Vättern College Choir gives Augie a symphony of Swedish culture


Giang Do

The SVF-Vättern College Choir performs together inside Wallenberg Hall on April 13, 2023.

Celeaciya Olvera

As an institution, Augustsana prides itself on giving students and organizations platforms to express their backgrounds and spread information to the Augustana Community. On April 13, the Scandinavian studies department expanded their academic partnership with the SVF-Vättern College Choir, giving them a platform to sing.  

SVF-Vättern College is stationed in Jönköping, Sweden. The choir is on their 2023 spring tour of Illinois and Minnesota. The Scandinavian studies program, Campus Ministries and the music department sponsored this event so all of campus and the public were able to enjoy the beautiful and artistic performance free of charge.

Sitting in the audience, the sound of peace and joy is heard from the choir while they sing the variation of songs from the program. Watching the students sing both folk and modern songs encapsulated the talent that not only the singers demonstrated with their voice but with their non-verbal movement. The choir members all seemed to sway and smile which made for a positive energy for the crowd, and even the instrumentalists and conductors seemed to feel the positivity in the room.

The choir was not the only contributor to the harmony in the room but the program director Sören Ylenfors introduced Gittan Glans on piano, Andreas Glans on bass and Johan Henningson on saxophone and flute to accompany the choir.

Saxophone/ Flute player Johan Henningson plays the flute inside Wallenberg Hall. (Giang Do)

SVF did a great job at offering a glimpse into the Swedish heritage. From this performance, it seems to be a very musically inclined culture, especially during the holidays where a lot of the small communities get together in elation.

Maja Johnson, a senior at Augustana College, had the chance to experience Swedish culture first hand while she studied abroad during the 2021-2022 academic year. While she was abroad she joined a local orchestra where she played the flute and took in just how rejoiceful the community.  

“At the high school (Sweden’s college) I attended in Sweden, the school’s choir performs Christmas songs and Lucia songs, which is another holiday that’s celebrated in December,” Johnson said “… A lot of the student nations have student-led choirs that are oriented towards it [the culture].”

The notion of education is different around the world, and the Swedish education system has a different makeup of the education system as opposed to the U.S. In Sweden, after gymnasium, the institution to get students ready for higher education, they go to their “high school” for two years and study intensely on their subject of choice, instead of a four year program learning multiple perspectives on top of an area of study.  

“The concept of high school in Sweden is very different than the concept of high school in the United States,” visiting instructor of the Scandinavian Studies program Dr. Lucas Henry said. “All of these students were studying music at the folk school and therefore were getting a really intense musical training and performance training.”  

Sophomore Emma Watts, minoring in Scandinavian Studies, said she was excited to attend the concert to experience more Swedish traditions and also host some of the choir members after the concert.  

“I am very interested to hear a choir from SVF from Sweden and see the differences and similarities and chat with the members after the fact,” Watts said. “They are all so nice.”

The musicians at the concert showcased both their talent and their culture. One of the most exciting parts of the concert was halfway through the performance when the students changed into 19th century clothing to help capture a better portrait and understanding of the musical folk songs they sang.

Augustana inviting the SVF-Vättern choir was a great chance for students and faculty to hear beautiful music and pay homage to Augustana’s history. As Augustana continues to collaborate with Swedish schools, Augustana is ensuring that its Swedish culture is never lost. The Scandinavian studies program at Augustana sponsored the beautiful sounding SVF-Vättern choir and paid homage to Augustana’s history.