Sangerfest 2009: The tradition continues

Sangerfest 2006 Grand Concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle

Sangerfest 2006 Grand Concert at Benaroya Hall in Seattle

The Norsemen men’s chorus of Sonja Lodge, Sons of Norway, will host the 100th Sangerfest, or song festival, of the Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association.

The gala event will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Eugene, Ore. on the weekend of June 25 through the 29. The festival will be highlighted by the Centennial Sangerfest Grand Concert on June 26 at 7:30 p.m.

The PCNSA continues the tradition of Norwegian male vocal singing, which became popular in the late 1800s and peaked during the early 1900s. Norwegians in America brought with them their traditions and characteristic love of song. They created a bond between those of Norwegian birth and those of Norwegian ancestry through music and fellowship. Many sons, fathers, and grandfathers have sung together during the life of the organization. Heritage and tradition run deep throughout Norwegian male chorus history.

In 1902, representatives of various choruses met in Seattle and organized the Pacific Coast Norwegian Singers Association. The first Sangerfest was held in Everett, Wash. in 1903 and they have continued to be held nearly every year since that time. There were occasional interruptions when war or economic difficulties made it impossible to justify holding the annual gathering. Current member choruses of the PCNSA include, in Washington – Bellingham, Everett, Skagit Valley, Poulsbo, Seattle and Tacoma. In Oregon – Salem and Eugene and in California – Oakland, San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego.

In 1958, Howard Herbranson of the Eugene Norsemen, attended the Sangerfest in Everett, Washington to apply for membership in the PCNSA on behalf of his chorus. At the annual business meeting, his chorus was accepted into the organization and he was voted in as President. In addition, he was talked into hosting Sangerfest the next year. That 1959 festival was the 50th of the PCNSA and coincided with the Centennial of the State of Oregon’s statehood. In an interesting coincidence of time and place, his grandson, Mark Agerter, also of Eugene, is President of the PCNSA and Sangerfest Chair for the 100th festival, 50 years later, in 2009.

Many towns in Norway also continue to support men’s choruses. The Hauka Mannskor from Soknedal, Norway will be featured as the guest chorus for this year. Director Tove Ramlo Ystad and the Hauka choir are touring the west coast this summer and will have concert stops in Vancouver Canada, Seattle, Portland, Eugene and San Francisco.

The concert is open to the public and will be performed by a combined choir of nearly 150 singers. It will include traditional Norwegian, Scandinavian, and American choral music. Tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door. This Sangerfest is underwritten, in part, by the Sons of Norway Foundation.

For further information contact Dan Moore at (541) 510-8393 or email

This article was originally published in the Norwegian American Weekly on June 5, 2009. For For subscription information, call us toll-free at (800) 305-0217 or email

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