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Calling all ages to sing Nordic music

Members of the Nordic Center "Our Family Sings" intergenerational choir gather shortly after their Christmas concert in December. (Photo by Michael Anderson)

Erika Bjerketvedt-Field has always loved to sing. She's a member of the Arrowhead Chorale and grew up making music with her family. Now she hopes to expand her music-making family with the new "Our Family Sings" choir project with the Nordic Center.

Our Family Sings is a new intergenerational chorus which focuses on teaching music skills and introducing Nordic music to community members ages 5 to 95 as they participate in creating a new high quality chorus. Bjerketvedt-Field is one of three area arts who directs the group.

"It's a way of bringing families together who have an interest in Nordic culture and love music," Bjerketvedt-Field said.

The chorus started last fall and had its first performance during the 2016 Gingerbread City festival held at the Nordic Center, 23 N. Lake Avenue. Rehearsals for the next concert begin Monday, March 6, 5:30-6:30 p.m. and will be held every Monday thereafter at that same hour. The chorus is looking for new members.

"We'd like to grow this community and bring more children and adults and seniors in so we become truly intergenerational," Bjerketvedt-Field said. "We hope to create beautiful music as a family."

The chorus sprouted from a Norwegian language class held at the center in 2015. Kris Eide, Nordic Center board member and teacher of the language class, noticed how many individuals, including Bjerketvedt-Field, in the class had musical talent and interest in singing. She'd heard of a successful intergenerational chorus in Boston and decided to see if there was interest in a similar program, but with a Nordic twist, here in Duluth. Eide applied for and received a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council to create the chorus.

"I'm not in the choir myself, but I do help out with the Norwegian pronunciation, as that is my first language," Eide said.

During the Christmas performance, the chorus performed two songs in Swedish and Norwegian with aid from Eide. Bjerketvedt-Field hopes to include more songs in Finnish and Icelandic as the group grows.

This season, Bjerketvedt-Field is focusing on childhood songs, that is, songs individuals in Nordic countries might have learned as a child.

"I think they'll be easier for first time speakers to learn and it might be a lot of fun for our younger members to sing," she said.

The group is open to anyone between the ages of 5 to 95. Bjerketvedt-Field emphasized that having a beautiful singing voice is not required.

"You don't have to be a good singer. It's more about singing from the heart. And you'd be surprised how much better you can sound with a group, rather than singing on your own," Bjerketvedt-Field said.

The group hopes to hold a concert around the middle of May to showcase their skills. Individuals interested in the chorus should attend the first rehearsal on March 6 and/or contact Bjerketvedt-Field at (320) 766-9525 or ebjerketvedt@hotmail.com.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176
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