Audiences have asked for a recording of the stories, songs and tunes from the Norse Fiddle concerts by Karen Solgård. Here it is!
(Odd numbered tracks are the commentary. Even numbered tracks are the tunes.)
Karen Solgård brings entertaining programs of Hardanger fiddle music and associated dances for community concert series, cultural groups and festivals around the country. Traditional Hardanger fiddle tunes are mixed with Karen’s own compositions and arrangements--classical favorites such as Grieg’s "Morning" and Bach’s "Musette," the 1950 hit song "The Thing," and American folk songs such as "Simple Gifts," "Yankee Doodle" and "Kentucky Babe."
Here’s what some people have said about her performances:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the performance. A big part of what made it fun and accessible to me was the commentary; both descriptions and stories involving Norway and also the stories about Karen’s family and the origins of her interest in the music and the instrument. As intriguing and interesting as the music itself is, I think the frame created by the stories and history are every bit as valuable to the performance.”
“Karen puts on a very good show. Her conversation was interesting and very easy to understand, and the flow of music was great. Very nice humor. We just like the Hardanger fiddle sound so much, and like Karen Solgard’s presence.”
Audiences asked, and got, the fiddle tunes, songs, and stories on CD to remember and share, "Norse Fiddle in Concert."
Karen's mother and grandmother taught the children Norwegian folksongs and Karen, with two of her sisters, sang trios for events, festivals and contests. There was a Hardanger fiddle in the family, but whoever had played it was long gone.
Ever curious about the Norwegian-style violin in the family, Karen traveled to Norway where she heard Hardanger fiddle played by Norwegian masters for the first time. "To this day, I have a vivid memory of a concert by Knut Buen at Rauland Akademiet just down the road from my great-grandfather's childhood home. The room was packed with local people who tapped their feet along to music that was familiar to them--and so incomprehensible, exotic, and beautiful to me."
A later study trip to Vinje, Telemark, Norway, led to the discovery that Karen's grandfather had at least five cousins who played Hardanger fiddle back in Norway. Only one had played it in America. (The American cousin, S.A. Olsness, wrote in his diary that when he got lonely for Norway, he would go to his room and play the old fiddle tunes for himself.)
Karen Solgård teaches people about Hardanger fiddle, whether in concert, in school workshops and residencies, or in fiddle workshops and private lessons. It was a family tradition lost after her grandparent's generation and she travels, plays fiddle, sings and tells stories in an effort to revive the Norwegian folk music and dance traditions in the United States.