01 April 2022

From a small group of happy students who enjoyed singing together to a large, award-winning male university choir. Over the years, the Linköping University Male Voice Choir has developed both musically and organisationally, but has maintained a firm focus on the joy of singing. Now the choir is celebrating its 50-year anniversary.

Women in black dresses and men in tailcoats on stage.
The Linköping University Male Voice Choir and the Linköping University Women’s Choir – Linnea at the Academic Ceremony, autumn 2021. It was actually the former that initiated the latter – as a 25th birthday present to itself. Consequently, Linnea also has an anniversary this year. Peter Holgersson AB

Christina Hörnell has been Linköping University’s director musices and director of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir since 2014. Magnus Broeders is a member of the choir and the head of the anniversary celebration committee. Both agree that the Linköping University Male Voice Choir is truly special.

“It’s wonderful to see young men starting in the choir, improving, and taking responsibility. And that you can join as a first-year student and stay until retirement age, if you want”, says Christina Hörnell, who, before coming to LiU, was choirmaster at the Royal Swedish Opera and the Gothenburg Concert Hall.

Christina Hörnell conductingChristina Hörnell has been director musices at LiU and conductor of the Linköping University Male Voice Choir since 2014. Photo credit Peter Holgersson AB

Magnus Broeders is a choir member who has stayed on. He joined in 2009 while studying information systems analysis, and fell in love with both the male choir as a way of making music, and everything that goes with it.

“It’s so much more than just singing. I’ve worked with the organisation in different roles, which has definitely been beneficial for me professionally”, says Magnus Broeders, who is now an engineering manager at Voyado in Norrköping.

It all started in 1972, when a few students formed what was then called LiHkören, from LiH (Linköpings högskola, Linköping College) and kör, which means choir. For Swedish speakers, combining the two elements almost sounds like the liqueur – a little student humour.

Today the choir has about 60 members. It gives annual concerts at Christmas and Walpurgis, and usually a spring and an autumn concert.

Big anniversary weekend in October

The 50-year anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year – despite the uncertainty caused by corona.

“This year we are planning a Walpurgis celebration that will incorporate the anniversary, and an academic gala concert with an anniversary focus together with the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. This summer we're doing something for the Swedish national day, 6 June, and then we're going on tour”, says Christina Hörnell.

A book about the choir's history is also in the worksand of course there's the big anniversary weekend, 21–22 October.

Singing men outdoors wearing student caps.The choir welcomes the arrival of spring outside Linköping Castle in 2012. At this concert, all former members are welcome to take part and sing. Photo credit Göran Billeson“There we're welcoming all our partner choirs from Sweden and Scandinavia to Linköping”, says Magnus Broeders. “We're giving concerts for each other, so we can really do the choir nerd thing. There will be various activities so people can learn more about the choir's history, as well as the grand anniversary concert on the Saturday, with newly written music and old classics. We're fundraising at the moment, and the results of that will determine how far we can take it, but the aim is to do something really extraordinary.”

Competition for female composers

Innovative ventures are nothing new for the choir. In 2016 they presented the results of a competition where female composers invited to write music for a male choir. The idea was born when the choir searched through its library and could not find what they were looking for, says Christina Hörnell.

“We felt we had to do something about it and the fun way to do this was to have a competition. We didn't know how much interest there would be, but the response was huge.”

Magnus Broeders adds that the competition also started a new journey for the choir:

“It was the first time we talked seriously about equality and women in our field. We're not perfect but it's 2022 and we want to be a choir that preserves the fantastic aspects of the male choir tradition in a sustainable way.”

Taking the male choir tradition into the future is an important part of this anniversary. It can't just be about the past. The choir want to focus on male choir vocals as an art form, inspire boys to sing and build male networks with healthy values.

“We're also celebrating the future we're so passionate about. The choir is a setting that brings many men together, which gives us the opportunity to influence. Joining as a young man, maybe 19 or 20 years old, you're still very malleable. We want to help produce men who contribute to a better society”, concludes Magnus Broeders.

Translated by Martin Mirko

Previously published in LiU magasin issue 1 2022 (in Swedish)

Black and white image of a young man wrapped in a towel with the Swedish king and queenWhen the Swedish king opened the new student union building in 1987, LiHkören (as it was called at the time) surprised the royal couple with choir music in the sauna. The Swedish tabloids devoted several pages to the prank. Photo credit LiHkören 25 år

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