The Forsbergs are leaving New York.
It’s time to say goodbye to Lage and Ellen Forsberg who have been musical director and assistant at the Swedish Church in New York for the past two years. It is, as Ellen herself states, a bittersweet goodbye. Lage and Ellen have had a happy love affair with New York and with all Swedish-American New Yorkers as well.
Hasn’t the choir sounded better than usual these past few years? Hasn’t the atmosphere at the church been even more welcoming? It certainly has and this is much thanks to Lage Forsberg, who has been music director at the Swedish Church in New York, and his lovely wife Ellen, who has been an assistant there. Now their contract is up and they are returning to their hometown Umeå. Nordstjernan wanted to wish them good luck with their next chapter back home, and we also wanted to hear what they have liked best about living in the Big Apple.
Best of the Big Apple
“The diversity!” Ellen says. “During the course of one day, so many different things may happen here. And since we live where we work (the Forsberg’s lived in an apartment in the same building as the Swedish Church), we’re always in the thick of it. All these wonderful people we’ve gotten to know. Those are things you remember.”
“The fact that it’s been one adventure after another,” says Lage.
They have been good New Yorkers, they have spent their time in the Big Apple wisely, and feel like they haven’t missed anything. They have no last-minute regrets about not seeing this or not visiting that.
“New York is inexhaustible,” Lage says. “You cannot possibly do everything or see everything. But we have done a lot. We have enjoyed a lot of music, seen a lot of musicals, and listened to a lot of jazz.”
Ellen agrees, like a true New Yorker she took her ice skates to Rockefeller Center and skated there last winter.
“And we’ve had many visits from friends and family back home, and that’s been great,” she says, “because we’ve lived very closely with them, and that’s been absolutely wonderful.”
Energizing, inspiring, forgiving... New York!
What’s a good New York tip then, for someone who is visiting? Ellen says to just walk. Take a walk to the United Nations, take a look at the Knotted Gun by Swedish artist Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd, pass Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and the Raoul Wallenberg monument. Like most New York runners, Lage has fallen in love with Central Park.
“You get inspired by everyone who’s running there! I never imagined Central Park would be so amazing, but it is. There’s no better place to run, especially in springtime, with all the flowers, by the lake. I’ve even used my roller skis in Central Park.”
They agree that there’s something very special with New York, the grime and the beauty with it. That the Big Apple can energize and inspire like no other place on earth.
“You feel part of it somehow,” says Ellen. “Age is of no importance here, it’s a more forgiving city in that way.”
“You’re allowed to look and dress anyway you want to,” says Lage. “There’s such a variety of people and there’s such tolerance. People are so friendly.”
The Swedish Church has been both home and workplace for the Forsbergs, and it is at the church they feel they’ve had their most fascinating experiences.
“If you take the time, you’ll hear some amazing stories from the people that come here,” explains Ellen. “I’ll miss all the people here.”
Just doing nothing is also OK in New York.
“The other night we were walking home and Bryant Park was full of people just sitting quietly on the lawn, enjoying the evening. They weren’t drunk, they weren’t loud, they were just hanging out,” says Lage. “And the way people talk to each other here. That’s something positive that I want to take home with me.”
The choir will be missed
Lage talks fondly of the choir, which is something he will miss back in Sweden.
“It has been so amazing, the choir, all these really great singers. I could’ve never imagined just how great it would be. And they’re great people, too.”
Now they are now going back to Sweden, to be more specific they’re going to Röbäck outside of Umeå, in northern Sweden. They have kept their teaching positions there (Lage as a music teacher at Midgårdsskolan in Umeå), they have their home there, as well as their three children: Louise, Simon and Filip.
“The great thing is that we’re going back to something we love. We never ran away from anything when we came to New York,” Ellen says.
The United Nations is located at 405 East 42nd Street
Dag Hammarskjold Plaza is located on 885 2nd Avenue
The Raoul Wallenberg Monument can be found in the corner of 1st Avenue and 47th Street
“The Knotted Gun” can be found outside the UN
Rockefeller Center is located at 1250 Avenue of the Americas
Bryant Park is bounded by 5th Avenue, 6th Avenue, 40th and 42nd Streets in Midtown Manhattan.
Central Park in the heart of Manhattan stretches from 59th to 110th Streets between 5th and 8th Avenues.
For more information about activities at the Swedish Church in New York: www.swedishchurch.net