Last evening, I had the most wonderful experience when I attended a breathtaking performance of the beautiful musical, Kristina från Duvemåla (Kristina from Duvemåla), held at a local church with local talent.
You would think you were at St. Paul's Ordway Theatre, or Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, or London's Albert Hall. Or even in Stockholm. It was that good.
The musical is based on Vilhelm Moberg's epic, The Emigrants, a suite of four novels written to commemorate the arrival of Swedes to the Chisago Lakes area of Minnesota. The novels' main characters are peasant farmers, Karl Oskar, his wife, Kristina; Karl Oskar's brother, Robert; and a friend, Ulrika.
Famine, rocky soil, and religious persecution brought them from their home, Duvemåla, in Småland, a province in southern Sweden. Landing in New York after a 10-week voyage, they slowly made their way by boat to Stillwater, Minnesota, and then up the St. Croix River to the landing at Taylors Falls, and finally on foot to Lindstrom, Minnesota where they settled, enjoying rich soil to farm.
The musical, written by former ABBA members Björn Ulvaeus (Swedish lyrics) and Benny Andersson (music), is magnificent and emotional. Last evening's performance did them proud.
In 1996, my mother and I were fortunate to attend a performance of musical selections from Kristina, with Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson in attendance with members of the original cast.
This was offered at our local high school during the Swedish Jubilee year and was one of many events held to celebrate our area's Swedish heritage and the arrival of many Swedish immigrants to Lindstrom in 1856.
Last night's performance was another commemoration. It also brought to mind loving memories of my Swedish grandmother, Ragnhild, who emigrated from Gavle, Sweden to New York in 1912.
And with my grandmother came her Swedish customs and culture, passed on to our generation to appreciate. How rich we are in our Swedish heritage, and how fortunate I am to live in this area where it is celebrated.
Tack så mycket (thank you) to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lindstrom, Minnesota, and to our very own talented local musicians for bringing us this historic and emotional remembrance in such beautiful form.