Scandinavia Postcard from Tour

These ‘postcards’ are from some of our singers, reporting from their 2015 tour to Sweden, Finland, and Estonia by our three correspondents Evie Hidysmith (age 15), Leah Ofman (age 17), and Juliana Iluminata Wilczynski (age 18). postcard2

Dear SFGC Family,

Hej från Sverige! (Hello from Sweden!)

We have finally arrived in Scandinavia, and we couldn’t be more excited, or more impressed by the transportation, the nature, the architecture, and the people! The flight from San Francisco to Amsterdam was relatively short, and we proceeded to rehearse and give an impromptu performance in Amsterdam Schiphol Airport, where many fellow travelers and passersby stopped to listen to us sing in the early morning. From Amsterdam, we took a flight to Copenhagen, where we boarded a commuter train to Lund, Sweden, with an incredible view of the Baltic Sea.

Upon our arrival in Lund, we were greeted at the central train station by our host chorus and host families, Korallerna. Korallerna is a world-renowned singing ensemble of women ranging in age from eighteen to thirty years old. Our home-stay hosts took us home, which was in some cases a university dormitory, or in my case, a lovely cottage in the countryside, where we used lanterns in our bedrooms for light. During our first night and morning in Lund, we were able to experience the sun setting around 11:30 pm at night, and the sun rising around 3:45 am in the morning. Eye masks are definitely a necessity in the summer here!

The next day during our rehearsal with Korallerna, we exchanged warm-up techniques. We rehearsed the two pieces that we were singing together with Korallerna at the performance. The first, ‘I Lie’, by American composer David Lang, is sung in Yiddish. The second, Sommårpsalm, is a very important song in Swedish culture, as it is sung as a tradition at the end of every school year by all Swedish students. Each year, the song brings back past memories of the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer. Also, Korallerna taught us the proper pronunciation for the Swedish lyrics. Hopefully, we sounded convincing!

Later in the evening, the performance with Korallerna was held in Lund Cathedral, which is 900 years old! Lund is a historical and cultural capital of Sweden, and was home for many years to both Swedish and Danish nobility, as Lund was a part of Denmark until the Swedes conquered the present region of Skåne in the early 18th century. The Cathedral held the most important social and religious events of Lund for hundreds of years, so it was an honor to perform in such a revered and historical space. The performance was attended by a full audience, and the auspicious locale and spacious acoustics made this performance a very special one for all of us, as well as a fantastic kick-start to our tour!

Korallerna sang a beautiful and varied repertoire of choral music, including one piece titled Inferno, composed by Korallerna’s conductor, Linda Alexandersson. Inferno is a unique piece because it utilizes unusual vocal techniques, such as forest sounds and chanting. Korallerna has an incredible group dynamic, and it was a privilege to hear all of the choral music on their program.

Today, after a very fast trip to Helsinki, we arrived in Tallinn, Estonia, all of which you will read more about soon. We cannot wait to experience and share what the next few days have in store for us!

Juliana Iluminata Wilczynski