The history of SNOBS

We've been around of a while

The mid 60’s

Mr Svante Nyman lived in Minneapolis for some years in the 60´s to study American law there. In the end of 1967 he went to a listen to a chorus led by Steve Shannon, whom also became the first contact between Sweden and America. Svante Nyman later also met with Bob Dowma, Doug Chapman, Don Challman and some other fellow barbershoppers from the LOL District. Svante sent barbershop sheet music to his brother in Sweden, Mr Olle Nyman.

He was already in love with the barbershop harmonies thanks to some tapes that Svante had sent to him earlier. Svante came home to Stockholm, Sweden in 1968 and then he and brother Olle formed the first Swedish barbershop quartet, the ”Elastic Harmony Four”. Members were Olle Nyman (tenor), Peter Tornborg (lead), Svante Nyman (baritone) and Peter Strandberg (bass).

All of them (except for Olle, who only was hanging around for the after glows J ) were members of the Swedish male, Stockholm based, chorus ”the Academical Chorus” (Akademiska Kören). Amongst the members of that chorus were also Håkan Åkerstedt, Olle Bolander and Björn Hagerman. All of the above mentioned men became important people in the beginning of barbershop in Sweden.

Elastic Harmony Four sang for about a year until Svante couldn´t find the time anymore. Instead a new formation, consisting of Håkan Åkerstedt, Olle Bolander, Olle Nyman and Björn Hagerman, was formed.

The year was 1969, and the guys had talked their chorus, the Academical chorus, into doing a tour in the USA, first and foremost to visit their contacts around the Minneapolis area, Don Challman and Bob Dowma amongst others. During that trip a pure barbershop quartet was established within the chorus and they also sang on different occasions during the trip in the USA.

Elastic Harmony Four, 1968

The first American, Don Challman, coaching in Sweden, 1971

The 1970’s

So the contact was established! Therefore, in 1970, representatives and chapters from the LOL District travelled to Stockholm, Sweden and maybe other places in Scandinavia (a description of that trip is to be found in a Harmonizer article from that same year). Prior to that visit a brand new chorus saw the light of day, to celebrate and sing barbershop. The members, which had met in Olle Nyman´s kitchen in 1970, were most of the people mentioned above. The chorus was named “Stockholm Barbershop Chorus” (SBC) and the first Director of the chorus was Olle Bolander.

During the 70´s the chorus worked on and grew to about 40 members, changed their name to “Stockholms Barbershopsällskap” (the same name but in Swedish J ). Today this chorus is identified as “Vocal Vikings”, which is name they switched to later on.

In the late 70´s a fraction from SBC left, to start another barbershop chorus. The people behind this new chorus were Håkan Åkerstedt and Stig Apelman, who lived in Rönninge just outside of Stockholm. Rönninge became the base of this new chorus, “Rönninge Barbershop Chorus” (they switched name later on and are today known as “the EntertainMen”.)

They had their base in Rönninge for a long time, just until a few years ago when they moved their rehearsals to Stockholm. Rönninge has been like the barbershop Mecca in Sweden, considering that also the SAI chorus “Rönninge Show Chorus” is situated there, and the SAI Region 32 Queens of Harmony “Growing Girls”, “Swinglish Mix” and “SALT” hail from there. And now just a few years ago, SNOBS newest chorus “zero8” have been having their base in Rönninge…. Well, that was maybe a side track…

Stockholm Barbershop Sällskap, 1971 & Night Owls in the front.

Rönninge Barbershop Chorus, 1976?

The 1980’s

A good friend of Håkan Åkerstedt´s, Mr Lars Holmström, picked up Håkan´s new and big interest in barbershop music in the late 1970´s. Lars, being a music teacher in an elementary school in Helsingborg (Southern Sweden), made some easy arrangements of songs like “Barbara Ann”, “Blue Suede Shoes and a few other gems, and had his students trying to sing these 4-part barbershop harmony pieces. That led him to founding a school chorus and later in 1982 the barbershop chorus “Helsingborg Barberboys”, consisting of students from classes in school, all in the ages around 14-18 years old. They made huge successes in the 1980´s and early 90´s, both in Sweden as well as in Europe and the USA.

In Stockholm in 1980 there were discussions regarding founding an organization to promote barbershop music. Håkan Åkerstedt and Stig Apelman were the main people pushing this, so later in 1980 the organization SNOBS (the Society of Nordic Barbershop Singers) was legally founded. A big manifestation in the well known concert hall “Berwaldhallen” was held and a special guest from the USA attended, mr Bob Johnson. The purpose for SNOBS was to promote and preserve barbershop singing in all the Nordic countries, although it was only known of barbershop being sung in Sweden by that time. Efforts to spread barbershop to the other Nordic countries has been made ever since, and barbershop is now being sung in Denmark, Norway and Finland too, much thanks to SNOBS efforts.

The first chorus contest was held in 1982 with Rönninge Barbershop Chorus as the winners.

This is the story behind how barbershop came to Sweden and how the first quartets and choruses were founded, as well as the background to the start of SNOBS.

Henrik Rosenberg
President, SNOBS

Helsingborg Barberboys, 1982

SNOBS first board in 1980

President: Håkan Åkerstedt, Rönninge
Vice President: Henry Sandberg, Stockholm
Secretary: Bo Fritzell, Stockholm
Treasurer: Henrik Håkansson/Per Sjöblom, Stockholm
Musical Director: Gunnar Ericsson, Stockholm
Substitues: Hans Anderberg, Stockholm – Bengt Willner, Nyköping – Olle Nyman, Rönninge

Good Time Singers, 1984, in concert.

The EntertainMen (former Rönninge Barbershop Chorus), from a later occasion.