Director Musices Hans Lundgren bows out
After 35 years Hans Lundgren is hanging up his baton. But first there was a farewell concert, Fine, on 10 May with 180 singers and instrumentalists on stage at Crusellhallen concert hall.
It is a late Sunday afternoon in the canteen in Kårallen Building and there is exactly one week left until the last concert that Mr Lundgren will conduct as Linköping University Director Musices.
The miraculous first movement of Brahms’ Requiem has faded out.
Members of the academic women’s choir Linnea, the Linköping University Chamber Choir and the university’s own symphony orchestra are sitting nosily at the dining table, packing up instruments, looking for bags, talking about the post-concert party and are then heading home.
Mr Lundgren takes a swig of mineral water and unwraps the last sandwich of the day. Ronaldo’s rye bread, Rackebajsare sausage from Förslöv and a piece of cheese. Not just any cheese, of course, Prima Donna.
Lunch box or music – the same basic principal applies: quality. Mr Lundgren never makes any concessions to that principle.
A few hours earlier he had been determinedly raking the choir and orchestra over the coals.
“From B again. You sound a bit hesitant. Now get on it!”
“One more time. Now keep the chord still at the end... think of the lines that carry it, take out the bows while you have the chance. More vocals!! Exaggerate! Do you really think you are exaggerating?”
This is the final rehearsal and fine tuning.
Mr Lundgren explains, repeats, and starts again only to break off a few seconds later with a comment about the orchestra.
Today the Linköping University Symphony Orchestra is being reinforced with professional musicians from the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra and the Östgöta Symphonic Wind Ensemble, who otherwise function as instructors for the different sections of the orchestra.
“They play beautifully, don’t they? They have been at it like this since eight this morning!”
Or around ten, anyway. And before that, a Saturday rehearsal.
Music of the kind that Mr Lundgren has made his ensembles produce over the last three decades demands a lot. From him too, as he notes.
“Music is not just notes played one after the other. It is about making art,” he says a little abruptly.
“And, ” he continues, “there is no reason why the musical life of the university should be of a lower level than the research and education there.”
Since 1979, when Mr Lundgren became the conductor of what was then known as LiHkören, he has seen to both introducing a sister choir, the academic women’s choir Linnea, and to developing university courses in orchestra performance as the foundation of a symphony orchestra.
“My job as director musices is both educational and artistic. I want the students to learn how to use their artistry and develop their talents. And I want to give them the chance to experience classical music works, such as Brahms’ Requiem.”
Or Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana.
“Singing that is the best thing I've ever done,” says Caroline Abrandt, while she is packing up after the rehearsal.
During her training as pre-school teacher she sang with LiTHösen; now she is back, taking individual courses and singing with the academic women's choir Linnea.
“Hasse is known for being very demanding but very good. If you want results, you need discipline. And he only lets off steam for a short while, then he lightens the atmosphere,” she says and laughs.
“Linköping is probably not best known for its arts scene, so it’s even more important that the university offers a high quality choral scene,” says Lisa Norrgren, who is in the first year of her master’s and a brand-new member of the choir Linnea.
Countless students - certainly more than a thousand - have had the good fortune to work under Mr Lundgren; many, many times they have been able to experience the euphoria of the final tones of a well executed concert, the companionship of choir tours, and the joy of beating the opposition in choir contests and international choir meetings and bringing home both prizes and honour.
But now Mr Lundgren’s time is up. Retirement awaits in September.
No commitments taking over his evenings and weekends.
None of the unexpected events that his choir and other work used to offer: trousers that are too small, a Swedish king who has to run after a commencement procession in order to take up his place at the front, security police in Jordan getting up onto the stage to cut short the male voice choir’s programme because the audience were getting agitated waiting to see the pop singer who was on next.
No need to live for almost a year, day in and day out, immersed in works such as Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace (which was performed at a gala concert 2013 and elsewhere).
And no adrenalin kicks post-performance – what will that be like?
“I was actually just thinking about the thing with the adrenalin, and how I’ll get by without it,” he admits.
Approaching his final retirement as director musices, his feelings vacillate a bit.
“Of course I will be emotional,” he says with a broad smile, explaining with obvious joy how during Walpurgis Night donning of the caps at Borggården, he was officially honoured by the student orchestra LiThe Blås and informed that he had been named as the orchestra’s 12th honorary member.
As the retirement of their conductor of many years approaches the Linköping University Male Voice Choir took the initiative for a “Hans Lundgren fund for the promotion of music at Linköping University”.
All the proceeds from Fine - a farewell concert on 10 May went to the fund in full.
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Last updated: 2017-02-13