The American Scandinavian Society of New York is a Pan-Scandinavian organization devoted to bringing educational, artistic and musical events with a Nordic flair to the Metropolitan Area. As its mission is to enhance awareness and appreciation of Scandinavian culture, they generously award annual grants through their Cultural Grant Program. Last week, during a glamorous evening at the exquisite International Peace Institute, a group of talented Scandinavians were awarded.
“A total of 44 grants have been awarded to talented and sometimes struggling artists,” said Else H. G. Matthews, Chair of the Cultural Grants Committee. “It is good to see them grow and know we played a slight hand in their development.”
Musician and comedian Magnus Mårtensson, a well-known name to most Swedish-Americans on the East Coast, was the Swedish recipient. Said opera singer and A.S.S. Vice President for Sweden Madeleine Kristoffersson as she handed him the grant: “Magnus is multi-talented. He is C.C.C. That means he is a conductor, a composer and a comedian. He has stayed true to his Scandinavian heritage and promotes Scandinavian art in the US and the world.”
Mårtensson answered in kind:
“I only have five minutes? I won’t play the Sibelius concert then. My mom would’ve been very happy had she been here tonight. Instead she went to see ‘The Lion King’ on Broadway. The Peace Institute has no piano, because they couldn’t decide whether to get a Steinway, a Bechstein or a Yamaha. There was a lot of fighting and then no piano at all.”
Magnus Mårtensson, a native of Malmö, is Musical Director of The Scandinavian Chamber Orchestra of New York; between 1997 and 2006 he held the same position with the Slee Sinfonietta/Visiting Professor at SUNY Buffalo. He made his operatic debut in Malmö, Sweden, conducting a production of Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld”, and has subsequently conducted operas by Mozart, Puccini, Golove, among others. Mårtensson has conducted several world premiere recordings, including orchestral music by Jeffrey Stadelman, Roger Reynolds, and David Felder. It was in 2003 and quite by accident that he turned into a comedian/pianist during a concert at Victor Borge Hall in New York City, in front of an audience that included members of Mr. Borge’s family. Mårtensson has since then appeared in a number of cities across the country with acts called “hilarious” and “funny”.
Winners from the other Scandinavian countries include:
Photographer Maud Frisenfeldt from Denmark, Pianist Julie Coucheron from Norway, Designer Ragna Frodadóttir from Iceland, Author Karen Engelmann from the US, Actress and Puppeteer Terhi Tuulia Lintukangas from Finland, and Singer Anna Halldórsdóttir from Iceland who received the Edda Magnusson Special Grant. An Honorary Grant was given the Scandinavian American Theater Company (aka SATC).
For more information about the American Scandinavian Society and their Cultural Grants, visit:
Links to the grant recipients: