Today, AUSS is a nice group of people with a median age of 60+ years, half of whom have a Swedish heritage. However, very few speak Swedish or understand the language. Most members are also lacking the Swedish singing from their early years.
This is a big difference from 100 years ago. At that time, all members understood and spoke Swedish and had a large repertoire of Swedish songs, most of which they had memorized. That, along with the need to create a new Swedish base, made it easy to bring people together in various Swedish choruses.
So the conditions have changed dramatically in 100 years. Has AUSS adjusted to the new situation? I don’t have a good answer to that question, but other than the reality of an overall dwindling membership, I have made one interesting observation. The music selection used today is almost the same as 100 years ago. The 2004 convention selection could qualify for a program from 1904 with a few exceptions, at least in regards to the male choruses. The women choruses, being much younger, generally have a more contemporary selection.
The Swedes are probably some of the most singing-minded people in the world. In a population of 9 million, over 500,000 are organized chorus singers. However, chorus members are not the only ones singing. At every wedding, birthday party or other similar celebration, sing-alongs are organized involving everybody, very often with original lyrics written for the occasion and sung to well-known tunes.
Swedes begin to sing early in life. Within homes, schools and churches, children are introduced to singing, both as individuals and in groups, everywhere. And the tradition continues. Once a week throughout the summer, Swedish Television airs an outdoor sing-along program called “Allsång från Skansen” from the amusement park Skansen in Stockholm. The show draws more than 10,000 audience members each week regardless of weather and has record viewers when televised.
Swedes bring the sing-along tradition with them when they move abroad. I have been invited to many “Swedish parties” in Connecticut that have turned into long nights of singing.
headnote by Ulf Mårtensson /ED Unfortunately, the situation of Almkvist’s group, like that of other groups within the AUSS, a member Swedish Council of America, is far from unique.
The point the writer makes is not that every organization should or has to do everything and anything in its power to survive into a new age. Times and people change; even well-established fraternal clubs such as the Rotary, Lions and Round Table are facing diminishing membership. The point the writer makes is solely that any organization with the means to change and the resources to do so should do so, not just for the sake of survival but to fulfill its honorable mission and resources.
Nordstjernan followed the Connecticut choirs during preparations for the Tjugondedag Knut Concert at Connecticut's Scandinavian Club in Fairfield... October, 2011 through January, 2012 ..the North Star Singers men's choir under the direction of Ernie Gunn and the Northern Lights Singers women's choir under the direction of Cameron Phillips.
repertory is almost entirely American light popular Christmas music
AUSS website has a page of English translations of Swedish songs Alla fåglar kommit re’n Gärdebylåten (which I didn't know had words!) Hosianna Joachim uti Babylon Vem kan segla förutan vind? at http://www.auss.org/translations.htm ... Click on the first letter of the title below. Remember that, in the Swedish alphabet, Å, Ä, and Ö come after Z.
Also worth checking -- YouTube Channel of Waukegan Swedish Glee Club at http://www.youtube.com/user/SwedishGleeClub ... lots of clips, some in Swedish.
Choral singing and socio-musical attitudes. A pilot project on choral singing under change -- research project description at Lund University -- abstract: In the first decade of the 21st century, there seems to once again be a social consensus that choral singing supports individuals’ musical and social development and that it creates a sense of community, which benefits the development of society as a whole. However, attitudes to choral singing have varied over the past century. While in Sweden people were speaking of the ‘Swedish choral miracle’, Theodor Adorno in Germany claimed that the Nazis’ use of choral singing had discredited the genre for a long time to come. ... The aim of this project is to investigate how the view of choral singing has changed over the past century. The positive views of choral singing in Sweden today are not a natural phenomenon but rather have developed through various debates since the 1930s. Content manager: Ursula Geisler. Page content last modified 17 Feb 2010