2002 Annual Workshops

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, 30 July - 4 August

If you have never played hardingfele or danced in the Norwegian tradition before, you are welcome at the HFAA Annual Wokshops!

See photos of this event by John Eberly.

Master Teachers from Norway

ANNE HYTTA (hardingfele) from Sauland in Telemark, began playing hardingfele as a young girl, taking lessons from the master fiddler Einar Løndal. She specializes in Telemark-style fiddling, and has also studied with Knut Buen and Vidar Lande. In 1999 she was awarded a class A ranking at the Landskappleik. In the spring of 2002, Anne completed a two-year course of study in folk music at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss. Besides performing Norwegian folk music as a soloist and as a member of various ensembles, she also has a strong interest in medieval music, particularly Spanish-Arabic, and has performed with the medieval music groups Aurora Borealis and Al Andalus.

JON and MARIT RYSSTAD (dance) from Rysstad in Setesdal, are the foremost Setesdal dancers and teachers of the Setesdal dance tradition today. Marit was born in 1943 at Heddal in Telemark, and grew up in a house filled with folk music and dance; her father was one of Telemark's best dance fiddlers. She began competing in dance as a teenager. She has won many top prizes, including winning the Landskappleik. In addition, Marit is an expert maker of traditional Setesdal jewelry. Jon, Marit's husband, was born in 1942 at Rysstad in Setesdal. Both his father and grandfather were master dancers, and his family on both sides included many fiddlers and folk artists, including Torleiv Bjørgum. He has won many top prizes at kappleiks, and is frequently asked to judge both at local kappleiks and at the Landskappleik.

MARTON LAKSESVELA (hardingfele) from Bjerkreim in Western Norway, currently lives at Rysstad in Setesdal. He grew up in an environment with strong emphasis on folk traditions, and began playing hardingfele at the age of 17. Marton currently teaches part-time at the Valle county music school, and is the leader of the fiddlers' group Knut Heddis Minne in Rysstad. He has won a number of first prizes at kappleiks and has been featured on NRK's Folk Music Hour radio program.

American Instructors

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.

JULIE BARTON (hardingfele) of Boulder, CO, has been playing hardingfele for twelve years. She is a native of Boulder, where she grew up in a family active in traditional Scandinavian music and dance. She has spent time in Norway studying the Hardanger fiddle with Leif Rygg and Einar Mjølsnes, and other teachers including Sigmund Eikås, Arne Sølvberg, and Hauk Buen. She teaches hardingfele and Scandinavian fiddle in the Denver and Boulder area.

KARIN LØBERG CODE (hardingfele) of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a respected dance fiddler who has twice lived in Norway to dedicate herself to the performance and study of the hardingfele. While there, she was invited to play for many formal concerts, dance courses and at two bi-monthly folk dance groups in Oslo--Hallinglaget and Valdreslaget. Karin has competed at many regional Norwegian kappleiks and has played three times in the Landskappleik. She has taught in the U.S. at numerous festivals and workshops, including Springdans Northwest in Seattle, Scandia Camp Mendocino and Julian Festival in California, and Wisconsin's Folklore Village Farm. This summer she will again teach and perform at the 31st Annual International Workshops in Stavanger, Norway.

LORETTA KELLEY (hardingfele) of Takoma Park, MD, has performed and taught throughout the U.S. for over 15 years, including performances on NPR's All Things Considered and Prairie Home Companion. She has traveled numerous times to Norway to study with master fiddlers, and has placed highly in competitions in Norway and appeared on Norwegian radio. She was a staff teacher at Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap, West Virginia for thirteen years, and a staff teacher at the HFAA Annual Workshops for ten years. She has also taught at Fiddles and Feet Scandinavian camp at Buffalo Gap, Scandia Camp Mendocino, and at Folklore Village Farm in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, as well as at many smaller workshops.

MIKKEL THOMPSON (dance) of San Jose, CA, has been dancing all his life. He learned gammaldans (waltz, reinlender) through family tradition, growing up in northern Minnesota. He started dancing other types of folk dances in the early 1980s, including springar and gangar in 1985. Mikkel has been the Artistic Director of the Nordahl Grieg Leikarring and Barneleikkaring since 1985. Mikkel also plays torader and accordion with the Nordahl Grieg Spelemannslag. In addition, he teaches at least 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 six times to study dance, and has learned from Karin Brennesvik and Olav Sem, among many others.

RON POAST (hardingfele construction) from Black Earth, Wisconsin, has been making instruments for over 25 years and Hardanger fiddles for over 15 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 Smithsonian 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. He has been a regular staff teacher at the HFAA Annual Workshops.

Workshop Program

This year we were extremely pleased to be able to offer, for the second time, special pre- and post-workshop sessions for those who are interested in a more in-depth learning experience. All activities take place at St. Olaf College, located in a peaceful rural area about forty miles south of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

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

REGULAR WORKSHOP SESSIONS, Friday and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. both days.The regular workshop sessions begin on Friday morning, and conclude with the banquet, concert and party on Saturday evening. All levels of instruction (beginning, intermediate, advanced) are offered in both hardingfele and dance. There are approximately six hours of instruction per day. Our instructors try to accommodate Saturday-only enrollees; however, Saturday's teaching builds on Friday's lessons.


The HFAA does not set any gender limitations or previous dance experience pre-requisites for our dance workshops. All are welcome to come and learn the HFAA way! Dance students have the opportunity to dance to live fiddle music and learn more about it. Individual instruction is offered tailored to both beginning and experienced dancers. Also included are special lectures on dance traditions, videotapes, and question-and-answer sessions.


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. Fiddle students spend time on Friday morning learning about the basic rhythms and steps of the dance tunes they are learning. Fiddlers who wish to try hardingfele but do not have an instrument are welcome. See the information on the HFAA's Fiddle Loan Program in the registration information.

TWO-DAY FIDDLE CONSTRUCTION WORKSHOP. The HFAA was pleased to offer fiddle construction workshops on and Saturday.

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, August 4, 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. This optional session includes a review of workshop lessons for fiddlers and dancers, with private problem-solving sessions to maximize the learning experience.

POST-WORKSHOP SOCIAL DANCE, Sunday, August 4, 7:00 - 10:00 p.m. at the home of Todd Hansen and Ruth Sylte in Northfield, Minnesota. 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.

Anne Hytta

Anne Hytta

(used with permission)

Karin Code

Karin Løberg Code

(used with permission)

Lynn Berg

Lynn Berg, hardingfele construction teacher, with a fiddle he made for Pacific Lutheran University. (photo used with permission)


You asked for it, we're 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. As with last year, the HFAA met 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).