Folklore Village, Dodgeville, WI, July 16 - 18
The HFAA was proud to bring back to its 1999 Stevne the hardingfele master Vidar Lande, one of the greatest players in Norway, whose vast knowledge and analytical musical ability also make him one of the greatest teachers of the hardingfele. Also, teaching dance was Inge Midtveit from West Telemark in Norway, whose great dancing and teaching were "discovered" by American enthusiasts when he partnered Karin Brennesvik at Scandinavian Week, Buffalo Gap in 1997. Joining Vidar and Inge will be our usual roster of stellar American hardingfele teachers, plus Ron Poast teaching hardingfele construction.
Even if you have never played hardingfele or done Norwegian folk dancing before, you are welcome at the HFAA Annual Meeting!
We returned to our beautiful location at the Folklore Village Farm in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, about a 35-minute drive west of Madison. Folklore Village provides us with a very memorable experience. Located in a peaceful rural setting, we had the opportunity to learn new tunes, receive individualized instruction, ask questions, visit, share stories, and dance. All of the activities took place in the newly air-conditioned and spacious music and dance facility with a great dance floor and many classrooms on 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 will be treated to a Norwegian feast Saturday night at our festive banquet.
The weekend began on Thursday evening with a gala opening concert with Vidar Lande and other members of the teaching staff (location to be announced). 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 was 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 will be
available. Fiddlers who would like to try hardingfele but do not
have an instrument are welcome -- please indicate that you would
like to borrow an instrument on the registration form (or indicate
if you have one to lend). Playing for dancing is an integral part
of the fiddle instruction program, and all students will get the
opportunity to play for the dance classes, in groups or individually
Dance students had the opportunity to dance to live fiddle music and learn more about it. Emphasis was on the springar and gangar tradition of West Telemark, but Inge also taught a short introduction to the Setesdal gangar, to enable our attendees to dance to Vidar Lande's fabulous Setesdal tunes. There was time for individual instruction tailored for both beginning level and experienced dancers.
This two-day course, the only one in the United States, looked at some selected aspects of hardingfele construction. There were opportunities for hands-on practice with carving, inlay, and ink drawing. There will be no extra fee for supplies. The picture shows instrument-maker and hardingfele construction teacher Ron Poast of Black Earth, Wisconsin, playing a Hardanger fiddle he made. Photo by Richard Strauss, used by permission of the Smithsonian Institution.
Our staff presented lectures and demonstrations about hardingfele music and dance on both days. There were also short intensive sessions on issues of interest to anyone playing a bowed stringed instrument at any level of ability. Topics may include relaxation and injury-avoidance techniques, tone-production techniques and tips for optimizing your practice time. Private 15-minute coaching sessions with the teachers will be available to help you solve your individual fiddling problem. Longer 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 and also concert featuring our staff instructors.
Vidar Lande is recognized not only as one of the best hardingfele
players in Norway, but as a dedicated researcher and collector
who has accumulated a vast store of tunes and knowledge from his
home area of Bygland in central Setesdal and from Telemark and
other hardingfele areas. He began learning hardingfele from
his uncle Gunnar Lande in Bygland as a 14-year-old, and at the
age of 18 began visiting other Setesdal fiddlers such as Dreng
Ose, Otto Furholt, and Gunnar Liestøl. He lived in Oslo
for a while and collected tunes from Kjetil Løndal and Odd
Bakkerud, then began traveling to Telemark to learn from Eivind
Mo, among others. His goal was to learn as many tunes as possible,
and he recorded everything on his tape recorder and transcribed
probably over a thousand tunes. From this work he gained an encyclopedic
knowledge of the hardingfele tradition, which he combined with
an exceptional ability to analyze differences in playing styles
Many will remember Vidar from his appearances in the 1970s on the Prairie Home Companion, and he was the teacher at the very first HFAA Stevne in 1984. He has also taught at workshops in Minneapolis and San Francisco. where his students have awarded him the highest praise. Vidar is in high demand in Norway both as a concert performer and as a judge in fiddling competitions. His CD, "Norway: Fiddle Music from Agder", part of the UNESCO Collection of Musics and Musicians of the World, is available from the HFAA. He is also the author of two landmark collections of hardingfele transcriptions, Slåttar og Spelemenn i Bygland, and Otto Furholt: Slåttar.
Inge Midtveit has danced telespringar for more than twelve years. He was born in the rural area of Vinje in West Telemark, where he learned dancing naturally as a part of festival and party life. While attending the College of Veterinary Medicine in Oslo, he became active in the folkdance world in the city, and occasionally taught workshops in telespringar. He has an excellent command of English, and in 1997 he was invited to assist Karin Brennesvik in teaching telespringar at Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap, where his elegant dancing was greatly admired.
The HFAA was also proud to be able to include on our staff many of the very best American hardingfele teachers and players.
Karin Løberg Code of Kalamazoo, MI, is the current editor of the HFAA's Sound Post. She has studied with many Norwegian master fiddlers both in the USA and in Norway, and has taught at numerous workshops around the country. She has recently returned from a sabbatical in Norway where she was immersed in folk music and dance. While living in Oslo, Karin played weekly for dancing, joined a local fiddlers' group, and performed at various venues. Karin is a violin and viola teacher in Michigan and performs with the local symphony. She is a frequent fiddle recitalist and has a dance fiddle CD out called "Norsk Spring Dance".
Loretta Kelley, from Washington, D.C., has studied hardingfele in Norway from many of Norway's most respected players. She specializes in Telemark-style fiddling but also plays many styles from other regions. Besides having taught at the HFAA Stevne for ten years, she is a staff teacher at Buffalo Gap Scandinavian Week in West Virginia, and has taught at many other workshops throughout the country. Her writings have appeared in books and magazines in Norway, England, and the U.S. She has won respectable rankings in competitions in Norway, and her playing has been featured in a one-hour program on Norwegian radio. She has made two recordings of springar playing for dancing, Dansekveld, and most recently Amerikaspel.
Karen Torkelson Solgård, one-time HFAA scholarship winner, has taught beginning-level hardingfele at past HFAA annual meetings. She has been involved in the HFAA since 1986, serving as editor of Sound Post for three years, and is now on the board as Vice President. Last summer she studied hardingfele in the home of her ancestors, Vinje, Telemark, Norway. Karen is chairperson of the Twin Cities Hardingfelelag and a musician with Det Norske Folkedanslaget in Minneapolis.
Elizabeth Weis is not only an accomplished Hardanger fiddle performer, but also a scholar in the Swedish nyckelharpa tradition, which is the subject of her doctoral dissertation in ethnomusicology. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and holds a masters degree from the University of Minnesota School of Music with a thesis called "Contests and Conflicts: The Hardanger Fiddle in Modern Norway." She has conducted lecture-demonstrations around the United States on Scandinavian fiddle traditions. She was among the presenters at the 1990 National Hardanger Fiddle Conference held at the University of Minnesota School of Music. She has been a frequent teacher and performer at the HFAA's Stevne. She serves on the Boards of Directors of the HFAA and the American Nyckelharpa Association. Ms. Weis is sought after as a fiddler by dance teachers at Scandinavian dance workshops. Her performing experience extends beyond Hardanger fiddle and nyckelharpa, also including the Swedish violin tradition. She performs as a member of the American Swedish Institute Spelmanslag in Minneapolis and the Chicago Spelmanslag.
The featured instructor in hardingfele construction will be Ron Poast, from Black Earth, Wisconsin. He has been making instruments for 26 years and Hardanger fiddles for 14 years. Recently Ron was nominated for a National Living Treasure Award by the governor of Wisconsin. His instruments have been featured in several important exhibitions, most notably in the summer of 1998 where he appeared in the Wisconsin exhibit at the American Folklife Festival on the mall in Washington D.C., demonstrating his art to tens of thousands of spectators. He has also exhibited at the Vesterheim Museum in Decorah, Iowa, at the Wisconsin Folklife Festival in Madison, and with a touring exhibition of Wisconsin folk art organized by Wisconsin's John M. Kohler Arts Center. Last year Ron received a grant from the North Dakota Arts Board to give private instruction in hardingfele making. He has been a regular staff teacher at the HFAA Stevne, and his instruments are in high demand, especially among HFAA members--he now has a waiting list several years long.