Walpurgis celebration with donning of caps in Linköping – now and then

Woman in student hat orchestrating men´s choir.Director Musices Christina Hörnell in front of Linköpings Studentsångare at Borggården in Linköping, April 30, 2022 Photo credit Ulrik Svedin

About the tradition

In 1973, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir sang in Borggården for the first time to welcome spring. Back then, the choir was called LiHkören and consisted of some 20 young men wearing black college sweaters and either regular student caps or technology student caps. The audience consisted of some ten academics. Today, the event gathers an audience of thousands

The choir performed under the lead of Jan Tengström. Legend has it that the first person to make a speech on the occasion of the arrival of spring was Per Eckerberg, who was the chauffeur of the then county governor. He allegedly opened a window and asked the choir to be quiet, as the county governor was taking a midday nap. Every Walpurgis celebration since then, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir has performed at Borggården.

The tradition in Linköping

The programme for the day follows a traditional pattern. The LiTHe Blås student orchestra will march through the city, starting from St. Lars church at 2 pm, and arrive at Borggården where they will entertain the audience from 2.40 to 2.55. The Linköping University Male Voice Choir then begins its programme of spring-themed songs at 3 pm.
As is customary, the Walpurgis celebration includes speeches to welcome spring. In Linköping, two speeches are given, one by a representative of one of the university’s student unions, and the other by a representative of the teaching staff, local society, or Region Östergötland. These speeches are tied together by the choir singing songs to welcome spring that may even bring the sun out. In which case Christina Hörnell, director musices at Linköping University, might be blinded by the sun when welcoming spring back.

Previous choir members return

The current choir members are supplemented every year by previous members – singers who are happy to return to Linköping to take part in the traditional celebration. It’s possible to determine the vintage of these previous students by the degree of yellowing of their student caps. The singers also wear the jerseys that they had when active in the choir, and since the colour has been changed through the years these jerseys are also a colourful and eye-catching detail on stage.

A prominent celebration in universities and university colleges

Walpurgis is one of the most prominent celebrations at most institutions of higher education, both in Finland and in Sweden. It is on 30 April that the students don their student caps, or summer caps, in cases where the caps differ according to the season. In Linköping, students don their caps while in unison shouting out a joyful ‘Hurrah!’ after the first song. The courtyard is filled for the occasion with a curious audience all longing for spring, and around a thousand people come to watch every year, no matter the weather.

The spring sun as stage lighting

When Hans Lundgren became its conductor in 1979, the choir sang from a trailer on the west side of Borggården. When County Governor Björn Eriksson retired in 2009, ‘Björn Eriksson’s stage’ was inaugurated, and has been used for Walpurgis celebrations ever since. The stage is an ingenious artwork that is normally displayed in pieces in various locations around the park next to Borggården. The pieces are brought together to form the stage for each Walpurgis celebration. This construction work is arranged by Linköping Municipality. The location of the stage means that the sun, in years when the weather gods smile on us, functions as stage lighting, while the audience has the cathedral, Stadshuset and downtown Linköping as backdrop to the choir.

Linköping University Male Voice Choir

The Linköping University Male Voice Choir was founded back in 1972, when it was known as Lihkören, by enthusiastic students at what was at the time Linköping University College. The name “Linköping University Male Voice Choir” was adopted in 2011 to emphasise the link to the tradition of academic male voice choirs. The choir recruits singers from all faculties of the university and from outside, in order to ensure the highest possible music quality.

The LiTHe Blås student orchestra

The LiTHe Blås student orchestra has been part of the Walpurgis celebration in Borggården since 1987. It was founded for, and with, the Faculty of Science and Engineering by the then 28-year-old fixer Leif Holm in connection with the first Student Orchestra Festival (SOF). Its activity has been strongly linked to this annual festival ever since. Initially, the orchestra consisted of around 10 musicians wearing borrowed tailcoats from the disbanded Skohornen orchestra in Örebro. The orchestra has become a large and dynamic ensemble and enjoys an enriching collaboration with the BlåsYran ballet company.

Video

Walpurgis Night 2021

Watch the digital celebration from 2021!

Linköping University Male Voice Choir at Borggården 2018

Video from 2018 years performance at Borggården on Walpurgis Night.

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