Slaying Dragons, Kindred Spirits

Dear Friends,

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After spending most of the day on Friday at Skansen, an enormous outdoor museum in Stockholm which is much like a preserved Swedish farmstead, the 27 members of the Georgia Boy Choir made their way to the Old Town (Gamla Stan) of the city, where looms the Stockholm Cathedral (Storkyrkan). This huge brick gothic church, situated next to Sweden’s Royal Palace, actually contains a life-sized, carved-wood statue of St. George astride his horse, slaying a dragon. This was the site of the evening’s concert which was to be shared with the famous Stockholms Gosskör (Stockholm Boys Choir) and the Storkyrkans Gosskör (the Cathedral Boys Choir).

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The concert opened with the three Choirs singing together the old American Folk Hymn, “Down In the River to Pray.”

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Then the Choirs rotated, each singing two sets of about 15 minutes.

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It was truly delightful to hear the unique sounds and characteristics of each individual Choir. The concert concluded with the three groups together on the dais again to join in singing the Swedish Folk Song, “Si Goafton!” It was wonderful not only to hear, but to see these 90 or so boys whose worlds would otherwise likely never have had occasion to cross, standing side by side, joining their voices with tremendous joy; to realize that they were all kindred spirits despite geographic, ethnic and language differences. In this endeavor, they were one, and it was beautiful.

Saturday the Georgians ventured to the amazing Vasa Ship Museum. In 1628 this mighty warship, Vasa set sail on its maiden voyage. Having gone less than one mile, it sank, apparently from being top heavy with insufficient ballast to keep it from toppling over. Almost all of those on board perished in the tragedy. Apparently, though, the brackish water of Sweden’s bay virtually preserved the ship itself for more than 300 years. In 1961 it was pulled from the icy waters and now sits in a fascinating museum in downtown Stockholm. To the boys it was almost like seeing the The Black Pearl from The Pirates of the Caribbean.

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That evening they boarded a much more modern ship – a Viking Lines cruise ship – a floating 11-story hotel which would carry them through the Swedish archipelago to the port city of Turku, Finland where they docked on Sunday morning.

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The Cathedral of Turku is an immense structure built in the 12th century. Here is where the Georgia Boy Choir was to give their next concert. The huge organ in the gallery is one of the finest in all of Scandinavia, and the acoustics in the sanctuary are some of the very best the Choir has encountered anywhere. These elements combined for an outstanding concert. The boys and young men were at their finest. The audience was spellbound. Particularly moving was the Choir’s performance of Johannes Brahms’ Geistliches Lied with its soaring “Amen” which builds and builds to an achingly beautiful release.

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Following the concert, the boys met their host families and new friends from the Turku Cathedral Youth Choir. As has been the case throughout the tour, the hosts were most gracious and commented on the congeniality and good behavior of the boys in their care. The Georgia Boy Choir is most grateful for the kindness of all of their hosts.

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As the tour continues, the boys are bonding together as a finer musical ensemble, and more importantly as friends for life.

Until next time.

The 2012 Scandinavian Tour Team