David Nelson ’17 Invited to Masterclass with Sweden’s Håkan Hagegård

Posted on October 29th, 2015 by

David Nelson, tenor '17

David Nelson, tenor ’17

Gustavus tenor David Nelson ’17 participated in a unique musical opportunity on October 17 when he was invited to perform as one of 5 young vocalists in a masterclass with renowned Swedish baritone Håkan Hagegård in Minneapolis. Hagegård, one of Sweden’s most recognized vocalists, was in the Twin Cities and agreed with Philip Brunelle to offer this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for select area singers. The singers each sang two works, one of Scandinavian origin and one of their choice, for Hagegård and then worked one-on-one with the famed singer.

The invitation to work with Hagegård came from Philip Brunelle through David’s voice teacher, Gustavus Professor of Music Michael Jorgensen, a long-time member of Brunelle’s VocalEssence. A rare opportunity for a young singer, Nelson appreciates that a great connection between Gustavus and Brunelle made this possible for him.

For the clinic, Nelson chose three movements from Robert Schumann’s song-cycle Dichterliebe and one of Sweden’s most beloved songs, Ragnar Althén’s Land du Välsignade, (Thou Blessed Land). (Anyone who knows Swedish culture or has followed Håkan Hagegård or Jussi Björling’s careers will know Althén’s work. Many Swedes consider this the country’s 2nd national anthem and both Hagegård and Björling recorded the piece. Björling went on to sing it in the 1937 movie Fram för framgång.) Following each selection by Nelson, Hagegård spent time with the singer, making suggestions on vocal technique and performance while physically moving him around the stage to understand the music and visually interpret the piece for the audience.

Håkan Hagegård, one of Sweden’s best known vocalists, is widely known for his performances of Romantic-era literature and the warmth and range of his voice is suited to these composers. However, his career spans 5 decades and styles from lieder to Swedish song to opera. He has performed on stages around the world including the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna State Opera, Carnegie Hall, the Stockholm Opera and La Scala. He played the role of Papageno in Ingmar Bergman’s acclaimed film version of Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte and in 1985 was appointed vocalist to King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden.

Hagegård founded the HageGarden Music Center, a retreat in a rustic area of Sweden, where he teaches, records and conducts master classes. His music is available on YouTube and on the retail market. Caprice released two of his recordings, one of Swedish songs and another of operatic arias, as one CD. His recording of Franz Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin on RCA with pianist Emanual Ax, has received critical acclaim. He is currently on the faculty at Indiana University and the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.


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