The drive from Oslo, Norway to Karlstad, Sweden takes about 4 hours. The landscape is lovely with rolling hills and lots of pine and birch forests. It does remind one of the American Midwest, which is why so many Scandinavian immigrants settled in Michigan and Minnesota in the early 20th century.
The Georgia Boy Choir arrived in Karlstad in the early afternoon on Tuesday. Karlstad is a stately town which lies on the delta of the river Klara and the banks of Lake Vänern. The Cathedral, which is situated on a hill overlooking the area is one of only 5 buildings which survived an 1865 fire which otherwise destroyed the entire city. While not as large as some of the other churches where the Choir has recently sung, the church possesses a wonderful acoustic for singing and has an excellent organ which is particularly known as an organ ideally suited for playing the music of J.S. Bach.
The Choir performed a large portion of their program from the organ loft in the rear of the sanctuary, mostly out of sight of much of the audience members. One gentleman in the audience proclaimed this was his favorite part as the music washed over him from above.
The lady who was with him agreed, but said she liked it even more when the boys came down from the loft and surrounded the listeners and sang to them from the perimeter of the sanctuary. Especially beautiful in this setting was the Choir’s singing of John Tavener’s, “The Lamb,” a hauntingly beautiful song which is actually a musical palindrome with the notes spelled the same way forward and backward.
After a good night’s rest in home stays, the church’s kindly Organist and Music Director, Hans Nordenborg allowed the boys to climb the 200 stairs to the top of the church tower which afforded them an excellent view of the quaint and beautiful town before they departed for the capital city of Stockholm.
Stockholm is a magnificent city sitting on 14 islands on the banks of the Baltic Sea. Its skyline is dominated by the many spires of its churches and town hall.
After a tour of the city and its main sites (and a stop in a park for some recreation), the boys were warmly greeted by families of the Stockholms Gosskör (the Stockholm Boys Choir) who will be hosting them for the next three nights.
When the boys got back together on Thursday morning they were all telling stories about the wonderful experiences they had had with “their” families. About an hour north of Stockholm lies the ancient city of Uppsala which contains a most magnificent Cathedral church, the largest church in all of Scandinavia. Its two towers rise almost 400 feet in the air and are the exact same height as the church is long. It is a gargantuan structure which can be seen from miles around. This was the site of the Georgia Boy Choir’s next concert.
The interior of the church is remarkably beautiful. There is an almost new (2009) Rufatti organ in one of the transepts in addition to the older instrument in the organ loft in the rear. There were risers set up in the crossing for the Choir to sing from. It was phenomenal how the voices became one with each other and the organ as they went through the program. The audience was mesmerized by the glory and beauty.
What a remarkable experience these young boys and men are having as they not only get to see this wonderful part of the world, but are able to experience it in such a unique and powerful way. They have met many incredibly generous and loving people and have been able to share the beauty of their singing with them.
Until next time,
The Georgia Boy Choir 2012 Scandinavian Tour Team