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ISSUE 118 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/8/2004

Fiddle sticks

By Rebecca Lofft
Staff Writer

Friday, October 8, 2004

Question: What do Edvard Grieg, a rams horn and Yankee Doodle have in common? Answer: Each was played on the Hardanger fiddle during Karen Solgårds recital on Sunday, Oct. 3 in Urness Recital Hall.

Solgårds unique style of performance combining Hardanger fiddle repertoire with storytelling and audience participation made her recital a childhood-reminiscent story time experience suited to all ages. Solgård is replacing Dr. Andrea Een as Hardanger fiddle teacher while Een is on sabbatical for this academic year.

Solgårds performance was geared toward her usual audience of children and senior citizens, an audience typically lacking exposure to the distinctive instrument.

Without introduction, Solgård energetically kicked off the concert with Ola Was Tall, keeping a strong constant beat with her right foot. Solgård performs every piece from memory, in keeping with Norwegian fiddling tradition.

Solgård demonstrated the instruments tuning, tones that Grieg borrowed and placed within Morning in his classical Peer Gynt Suite. Solgård performed her adaptation of Morning on Hardanger fiddle, a deft combination of her classical knowledge and folk musicianship. Although solo fiddle can hardly rival the original fully orchestrated version, Solgårds version held its own as a fiddle piece.

To further help students understand this foreign music, Solgård played Yankee Doodle on the Hardanger fiddle, offering that traditional fiddle tunes sounded as familiar to fiddlers who were raised with them as Yankee Doodle sounds to Americans.

Anyone familiar with Hardanger fiddle at St. Olaf may associate the instrument with Een. Solgårds program included several songs that overlie Eens usual repertoire, but Solgard played these with variations and a different playing style from Eens versions.

One of the beauties of folk music is the extensive potential for variation upon songs between musicians and regions; differences are not considered wrong, but simply variations. Solgårds variations were exactly that: not erroneous, but well-thought out music differences, particularly in the tunes Nå er det gjort, Bridal March from Seljord and Nøringen.

Solgårds focus on story telling and audience participation in her performance was enchanting and highly engaging for the audience.

With the same warmth and enthusiasm with which Urnesss intimate acoustics reflected the sound of the Hardanger fiddle, the audience accepted Solgård to St. Olaf, wishing her a positive year in Eens stead.

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