The 'Elevator Nobody Choir' in Chicago
They have been to Germany, they have performed for the Swedish royal couple and been all over their hometown Göteborg. The music program known as “The Elevator Nobody Choir” from Svartedal (‘Black Valley’) School has become known throughout the world. The group “Young Americans” has earlier visited Göteborg and the school to perform and teach song and dance and this year the Hisingen choir visited the U.S. and Göteborg sister city Chicago. Led by Johan Gran and Sonja Bjurdell, who even brought the group to China twice, the inspiring choir recently performed at the Swedish American Museum.
The Swedish American Museum hosted a special spring concert on May 6, featuring the Elevator Nobody Choir, a group of student singers from Göteborg, Sweden. The ElevatorNobody Choir comes from Svartedalsskolan in Hisingen, which according to the choir director and musician Sonja Bjurdell, is not the best area in Göteborg. You know it if you're from Sweden's west coast: Hisingen is pronounced as Hiss (hard 'i' and 's') and thus, the name of the choir—Hiss=elevator; ingen=nobody.
“These students don’t think they can achieve anything. We try to show them that there are ways away from drugs and a criminal future. The choir is one way to give them hope for their future and the possibility to choose their own destiny,” said Bjurdell.
Before the choir sang and danced, a special appearance was made by Lars-Göran Larsson, director for international relations, City of Göteborg. He spoke about the relationship between Göteborg and Chicago which goes back to the thousands of immigrants that left the port in Sweden to eventually reach Chicago. The two cities have been sister cities since 1987.
Today both Göteborg and Chicago have the ambition of being world leaders in clean technology and sustainable growth. There is cooperation planned for the cities, for instance between Northwestern University and the Sahlgrenska Academy. “I look forward to take an active part in the development in the future relations between our two cities,” concluded Larsson.
Gothenburg’s House of Emigrants Museum executive director Roger Bodin took to the microphone and asked the audience to try to imagine how it was for the people who left the Old Country to find a new life here in America. Most people lived a hard life back in Sweden. For some there were new, bright beginnings here in America. Göteborg and Chicago’s cultural and historic pasts are all intertwined.
Swedish pop-rock trio, The Wavemakers, which Bjurdell is part of, sang a couple traditional Swedish folksongs and one original song about not wanting to leave and walk on a ship without your loved ones. Their harmony and musicality left the audience wanting to hear more. Then at last it was time for the young students to take the stage. The ElevatorNobody Choir performed well-known Swedish hymns (such as “Den Blomstertid nu kommer”) with an up-tempo beat and choreography. They were talented, original and had energy that radiated hope for a bright future.
The Gothenburg Committee of Chicago Sister Cities Inernational and the Swedish American Museum presented the evening.
By Kristina Hall
Kerstin Lane, Honorary Consul General of Sweden to Illinois