One Time, in Finland

Valborgsmässoafton, Walpurgis Night, is an important day of festivities in Sweden and Finland with a history stretching back many centuries. is a particular highlight for choristers and university students – two groups that also often overlap – with plenty of classic choral works associated with Walpurgis Night and various student activities on April 30th in the major university cities.

I myself have joined in many spontaneous Walpurgis choirs over the years, as well as given more organised performances with ensembles I have either led or sung in. Both Swedish and Finnish public service TV and radio always broadcast Walpurgis events, with music as a particular highlight.

In Finland, Walpurgis Night is also known colloquially as ”Vappu” and is celebrated annually in Helsinki, Turku, and many other cities. In Sweden, it is usually shortened to simply ”Valborg” and is both recognised in academically oriented cities as well as out in the country, where bonfires on April 30th are also quite common (often with requisite choral singing, either ad hoc or prearranged).

A photo taken at Vartiovuori Park in Turku, a central location for the city’s annual Walpurgis events.

This April 30th, I got a very unexpected e-mail from an acquaintance I met last year while teaching at Framnäs Folk High School, a fellow musician at the time working on a rock project that seemed very promising. He sent me a very brief e-mail with a link to Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and a succinct message: ”Nice piece! A big deal over here, ’everyone’ in Swedish Finland watches this!”

By using a bit of internet sleight of hand, I was able to watch the video the link pointed to, which turned out to be a concert, broadcast live earlier the same day, from Turku in the southwestern, bilingual part of Finland. The concert featured two renowned Finnish academic choirs: the female chorus Florakören and male chorus Brahe Djäknar. And Florakören, under their current chief conductor Hanna Kronqvist, performed my piece ”Vårvisa” (Spring Song)!

The video is unfortunately geo-blocked to Finland, but if you are able to, you can watch their excellent performance online at Yle Arena. It was part of the concert ”Valborg i Åbo” (Walpurgis in Turku). I absolutely recommend it if you can – Kronqvist and Florakören gave a delightful, spirited performance, with a little additional help from a drummer boy out of the male chorus.

Even if you can’t enjoy Florakören’s performance, there is another equally great recording of Vårvisa on Spotify, featuring Åsa Jönsson and Ida Persson of Duo Vox (the link goes to their Facebook page), who commissioned the piece all the way back in 2013 – more than ten years ago (a fact I absolutely cannot believe, but there it is). Duo Vox recorded it for their third album, ”Ållt ä ro” (All Is Peace), with myself as the little drummer boy on the recording:

But, you might ask, what if I want to perform Vårvisa myself, either with a partner or an ensemble? Well, dear reader, you can purchase the score directly from the publisher, Ejeby Förlag – they ship internationally. (Perhaps they should put little stickers on the cover: ”As seen on TV!”)

Vårvisa was written to be performed by only two voices, but it works just as well with a smaller or larger ensemble. With a suitable floor, foot stomps are preferable to using a drum for added visual effect as well as giving the vocal performance a bit of added oomph.

On top of of all this, it turns out that my old acquaintance from last year – he who sent me the link – is also making great strides in his musicianship! I stumbled on a podcast clip, also at Yle, from a few weeks ago where Magnus is interviewed about his two first single releases under the artist name Senn Fiend. He describes the music as ”dark rock for adults” and as ”melodic music with contrasts between major-chord harmonies and mystical lyrics”.

His two first singles – She Loves the Fire and Hold the Door – are available on various platforms (including Spotify, linked above), and the latter single even has a corresponding music video! People like me who have been life-long fans of groups like Toto will most likely feel right at home – I know I do.

Composer, arranger and songwriter for performance, recording, broadcast and interactive media.