This recording has sold over 50,000 copies which for Celtic and traditional music is outstanding. Here are some comments about the CD and Ken\'s playing (bio below):
Rated as the most influential and popular hammered dulcimer player in a survey of players for a master’s thesis on the hammered dulcimer. Wesleyan University, CT, 2005.
“…one of today’s most accomplished, musical hammered dulcimer artists...A hammered dulcimer player of great taste and sophistication,” Elderly
\"…nothing short of astonishing\" The Connection
“…without a doubt, Ken Kolodner is one of the hammered dulcimer’s top exponents, playing with a dexterity which would stun many a would-be hammerer.” Folk Tales Magazine
“…stunning musicality” Dulcimer Player News
“…Outstanding…soulfully beautiful.” NY Times
“…a fiddle and hammered dulcimer virtuoso…just the right amount of fire…totally delightful…” Sing Out, March 2005
“…A marvelous collection…delightful…” The Washington Post
“…joyous…reminiscent of Joe Venuti\'s work….” Celtic Beat
“He’s a master at finding what Alasdair Fraser appropriately calls the “rhythmic underbelly” of a tune.” Potomac Valley Fiddle Club Newsletter
“…stirring…evocative…” The Washington Post, April, 2005.
“This is just about all anybody could ask for in an instrumental recording. The tunes are all great…Ken’s playing positively sizzles …delightful…wonderful...Typically, Ken makes great use of syncopation…The up-tempo rhythms are really infectious…” Dulcimer Player News, 2005
\"Queen\'s Polka starts out with a very cool damped down dulcimer backing up Laura\'s exciting fiddle lead with Robin playing a terrific cittern back up. This leads up to a wonderful crescendo transition into the Bournish Polka where the dulcimer takes an unmistakable driving lead. It excites me every time I hear it…You have here, the first ever Dulcimer Times hammered dulcimer Five stars album!\"
\"Walking Stones is a very rewarding musical journey... delightful listening. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The instruments weave seamlessly in and around each other and deliver that \'Celtic pulse\' that, done right, seems as effortless and natural as breathing.\"
Dulcimer Player News
“…inspiring…the interplay between the hammered dulcimer’s precise percussive qualities and the graceful fluidity of Risk’s fiddling was a real treat.” “Rambles: A Cultural Arts Magazine”
As a major part of the rebirth of the hammered dulcimer in the US, Ken is recognized as one of “one of today’s most accomplished, musical hammered dulcimer artists...A hammered dulcimer player of great taste and sophistication,” (Elderly). Ken is widely viewed among players as one of the most influential in the United States. Ken is well known for his improvisational and expressive style that has been described as \"nothing short of astonishing\" (The Connection), “outstanding” (The New York Times), “marvelous” (The Washington Post) and “virtuosic” (Audio) and “stunning in its musicality” (Dulcimer Player News) and “not to be missed” (USA TODAY). And Folk Tales Magazine writes, “…without a doubt, Ken Kolodner is one of the hammered dulcimer’s top exponents, playing with a dexterity which would stun many a would-be hammerer.” In more recent years, Ken has received greater recognition as an old-time fiddler.
As a member of the trio Helicon (with Chris Norman and Robin Bullock) and Greenfire (with fiddler Laura Risk) and in solo appearances, Ken has toured extensively throughout North America and Europe and has been featured in nationally broadcast concerts on NPR, German National Radio, The Thistle and the Shamrock, the CBC, Performance Today, All Things Considered, and on the Voice of America (with a listening audience of over 90 million), as well as countless television and radio broadcasts around the U.S. Ken has been featured at numerous major festivals and performing arts centers in the U.S., was the first American to be featured at the International Hackbrett Festival. Among his performances with many choral groups and major symphony orchestras, was an appearance in Emmy-nominated CBS-TV Christmas special as the featured soloist with a combined chorus (The Baltimore Choral Arts) and a chamber orchestra of members of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
In addition to his work as a performer, Ken is highly sought after as a teacher of the dulcimer and, more recently the fiddle, having taught at countless festivals and music camps (on both fiddle and dulcimer) throughout the U.S. including The Swannanoa Gathering (thirteen years), Common Ground (four years), the John Campbell Folk School (five years), the Augusta Heritage Festival (three years), the Summer Solstice Festival (three years), Meadowlark (ten years) and numerous others. Adding to Ken’s previous recordings, Ken’s first solo release of Celtic music in 1997, Walking Stones, was a huge critical success. With sales of 50,000+, the CD hit the top of the World Music charts and was a top seller for BMG in their Classical/World Music category. In addition to solo performance, Ken has maintained a busy recording schedule. With Helicon alum Robin Bullock and Cordelia’s Dad fiddler Laura Risk, the trio recorded the CD Greenfire in 1998. Helicon’s A Winter Solstice (1999) became the first release for Dorian Recordings to win a coveted “Indie” (akin to a Grammy for thousands of Independent labels) for Best Seasonal Recording. Ken’s eighth CD, A Roof for the Rain with Laura Risk, cittern-wizard Joseph Sobol and Keith Murphy (of Nightingale) again on the Dorian label was widely praised. Ken contributed an original work which has now been widely recorded (“Caspian Lake”) to Mel Bay’s Anthology of Masters of the Hammered dulcimer and has written three other tune books. Ken’s most recent release in 2005 was Journey to the Heartland, on Maggie’s Music. Ken has guest recorded on CDs by Scottish National Fiddle champion, Elke Baker, as well as many hammered dulcimer players (whom he helped mentor as well): Anna Duff, Susan Sherlock, Samantha Oberkfell, Rick Thum, Rachel Sprinkle and Deb Justice. Most recently, Ken produced The Preacher’s Daughters featuring Rachel Sprinkle and Deb Justice. Ken’s playing is also featured on a the newly-released compilation of many of the worlds’ best hammered dulcimer players collected from many years of performance at the International Hackbrett Festival in Munich, Germany.
Without any formal music background, Ken began learning to play the fiddle at age 23 by listening to recordings of bluegrass and American Old-time or Appalachian music. A few years after picking up the fiddle, Ken discovered the hammered dulcimer while in graduate school. Ken\'s interest in the two instruments developed into an ever-expanding musical appetite beginning with Celtic music and eventually into music spanning many cultures ranging from South American music to Chinese music. While he has mastered the fiddle and hammered dulcimer without formal musical training, he has had plenty of schooling. Along with his hammers, Ken holds a PhD in public health from Johns Hopkins. While most of Ken’s professional career is devoted to music, Ken still actively works as a part-time epidemiologist (with over 90 publications), while his family and an avid interest in soccer maintain center stage!