Vasa Drängar’s travel to the AUSS Convention in Chicago, June 21 – 26, 2016.

After all the preparation, searching for sponsors, actually getting sponsors, making up travel plans – and not the least practicing, we finally stepped into the Westin Lombard Hotel on Tuesday, June 21 st . We found that we were listed, on the bulletin board, as Vasa Drängar, Cleveland, so our president, Sten Ekberg, on the first Individual Chorus Night, had to proclaim Cleveland as a suburb of our hometown, Atlanta, GA.

Just a few weeks earlier we celebrated our 20th anniversary with a concert in Atlanta. Since we started in 1996 we never disbanded – except for this Tuesday afternoon when we all disappeared in different directions, to Target, to liquor stores, to restaurants. But luckily we got together again in the evening to enjoy the Chicago Swedish Glee Club’s.

Wednesday was pretty intense. Not only because of all the rehearsals – including our own practice and performance (four songs representing the four seasons) in the evening and also practice and singing with the Eastern Division – the weather gods accompanied all day with heavy thunderstorms, downpour and tornados in the neighborhood. No other percussion needed!

The evenings in the Lilac Room were great fun. It was nice to hear all the different choruses singing, most of all the guest choir from Stockholm, Sweden, the “Akademiska Kören”, conducted by Håkan Sund. And later in the evenings interesting things happened. It all started with Vasa Drängar singing a snaps song. Then Akademiska Kören (called “AK”) answered with another song. We sang again. AK answered. Cloudberries joined. And now songs of all kind were bandied back and forth between the tables – “dueling choruses”! Then different groups started singing and playing together. Vasa Drängar joined the AK in well-known songs. Erik Johansson of Nordic Harmoni did a lot of accompanying on the guitar, such as for the two Astrid Drew (mother and daughter) of the Scandinavian Women’s Chorus of Rhode Island. Sten, of Vasa Drängar accompanied members of AK on his guitar. Sten and Hans performed. The Svengalis duo, Ellen and Ken, entertained with funny songs. The grand lady Alice Lyda from the Scandia Women’s Chorus of Rhode Island recited poems. Singers Rolf from AK and Jeff DeLay from the Waukegan Choruses performed accompanied on the piano by Håkan Sund. And so it went on. Every evening was filled with great spontaneous singing and entertainment.

Friday was the big day, the day of the Grand Concert. 200 singers took their place on stage in the Edman Chapel at Wheaton College; after that Sherry Dreyfuss, director in chief, finally had managed to seat everyone in the appropriate order. The concert went very well, thanks to our enthusiastic and indefatigable directors, Sherry, Vance Sele, Ken Olsson and Håkan Sund. We can’t wait to listen to the CD!

Unfortunately, there were not a lot of people in the audience, not many more there than we were on the stage. This is a friendly tip to the planners of next convention, in Portland, 2019. Please start the publicity already in January. Many magazines are only quarterly so to get this event included in their calendars you need to start early. And don’t forget local TV and radio stations. It is not at all impossible to get a local TV station to do a few live minutes on a guest choir. Also, I think it’s quite important to mention in the News Release that the day of the concert (if in the same week in Portland as in Chicago!) is the Swedish midsommarafton – Sweden’s, next to Christmas Eve, most celebrated day.

What a great opportunity for Swedes in Portland to celebrate this day with a great concert with Swedish singers! And what about including a typical Swedish midsummer song on the program? Please do!

Another thing: I would gladly offer my help of the proof-reading of not only the concert program but of all printed matters that will be sent out or posted. For this you will need a Swedish-born musician, otherwise many mistakes will occur, such in the “Voyage to Tomorrow” program in which I found 21 linguistic errors that could have been avoided. Some people may say that it does not matter. But it does!

Anyway, we in the Vasa Drängar had great fun at this convention and we are expressing our big thank-you to our sponsors, to the Chicago Swedish Glee Club and to the AUSS.

Göran Rygert
Vasa Drängar, Atlanta, GA