Luren, 2018 and on …. !
- 2018: Luren celebrates their 150th year with a banquet in April. We host the 62nd Biennial Sangerfest from May 31-June 2 in Decorah as well. With the inclusion of both high school and middle school singers, our Norsemen event in May is renamed Decorah Men Sing. Concert sites include Rochester, MN, Arlington (St. John’s Lutheran), and twice in Spring Grove, MN, (Trinity Lutheran) first for the Hallingdal Lag in August and again at Christmas.
- 2019: A Friendship Tour from June 6-8 included concerts at First Lutheran Church (Onalaska, WI), Stoughton Opera House (Stoughton WI), and Evangelical Lutheran Church (Mt. Horub, WI). Greenfield Lutheran (Harmony,MN), Trinity Lutheran (Spring Grove, MN) and Decorah Lutheran Church also hosted the Luren Singing Society.
- 2020: Luren sang at the Frankville Presbyterian Church on March 11, 2020. On March 14th, the Luren Singing Society suspended in person rehearsals, following guidance from hospitals and government authorities to prevent spreading disease. We began holding on-line rehearsals via Zoom on April 13th, keeping the society connected throughout the upcoming year. Sangerfest in Madison was postponed for two years. A virtual choir was contemplated and tested on Zoom and with online recording. An attempt was made at outdoor rehersals, but it was given up in favor of online meetings.
- 2021: On May 24, fourteen months after the last time we sang in-person together, Luren began holding outdoor rehearsals in the parking garage beneath Decorah Public Library. Luren performed at Nordic fest outdoors. We began singing unmasked again if desired, but maintaining physical distance from each other. Our most triumphal event, was our Dec.12th Christmas Concert, in which we wore masks to protect our audience as well as fellow singers.
- 2022: The 63rd Biennial Sangerfest in Madison, Wisconsin in June. Luren resumed rehearsals in February in person at Decorah Lutheran and First Lutheran Churches. Luren performed in Spring Grove and prepared for a triumphant Sangerfest presence, proving our society remained strong during the trials of the previous two years. Luren Singers revived a long-standing tradition of a Mother’s Day Concert, this time with the Luther College Norskkor, High School Bass Clef Ensembles, and Middle School Viking Voices. Luren’s in person rehearsals resumed in the fall, with many public events.
- 2023: A Luren Singing Society tour to Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia.
- Highlights of the Luren Singing Society Scandinavian Tour (June 15-28, 2023)
- Thursday, June 15, 2023 (depart Decorah and fly to Bergen)
Starting from the parking lot below Decorah Bank at 12:30 pm, 75 Luren singers and friends boarded two buses and drove to the Minneapolis airport for a flight to Bergen, Norway with a stopover in Reykjavik, Iceland on Icelandair. The airplane seats were small, the flights were long, and the breakfast in Iceland was a memorable first out-of-country meal experience for many of us.
- Friday, June 16, 2023 (arrive in Bergen)
The group arrived at Bergen at 2:35 pm and met our tour managers Almar (Bing-Bong) Otjes and Bettina Althalle who accompanied us for the entire trip. After a tour through the old city and fish market, we arrived at the Zander hotel (Zander Kaaes gate 8, 5015 Bergen). We had some time to explore the city before dinner at the hotel followed by some much needed sleep.
- Saturday, June 17, 2023 (Day in Bergen and sing at Fana Kirke)
In the morning the group toured Edvard Grieg’s house at Troldhaugen and many of us watched a concert by Emil Duncumb who played selections from Grieg’s works. Instead of going directly back to the hotel, a few of us explored the fish docks for lunch. Towards evening we went by bus to the Fana Kirke Church (Fanavegen 320, 5244 Bergen) that was built in 1150 and sang a concert with Fana Mannskor. We sang with gusto as the acoustics were very lively and the audience clearly enjoyed our performance. The concert ended with exchanging gifts and the hosting choir treating us to a dinner reception at Stend VGS (Videregående skole, Fanavegen 249, 5244 FANA), a nearby country club. The food was very good and the members of the Fana Mannskor entertained us with many jokes, stories and songs. This choir was founded in 1941 and served as part of the Nazi resistance during the war.
- Sunday, June 18, 2023 (Tour Bergen and ferry to Flåm )
The next day, the group was up early, ate a fantastic breakfast and loaded the bus with our luggage for our next adventure to begin by 7:45 AM. After a short drive to the Floibanen Funicular the group took turns traveling up to a lookout spot by cable car on the top of Mount Fløyen (320meters – 8 minutes.) Although the day was overcast, the skies cleared as we reached the top. All that was visible of Bergen was the tops of the mountains surrounded by an ocean of clouds; it was magical. Next, we drove about 3 hrs. to Gudvangen where we ate lunch and got on a ferry down the idyllic Aurlandsfjord to arrive at Flåm. The scenery on the ferry was beautiful along the fjord and then even more so spectacular as we came to the end of the fjord and disembarked to the picturesque Fretheim Hotel (Nedre Fretheim, 5743 Flåm) where we ate dinner at the award-winning Arven Restaurant.
- Monday, June 19, 2023 (Train rides to Myrdal and Oslo)
In the morning the group boarded a train that took us through the valley of Flåmsdalen to the station of Myrdal. The beauty of this trip was almost indescribable as we saw waterfalls and mountain lakes surrounded by snow covered rocks. At one point the train stopped at a waterfall that was hundreds of feet wide and at one side was an old building and they had actors who appeared in costume and danced to recorded music as if they were spirits. We changed trains in Myrdal (a climb of about 2,600 feet from the fjord) and continued on a high-speed luxury train to Oslo, and then to the Anker Hotel (Storgata 55, 0182 Oslo) where we ate dinner. One memorable moment was when we arrived at the at the train station in Oslo and pretty much took up the whole platform which was quite inconvenient for all the local commuters, but then, our conductor Dave Judisch led us in singing Sangerhilsen, and it was magical how good we sounded, and all the people clapped.
- Tuesday, June 20, 2023 (Tour Oslo and sing at Skarnes)
In the morning the group took a bus trip downtown to see the Olympic stadium ski jump and Vigeland Sculpture Park. Although the rain and automobile traffic hindered some of the experiences, they were memorable for all. In the afternoon we boarded buses and drove out to the city of Skarnes where we sang at Solbakken Folkehøgskole (Ellingsrudveien 10, Skarnes, near Eidsvold) with the Ters Pink Choir. This was exciting as many of our friends from Decorah were there. Dinner that evening was at a nearby establishment that served a variety of interesting meats including reindeer and whale.
- Wednesday, June 21, 2023 (Train ride to Stockholm, Sweden)
The group got up very early and boarded the buses with a boxed breakfast, which included caviar fish-paste in a toothpaste tube. The train was late in arriving, but when we finally began the ride, the trip was memorable due to the ease of travel on high-speed electric trains. The arrival at Stockholm was somewhat difficult as a number of us slipped on the escalators with one of our members being injured enough to need a bandage. At the Elite Palace Hotel (Sankt Eriksgatan 115, 113 43 Stockholm) we had a delicious dinner and a good night’s rest.
- Thursday, June 22, 2023 (Tour Stockholm and sing at Hedvig Eleonora Kryka)
In the morning the group enjoyed a guided tour of Sweden’s capital with a really first-rate guide who took us by the palace of the Royal Family, and the City Cathedral. Highlights included a surprise view of the King and Queen who were giving a speech on the occasion of their 50 th jubilee year. After returning to the hotel to get ready for the concert, we traveled to the Hedvig Eleonora Kryka (Storgatan 2, S114 51 Stockholm), which had magnificent architecture and extremely lively acoustics. One of the highlights was an organ piece by Ulf Norberg, the church organist, who improvised a piece incorporating both the American and Norwegian national anthems. In addition, one of the organizers of the concert was a former student from Luther College who accompanied us to dinner. Dinner that evening was disappointing for some as the restaurant, which was within walking distance of the hotel, was not sufficiently prepared for the size of our group and we waited a very long time before any food was brought, which turned out to be quite exotic for many of us and included steak tartare (which is raw meat.)
- Friday, June 23, 2023 (Midsummer day to Tour Stockholm)
Small groups set off on their own to explore the city and the Skansen Park midsummer celebration and other attractions such as the ABBA, Norse, and Viking Museums. The weather was sunny and clear.
- Saturday, June 24, 2023 (Continued to tour Stockholm and board the ferry to Helsinki)
In the morning, the group boarded the buses with our luggage and had a second chance to explore the city. Many of us went to the Vasa Museum to see a salvaged 3-deck wooden ship from the 17 th century. It was spectacular in size and decoration, but due to a terrible design flaw, it sank on its maiden voyage. The bus transferred us to the ferry (which resembled a cruise ship) called the Vartahamnen ferry (SILJA SYMPHONY) and we enjoyed an overnight passage across the Baltic. Dinner that evening was especially fun, the views of the archipelago of islands were amazing, and a number of people stayed up for disco dancing and Karaoke which featured Dr. Judisch, Rachel Storlie, Randy and Diane Schumann, and Jarrett Johnson.
- Sunday, June 25, 2023 (Arrive in Helsinki and sing at the Rock Church)
The water was calm for our crossing of the Baltic and the entrance to Helsinki was very narrow with many islands. We toured the harbor area which is known for the production of ice- breaking boats and we saw six of them. They are incredibly huge. Our tour guide on the bus was from Brazil and he was excellent at showing us Finland’s capital sights such as the Helsinki Cathedral and Old Market Hall. The city was mostly empty as many of the people were on holiday celebrating the midsummer. The historical connection with the Russian Czars as well as the influence of the Soviet Union were very evident, and included Eastern Orthodox churches and statues of Russian Monarchs. The Scandic Meilahti Hotel (Tukholmankatu 2, 00250 Helsinki) was very new and spacious. That afternoon we sang at Temppeliaukion Church (The Rock Church, Lutherinkatu 3, 00100 Helsinki). The space in this church is very large (room for 750 people) and the ceiling is very high (100-feet) with a huge copper dome (slightly concave and perfectly round) on top of 180 cement beams with long parallel windows that give the effect of natural light filtering through shuttered windows. The light changed as you moved through the church and looked in different directions as well as when the sun moved across the sky. There was a good-sized crowd that was very enthusiastic. The acoustics were excellent both for us to hear each other as well as for the audience to hear us.
- Monday, June 26, 2023 (Ferry trip to Tallinn with a concert at St Mary’s)
The alarm went off at 4:15 and we were up for breakfast and on the bus for the ferry crossing to Tallinn, Estonia very early. The ferry was similar in size to the Vartahamnen ferry with a cargo hold for automobiles and semi-trucks which loaded simultaneously on two levels of the ferry. The bus tour guide through Tallinn spoke wonderful English. The city has a complicated history with a large dose of Soviet influence (including a KGB-museum in one of the hotels.) The old city was amazing with the upper part walled off from the lower section and the lower section had narrow cobblestone street and medieval buildings with stores and restaurants. The church we sang in was huge with a large dome and thick columns called St. Mary's Cathedral (Toom-Kooli 6, 10130 Tallinn) and the walls were covered with intricately carved coats-of-arms representing the families of people buried under the floor and in the cemetery. The church was built in 1247. The concert was wonderful and we took a group picture (including a mystery person.) The ferry ride home was great fun with all the beer and wine we wanted.
- Tuesday, June 27, 2023 (Tour Helsinki and celebrate with a farewell dinner)
Everyone slept late and many of us explored the city. Our farewell dinner included traditional Viking food at a place called the Saaga. The evening program was especially memorable due to a song written with original verses to a familiar tune, and our conductor Dave Judisch thanking everyone who had participated in organizing and performing at the concerts. He also thanked the companion tour participants for being a built-in audience at every concert.
- Wednesday, June 28, 2023 (depart Helsinki, fly to Minneapolis with a stopover at Reykjavik and the final bus trip to Decorah)
We were up early and ready for the trip home, although our departure from Helsinki was a bit delayed. The layover in Reykjavik was fine with a very long flight back to Minneapolis-St Paul. As we flew the clocks were set back, so that the traveling disappeared and we arrived in Minneapolis close to the same time we left Iceland. The bus ride back to Decorah was later than we anticipated, but we arrived home safely to find our cars and drive home around midnight. The only casualties were that the historic Luren Lur was damaged by the baggage handlers on the final flight and two couples whose luggage remained in Iceland for several days.
- Thursday, June 15, 2023 (depart Decorah and fly to Bergen)