Category Archives: People

SACC-USA Looking for New President

THE SWEDISH-AMERICAN CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE, SACC-USA, is looking for a new president for its office in House of Sweden in Washington, D.C.

The mission of the SACC network is to promote trade and investment between Sweden and the U.S. in both directions. SACC-USA is the umbrella organization for 20 regional chambers across the U.S.

For more information, visit: http://sacc-usa.org/about/open-positions.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share

Washington-based filmmaker Fabienne Lips-Dumas works on a project – ‘Heroes of the Sun’ — covering the gigantic slum Cit?Soleil in Haiti

'Heroes of the Sun' Washington-based filmmaker Fabienne Lips-Dumas

THE DEVASTATION of Haiti is well known to most people – including earthquake, floods, hurricanes, and Brazilian insect infestations. The Washington-based filmmaker Fabienne Lips-Dumas was intrigued by the devastation and these human tragedies and is working on “Heroes of the Sun” – a film about the art of surviving in one of the most dangerous places in the world.

MS. LIPS-DUMAS explains how it all started: “It all began in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Institute for Peace during a conference about reconstruction in Haiti. A woman sitting in the first row was asked to talk about her work. She stood wrapped all in blue and started to sing: ‘Resistance…’ Silence. The audience in that cold and academic auditorium was mesmerized. I wanted to meet with her. I did. Her name: Barbara Guillaume, she was an activist and an artist. She wanted to run for mayor in Cit?Soleil. ‘Cit?Soleil? Really?’ I could not believe it. A few years ago, the slum was labeled as a no-law zone, one of the most dangerous places on the planet, claimed the UN. She said to me: ‘Come to Haiti… come!’ A year later, with the support of a French Broadcaster (Group Canal +), I was interviewing her on camera.”

“I WAS INTRIGUED about who these people were, who despite death and destruction, survive and transcend tragedies with such inspiring songs,” says Ms. Lips-Dumas. Cit?Soleil, in the heart of Haiti, has a history of violence like very few places on Earth and is vast. Nearly half a million people live in this slum by the Caribbean sea. The surrounding shores serve as garbage dumps and community toilets. By day the UN forces patrol. But long before sunset, fear of gangs forces outsiders to leave, while the inhabitants lock themselves inside their shacks, and street kids hide in their secret shelters.

“YET, I UNCOVERED a constellation of dreams, wisdom, poetry, hope, pride and dignity. I witnessed unshakable faith and passion for life. The scenes I was lucky enough to capture on film are unforgettable, some are dark and poignant, others are beam with grace and humanity,” says Fabienne Lips-Dumas.

AFTER MORE THAN a year of work, Ms. Lips-Dumas has put together a team to help with editing and distributing the film. The post production will start by September. She is raising funds to cover expenses for the continued work and expects to be finished by the end of the year in time to exhibit the film at major film festivals in 2014 in America and all over the world. In January the promotion starts, and then there will be the preparation for the launch in February.

The funding period is through August 5, 2013. For more information about the project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1592496100/heroes-of-the-sun-a-feature-documentary-project

‘Amerika — dr?mmarnas land’ (America – Land of Dreams), a recently published book by Klas Bergman, former correspondent for Dagens Nyheter

“Amerika — dr?mmarnas land” (America – Land of Dreams) – a recently published book by Klas Bergman, former Washington correspondent of the leading Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter

KLAS BERGMAN, Dagens Nyheter’s former Washington correspondent and a former foreign correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor, has made America his home for many years. From his student days in California in the 1960s to the World Bank in Washington, DC., and as communications director at the United Nations and Stanford and Yale Universities, he has spent much of his career in the U.S. Bergman is now a freelance journalist and writer living in Silver Spring, Md.

BERGMAN wrote “Amerika – dr?mmarnas land” (America – Land of Dreams) based on his years of experience in the U.S. It was published last fall by Carlsson Bokf?rlag in Sweden. He is now busy translating the book into English.

“AMERIKA – dr?mmarnas land” is a personal account about how America has changed and developed starting with the turbulent ’60s with the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, through the years of the “Reagan Revolution,” the “war on terror” during the George W. Bush years, until now when the country has its first African-American president, Barack Obama.
It is about how boyhood dreams in Stockholm, Sweden came true and about how those dreams in the years that followed have been both bruised and strengthened. Bergman says that it is important to remember that America is a big country, and that there are many Americas, and that everyone should be wary of generalizations.

BERGMAN has promoted his book with several appearances with Swedish-American audiences, at events sponsored by SWEA and SACU in Washington, D.C., and in Minnesota, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

HE MIGHT BE returning soon to Minnesota for research on his next book, which does not have a title yet but will be about Scandinavian and American politics.

Christmas cards by Swedish artist Leif S?dergren inspired by the rural, itinerant painters of the Swedish province Dalarna

God Jul.1.jpgChristmas card by Gothenburg, Sweden based artist Leif S?dergren, inspired by painters of the Swedish province Dalarna.

GOTHENBURG, Sweden-based artist Leif S?dergren is inspired by the rural, itinerant painters of the country’s province of Dalarna, during the years 1720-1870. His artwork is painted with acrylic paint on wooden panels.

THE LARGE FLORAL decorations (Kurbits), found in all his paintings are an invented, fantastical symbol of vegetal fertility, based on a gourd or pumpkin of biblical legend. Mr. S?dergren’s artwork can be viewed at http://swedishfolkart.blogspot.se.

Christmas card by painter Leif S?dergrenChristmas card by painter Leif S?dergren

LEIF S?dergren has recently designed a series of Christmas cards – with English as well as Swedish text — based on his paintings. And they can be purchased in the United States through “Fine Art America” — http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/leif-sodergren.html?tab=artworkgalleries&artworkgalleryid=225317.

God Jul.3.jpgChristmas card, with Swedish text, by painter Leif S?dergren

Swedish Director Stefan Blomquist shows his film ‘Miss D’ at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival

Photo from the first table reading. From the left Stefan Blomquist, actors Scott Speiser, Lori TanChin and Zuzana Stivanova. Stockholm-born, New York-based director Stefan Blomquist says he gets inspiration from directors Pedro Alm?ovar and Woody Allen. Photo from the first table reading. From the left Stefan Blomquist, actors Scott Speiser, Lori Tan Chinn and Zuzana Stivinova.

SWEDISH-BORN and New York-based director and freelance artist Stefan Blomquist (www.stefanblomquist.net) is taking his latest work, “Miss D,” to be shown at the Short Film Corner at the Cannes Film Festival – May 16 through May 27 — which will be the world premiere of the film. The story is about a lonely cross dresser in New York City’s glam punk 1990s, who after receiving a call from an ex-lover threatens to rekindle memories from a time far gone by and rupture the balance of a healing heart.

Miss D film promotion posterMiss D film promotion poster

“MAKING THE RIGHT CHOICES for yourself in life, in relationships and deciding you’re going to be happy has little to do with luck. It is a universal story,” says Stefan, who gives high praise to his team of fabulous actors Lori Tan Chinn, Scott Speiser and Zuzana Stivinova. The producer of the film is Mai Izsak-Niimura.

STEFAN BLOMQUIST, originally from Stockholm, moved to New York in 2001 when he was accepted at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy (AMDA). He graduated from AMDA in 2002 with the Conservatory Diploma.

SINCE COMING to New York, he has worked with various aspects of visual and performing arts, including photography, film, design and creative writing. Among his prestigious clients are Wilhelmina Models and New York Times T Magazine, both in New York.

IN 2004 he returned to Sweden, but was back in the United States after one year. Through a friend from Turkey he landed a well-paid job at a hospital, which made it possible for him to pursue his dream career with photography and art, and the following years he traveled a lot.

“I THOUGHT THAT I wanted to do cultural photography, I visited San Francisco, Los Angeles, Thailand, India, Cairo and Istanbul, among other places. But it is a field with few career opportunities and little money.”

A FEW YEARS LATER Stefan returned to school, first The City University of New York, where he in 2008 received an Associate Degree in Applied Arts & Sciences. And in 2010 he was awarded a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the New School University’s Department of Film and Media Studies. Last May he earned the Film Production Certificate also at New School University.

“EVERYTHING is intertwined – people, history, travel,” Stefan says. He is currently focused on doing short films, and his plan for the future is to continue doing films and commercials.

“TO MAKE LONG films is very costly. I admire the Spanish director Pedro Alm?ovar and Woody Allen, and my goal is to become a mixture of the two. I would like to do something with Swedish culture, and I get inspiration from Swedish director Lucas Moodyson.”

MUCH OF HIS work is influenced by his passion for other cultures and his interest in human rights.

STEFAN, along with colleagues Lauryn Garza and Kojenwa Moitt, has a production company, which is called Interdisciplinary Arts Production.

Swedish Director Stefan Blomquist’s film ‘Miss D’ to the Cannes Short Film Festival

SWEDISH director Stefan Blomquist is taking his latest work to the short film corner in Cannes with the world premiere of “Miss D,” the story of a lonely cross dresser in New York City’s late glam punk 1990′s who after receiving a call from an ex-lover threatens to rekindle memories from a time far gone by and rupture the balance of a healing heart.

THE STORY IS a universal one, Blomquist says. “Making the right choices for yourself in life, in relationships and deciding you’re going to be happy has little to do with luck.” Still, luck was exactly what producer Mai Izsak-Niimura received when Lori Tan Chinn, Scott Speiser and Zuzana Stivinova walked into Tiandra Gayle’s casting room. With a plethora of experience in film and after having worked with a number of A list actors, Tan Chinn was instrumental to the comedic timing in this short piece as a cranky Chinese landlady in New York’s dingy lower east side. Similarly, Scott Speiser, formerly of the famed Blue Man Group and Zuzana Stivinova known for her extensive work as a leading lady in feature length films produced in her native Czech Republic, fit together nicely as forlorn lovers in a plausible relationship between a bad girl and a sensitive wig and spandex wearing jock.

BLOMQUIST IS unique in his penchant for recreating cult films that engage the viewer’s ability to reminisce with styled landscape and character driven content. Always fascinated with the bending of sexual genre, he is also an advocate and of original music and is already in preparations for the production of JACK, the story of an intersex writer working through the angst of a series of troubled relationships. The Cannes Film Festival takes place from the 16th to the 27th of May.

More information about “Miss D” can be found here http://registration.cannescourtmetrage.com/filmfiche2.Aspx?id=55081748.  
Media and press inquiries can be directed to kojenwa@zebra.nu or by calling 917.349.2030.

Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund called ‘The best quality voice material since Birgit Nilsson’

Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund, who lives in New York and in Sweden, performed at a fundraising gala for The Swedish Alzheimer's Association in Borl?ge Jan. 24. Swedish opera singer Ulla Westlund (www.ullawestlund.com), who lives in New York and in Sweden, performed at a fundraising gala for The Swedish Alzheimer’s Association in Borl?ge Jan. 24.

SWEDISH opera singer Ulla Westlund (www.ullawestlund.com) nowadays calls New York City her home, but she still gets to Sweden often. During a recent trip there to perform during the Christmas and holiday season, she visited Gothenburg and also performed Jan. 24 at a fundraising gala for Alzheimerf?reningen i Sverige (The Swedish Alzheimer’s Association) in her hometown of Borl?ge in the Dalecarlia area of the country. Additionally, she gave several Christmas concerts at other Swedish locations.

AT HER ONE-PERSON show in Borl?ge she performed works by Wagner as well as a more modern repertoire with songs, jazz and her own compositions to great acclaim.

THE VIVID AND charismatic Ulla recalls growing up on a farm outside Borl?ge in V?ter-Tuna sl?ten, which also happens to be the birthplace of the world-renowned Swedish opera star Jussi Bj?rling.

“I HAVE SUNG since I was a child, and my parents and sisters sang also,” she says. “I could sing before I talked. Since my voice was particularly strong, I was often the soloist.” Her influences were Swedish jazz singer Meta Roos and opera singer Jussi Bj?rling.

“I PEFORMED AND entertained, and started with theater at the age of 14, in such plays as ‘Klas Kl?termus’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ (‘Spelman p?Taket’) and toured around all of Sweden. I studied two years at theater schools in ?ebro K?vesta in Central Sweden and Vendelsberg, in M?lnlycke in the Gothenburg area, and I finished with a degree in theater.”

Swedish opera singer Ulla WestlundSwedish opera singer Ulla Westlund

SHE DID free lance work in Gothenburg for three years, from 1992 to1995, dabbled in TV, film and in musicals, sang in a big band, had her own shows and worked as a stand-up comedienne, but decided to pursue a singing career. She met Sten Sj?stedt, an opera singer and also a director. He directed the musical “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying,” with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, at Kung?v Theatre outside Gothenburg, and gave her a chance in that show in 1994. This was followed by excerpts from the role of Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor,” at the Gothenburg’s Opera House small scene, a role she learnt in a short period of time. Mr. Sj?stedt called her an “uncut diamond.”

SHE CONTINUED her music education in Gothenburg, and applied to the University Colleges of Opera (Operah?gskolorna) in Stockholm and Gothenburg, but was rejected. Even though one of the jurors — a prominent Scandinavian conductor — considered her “the best quality voice material since Birgit Nilsson.”

“BIRGIT-LOISE Franz? – a Swedish coloratura soprano – worked with me during one year, in 1995. In 1994-95 a jury from England went to the northern part of Sweden scouting for new talent, and I was immediately accepted at the Birmingham Conservartory (Bmus),” says Ulla.

During her first year in Birmingham, she briefly met and came to know Simon Rattle, who was responsible for the school’s orchestra. And she debuted before the first year’s end, in 1996, in “Sounds of Sweden” with Swedish opera stars Nikolai Gedda and Elisabeth S?derstr?m and the BBC Symphony Orchestra at a performance that was broadcast on BBC Live, with Swedish Princess Christina present. She also toured in England, Wales and Sweden, and performed Nanetta in “Falstaff” by Verdi with conductor Mark Elder.

ULLA WESTLUND finalized her education in Birmingham, and received the Diploma in Opera Performance – the conservatory’s highest award. After returning to Sweden, she performed Jenny Lind, when the Stockholm Music Museum had its celebration in 1999. And she was awarded the European Union Art Scholarship.

“I SPENT TWO YEARS in Rome. It was a fantastic time, and I got a chance to see all the opera prima donnas. But I also met people who said that ‘America is where you should go.’”

“MY DREAM was to work with a really good coach, and I contacted conductor Jeffrey Goldberg at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, who became interested since I had worked with the opera diva Antonietta Stella in Rome.” She received a cultural scholarship from Konstn?sn?nden, a Swedish authority under the supervision of the Department of Culture and traveled to New York.

ULLA Westlund rehearsed the roles Tosca and Aida with Mr. Goldberg, and her debut – as Maddalena in “I Tre Compagni” by Louis Gioia – was in 2009 at one of the Metropolitan scenes. Singing at Caf?Tacci in New York, she met Eric Kaufmann, an opera aficionado, who became a close friend and introduced her to his connections. He helped her become the soloist at two music festivals, and participate at church concerts. Other performances include at the Oslo Concert House with conductor Laurent Pillot, at the Concert House of Sweden with French-Italian guitarist Alexandre Pier Federici, and at Teatro Flavio Vespasiano in Rieti, Italy.

Swedish opera singer Ulla WestlundOpera singer Ulla Westlund

“THE ATMOSPHERE in New York is so dynamic, full of energy and enthusiasm, with a wonderful pulse, you grow as an artist – but it is also extremely competitive, and Americans are very professional,” says Ulla.

IN 2008 she got an agent, Rita Sardos, who helped her with auditions, and in 2009 she got the leading role in a Verismo opera near Lincoln Center, which opened to splendid reviews. One of the conductors told her “you should sing Wagner.”

AND SO, in a Wagner Society of New York competition, she won the first prize, and the prize check gave her the opportunity to study at Berliner Staatsoper. It was also in Berlin she met her partner, and with whom she now has a daughter and lives in New York. She recently had to study Wagner’s “Tristan and Isolde” for a performance at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

ULLA WESTLUND says that her favorite roles are Tosca, Isolde and Amelia (“Un ballo in Maschera”) and favorite composers Puccini, Verdi and Wagner. Among conductors she is specially fond of Claudio Abbado, and her favorite orchestra is The Orchestra of Metropolitan Opera Theatre.

“MY PLAN FOR THE future is to learn more Wagner roles and do auditions in Europe, and learn to sing in Russian, since many say that would suit my voice.” In the summer she will tour Sweden and work on a CD with guitarist Alexandre Pier Federici. She says: “My dream role is Tosca and to perform it at Il Teatro dell’Roma in Italy — with Jonas Kaufman as Cavaradossi and Pl?ido Domingo as Scarpia. A collaboration with Domingo would be fabulous – and to do an opera film with Zeffirelli and the role Maddalena in ‘Andrea Chenier’ by Giordano!”

New website for the Swedish-speaking job market in the New York area

Hanna B. JacksonSwede Hanna B. Jackson has launched the website http://swedishjobsnyc.com/  for employers looking for Swedish-speaking employees and Swedes looking for jobs in the Metropolitan New York area.

HANNA B. JACKSON - a 27-year old Swede from Stockholm living in New York – recently started the website http://swedishjobsnyc.com/ - for the Swedish speaking job market in the New York area.
“I was surprised that there was such a demand and many opportunities for people with a Swedish background in the New York job market. While looking for a job myself, I came up with the idea of a website, where Swedish companies and others could post their openings and Swedish speakers could look for work.”

“THE GOAL is that the site will grow into a platform where Swedish companies with activity in New York and the United States, who are looking for Swedish-speakers, can advertise, so that employers and prospective employees can ‘meet’ directly on the site,” says Hanna, who just started working on a project-basis as a legal researcher. Previously she worked as assistant editor for the online lifestyle magazine “UrbanDaddy” in New York, and also did freelance journalism work.

HANNA, who grew up in the Vasastan section of Stockholm, is married to an Australian and has lived in New York since 2008. She says her childhood dream actually was to become a reporter and writer. “My father thought I was a good writer and was supported of me becoming one, but he suggested that I studied law to get some competence that the journalists who went to university to study journalism would not have.”

AFTER SPENDING 6 months in London after her high-school graduation, she started her law studies at the University of Stockholm Law School.
“The final push to study law came after a meeting with a successful lawyer at Sony in London, who was very inspirational.”
Now she holds a masters degree in law, LL.M., but also spent one semester at Poppius Journalism School in Stockholm.

DURING A YEAR off, taking care of her infant son, she decided that after all she wanted to practice law. “I realized that the way a lawyer works – the different cases, the information gathering, and the problem solving – was the way I enjoyed working the most. But it proved much harder in this tough job market to start a legal career than I had anticipated at first.”
“I am passionate about human and civil rights and have a great interest in immigration law, and I was looking at positions at international organizations and NGOs as well as law firms.”

“I THOUGHT it would be easier for me to find a position with Swedish as a requirement or advantage, or within a Swedish company. Going through many job sites and hundreds of listings every day, was both time-consuming and monotone. I heard about other Swedes in my situation and since I was going through all these listings, I thought I might as well collect all the Swedish-related ones, and create a Swedish job site in the New York area!” she says.

HANNA LOVES living in New York. “It is a challenge and a struggle to live in New York, but there is a certain feeling of unity, that I never felt in Stockholm,” she says. “It is wonderful, very inspiring, exhilarating and tough, with a fantastic social and nightlife.”

“A FRIEND of mine once described living in New York as a constant battle, and I can understand what she meant. It is hard because it is full of so many talented and amazing people who all want to succeed. Rent is expensive, and no one here is going to babysit you. But with this ‘battle’ comes a feeling of belonging, everyone who is here is here because they want to, and the battle is worth it because of all the opportunities and incredible experiences that New York brings.”

HANNA AND her husband Chad and their young son now live in Brooklyn, but they previously lived in Manhattan. She says that her closest friends are Swedish, but that she meets a lot of different people and has friends from a variety of countries, but notes that “New York is full of Swedes. I feel like I meet new ones every week!”

“AND RECENTLY I became a member of The Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce, New York (SACC-NY), and attended a couple of their events,” says Hanna, who spends her leisure time enjoying New York’s amazing restaurants, or playing chess which is a new-found obsession.

Beautiful performance with Swedish pianist Niklas Sivel?v at House of Sweden in Washington, D.C.

Swedish pianist Niklas Sivel?v and press counselor Gabriella Augustsson, Embassy of SwedenSwedish pianist Niklas Sivel?v and press counselor Gabriella Augustsson, Embassy of Sweden

RENOWNED Swedish pianist Niklas Sivel?v (www.niklassivelov.com) did a fabulous performance – to a full Alfred Nobel Hall in House of Sweden in Washington, D.C. – on Wednesday evening, April. 20. The audience listened attentively when the Swede performed works by Johann Sebastian Bach (Partita no. 3 A minor BWV827), Robert Schumann (Piano Sonata No. 2 in G minor, Op. 22), Franz Liszt (Tre Sonetti del Petrarca from Ann?s de P?erinage II – Italy), Alberto Ginestra (Danzas Argentinas op. 2), and his own improvisions over Fredman’s Epistlar by Swedish 18th century poet and composer Carl Michael Bellman.

NIKLAS Sivel?v, also a composer and teacher, studied at the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm, where he made his debut in 1991 as a soloist, performing Bartok’s Second Piano Concerto with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

HE CONTINUED his studies in Helsinki, Bucharest and London, and soon attracted attention for his interpretations and range of repertoire, which extends from Beethoven to Lutoslawski and Ligeti, and in addition to works by a number of contemporary Swedish composers. He collaborates with conductors such as Esa-Pekka Salonen, Leif Segerstam and Paavo Berglund.

Spencer P. Boyer, the U.S. State Department, and Mark Vlasic, Georgetown UniversitySpencer P. Boyer, the U.S. State Department, and Mark Vlasic, Georgetown University, came to the Sivel?v concert at the House of Sweden.

HE OFTEN CREATES a sensation for his intense and fiery performances. That occurred in New York City, when he performed with Mark Peskanov and Sophie Shao, which was praised by The New York Times, recommending it to the public.

MR. Sivel?v has performed all over the world and given master classes in the United States, United Kingdom, Spain and other countries. His many awards include Prestigious Prizes in International Piano Competitions in Geneva and Cincinnati. He was recently appointed Professor of piano at DKDM in Copenhagen.

NIKLAS Sivel?v continues his Washington visit with a performance at the Kennedy Center on Friday evening, April 29.

Celebrated Swedish chef Marcus Samuelsson and wife, model Gate Maya Haile covered by Uptown Magazine’s April “Gourmet” issue

THE SWEDISH, Ethiopian-born, New York-based star chef Marcus Samuelsson is everywhere in the media these days. Just last week he was honored with hosting President Barack Obama’s DNC Fundraiser at his new restaurant Red Rooster Harlem. And on Wednesday, April 6, he will be at the House of Sweden/Embassy of Sweden in Washington to promote his new book, “New American Table.”

In the April “Gourmet” issue of UPTOWN Magazine (http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/04/uptown-magazine-the-gourmet-issue/) in New York, the celebrated chef and his beautiful wife, model Gate Maya Haile talk to the magazine about his critically acclaimed eatery, racism in the culinary industry and what it means to make history. The magazine’s front page is covered by a glamorous photo of the handsome couple, and inside the publication there are more photos to admire (http://uptownmagazine.com/2011/04/behind-the-scenes-king-of-the-kitchen/).