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Swedish college choir performs at Bernadotte

by Ruth Klossner
After a five-year absence, the Vettern College Choir from Jonkoping, Sweden returned to Bernadotte to present its seventh concert since 2007.
The choir had performed at Bernadotte in 2007, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. It was scheduled to perform here in April 2020, but those plans were derailed by Covid.
For three of the adults accompanying the choir, it was a homecoming of sorts, as they had made trip each time. The program director and conductor were here for the first time.
The 42-member choir presented choral music from different times and traditions at the Tuesday, April 18 concert. The concert was held early—at 6:00 p.m.— but still attracted about 135 people.
The first portion was a formal presentation, with the second informal in peasant costume.
The morning of the Bernadotte concert, the choir visited Martin Luther College in New Ulm. There choir members met members of MLC’s traveling choir, heard them sing, sang a few numbers of their own, and learned about the beautiful MLC chapel. Afterwards, the members of choirs ate in the MLC cafeteria.
By mid-afternoon, the Vettern College singers headed to Bernadotte to rehearse, then visited the Mooseum and had supper at the church. The Bernadotte Churchmen sponsored the meal. A Thrivent Action Grant funded advertising so the entire free will offering went to the choir to help defray their expenses.
Unlike other years, the students did not stay overnight with host families, since the group needed to travel halfway to Chicago that night.
Karen Arlandson coordinated the choir’s Minnesota appearances. Deb Sjostrom lined up the evening meal, with Konnie Bartels, Pam White, Trish Gieseke, Judy Ross, and Renee Rasmussen serving. Ruth Klossner handled publicity and photography.
The local concert was the last of six concerts in the U.S. during the choir’s 10-day tour. The first was at North Park University in Chicago and the second at Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. They were followed by four in Minnesota—Bethel University in Minneapolis, Bloomington Covenant Church in Bloomington, Gloria Dei Lutheran in St. Paul, and Bernadotte.
The Vettern Choir is part of the private Sodra Vatterbygdens Folkhogskola school. It is one of 150 Swedish schools for adults known as “Folkhogskola.”
That form of adult education is typical in Scandinavia. Like the majority of the schools, SVF is owned by an organization, in this case The Uniting Church in Sweden (formerly the Mission Covenant School of Sweden). The school’s music department provides one or two years of musical training, both in instrument practice and music theory. The choir plays an important role in the education and has made concert tours in Sweden, as well as abroad—the United Kingdom, the USA, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, and Israel.

For more photos, check out the April 26 issue of the Winthrop News.

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