Norway: Concerts and Culture

June 6/5-20, 2013

2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the first St. Olaf Choir tour in Norway. Come with us as we follow the choir on a portion of a re-creation of that first tour. We join them for a concert Bergen, the beautiful city nestled among seven mountains, and home of famous composer, Edvard Grieg. While there we will visit not only Troldhaugen, but also Lysøen, the remarkable island home of Ole Bull. In addition we will explore the old part of the city, where the Hanseatic League had its headquarters.

We then depart slightly from the choir's route in order to see the city of Ålesund, famous for its Jugendstil architecture. But the trip wouldn't be complete without experiencing the amazing mountain scenery driving down Trollstigen highway on the way to Molde, known as the town of roses. After Molde we head north by way of the Atlanterhavsveien, which hops from island to island in the Atlantic ocean, to Trondheim and to Snåsa, the birthplace of Bernt Julius Muus, founder of St. Olaf College. Snåsa is also the home of the south Sami people, and we will visit the Sami cultural center located there. Along the way to Snåsa we will stop at Stiklestad, where St. Olaf himself fell in battle, and where a reenactment of the battle is staged each July. The choir concludes its tour with a concert in Nidaros cathedral in Trondheim Norway. We will leave them there, and head down to Oslo for a few days of sightseeing and free time.

While the main route of this trip is guided by the tour of the St. Olaf Choir, we will use opportunities to examine the culture and values of contemporary Norway, asking questions about what Norway is like today, and how it got there. We will examine the relationship between the nature of Norway, and its beauty, and the bustling urban environment of cities like Bergen, Trondheim and Oslo. We will explore whether the National Romantic view of Norwegian nature is still alive today and present in Norwegian values. How do these values relate to the controversies over drilling for oil along the north coast of Norway or building high-power lines across the fjords in Hardanger in order to supply electricity to Bergen? How are the Norwegian values of community and social responsibility apparent in the reaction to the tragic events of July 22, 2011, as well as in a variety of other policies ranging from aid to developing countries to universal health care and maternity/paternity leave? We will explore these questions and more as we enjoy the magnificent sound of the St. Olaf Choir.

Program leader

Margaret Hayford O'Leary has been teaching at St. Olaf College since 1977. She did her graduate work at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and received her undergraduate degree from Concordia College (Moorhead). She specializes in language pedagogy, particularly the use of technology in teaching Norwegian. Her first foray into language teaching materials was in the early 1990s when she co-authored a textbook for intermediate Norwegian, Norsk i sammenheng. She later co-authored a CD-ROM for learning Norwegian called KlikkNorsk. Her most recent book is Culture and Customs of Norway.

Margaret travels to Norway as often as possible. She spent two sabbaticals at the University of Oslo and in the summers, she teaches at Oslo International Summer School. She has also led several study tours to Norway and Scandinavia, including two for Smithsonian and two for St. Olaf Study Travel. In 2005 she led a companion tour to the St. Olaf College band, choir and orchestra tours of Norway.

What to expect

European cities are best experienced on foot. Be prepared for lots of walking! We will transfer between cities by private motor coach or train walk, but within cities will walk on guided tours and frequently to and from group meals.

To fully partake in this Study Travel program, you should be capable of walking up to five miles per day over possibly uneven terrain (e.g. cobblestones), climbing stairs that may not have handrails, keeping pace with an active group of travelers, dealing with the emotional highs and lows that can occur when experiencing a different culture, and being a considerate member of a group (prompt, courteous and flexible).

Most days, we will depart the hotel between 8 and 9 a.m.; we will coordinate our departure time in order to maximize our time at that day's sites. We will stop for lunch at some point in the early afternoon (usually between 12 noon and 2 p.m.). Often we will resume our program after lunch, visiting another site or museum. Some days may have several hours of free time; others will have very little or none at all. We try to return to the hotel in time to relax and freshen up for dinner. Hotels will be tourist class (typically three or four star) with private baths, air conditioning and English-speaking staff.

June average temperatures range from highs in the upper 60s Fahrenheit to lows around 50. Rainfall in June averages three to four inches, so a collapsible umbrella might come in handy. We will enjoy Norway in the two weeks directly proceeding the summer solstice, so daylight will last from approximately 4 a.m. to 11 p.m. In Trondheim, you can add an hour to both ends of the day.

You should plan on seeing your family physician or a travel doctor at least four to six weeks prior to departure, preferably earlier, to talk about routine vaccinations. For more information on travel health, visit or

Program fee

The program fee is $5,950 per person through January 31, 2013. Based on double occupancy, it includes seminars by Margaret Hayford O'Leary, assistance by a tour manager, three St. Olaf Choir concerts, all accommodations, breakfast daily and several other group meals, admissions for group activities, ground transportation except airport transfers, gratuities to guides and drivers, and a basic travel protection plan. For single occupancy, add $885. After January 31, 2013, the program fee is $6,100 per person.

Airfare is not included in the program fee. Participants are solely responsible for all expenses not specifically included in the program fee. Examples of excluded expenses are: airfare, transfers between the airport and hotel on arrival and departure, any passport and visa fees, any recommended immunizations or vaccinations, accident / baggage / trip cancellation insurance, beverages, laundry, dry cleaning, phone charges, room service or mini bar charges, expenses incurred during free time or non-group activities, and lunch and dinner, unless specifically included on program itinerary.

Please plan to depart the U.S. on Thursday, June 6 in order to arrive in Bergen on Friday, June 7.

Plan to depart Oslo on Thursday, June 20.

For assistance with flight arrangements, may we recommend Noreen Deiss of Travel Leaders / Suntime Travel. She can be reached at 651-429-0039 or We recommend you not purchase non-refundable airfare until we can confirm the program has enough participants to go.


Payment schedule

Forms for registered travelers:

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