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ISSUE 118 VOL 17 PUBLISHED 4/22/2005

Fiddle me this: Solgård offers new CD

By Rebecca Lofft
Staff Writer

Friday, April 22, 2005

As spring rolls around, seniors begin to emerge from dating hibernation and frolic like squirrels out on Mellby lawn. If two Oles eventually decide to frolic together for the rest of their lives, they can now turn to Instructor of Music Karen Solgård for Norwegian wedding music to help bring out the little bit of Scandinavian in them.

Solgård recently released her second CD, entitled Norse Fiddle at the Wedding, in March 2005. The CD, a compilation of Norwegian hardingfele (hardanger fiddle) music, includes bridal marches and various other types of Norwegian folk dance music. Solgård now instructs as provisional hardingfele teacher during Dr. Andrea Een’s yearlong sabbatical.

A Norwegian-American descendent, Solgård is one of few people in the Twin Cities, and in America, to play hardingfele with enough proficiency and teaching experience to instruct the instrument at the college level.

The Norwegian hardingfele, popularized in Norway in the 18th century, is a folk instrument with eight or nine strings. Of the nine, four to five strings run underneath the fingerboard and echo sympathetically when the top strings are bowed.

Solgård describes her purpose in releasing her CD as “purely utilitarian” – to promote Norwegian hardingfele music. “I have an over-arching concept of reconnecting people to their Norwegian-American heritage,” Solgård said.

Solgård desires for hardingfele to retain a valuable function in Norwegian-American circles, even when a fiddler is not available for a live performance. “I saw there was a huge need and it helped promote hardanger fiddle in America,” Solgård said.

From this experience Solgård made a CD of wedding music.

Solgård developed the CD in conjunction with Ingebretson’s Scandinavian Gift Shop in the Twin Cities, which often receives requests from Norwegian-American couples looking to convey their heritage through music.

Creative arrangement seems to be Solgård’s forte; besides traditional Norwegian wedding tunes, the CD includes Solgård’s arrangements of “Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring & Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and a new composition based on “Pachelbel Canon."

The hardingfele’s numerous droning strings weave a beautiful tapestry of sound in “Myllarguten’s Bridal March,” by far the best track on the album.

Solgård was recently awarded a grant from Sons of Norway to transcribe the tunes from her recent CD-which are traditionally learned aurally.

She reports that her time at St. Olaf has been very enjoyable, but overall, “It's not easy, just like being a musician of any kind,” Solgård said. “ I feel very much like I'm always pioneering new territory.”

Norse Fiddle at the Wedding is available for $14.99 from Solgård’s website at

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