Wednesday, December 2, 2020
  -8.0 °C
  broken clouds
Sunniva Abelli, kulning musician

Umeå Answers Italian Coronavirus Balcony Music With Traditional Herd-Calling Songs Across Frozen River

- About a dozen musicians create impromptu kulning concert to battle social isolation - Coronavirus known case total rises to 29 in Västerbotten; local experts say Umeå's clean air will help lower mortality - Nordic Choice hotel chain offers buildings and staff for quarantine and treatment - Umeå LGBTQ+ rights organization RFSL moves annual meeting online
  • About a dozen musicians create impromptu kulning concert to battle social isolation
  • Coronavirus known case total rises to 29 in Västerbotten; local experts say Umeå’s clean air will help lower mortality
  • Nordic Choice hotel chain offers buildings and staff for quarantine and treatment
  • Umeå LGBTQ+ rights organization RFSL moves annual meeting online
Musicians across the river start singing kulning, to which Abelli responds, improvising a composition across several hundred meters.

ÖN – Umeå residents, led by local musician Sunniva Abelli, made music together during social isolation this afternoon, by singing traditional Scandinavian kulning herd-calls across the frozen Ume River.

“We were about ten people, maybe more,” Abelli, who lives on the island Ön, told Umeå Today. “I felt that it was so nice for those walking along the river, and that I was really close to the people I was communicating with.” Abelli said that she originally proposed the kulning on Facebook, inspired by Italians in social isolation who have been making music together on their balconies during the coronavirus pandemic. Swedish herders, primarily women, have been using kulning for hundreds of years to call cows, goats, and sheep.

Singers ice-skated out onto the river sometime after lunch today. “At first, we didn’t hear anything,” she explained, “so I started writing in the Messenger chat, ‘does anyone hear anything?’ But then we started, all of us at once, and then it sounded so good.”

Abelli said that kulning can be heard from many kilometers away, depending “on the wind, the right resonance, and what frequencies you use. The dogs were like, waw!” She said that some cranes had flown over her, and responded in the same tone.

Asked whether she plans to organize another kulning concert, Abelli said “definitely, especially because we all might be in quarantine.” She said that the next music-making might be in another week or two.

Meanwhile, Västerbotten County reported that one new case of coronavirus has been identified in the region, bringing the total to 29. Yesterday, officials declared coronavirus to be in “community transmission” in the region, meaning that doctors no longer can identify the exact sources of all cases, making it harder to track the disease’s spread. Five patients were reported to be in the hospital.

An expert on the local environment told Umeå Today this evening that from the standpoint of air pollution, the city has relatively good conditions for handling a larger coronavirus outbreak. “We have much better air quality than in northern Italy or China, so our lungs should be less affected by pollution,” said Bertil Forsberg, Professor of Environmental Medicine at Umeå University. Therefore, Forsberg expects, mortality will be lower because coronavirus tends to be more fatal when people are already breathing air contaminated with dangerous chemicals.

Västerbottens-Kuriren reported today that the Nordic Choice hotel consortium — which manages the city-center Clarion Hotel Uman, Comfort Hotel Winn, and Comfort Hotel Umeå City — has offered to put its resources into combatting coronavirus. The paper says that Nordic Choice may contribute cleaning and delivery staff, as well as loan out buildings for evacuation, quarantine, and medical testing or care, if the university hospital becomes overcrowded. CEO Gunnar Bäckström is quoted as saying “we want to help and are staying open for everything.”

RSFL, one of Umeå’s main LGBTQ rights organizations, announced today that it was moving its annual meeting online in response to the coronavirus. The meeting is scheduled for this coming Wednesday.

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