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Renowned Musicians Stop At Winnipeg’s Scandinavian Cultural Centre for Swedish Concert Night

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Two performers from the Ostersund Symphony in Sweden stopped at Winnipeg’s Scandinavian Cultural Centre (SCC) for a Swedish music program filled with classical European music and folklore.

The centre, which celebrates and shares Scandinavian culture with Manitobans, was excited to invite vocalist Hans Löfgren and pianist Nicklas Strandberg who has been travelling across Canada as they follow in the footsteps of their relatives. Four years ago, Löfgren had discovered his great-grandfather had moved to and lived in The Pas, a town approximately 520 km northwest of Winnipeg. This discovery set the two musicians on a mission to travel to Canada and learn more about the Swedes who called Canada home. For both Löfgren and Strandberg, this journey has been a joy seeing the similarities between Sweden and Canada.

“They express humility in the Swedish people, and Canadians also have that, says Strandberg. “It’s a way of reflecting on life in a quite harsh nature, and the closeness to nature, a reflex of the people.”

As part of their musical journey, Strandberg says they selected pieces that reflect the world their ancestors would have lived in when they first arrived in Canada. “My great-grandfather came here in 1896, and we tried to reflect that in our music. What sort of music would they have brought on the boats and the Swedish cultural expression of that time.”

For Löfgren, performing at the centre was the perfect opportunity as he is also driven and inspired to share his culture with others.

“I’ve tried to communicate the Swedish language and tones to give them the feeling in their heart of our place, [Sweden].”

The concert is one of many ways the SCC’s Swedish Cultural Association of Manitoba shares its culture with Winnipeg. Whether it’s Snöfest, midsommar, midwinter, and Swedish Lucia, the club excitedly engages the community.

“At the Swedish club, we’re fortunate to have a lot of members,” says club member Elaine Hammerback-Friesen. “Most of us are born in Canada, we have Swedish parents or grandparents, and we all are interested in learning about our culture and sharing with each other.”

For many cultural organizations passing the torch to the younger generations is an ongoing challenge. However, the SCC has found its youth jumping at the opportunity to learn more, says Swedish Association President Sonja Lunstrom.

“The one thing I notice is the big thing about youth is they hear us talking about what we’re doing, and out of curiosity, they want to come along and see what that’s about. By experiencing it [culture] with us as mentors, shall I say, they want to know more about it. We’re finding more and more young people coming with their families, particularly during midsommar and Lucia.”

Hammerback-Friesen adds the association creates various programs and events to inspire and excite children to participate in language classes, dances, Christmas parties, and pageants. A road trip to where Swedish immigrants settled in Manitoba and their upcoming performances in the Swedish Pavillion at Folklorama are just some of the upcoming events the association looks forward to.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

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