"A new elite Swedish choir of the hightest class was born last night". So said Swedish newspapers on November 10, 1975. Professor Dan-Olof Stenlund's newly-formed Malmö Kammarkör (Malmö Chamber Choir) had given its first public performance, and the reception was deafening. "You can be sure that this choir will make itself heard in very wide circles", prophesied one spellbound music reporter.
The favourable reviews gave the choir a flying start, and Malmö Chamber Choir started a busy schedule, alternating concert tours and TV appearances with radio and recording dates. Malmö Chamber Choir can today look back on an intensive 25 year period of tours in Denmark, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Czechoslovakia, England, Israel and the USA.
Some of the members have been with the choir since the start in 1975, as has Dan-Olof Stenlund himself, but the majority go on towards new goals after a few intensive years of development with the choir. Half of the choir members have been trained at the colleges of music in Malmö or Copenhagen, and after a few years with the choir many have attained success as soloists or choral conductors.
But the light of individual achievments falls short in comparison with the accomplished light source that the choir is transformed into. It becomes a precision instrument that can produce the musical shades and subtleties that Dan-Olof Stenlund wants. They have had monumental successes, and can lead the uninitiated to believe that great music can be compared to a demonstration of physical strength. Dan-Olof Stenlund's recipe for success points in the opposite direction hwever: "The strength lies in the ability to live the part" he whispers. "And to grasp the feeling of a tone-poem you must start by giving yourself to the text. The text is all-important. A choral song is the result of a text which has inspired a composer to write a musical interpretation. Every study must therefore begin with reading the text aloud to oneself, over and over again."
Dan-Olof Stenlund made clear during a public rehearsal that he follows his own teachings. Before setting the pitch for the choir he reminded them of his tenet: "Consider carefully what the text wishes to convey. Create a picture of it in your mind. Then enter that picture and become one with it.
Only then are you ready to meet the music."