American Union of Swedish Singers

A.U.S.S. Events - 2004

Go to Apollo Singing Society Celebrates 100th Anniversary
Go to 2004 National Convention highlights
Go to 2004 Eastern Division Fall Foliage Festival

Apollo Singing Society Celebrates 100th Anniversary

The Apollo Singing Society celebrated its 100th anniversary on Sunday, May 2, 2004 at Tabor Lutheran Church in Branford, Connecticut. First, there was an afternoon concert in the church sanctuary. Members of the North Star Singers of Fairfield, Connecticut joined Apollo to present a number of male chorus songs, some of which may have been performed by the original chorus in 1904. Members of the Eastern Division of the American Union of Swedish Singers added their voices for the mixed chorus selections. Soprano Birgitta Andersson Whited from Rhode Island was the guest soloist and enthralled the audience with her voice and stage presence. She sang with the chorus for the finale: "Battle Hymn of the Republic." Director for the concert was Ernie Gunn, who has directed Apollo since 1992. Accompanist was Dorothy Civitelli.

After the concert, a banquet was held in the church social hall. Hors d'oeuvres of pickled herring, Swedish meatballs, and cheese satisfied the Scandinavian palette. The main course was roast pork. Rice pudding, cake, pepparkakor and chocolates topped off the meal. Dinner entertainment included Birgitta, Ellen and Ken Svengalis, and Arnie Gustavson and Bob Forstrom. Wivan Sundman played the accordion for sing-a-longs. Apollo sang a couple of numbers, too. Committee members Hans Almqvist (president of Apollo), Carl-Erik Westberg (past president of the AUSS and current editor of Musiktidning), Joe O'Leary (current vice president of the AUSS) and their wives did a great job in putting together a memorable event.

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2004 National Convention highlights

2004 Convention Logo Sing Swedish...Some More...In 2004 was the motto of the 2004 National Convention which took place in Dearborn, Michigan June 22 - 26 at the Hyatt Regency. And, did we sing! Host choruses were the
Arpi Swedish Male Chorus and the Scandia Women's Chorus of Michigan. On Tuesday night, we were welcomed "gnome"! A variety show presented by the two host choruses was fun. Songs included "There's Gnome Business", "My Old Kentucky Gnome", "I Left My Gnome in San Francisco"... well you get the idea! Sherlock Gnomes (aka Carl Bengtsson) and Dr. What-Son? (aka Carl Bergstrom) were the emcees. The evening was topped off with sandwiches and eclairs and, of course, coffee.

Rehearsals, both by individual choruses and together for the Grand Concert, kept us busy on Wednesday and Thursday. Individual Chorus Presentations took place on both evenings. All of the choruses did a great job! A.U.S.S. National President Jody Jones handed out 25- and 50-year awards to members of the choruses.

Thursday noontime were the men's and women's luncheons. The women went to the nearby Dearborn Inn, which was built by Henry Ford. It was the perfect setting for our entertainment: Jenny Lind (aka Linnea Leatherman). It was a delightful time. Each lady got a jar of Cherry Jam, a hand-made wooden utensil, and a Michigan quarter. The men's luncheon was at the Hyatt. They were treated to pianist Victor Borge (aka Bob Milne). The men got a bag of chocolates and a Michigan quarter.

Friday morning, we had our final rehearsal for the Grand Concert at the Ford Community and Performing Arts Center. After some free time, we went back to the Ford Center. The Concert hall was nearly full - approximately 1000 people attended. They were a wonderful, and appreciative, audience for the concert, which went very well. Guest performers were Flickorna Fem from Minneapolis and Ellen and Ken Svengalis from Connecticut. Back at the hotel we held our traditional midnight sing, which is always fun.

Saturday morning was the delegates meeting. Our new National President is Joe O'Leary of the Apollo Singing Society. Congratulations to him. And, a big thank you to out-going president Jody Jones of the Scandia Ladies Chorus of Portland who, besides doing a great job for the past four years, kept our meeting short. Also, on Saturday morning, we held a brainstorming session on how to recruit new members. It was a good discussion and everyone came away from it with enthusiasm and with some new ideas.

Saturday night was the Grand Banquet at the Hyatt. Pretty blue and yellow flowers decorated each table. Our souvenir place mats had the music to "Hälsa dem därhemma" on them. After speeches by distinguished guests, including Consul General Lennart Johansson, the gold medals were awarded. There were two well-deserving recipients: Fred Fortney of Waukegan and Janet Howland-Rierson of Portland. The Arthur Samuelson award (for a non-singer) went to Don Ahlm, also well-deserved. Dancing to the Walter Lipiec Band completed the evening.

Throughout the convention, there were sightseeing trips for non-singers, which I heard were very good. On Saturday, there were two trips available for all convention goers, which were fun. Also, a lot of fun happens in the hospitality rooms. There were many rooms to choose from throughout the convention and it is always fun visiting, making new friends, sharing ideas and, of course, singing spontaneously.

Kudos go to the convention committee for a wonderful convention that ran like clockwork. The co-chairs were Christine Johnson and Bob Ferrari (a good Swedish name!). Tack så mycket for a great convention!

If you know of anyone who took digital photos, please have them e-mail it/them to me.

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2004 Eastern Division Fall Foliage Festival

Jamestown, New York was the site of the 2004 Fall Foliage Festival, which ran Friday through Sunday, October 8 to 10. The weather was good and the scenery was beautiful. Singers came from many states to participate: Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, and, of course, New York.

The weekend started with a rehearsal on Friday night at the Viking Lodge in downtown Jamestown. It's a wonderful old building with lots of character. The rehearsal was followed by snacks and fellowship.
Ellen and Ken Svengalis from the Northern Lights Singers and the Verdandi Male Chorus entertained everyone with Swedish folk music and a sing-a-long.

Saturday morning began with Danish pastries, doughnuts and coffee at the Viking Lodge. Then, we rehearsed until noontime. The afternoon was free to sightsee or relax. In the evening we drove out to beautiful Viking Lake Park on Chautauqua Lake for dinner and dancing. The food was excellent and the dancing was fun.

Sunday morning we were free to do more sightseeing, go to church, or sleep in. Then, we gathered at the First Congregational Church in Jamestown to present a concert at 2 p.m. We were 65 singers in total who sang to an appreciative audience. Most of the selections were from the 2004 national convention. The program concluded with a patriotic medley: "From Sea to Shining Sea" by the women, "America Our Heritage" by the men, and "Battle Hymn of the Republic" by all singers. Our directors were Ernie Gunn (AUSS national Director-In-Chief) and MG Brustrom. Accompanists were Judy Johnson and Janis Nelson. Everyone agreed it was one of our better fall weekend concerts.

On Sunday evening we drove to nearby Celeron where we boarded the "Summer Wind" for a dinner cruise on Chautauqua Lake. It was wonderful. The buffet was great and the scenery was gorgeous. Shortly after sunset, the two-hour cruise ended, all too soon.

The Jamestown choruses, Damkören and Viking Male Chorus, hosted a hospitality room for us at the Holiday Inn. Janis played the keyboard for a non-stop sing-a-long. Ken added his fiddle playing. Everyone enjoyed singing old favorites and talking with each other.

Our hosts did a great job and the weekend ran smoothly. We had plenty to eat, plenty to do and plenty of fun! We made new friends and left with pleasant memories. Thanks to the committee: Diane and Don Nelson, John Oberg, and Amy Stenta.

Click here to see pictures.