There aren’t too many musical traditions around here that go back 104 years, but the Sangerfest is one of them. An annual get-together of Norwegian male choirs from up and down the West Coast, the Sangerfest has been going since 1903 (with a few breaks) and this year the Normanna Male Chorus of Tacoma is the host choir, with a public choral concert this Friday at Pacific Lutheran University.
“The tradition of male chorus singing is very strong in Norway,” explains NMC director Jon Malmin. “Most villages have a chorus. And when the immigrants came over here they wanted to keep up that tradition.”
And they have. The 29-member Normanna Male Chorus is celebrating 125 years, having begun in 1888 as a Parkland chorus that later merged with a Tacoma chorus. And while the tradition used to be more widespread – at one point there were over 30 Norwegian male choruses in the region, Malmin says – there are still 11 Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association choruses, from Bellingham to San Diego, who’ll meet this week at PLU to sing and have fun. Beginning with a dinner this Thursday, the Sangerfest continues with rehearsals and a banquet Friday, with a public concert in Lagerquist Hall.
The program will mix American and Norwegian folksongs old and new, with some religious works like “Sine Nomine” (the hymn “For all the Saints”) as well as some solo items from featured group Evergreen Brass Quintet. The quintet will also accompany some choral numbers, as will the Lagerquist organ, with the traditional “Landkjenning” as the finale.