The Smoky Valley Men’s Choir will perform at least twice more after its opening Hyllningsfest concert, on October 13, at 6:30 p.m. at Bethany Lutheran Church.
We had reported earlier that the concert would begin at 6. We were wrong. It will begin at 6:30, but given the occasion, and the potent punctuality of Swedes, we assume most will be in their seats so far ahead of time that it will make no difference.
On October 29 the Men’s Choir will be at the annual Assaria Lutheran Church Evening of Song. “We’ve been part of this charming evening of performances by a variety of talents, young and not-so-young, for many years,” said the Choir’s director, Leah Ann Anderson. The event will be emceed by State Rep. Steve Johnson, a member of the Church and who sings in the Smoky Valley Men’s Choir.
On December 9 the Men’s Choir will perform at 7 p.m. at the Swedish Pavilion in Heritage Square. The event is part of the annual Old Fashioned Christmas celebration at the McPherson County Old Mill Museum in south Lindsborg. “The Pavilion is a great place to perform,” Anderson said, “vaulted wood ceiling, great acoustics.”
Acoustics, indeed. A performance of The Smoky Valley Men’s Choir is a lifting experience, and with moments of exhilaration. The group’s crystal tone and resonance, its wholehearted alliance of talent, is a community treasure that has flourished over the decades.
The group was the idea of Carroll Lindgren, who believed a community men’s choir should be part of the Hyllningsfest program in 1997. Aware of Anderson’s talent, he asked her to direct the group. Rehearsals, in the fellowship hall at Bethany Lutheran Church, began this year on August 22 and will continue every Tuesday evening up to the concert on October 13.
Anderson said she never sees the entire group, together, until that concert. The men who comprise it are the eclectic components of community, the shopkeepers, merchants, farmers, bankers, doctors, teachers, laborers, insurers and others who have lives to live, work to do. They hold a certain devotion to music and rehearse as often as they are able.
Hyllningsfest is a biennial celebration to commemorate Swedish heritage, a nod to the pioneers who created this community. The Choir’s anima is largely descended from the devotion of the first settlers who arrived with little more than scraps of clothing and a few tools – and their hymnals. Music invigorated their faith, and musicians gave it strength and beauty and resonant force, a mainspring of its magnificence. Today the Men’s Choir is something strong and immutable, an essence for a group that confirms heritage with a radiant voice.
‒ JOHN MARSHALL