What is the American Union of Swedish Singers?
A Brief History
The American Union of Swedish Singers (AUSS) was organized over 125 years ago at the height of the immigration years. Swedes formed choruses here in America to sing the songs that they remembered and loved from their homeland. These individual choruses came together in 1892 to form the AUSS. Their first public appearance was at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Over the years the Union has performed for kings and presidents, and sung in the major opera houses of New York, Chicago and San Francisco, as well as Carnegie Hall, New York, Orchestra Hall and Auditorium, Chicago and the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City. Today, there are about 500 members in 22 choruses from coast to coast.
In the early years, most songs were sung in Swedish. Today, the repertoire of most choruses is about half Swedish and half English.
An AUSS chorus must have at least four members, all men, all women, or mixed. A chorus first applies for membership in the appropriate regional division (Eastern, Central or Western). Then, they may apply for membership in the national organization.
Wonderful Swedish choral music is a joy to learn and share with others and is probably the best way to embrace your Swedish heritage. The AUSS national music librarian has an extensive list of music - Swedish as well as English, Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, et al. A folder containing popular AUSS music is available as a starter packet. Cassette tapes are also available for guidance in interpreting the music.
By the way, singing Swedish is an excellent way to learn the language!
Choruses of the AUSS keep in touch with each other through Musiktidning (Music News). Every individual receives a copy of the monthly newsletter, containing articles and pictures of choruses, upcoming events and ideas.
Members participate in singing tours of Sweden and Scandinavian. The most recent trip was in 2017, when we traveled from southern Sweden to Stockholm, to Oslo, the Sogne Fjord, and Bergen.
In 2005, we traveled from Gothenburg to Stockholm, with detours to Dalarna (the most traditional of the provinces), beautiful Värmland, Hälsingland, and a flight to Piteå to renew acquaintances with local choruses.
In 1999, we went to Katrinaholm, when the Swedish choral organization, Svenska Sångerförbundet, celebrated its 90th anniversary. We traveled most of the east coast, from Kalmar to Luleå, including Gotland.
The tours are a great way to see Sweden, share our love of Swedish music, and meet Swedes with the same interests. Plan to join us on our next trip!
Every three years, a national convention is held. This is a chance for singers with a common interest to get together and share ideas, songs and fellowship. Recent conventions have been held in Lombard, IL, New Haven, CT, Portland, OR, Dearborn, MI, Minneapolis, MN, and Stratton Mountain, VT. On in-between years, a division may hold its own convention. The main events at all the conventions are the Grand Concert (all singers together), Individual Chorus Night (each chorus performs) and the Grand Banquet or Brunch.
The conventions are a great opportunity to travel and sightsee as well as a chance to meet other singers who share a common interest. Many friendships are formed at each convention.
The AUSS hosts groups and individuals from Sweden or of Swedish descent. Recent guests have included Håkan Sund and his Akademiska Kören (2016), the Old Town Gospel Choir, directed by Lennart Johansson (2012), Sandviken's Mens Chorus (2008), and Sveriges Manskör (2008). In 1996, we welcomed the Växjö Male Choir and Kjell Lönnå, the well-known conductor, composer, and TV producer from Sweden.
In earlier years, Marie Sundelius of the Metropolitan Opera was a favorite soloist. Other prominent soloists over the years have been Karin Branzell and Mimi Benzell of the Metropolitan Opera, and tenor Rolf Björling of Sweden. Having guests from Sweden adds a wonderful dimension to our conventions.
The AUSS CHF was founded to preserve the history of the AUSS by collecting and housing the organization’s memorabilia. The Foundation maintains a room at the
Midway Village Museum
in Rockford, Illinois where you can view old photographs and uniforms, memorabilia from past conventions, and listen to tapes.
The AUSS Archives are housed at
Swenson Center on the campus of Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. Swenson Center is in the process of digitizing all issues of Musiktidning. You can view those completed, so far,
Another facet of the Foundation is the administration of an annual scholarship, given to a deserving college student, or students, with, preferably, a major in music or, secondly, a minor in music, and of Scandinavian background.
Click here for Music Scholarship details.
In 1992 the Foundation published A Century of Song, a book about the Union’s first 100 years. It is now out-of-print, but may be obtained through various sellers online.
To encourage growth of the AUSS, the Cultural Heritage Foundation will help any new chorus with "start-up" costs.
For more information, visit the AUSS CHF.
AUSS National By-Laws
Central Division By-Laws
Eastern Division By-Laws
Western Division By-Laws
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