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Ahhh, Cappella! Swedes To Visit

Focus on: MUSIC

October 23, 1987|KENNETH HERMAN

After performances by a Belgian symphony orchestra, a Russian chamber ensemble, and a Canadian circus, October's blitz of visiting foreign groups shows no sign of abating. Sunday evening at San Diego State University, local audiences can hear the 48-voice Swedish Master Chorale from Sundsvall, Sweden.

SDSU music Prof. Jack Logan invited the chorus to perform as part of the university's weekly concert series that offers music from different cultures.

"The growing sense of a world community today is taking place on the cultural level," Logan explained. "As part of the oft-touted information explosion, we now have a worldwide access to information. For example, anybody can walk into a record store and buy a recording of Indian or South American music."

Logan began his fall series with a klezmer orchestra playing Eastern European folk music. Besides the Swedish Master Chorale, the Sunday evening series will include Canoneo, a Latin American fusion ensemble; the Chinese Music Society of North America, a group that plays classical Chinese music, and TOS, an avant-garde music ensemble from New Mexico.

According to Logan, the Scandinavian tradition of choral singing is one of the world's oldest and richest. The Sundsvall chorale--Sundsvall in a coastal city in northern Sweden--is one of that nation's most popular. It has also established a reputation in Europe and North America. The choir's performances have ranged from singing at an audience with Pope John Paul II and at the funeral for the late Swedish Prime Minister, Olof Palme, to performing at Disneyland and the Crystal Cathedral on its first North American tour in 1981.

The chorale has also appeared in concert with Swedish opera singers Birgit Nilsson, Elisabeth Soderstrom, and baritone Hakan Hagegard, who will perform in La Jolla in February, 1988.

In 1985, Kjell Lonna, the Swedish Master Chorale's music director, brought his other touring ensemble, a 90-voice male chorus, to San Diego State. Much to Logan's surprise, their concert at the university's 500-seat Don Powell Theatre was sold out, largely because of a large turnout from the local Scandinavian community. This time, the Swedish Master Chorale will perform in the 1,100-seat Montezuma Hall.

A well-known personality and producer on Swedish television, Lonna's trademark is his showmanship on the podium.

"He's very flamboyant," Logan said, "sort of a cross between Zubin Mehta and Lawrence Welk."

Earlier this year, Lonna was given Sweden's John Hanson Award, which is given to Swedes who promote cultural relations between their native country and the United States. (Hanson, a Swedish-American leader, was president of the Colonies under the Articles of Confederation, before the adoption of the Constitution.) Lonna will also meet with SDSU music classes the next day to demonstrate his directing techniques.

The Swedish Master Chorale's program will include Swedish folk songs and classical sacred music, excerpts from Wilhelm Petersen-Berger's opera "Ran," choral works by Handel and Beethoven, as well as popular American works by George Gershwin and Paul Simon.

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