Sometimes you have to buy a concert ticket as a leap of faith. Faith that you will enjoy the music even if you haven’t heard the artist. Faith that you will enjoy the music even if you haven’t heard the instrument(s) used. I had never heard of a nyckelharpa. I have never really delved into Scandinavian folk music. The closest I’ve come to Hardanger Fiddle is bumbling my way through a Hardanger embroidery workshop. I’ve attended workshops and concerts at Church in the Forest before. I knew I would enjoy a lively afternoon hearing Fire & Grace & Ice on Monday, July 22, 2019. I knew attending Fire & Grace & Ice on Monday, July 22, 2019 at Church in the Forest would be a more satisfying experience than that workshop. Listening to the musicians having fun playing wonderful music was thrilling.
This concert repeated some of the compositions from the Frozen North list played Week 1 of The Carmel Bach Festival. Starting the adventure was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Prelude in E Major. Edwin Huizinga, violin and William Coulter, guitar warmed up the room with this energetic piece. They immediately segued into Lonesome Fiddle Blues by Vassar Clements. The melding of old and new set the tone for the rest of the concert. After introducing Olov Johansson, we had our first taste of nyckelharpa. If you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing this distant cousin to the violin, please seek out a recording or video. A joy of listening to folk music is you want to tap along with your foot or even clap along. This trio of highly trained musicians gave us six traditional tunes, mostly dances like polska or vals.
Edwin Huizinga introduced us to the Hardanger Fiddle playing a Traditional Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle Solo. His fiddle was highly ornamented reminding me of a beautiful lute. To meld with those tunes handed down from previous generations, we were also treated to several more recent compositions. Three of them were composed by Olov Johansson: Astrid’ Vals (named for his daughter), Bisonpolska and IPA Gubben. Also represented were Eric Sahlstrom and Anders Norudde. As the concert was drawing to a close, we listened to the Largo from the Concerto for two Violins by J.S. Bach. I know the piece well enough to really appreciate how the arrangement sounded with the three string instruments. The musicians graciously responded to the applause by playing an encore. They chose a piece by Olov Johansson that had us tapping our feet. Overall, a wonderful concert exploring old and new with superb musicians.