2001 Annual Workshops

The HFAA Workshops this year were bigger and better than ever! Our expanded roster of teachers and our extended sessions guaranteed that participants had the most intensive, satisfying learning experience of the year 2001! If you have never played hardingfele or danced in the Norwegian tradition before, you are welcome at the HFAA Annual Wokshops! Special features this year included:




See photos of this event by John Eberly.


At the age of 19, PER ANDERS BUEN GARNÅS (hardingfele) became the youngest fiddler in Class A (the elite class) at the 1999 Norwegian Landskappleik. By then he had already won many first prizes and trophies at competitions throughout Norway. He has won both the Fanitull prize at the Ål Festival in Hallingdal and the Olav Thon trophy twice. In 1998 he was awarded the Øyvind Berg Memorial Prize during the Peer Gynt festival in Vinstra. He has also won many prizes in his hometown of Bø in Telemark for his contributions to folk music. He has performed in solo concerts and other entertainment for tourists, organizations, and groups in the Nordic nations, Baltic states, Russia, Austria, Bangladesh and the USA. He is a member of the group Hått (Hot), with Anders Røine and Nils Øyvind Bergset, which won the bronze medal at the 1999 Landsfestival i Gammaldansmusikk (National Old-Time Music Festival). Per Anders has just finished his studies at the Spelemannsskulen (School for Folk Musicians) at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, and is a member of the group Åtte Potte (Eight Pots).

Per Anders Buen Garnås

Per Anders Buen Garnås. Photo courtesy of Jan Lothe Eriksen.

KARIN BRENNESVIK (dans) was born in Oslo and has been dancing since she was five. She has both performed and taught folk dancing in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Poland, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Great Britain, and the United States. She has been Norwegian Champion twice and won many competitions in couple dancing (springars and gangars). Her dance groups have won prizes in international world-wide competitions. She has choreographed programs for the 150th birthday celebration of Edward Grieg, the Barbican Center in London, the Royal Foreign Department of Norway, and the Norwegian Embassy in the U.S. Ms. Brennesvik has performed with the Christmas Revels in six of the ten Revels cities in the United States, most recently with the New York Revels and Revels North productions. 

SIGBJØRN RUA (dans), born in Jondal, Norway, comes from a long line of dancers and fiddlers and began dancing at a very young age. His first foreign performance was at age 7 with Småjondølene (Karin Brennesvik's group) in the Netherlands. He was Karin's first dance partner for the Christmas Revels in Boston (1993) and has appeared in other Revels cities as well. He is a class A dancer in Numedalsganger, Numedalspringar m/fylgje and halling -- and he has been a national champion in the latter. He has performed in Norske Rikskonserter and abroad in Afrika, Europe (east and west) and the USA. He played hardingfele in his younger years, but now specializes in munnharpe (mouth harp). He teaches dance and is regarded as one of the best young folk dancers in Norway. He is related to the well-known Buen family from Telemark.

* Thank you to Den Norske Folkemusikk- Og Danselag, California Revels and Karin Brennesvik for biographical information.


The HFAA was also proud to be able to include on our staff some of the best that the American traditional Norwegian folk music and dance community has to offer.

LYNN BERG (hardingfele construction) is a violin maker from Eugene, Oregon specializing in the Norwegian Hardanger fiddle and an alternatively shaped acoustical violin. Lynn studied violin making and repair at the Summer Violin Institute at the University of New Hampshire under Karl Roy, master violin maker and instructor and Director of the Bavarian School of Violin Making in Mittenwald, Germany. He has also studied with master repairer Hans Nebel of New Jersey. In 1998 and 2000 Lynn entered the Hardanger fiddlemaking competition held in Norway in conjunction with the Landskappleik. He has traveled twice to Norway to live and talk with fiddle makers. He is currently working on two instruments for the 2002 competition to be held in VŒgŒ, Norway.

BRUCE SAGAN (hardingfele) is a respected player and teacher of traditional Scandinavian fiddle music (in addition to being a professional mathematician). He has visited Scandinavia numerous times to work with fiddlers and collect material. Bruce has taught and played at a variety of folk music and dance camps and workshops, and is music director of Nordic Fiddles and Feet at Buffalo Gap Camp in West Virginia and Stockton Folkdance Camp in California. On hardingfele, he plays music from Telemark and Valdres and has studied with some of the best fiddlers from those regions. Hauk Buen's remark on hearing him play was "Han e' dugleg flink!"

MIKKEL THOMPSON (dans, beginners) of San Jose, CA, has been dancing all his life. He learned gammaldans (waltz, reinlander) through family tradition, growing up in northern Minnesota. He started dancing other types of folk dances in the early 1980s and began dancing springar and gangar in 1985. Mikkel has been the Artistic Director of the Nordahl Grieg Leikarring (40 active members) and Barneleikkaring (40 active members) since 1985. The Leikarring has performed at the prestigious San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival multiple times, danced for the King and Queen of Norway and is regularly featured at every major local Norwegian event. Mikkel also plays torader and accordion with the Nordahl Grieg Spelemannslag. In addition, he teaches three classes a week in the Bay Area, and dances with Red Thistle, the Bay Area's internationally recognized Scottish dance performance group. Mikkel has traveled to Norway five times to study dance, and has learned from Karin Brennesvik and Olav Sem, among many others.

TOBY WEINBERG (hardingfele) began studying classical violin at 8 years of age. He attended the Manhattan School of Music as an undergraduate where he studied classical violin and viola. He played professionally as a section violinist in the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra for four and a half years before returning to school for a Master's in Computer Science. He has been actively involved in the American folk dance community as both a musician and a dancer since the 1970s. He was a founding member of Speledans, a Boston area recreational Scandinavian dance group and has played for dances and concerts in New York City, Albany (NY), and throughout New England. More recently Toby started the Boston Spelmannslag, which is an organization dedicated to teaching Norwegian music and dancing with a special emphasis on the music of the Hardanger fiddle. He began his study of that instrument with Bjarne Pålerud of Hovin, Telemark. Since then he has also learned much from other notable fiddlers from Telemark, including Alf Tveit and the brothers Knut and Hauk Buen.


This year we were extremely pleased to be able to offer, for the second time, special pre- and post-workshop sessions for those who were interested in a more in-depth learning experience.

PRE-WORKSHOP WARM-UP, Thursday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. This optional session includeed reviews of last year's teaching, private hardingfele lessons, and beginner's dance and hardingfele workshops. Especially recommended for beginners in hardingfele or Norwegian dance.

REGULAR WORKSHOP SESSIONS, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 a.m.Ð5:00 p.m. both days. The regular workshop sessions began on Friday morning, and concluded with the banquet, concert and party on Saturday evening. All levels of instruction (beginning, intermediate, advanced) were offered in both hardingfele and dance. There were approximately six hours of instruction per day. Our instructors also accommodated Saturday-only enrollees; however, Saturday's teaching built on Friday's lessons


FOUR-DAY FIDDLE CONSTRUCTION WORKSHOP. For the first time, the HFAA was pleased to offer fiddle construction workshops on all four days.

This course, then the only one in North America, concentrated on those areas of the Hardanger fiddle that make it different from the violin. It was designed for to the violin maker who already knows how to make an instrument but wants to learn about measurements, bass bars, bridges, f holes, shapes and curves that make the Hardanger fiddle unique. This class also informed the person who wanted to learn more about what to look at when examining an instrument for possible purchase. The main construction class was all day on Friday and Saturday. Each participant in the Friday/Saturday sessions had the opportunity to begin the process of carving a Hardanger fiddle neck. In addition, there were special Thursday and Sunday sessions available. Participants were asked to bring a flexible metric ruler (plastic or metal), sharp pencil and a good carving knife (a Swedish knife sold by Woodcraft - product 03A56- recommended). A band-sawed neck block will be provided. Registrants were encouraged to buy and review Sverre Sandvik's book, Vi byggjer hardingfele, before the workshop. The text is in Norwegian, but the book contains copious photographs and full-sized foldout patterns for the instruments and the rosing decorations. Fiddle construction students were encouraged to spend some time on the dance floors as well.

POST-WORKSHOP REVIEW, Sunday, 9:00 a.m.-12 noon. This optional session includeed a review of workshop lessons for fiddlers and dancers, with private problem-solving sessions to maximize the learning experience.

POST-WORKSHOP HALLING SESSION, Sunday, August 12, 2:00-5:00 p.m. at Good Templar Hall in Minneapolis This optional session is for specialized instruction in halling, the famous men's "show-off" dance from Norway. Taught by Sigbjørn Rua, one of Norway's champion halling dancers.

POST-WORKSHOP SOCIAL DANCE, Sunday, August 12, 7:00-10:00p.m. at Good Templar Hall in Minneapolis. An opportunity for workshop participants -- and others in the area -- to slapp av (relax) and socialize with each other.


Our staff presented lectures and demonstrations on a number of aspects of Norwegian folk music and dance during the workshops. Private 20-minute coaching sessions with the teachers were scheduled throughout the weekend to help participants solve individual fiddling problems. Evenings include dance parties with live music, and Saturday evening includeed a festive banquet and concert with Workshop staff members.


You asked for it, we provided it: a meeting location closer to a major city/airport, better scheduling, the extended schedule for those who want more, greater dietary choices and more meal options, air-conditioned classrooms and dance floors, affordable and comfortable local housing, etc. Beginning with this workshop, the HFAA met for three years at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, a 40-minute drive south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis - St. Paul. St. Olaf College has been named "one of the ten most beautiful campuses in the USA" and provided a peaceful rural setting in the midst of Norwegian-American Minnesota. We had state-of-the-art classroom, concert and theatre facilities -- as well as fine sprung wood dance floors to accommodate plenty of dancing and fiddling. Our accommodations were in St. Olaf's newest (and air-condititioned!) residence hall with a late-night party room (sprung wood dance floor).