Palmupuiden Katveessa

                       SUMMER  2004


President's Corner


July 2004

Greetings from rainy New York, arrived here in Latham about a week ago to do my duty to God and country.  

 (Ed. note:  Colonel Harry Manner has been called to active duty, serving in a Joint Staff Special Projects capacity with the New York National Guard in Latham [Albany], NY.  He expects to remain at this assignment through next spring.) 

I am delighted to report that my trip to Finland and Estonia was most satisfying and successful.  All the veterans’ choruses I met with indicated total support of our proposed 2006 concert tour.  Interestingly, in their estimation, the concert halls where we held past performances are too small. Larger audiences are anticipated.  My visit included thirteen locations in Finland and one in Estonia.  A 14th site in Finland might be included. 

I owe a large measure of gratitude to Pauli Ahvenainen and Uolevi Lassander, with whom I met upon arriving in Helsinki, for providing me with guidance and contact information.  This contributed greatly to the success of my 7000 kilometer “meeting” tour around Finland.  Both Pauli and Uolevi, as well as Erkki Planting, send their best wishes to all American Laulajat members and are anxiously awaiting our 10th tour, which will mark AL’s 50th anniversary.  Aikamiehet are also celebrating an anniversary this September.  They have been thrilling audiences with their vibrant melodies for 40 years. Our sincerest congratulations and wishes to this wonderful choir that has impeccably hosted our every Helsinki visit. 

Meetings of the AL board members at large will be held on line in the near future in order to hammer out our tour details and develop proposals to be presented to our membership in Sudbury in 2005. 

The following tour dates have been recommended by our host choirs:  the last week in May 2006 for the “laululeiri” (rehearsal week) followed by concerts from June 1st to the 17th or 18th.  These days would fit nicely between “lakkijuhlat” and the post-Juhannus trek to summer cottages.  Again, this is merely a proposal; however, clearing suitable frames on our 2006 calendar probably is timely. 

 Continue to have a safe and great summer. 

My best to all. 




                       Summer Birthday Greetings – Syntymäpäiväonnittelut


                           Reino Erkkilä               65               Thunder Bay, Ont.

                           Aarre Pellinen               70               Lake Worth, FL

                           Vello Suigussaari          70               Chicago, IL

                           Lauri Maijala                70               Thunder Bay, Ont.

                           John Nelson                  70               Sudbury, Ont.

                           Aapo Hietala                 75               Sudbury, Ont.

                           Alpo Punkkinen             75               Sudbury, Ont.

                           Antti Vakkuri                75               Sudbury, Ont.


                           Alfons Ukkonen            80               Hypoluxo, FL


                 Onneksi olkoon ja  ISO KÄSI!!!!!!





From the Barefoot Mailman's Reppu



Martti Varpio, from sunny Sudbury, writes:


 Sudbury's Mieskuoropäivät will happen on May 21, 2005 at the Fraser Auditorium of Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario.  Specific information about "karonka" and the dinner dance will be forthcoming in the fall.  Our music committee has been tasked to identify the joint (yhteis) songs for the concert program.  Hopefully by September they will finalize their selections.


Keep well.




Thank you Martti.  We are all looking forward to the gala festivities in the Nickel City next spring, and encourage everyone to join us.






The following article appeared in the July 2004  -  The Finnish American Reporter  -


Singing across the ocean


Since they enjoyed many wonderful concerts by choruses from Finland throughout the 1930s – 1950s, a group of male singers from New York – called the New Yorkin Laulumiehet – decided it was only appropriate to return the favor and have a male chorus from the United States tour Finland.


However, there weren’t enough singers to make a complete chorus for the tour, so group members placed an article in some Finnish newspapers in the fall of 1954, calling upon members of existing choirs to take part.


Though they had to pay a registration fee and cover their own expenses, singers from California, Washington, Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota, Canada, Connecticut, Florida and New Jersey opted to join with the New Yorkers for the planned tour, which took place in 1956.


Such was the beginning of what is now known as Amerikan Laulajat, a group planning its 10th tour of Finland in 2006.  Since the initial tour of 1956, the group has conducted nine tours for a total of 119 concerts in 37 cities.  Among the many stops on these tours were visits to the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, the president’s summer home in Kultaranta, Sibelius’ home, and many other memorable stops.


“Memories … wow,” said long time group member Jean Pellinen, who now lives in Atlantis, Florida.  “You name it we have seen it.”


According to Pellinen (the only member to take part in all Finland tours) Amerikan Laulajat as an organization was established by members of the Toronto male chorus in 1960, with help from other North American choir members.  At its peak, the organization boasted 10 Finnish male choirs in New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Lantana, Toronto, Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie, Thunder Bay and Vancouver.


Since that time, membership has dwindled and only five of the choirs actively conduct rehearsals and performances – Lantana (formed in 1969), Sudbury (1960), Toronto (1956), Sault Ste. Marie (1952) and Thunder Bay (1952).  The Chicago group (formed in 1933) gathers singers only on special occasions and doesn’t rehearse regularly.


Choruses in Los Angeles (1960) and New York are no longer active.  The Detroit group (1939) and the Vancouver choir (1973) are also inactive, though singers in both areas display their talents with mixed choirs and church groups.


Despite the challenge of gathering new members, Amerikan Laulajat remains optimistic, thanks in large part to the energy behind the initial tour nearly 50 years ago.


“With the tour of Finland in 1956 an interest spread in both the United Stated and Canada,” Pellinen explained.  “There is a special spark that keeps the movement alive; having the choirs visit each other on special occasions and making trips to Finland is probably what binds this organization.”


Amerikan Laulajat, as an organization, meets periodically at official gatherings called Mieskuoro Päivät, or Male Chorus Days.  To date, the group has conducted 25 of these meetings, with the next slated for Sudbury in 2005.  During the meetings, the group elects a central governing board, which forms when a trip to Finland is planned.


“This movement is all voluntary and nonprofit,” Pellinen said.  “Getting new members is difficult and older members passing away doesn’t help.  The present younger generation seems preoccupied with other events (so) most choirs just manage to hold on with their singers.”


Pellinen’s home group in Florida is seeing some new faces, likely because of the regular “snowbird” population, he suspects.  He’s hopeful that growth will catch on in other regions.


“Proficiency (in singing) is of course helpful but not necessary (of new members),” he said.  “You would be surprised how improvement is shown after a short time.  The benefit (of joining) is the fellowship amongst our members and the satisfaction in producing a good program.  We hold dances, dinners and other events during the season and make visits to far away cities for concerts.  The best reward is touring Finland.”


Editors note:  To find out how to become a member of an American Laulajat choir near you, contact Jean Pellinen by e-mail at or call him at (561) 432-3539.  Also visit the Amerikan Laulajat web site at








Amerikan Laulajat   P.O. Box 3468    Lantana, FL 33465
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