When Paul Daniels ’79, archivist at Luther Seminary, learned that “A Prairie Home Companion” would be hosting a cruise on the Baltic Sea in August, it caught his attention. He became even more interested when he discovered that Garrison Keillor and his “list of usual suspects” on the radio show would provide entertainment. There would be music, comedy, lectures, and fine dining—all in a potentially relaxing atmosphere, with stops at some of Europe’s most beautiful and historic settings—Helsinki, Stockholm, Copenhagen, St. Petersburg, Dover, and Århus.
Daniels noted, however, that the planned lectures included nothing related to Scandinavian art and design. How can you visit these countries, he wondered, without exploring their rich art and design culture? So he put together a series of lectures and art, submitted a proposal, and pitched it. They liked it! And that’s how Daniels found himself aboard a luxury cruise ship in the Baltic in August, lecturing on Scandinavian design.
In addition to the lectures, the two-week cruise—an annual event that attracts many of the “true believers” who follow the radio show—provides opportunities every night to hear Mr. Keillor and the musicians who perform regularly on his show, plus break-out events in a variety of ship venues (bars, restaurants, etc.). Additional musicians are also invited, and the men’s vocal group, Cantus, was among them this time. Daniels says the cruise is an incredibly rich experience, and a guest could possibly “end up exhausted!”
The czarist palaces in St. Petersburg were extraordinary, he says, and the Russian people took immense pride in showing them to visitors. Stockholm and Helsinki stood out for their beauty and sophistication, and Daniels was impressed by the openness and friendliness of the people they encountered on the trip, most notably in Helsinki. As he encountered the rich pastiche of European art and history, he must have felt like a boy in a candy shop.
Daniels, archivist and curator for Luther Seminary for more than 25 years, as well as for Region III of the ELCA, became aware of his love for art when he took an art history course at Augsburg, which included modern design. He is particularly grateful for the powerful effect that Professors Phil Quanbeck, Sr., and Carl Crislock had on him and his pursuit of a career that combines history and religion. Since many aspects of his work have changed over the years, he has flexed as well, always thankful for the sense of curiosity and love of learning instilled in him during his Auggie days. He also credits his father (an “artsy engineer”) for having made him conscious of the beauty and function of things.
Daniels stays in touch with many of his Auggie friends, particularly those with whom he sang in the Augsburg Choir. Choir was a major piece of his Augsburg experience, he says, and he was especially struck by the testimony created by that “wall of sound” at the front of the church when former and current choir members presented a concert in October 2013 in honor of the late Leland B. Sateren, composer and former director.