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This text was published first on 29 October, 2021. It can therefore contain information or views that is inaccurate. It is online for archival purposes.

New and Old times!

Peter Eriksson has been the principal and responsible for the music school for almost 40 years. Now that it’s time to leave the baton, we asked Peter a little about his journey, and what awaits in the future.

Tell us about your journey to Immanuel Church. How did you end up here?
I started at Ackis -75 (Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm).

In what direction?
I trained as a musician with Viola as my main instrument, and then continued with a string teacher degree. The soloist line was said – a generally accepted name, which today is called the musician line. It became such a violin and viola teacher after 7 years of education.
Before that I was active as a leader and SMU, “one-year-old”, escape leader at home in Värmland.

Why did it become the Immanuel Church?

It was through contacts and friends who were already involved here. So it came as a matter of course. I started in the chamber choir led by Ingemar Braennstroem. At the same time, several came from home, including my friend Anders Andersson.
We spent a lot of time at home in Arvika and were both involved in FKG – Frikyrkliga Gymnasiströrelsen. We also had a choir with a lot of activity and after high school it became a group that ended up here in Sthlm.

Pretty soon I took over the youth choir here in Immanuel which was later called Candela. It was a way in, you could say. It became a huge business, we became incredibly many, 70-80. It was a wonderfully fun era. There were tours and recordings, we were on radio & TV. It became like a hype. And from 1983 I was then hired.

Ok, what did your job look like then?

Yes, the choir was so established and a lot of activity was around it, so I was hired as a choir leader and chamber orchestra leader.

What other positions did you have before you became principal?
The first job was just choir leader and it led to the “responsibility” for the music school.

Well, did it already exist then?
Yes, this was -83 and the music sun had been around for 22 years already. On a fairly small scale. It was Gunno Södersten who started it in 1961.

But did you go straight from choir leader to principal?
Yes, it was not called principal then. But I took over the “responsibility” for the music school and began to develop it. I then left the youth choir Candela – and then the music school had grown so much that then there was only time for it.

What drives you in your professional life?
To play, make music with others. It has been and is my driving force. And as a professional musician, it is extremely important – to be involved and create the conditions for children to come into contact with – and get a good education in music. And as a church, I see it as an obvious, and great opportunity to give the children this. It is a great asset in the parish’s activities that also provides a huge contact area ..

Do many children come from outside?
Yes, there are many – you come here because it is a good music school. The music school has a very good reputation. We have a queue list for children who live in the entire Greater Stockholm area. You simply want your children here.

Scientific studies have made it clear that music, song and movement are so important at an early age. They have done large studies on primary school students, where they have reduced study hours with language & math and increased sports & music. Then they have compared with the reference groups and found that the Music students have better results in language & math than the reference groups. The music works during and according to social medical researchers, we feel better and live longer if we engage in these artistic expressions.

230 students stream through the church each week. They come with grandma, or grandma, sometimes it’s mom, sometimes it’s dad. And then there are plays and then whole families come with neighbors and close friends. Not only do they come and pass the church doors every week 15-16 times per semester – they pay for it too!

Then it is also important for the congregation to have good music and commitment to worship! Surely it was fun last Sunday?

Yes, it was absolutely fantastic!
But you, where does your passion for music come from?
Yes, it’s a lot from home. My growing up environment in Arvika. Maybe mostly from mom, she sang and played the piano. And then I have a brother, who is 5.5 years older. He’s a musician too, he went before that. I looked up to him a lot. He has been a professional musician most of his professional life, also Viola player. But it was a lot of the environment at home in the family and the context in Värmland where I grew up, that strengthened my interest in music. And GOOD leaders above all.

Being able to play together with others has been an important part.

Uncle Gunnar, principal of the music school in Arvika, was a really good role model, leader and saw us little students. I will never forget that day, I was 12-13 years old.
He comes to me and says “You Peter, next week you will play the violin in a piano quartet”

no but please someone, I can not do that, I replied. “Yes, your teacher will help you, you see, it’s a piano quartet written by Robert Schumann.”
And next week I sat there with Jan Olov