Amsterdam for the last eight years, before recently returning to Oslo with her husband and two kids.

First time guests Lisa Rygh and Carlos Silva enjoyed the Swinging Christmas Concert
First time guests Lisa Rygh and Carlos Silva enjoyed the Swinging Christmas Concert

Solveig Borgen was born in Northern Norway where, in her own words, she was surrounded by a fairytale landscape with steep mountains, deep green fjords and trolls hiding behind every three.

“My dream is to perform with big bands in Norway,” she says.

Sunday 20 December at Amsterdam Café turned out to be the jolliest sleigh ride in town.

From 14 Februart and the second Sunday every month Amsterdam Café invites you to join their Live Sunday Jazz Performances.

Every Saturday afternoon you may enjoy the Red Light Concerts.

Cafe manager Niels Smits (left) with owner Peter Romme
Cafe manager Niels Smits (left) with owner Peter Romme

Amsterdam Café was the perfect venue for the Christmas kick-start. Owner, Dutch Peter Romme, opened his second Amsterdam Café in November last year. Peter opened his first Amsterdam Café just 100 meters away from the new one in 1993. It was closed after 14 years, when the lease contract terminated.

Facade painting, Two Pogeons, by Stefan Thelon
Facade painting, Two Pogeons, by Stefan Thelon

Today Amsterdam Café is a chic, modern meeting place where you can enjoy drinks and finger food, such as the famous Dutch ‘Bitterballs’. They have served almost 50,000 bitterballs during the first year, and you should definitively try them out if you’re visiting the café. It’s a Dutch specialty, and the only place you can enjoy them in Norway is at Amsterdam Café.

Bitterballen are a savoury Dutch meat-based snack, typically containing a mixture of horsemeat or veal. The ones served at Amsterdam Café are made of veal.

Before entering the place, take a look at the façade panting by the Dutch artist Stefan Thelon. It’s called “Two pigeons”, and according to the artist, “pigeons are symbols for peace, freedom and love as well as house owners’ worst nightmare. They show us the contradiction of urban living.”

Swinging Christmas in Oslo, text and photos: Tor Kjolberg