Fifteenth Anniversary Workshops
Folklore Village, Dodgeville, WI, July 27 - August 1, 1998
We pulled out all the stops this year to provide for you a very high quality experience at our Gala Fifteenth Anniversary Workshops. This year we featured the superb hardingfele master Leif Rygg, in his first appearance as a teacher in this country. His teaching has won rave reviews from those who have attended his classes at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway. Joining him was Knut Blikberg, one of Voss's best dancers who is also renowned for his teaching abilities, teaching the Voss springar dialect called vossaspringar, the vossarull, and other dances from his area. Thus, we celebrates and learned a part of the Vestlandet tradition from Voss! Even if you have never played hardingfele or done Norwegian folk dancing before, you are welcome at HFAA!
Our event was held from July 30 through August 2nd at Folklore Village Farm, near Dodgeville, Wisconsin, about 35 minutes from Madison. Folklore Village provided a very memorable experience. Located in a peaceful rural setting, we had the opportunity to visit, share stories, learn new tunes, ask questions, and dance. All of the activities took place in the airy and spacious music and dance facility with a great dance floor and many workshop rooms in the lower floor. Three meals per day were provided to all one- and two-day registrants. The Folklore Village cooks have had extensive experience preparing sumptuous Scandinavian smorgasbords and desserts, and we were treated to an exceptional Norwegian feast Saturday night at our festive banquet.
The weekend began on Thursday night in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, a charming town about fifteen minutes from Dodgeville, with a gala opening concert with Leif Rygg, Knut Blikberg, and other members of the workshop teaching staff supplemented by local musicians. Friday morning we convened at Folklore Village for breakfast, followed by hours of varied workshops in all aspects of Norwegian fiddling and dancing. Friday night included a dance party at Folklore Village, followed by another solid day of workshops on Saturday. Our weekend climaxed with the Saturday night banquet, concert and dance, also at Folklore Village.
Instruction is available in the following areas:
All hardingfele classes are small, with lots of opportunity for individual attention. You need not have played hardingfele or Scandinavian fiddle before, but you should have some solid fiddling skills. It helps to have some degree of proficiency in learning by ear, although this is not a requirement. Some written music is available. Fiddlers who would like to try hardingfele but do not have an instrument are welcome to indicate the need to borrow an instrument on the registration form (or indicate having one to lend). Playing for dancing is an integral part of the fiddle instruction program, and all students get the opportunity to play for the dance classes, in groups or individually if desired.
A concurrent class will be offered for those interested in learning tunes on the "flat" or regular fiddle. Emphasis will be on Norwegian tunes and Norwegian folk styling.
Dance students had the opportunity to dance to live fiddle music and learn more about it. Emphasis was on the springar and rull traditions from Voss, but one or more typical Voss gammeldans styles were also taught. Instruction was at a beginning level, and experienced dancers will have plenty to learn from Knut Blikberg's intricate styling.
This two-day course, the only one in the United States, will look at some selected aspects of hardingfele construction. This was an opportunity for hands-on practice with carving, inlay and ink drawing. There were no extra fees for supplies.
The HFAA staff presents lectures and demonstrations about hardingfele music and dance on both days. Also new this year, we offered short, intensive sessions on issues of interest to anyone playing a bowed stringed instrument, not just hardingfele, at any level of ability. Classes were offered in relaxation and injury-avoidance techniques, and techniques for producing a stronger, smoother tone (with exercises for improving trills and intonation). Private lessons were also available with the teachers before or after the official sessions. Evenings included dance parties with live music, and Saturday evening there was a banquet followed by a concert featuring our staff instructors.
Leif Rygg is famous throughout Norway as one of the most accomplished virtuosos of the hardingfele today. He has won the Norwegian National Competition (Landskappleik) three times as well as innumerable smaller competitions, and is in demand as a concert player. He teaches at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss as well as teaching and performing professionally for Hordaland county (fylke) as a member of their folk music group. He has also performed in a number of foreign music festivals and performed at the Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa, leading a troupe of musicians and dancers from Voss. He has made several recordings, including "Lengt", a solo CD, and "Bjo/llesl@tten" together with Knut Buen and Kare Nordstoga.
Knut Blikberg, our master dance instructor, is one of Voss's most accomplished folk dancers. He learned dancing as he grew up and has been dancing and performing for nearly thirty years. He has consistently ranked among the top dancers in many regional and national folk dance competitions. He has performed in over six European countries, and was a member of the group that performed at the Nordic Fest in Decorah, Iowa with Leif Rygg. He has performed on television several times, including a program from the Winter Olympics at Lillehammer. He teaches at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss and is also a noted dance teacher and collector of dance traditions from Western Norway. He has also run a farm in Voss together with his wife, Anna.
Andrea Een developed mastery of the Hardanger fiddle through seven research trips to Norway from 1979 through 1992. She has learned in direct tradition from Norwegian master fiddlers such as Lars Skjervheim (Voss), Gunnar Stubseid (Setesdal), Vidar Lande (Setesdal/Telemark), and Hauk Buen (Telemark). She is an associate professor of music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota where she teaches violin, viola, chamber music and Hardanger fiddle. She has a doctor of musical arts in violin performance and literature with a minor in ethnomusicology from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, where her doctoral dissertation was on the hardingfele. Since 1980, Dr. Een has given over 100 lecture recitals in America and around the world. She was a featured performer on the Minnesota Historical Society recording, "Norwegian-American Music from Minnesota, Old-Time and Traditional Favorites." In 1987, she was invited to give a lecture on Norwegian-American musical traditions at the landskappleik (Norway's most important folk music festival and competition) in Sogndal, Norway. She has also been featured on Norwegian television in a series, Dem Som Dro Vest (Those Who Went West), about Norwegian traditional music in the Upper Midwest and has been interviewed on Norwegian radio. Dr. Een is a founder, board member, and life member of the HFAA. She has taught at the organization's annual workshops for ten years.
The most prominent Hardanger fiddle player in the US, Loretta Kelley of Washington, D.C. is an outstanding performer and teacher. She began serious study of the instrument in 1979, when she made the first of many trips to Norway. Loretta has taught and performed extensively throughout the United States and has written several magazine articles about the hardingfele, and a book of tune transcriptions. From 1991-1994, she served as president of the HFAA, and in 1994 her playing was featured in an hour-long program on Norwegian radio. Her first recording, Dansekveld, was released in 1990, and she has recently released a new CD, Amerikaspel.
Karen Torkelson Solgaard, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, taught beginning-level hardingfele at the HFAA annual meeting in 1997. She served as editor of the HFAA's Sound Post for three years as is now the organization's Vice President. Karen has been an organizer of the Twin Cities Hardingfelelag and is a musician with Det Norske Folkedanslaget in Minneapolis. She has also taught strings at a local Waldorf School.
Also assisting with instruction were Karin Løberg Code of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and Becky Weis of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both have studied with many Norwegian master fiddlers both in the USA and in Norway and have taught at numerous workshops around the country.
Ron Poast, from Black Earth, Wisconsin, has been making instruments for 25 years and Hardanger fiddles for 13 years. His instruments have been featured in a touring exhibition of Wisconsin folk art organized by Wisconsin's John M. Kohler Arts Center.