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Chorus sings praises of upcoming concert

POULSBO — The Sons of Norway’s men’s chorus will celebrate its second season together by hosting a truly historical evening of song for the holidays.

Poulsbo’s Vestre Sund Mannskor will accompany the Norwegian Male Chorus of Seattle in a special Christmas concert from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 7 at Grieg Hall on Front Street.

The Seattle group, directed by Dr. Alf Lunder Knudsen, has the distinction of having been founded in 1889, just three weeks after the State of Washington was admitted to the Union. Many of the men in the Seattle chorus have been singing the same songs since they were young and the group’s membership boasts a handful of second- and third-generation singers.

“They’ve really helped inspire us as a brand new group,” said Vestre Sund Mannskor member Bob Ellerby.

Little Norway’s chorus was started last year as just one more way the Sons of Norway works to preserve the Norwegian culture in Poulsbo. There are only 11 such groups between Bellingham and San Diego, however, the chorus is a tradition that was brought over from Europe, where it draws thousands of men across the Scandinavian countries.

Vestre Sund Mannskor president Stan Overby said this year’s Mannskor has about 12 members, while last year they only had about eight members.

“So we’re growing,” he commented.

He also said that the joint concert with the historic Seattle group was actually the older group’s idea.

“They wanted to come,” Overby said. “Their president is friends with one of our members, Knut Johansen, and he kept saying, ‘When are you going to invite us over there?’”

The local men were more than happy to oblige. Ellerby said it is a privilege to have such a group visit Poulsbo because many of its members are older and taking a ferry to Little Norway will be no small feat. He also said so many male singers in one room together will be sight, and a sound, to behold.

“If people don’t come, they’re really going to be missing something,” Ellerby said. “I don’t want to say it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity but it’ll be hard to get this chorus to come back again. It’ll be a real treat to have them in town.”

The Dec. 7 concert will feature traditional holiday songs, a folk costume parade by members of the Sons of Norway and their families and refreshments.

Ellerby said the event will be fun because many folks from Norwegian households will remember the songs. The singing tradition is very strong in Scandinavian countries, especially around the Christmas holiday.

“It’s sung in every home and the Christmas tree is very important because they go and sing around it,” Ellerby said.

The event is open to the public and to Scandinavians and non-Scandinavians alike. Some of the songs will be sung in English and some in Norwegian and Swedish, however, even non-Scandinavians will recognize some of the non-English songs like “Rudolf er rød på nesen” (Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer).

Admission to the Dec. 7 event is by a free, but donations are encouraged.

The Vestre Sund Mannskor meets at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays at the Sons of Norway is always looking for new members. For more information, call Bob Ellerby at (360) 598-4831.

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