"I feel like many people need this (singing) in this world at this time," said Robert Sund, referring to the emotional aftermath of last week's terrorist attacks. "They need to be (singing) with peers and colleagues.
"The doctor sits beneath the peasant (in a choir). It's very democratic in a way, except for the conductor who's very totalitarian," he said with a smile.
Sund, of Stockholm, arrived Tuesday in Lawrence -- after hour-long flight delays in Stockholm and Chicago -- to help prepare two Kansas University vocal ensembles for a concert Saturday night in Bales Recital Hall. This week, he will rehearse with the groups for about three hours each day, teach master classes to other KU choral groups and give lectures to undergraduate choral students and members of the American Choral Directors Assn.
Sund is a professor of choral studies at the Academy of Music in Stockholm and conductor of the internationally acclaimed male choir Orphei Drangar. He has conducted choirs and given lectures in Europe, Cuba, South America, New Zealand and the United States. He also is a composer and arranger.
While interest in choral singing is growing in Sweden and the United States, Sund said, it is declining in other countries. For example, Eastern Europe used to have some of the world's leading choirs. But after the fall of the Soviet Union, some vocal groups vanished because of the lack of government funding and because people are working several jobs to keep food on the table and bills paid.
"I guess (the state of choral groups) depends where on Earth you're talking about," he said.
Sund is the among the guest choral conductors coming to KU this year while the director of choral activities position is being filled. The post became open last spring with the resignation of Simon Carrington.
-- Features-arts editor Jan Biles can be reached at 832-7146.