One final day in Sweden

Anders and I stayed up late working last night on a fun potential project and we had to get up early 🙁  However, the positive side is that I was invited back to the Royal Academy of Music to sit in on the school’s conducting class.

Prof. Malmberg is standing. The hired choir is sitting with in the semi-circle, and the 8 student conductors are on the far side of the picture.

So, it was back to the coolest choir room ever.  The singers were mostly, if not all, professionals.  I recognized some of them from the Swedish Radio Choir.  Anyone who has done a graduate degree in conducting can tell you that this is an enormous luxury, to have such a high level of singers with which to work.  The ensemble I heard yesterday is preparing a concert with a theme, “From Bach to Bäck and Back.”  You know J.S. Bach, but you may not know Sven-Erik Bäck (prounounced ‘Beck’).  He was a composer based in Stockholm during the second half of the 20th century.  He and others, including Eric Ericson, were part of the “Monday Group,” a group of composers, musicologists, and conductors who met each Monday, beginning in 1944, in Stockholm to discuss aesthetics.  You can read more about it HERE.

All conductors were able to lead from the piano. All were able to communicate in both Swedish and English.

Professor Malmberg

I was interested in the music stands and wondered why they were built so the base tilted away from the conductor.  I asked Anders and he said, “because.”  No help!

I have a feeling the young man second from the left must be up next.  The young man third from the left, with curly hair, was an exchange student from Germany. When he conducted he spoke english.  This was his very first day in the school.  And he was given a song by Bäck to prepare.  Yikes!

Prof. Malmberg helps at the piano.

A young conductor prepares for her turn.

It was truly an honor to be allowed to sit in at the school.  I learned that young conductors seem to have the same problems no matter where they are from.  Perhaps the most impressive thing I observed was the atmosphere in which they worked.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, was very welcoming to me and treated each other kindly.  Anyone who has gone to grad school in music can attest that it can sometimes be an ego fest and is not always a bed of roses.  I’m sure they have their problems here, but I didn’t see them.  And, I spent a good deal of time with many different people.  They work together for the common good. And they NEVER miss fika.  At 10:30 (sharp) everyone stopped the rehearsal and walked together to the cafe in another building.  Then, they came back and got to work again.

When I was preparing for this trip I had at least three people tell me to “make sure to meet Gary Graden.”  Gary is an American who has been living and working in Sweden as a singer and conductor since the early 1980s.  He’s kind of the “American connection” for many that travel here in the choral music world.  He had been extremely successful and, as I found out today, is also very welcoming and willing to help.

I told Anders about wanting to meet Gary so he contacted him. Unfortunately, we could not attend his rehearsal last night, but we wanted to catch him sometime today at his work.  He contacted Anders to say he was working from home and that we were invited to lunch!  Who does that? Swedes do that, even transplanted Swedes.  We arrived at his house and he was preparing a feast.  I have been so lucky on this trip to meet people like Gary and others who are so hospitable.  We ate and talked for quite a while and discussed the possibility of sharing a concert when the Bethany Choir is in Sweden.

Myself, Gary Graden, Anders

After lunch we had very serious business to attend to.  Anders and I have been talking about playing badminton for a long time now.  I thought since I was formerly a tennis player then I could probably be a good badminton player.  Turns out that doesn’t really translate so well and he kicked my butt.  However, we also played tennis and I did manage to win at that sport.

Two champions. One in badminton and one in tennis.

We played at the racquet club near his home in Tyresö. It was a nice club run by the city.  Adults pay fees but youth activities here are mostly subsidized by the city, just like at the music school at which Anders is an administrator.

After tennis we picked up some supplies for supper and I picked up some gifts.  I only packed a carry-on backpack so I don’t have a lot of room for gifts for Jeanne and the boys.  But I do have room for chocolate!

There’s always room for Swedish chocolate

Now we are back at their house preparing for supper.  Jessica and Saga are working in the kitchen.  So is Anders but he wasn’t in the room for the picture below.  But, I need to get my computer off the table for supper so I will say good-bye.

Jessica and Saga

EDIT:  Luckily, I caught Anders’ son, Erik, after supper and snapped a pic of him as he was playing a recording for me of the band he is in.  He plays bass and the band is quite good!  Their name is “Mind Us.” They are cutting a demo right now and hope to make it to the U.S. to tour.  If you are interested in hearing some of their music (and you should be interested in hearing some of their music) send an email to Erik at:

Erik Jalkéus

The next time you hear from me on this blog it will be my final post about why travel is important, not only for young people, but for all people.  My flight leaves Stockholm early Friday morning (12:30 am Lindsborg time) and I connect in Paris and Chicago before arriving in Wichita late on Friday night.  I hope you will “tune in” for the final installment of the blog sometime next week.



2 thoughts on “One final day in Sweden”

  1. I’m jealous. I love Sweden. Travel, especially international travel, is so educational and personally rewarding. It certainly changed my outlook as a young college student and had a direct impact on my adult life. You will need to do a presentation after your return. Safe travels home!

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