Music director Jeffrey Wressell will lead the American Swedish Institute (ASI) Male Chorus in performance when King Carl Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden stop by the institute for a visit this week.
The Swedish royalty will visit Minneapolis Oct. 6 to dedicate the new Nelson Cultural Center at the institute.
“I feel privileged, honored and humbled,” Wressell said about his directorial debut performing before royalty. “I only wish my mother was alive to see it. I’ll be thinking a lot about her that day.”
Wressell’s group, with a sound that has been described as both rich and beautiful, is one of three choruses performing for the royal occasion.
For the special visit, Wressell will be directing the American Swedish Institute’s Cloudberries Women’s Chorus, the male chorus and the Svenskarnas Dag Girls Choir in singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” the Swedish national anthem “Du Gamla Du Fria” and “The Kungssången” (The King’s Song).
Tickets for the event are no longer available. The dedication will be live streamed on the ASI’s website starting at 2 p.m., Oct. 6.
This is Wressell’s fifth year directing the Swedish choir. He is only the third conductor in the venerated group’s 76-year history.
“There is a deep brotherhood in the chorus that binds us together,” Wressell said, noting some of the men have sung together for 35 years, while one member has been in the chorus for 50 years.
This fall marks Wressell’s 16th year as choral director at Spring Lake Park High School. Before that he taught at Northfield for one year. He is a founder and was part owner and program director of what is now the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, a position he held for 10 years.
Wressell’s father is a combination of French Canadian and English, while his mother is Swedish.
Wressell decided to audition for the ASI chorus position because “I thought my mother would get a kick out of it,” he said.
Her father immigrated to the United States from Sweden and settled in Minnesota. She spoke fluent Swedish and visited the country several times. She had been involved with the institute for years.
She enjoyed attending her son’s ASI concerts until her death in 2010 at the age of 94.
“Every concert I feel she’s smiling down on me,” Wressell said. “I think that during this upcoming event she may be laughing, however, remembering how I was as a teenager and thinking ‘how in the world did he ever end up here?’”
Wressell graduated from Bethel College in St. Paul with a degree in music education.
In addition to directing at the high school and the ASI Male Chorus, Wressell is choir director at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley.
The ASI Male Chorus, a member of the American Union of Swedish Singers, was started in 1936 with a goal of preserving Swedish heritage and contributing to the culture of Minnesota.
Originally, the choir sang in Swedish, but now sings in English and other languages. The group rehearses for two hours on Tuesday nights 10 months out of the year.
ASI Male Chorus has performed nationally and internationally as well as throughout Minnesota. In 2005, the group sang in a concert tour in Sweden and Norway. In 2011, the chorus returned to Sweden for an extensive concert tour.
For more information on the ASI Male Chorus, visit www.asimalechorus.org.
Elyse Kaner is at [email protected]