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April 2

Woke up to this:

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This should be the last major snowfall of the winter. The forecast is for temperatures of several plus-degrees in a few days. At 9 am it was around zero with 5-10 cm of new snow – and lots more came during the day. The black thing in the picture is for shifting the stuff. And shift it I did.

It’s 10 pm on Easter Monday, and I’ve just got home from a rehearsal with my male choir. For some reason, the choir always has a rehearsal on Easter Monday. Well, the choir was founded in 1838, so I guess they have some license as far as quirks go.

We’re preparing for the choir’s 180th Anniversary concert in 12 days’ time, which is not a sentence I will often need during my lifetime. The choir was founded at the University of Helsinki (then the Imperial Alexander University, after Czar Alexander I) by a young German musician, later to be called ‘the father of Finnish music’. Friedrich Pacius was a precocious musician, a pupil of Louis Spohr, who ended up in Helsinki via Stockholm and took up the position of music teacher at the University as a 25-year-old. A few years later, he formed a male choir, in part to perform male choir music in the German vein and in part to form the basis of a mixed choir for great oratorios (in which the male choir was joined by upper-class young ladies).

Pacius was the kind of person who seemed to need to set an example in just about everything. He composed the first Finnish opera and the Finnish national anthem and he was responsible for the first Finnish performances of many classics. Pacius’ activities opened many doors for his choir, as well: my male choir sang to Czar Alexander II on his visit to Helsinki in 1856 and premiered the National anthem in 1848.

All that seems pretty distant when working on new music for our concert. I will return to the program and the character of Finnish academic male choirs in this blog in the next couple of weeks. Suffice it to for now to say that this evening’s rehearsal was very promising. Let’s hope the trend continues.

 

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