This year’s Folkelarm live-programme is without doubt the festival’s strongest to date with acts such as Bruvoll/Halvorsen, Valkyrien Allstars, Skáidi, Gjermund Larsen Trio and Niko Valkeapää hitting the showcase stages of Oslo in late September.
Folkelarm 2008, which runs from the 25th to 28th of September, has grown considerably since its inaugural event four years ago, and is now considered by many as being Scandinavia’s most important event for the traditional/world/crossover music industry.
The event’s live programme is diverse and strong, varying from acoustic and pure-sounding traditional duos to big-band crossover acts. The event’s Nordic focus is also evident, given the appearance of such top acts as Finland’s Johanna Juhola, Sweden’s Den Fule and Denmark’s Valravn.
Below, in no particular order, are the acts scheduled to play showcases at this year’s Folkelarm:
Johanna Juhola is the only Finnish artist presented during Folkelarm. Coming to Folkelarm with her extraordinary trio, representing the virtuosity in Finnish and Nordic accordion playing, combined with fiddling and live electronics. Johanna Juhola (born 1978) has studied accordion in the folk music department of the Sibelius Academy since 1997. Juhola has composed music for several dance, theater and circus performances for the Swedish Theater in Helsinki, for Zodiak - the center for new dance, for Circus group Circo Aereo, for Theater of Keski-Uusimaa, and for many project-based working groups. Juhola has been an influential member of bands such as Troka, Duo Milla Viljamaa & Johanna Juhola, Las Chicas del Tango, Spontaani Vire and Novjaro. Her latest ensembles include a duo with pianist Timo Alakotila, and Kraft, a duo with violinist Pekka Kuusisto. With Tuomas Norvio, a virtuoso of electronic music, Juhola has experimented with combining accordion with electronics, making music for contemporary dance, for fashion shows and television fiction. She has also visited the world of art music as a soloist for Timo Alakotila's concerto for free bass accordion and a chamber orchestra, performed with different ensembles. Reactor Orchestra that performs Johanna's compositions was founded in the spring of 2006. Johanna Juhola won the International Astor Piazzolla Competition in 2000 with Novjaro Quintet and the International "Citta di Castelfidardo" award, Astor Piazzolla music section as Duo Milla Viljamaa & Johanna Juhola in 2002.
Hardanger fiddle virtuosos Daniel Sandén-Warg and Per Buen Garnås have struck a musical partnership that has resulted in one of 2008’s strongest outings, the applauded Ta:lik release ‘Warg/Buen’. The disc, as well as the duo’s live performances, features blistering interplay as well as powerful solo performances on fiddle, Hardanger Fiddle and Jew’s harp. Per Anders Buen Garnås belongs to a family with longstanding and strong musical traditions and has trained with such heavyweights as Knut Buen, Hallvard T. Bjørgum and Hauk Buen. In contrast to Per Buen Garnås who was literally bottle-fed with a solid dose of traditional Norwegian folk music, Swede Daniel Sandén-Warg’s introduction to the genre came at a later stage. In his teens, Warg stumbled upon a recording of Hardanger Fiddle master Torleiv Bjørgum, got hooked, bought a fiddle and relocated to Norway’s Setesdal valley, determined to immerse himself in the richness of Norwegian traditional folk music. Warg studied with several of the genre’s top performers and has become a proficient performer on Hardanger fiddle, Jew’s harp, fiddle, guitar and nyckelharpa. The joined forces of Warg and Buen results in a partnership that manages to maintain the genre’s strong legacy while simultaneously injecting a solid dose of vitality.
Vital Swedish/Norwegian quintet Sver offer a smorgasbord of energetically super-charged dance tunes mated with extrovert stage presence and humour. The outfit consists of Hardanger fiddle/viola/fiddle players Olav Luksengård Mjelva and Anders Hall, guitarist/Jew’s Harp & mandolin player Vidar Berge, accordionist Leif Ingvar Ranøien and percussionist Jens Linell. Sver’s repertoire draws on inspiration from the traditional music of the mountainous Røros area in central Norway. Additional impulses from the culturally rich regions of Hallingdal and Hardanger can also be traced in Sver’s cornucopia of vital dance music. 2007 saw the ensemble releasing its first outing which garnered a string of highly positive reviews in Scandinavian media. A few review excerpts: “Extremely danceable. Positivity fused with futurism... Clean energy, brought directly to us from the mountains. A treasure trove of folk music...”
Sver manages to bring the traditional folk music of the past well into the present, preserving the cultural heritage and adds an energetic spark to the mix.
Áillos is the brainchild of highly respected Sami artist and actor Ingor Ántte Áilo Gaup - widely regarded as a true pioneer of current Sámi music. The late 70s saw Gaup experimenting with a fusion of Sámi vocal styles (joik) and other genres – an example followed by many in the following years. As a member of pioneering group Ivnniiguin, Gaup helped popularise Sami folk music in a contemporary setting and he was also instrumental in the process that led to the establishment of the Sami National Theatre. Gaup has been a vital contributor to a number of releases, perhaps the best known being saxophonist Jan Garbarek’s instrumental album ‘I took Up The Runes’. As an actor, Gaup has contributed to a wide range of stage plays and motion pictures, the best known being director Nils Gaup’s 80s classic ‘The Pathfinder’ which received an Oscar nomination.
A much anticipated Áillos album titled ‘Yoikur’ saw its release earlier this year, garnering a string of positive reviews.
The Folkelarm version of Áillos features such notable musicians as drummer/percussionist/programmer Peter Baden, flutist Patrick Shaw Iversen, bassist Svein Schultz, keyboardist Stein Austrud as well as dancer Åsa Rockberg.
The striking partnership of guitarist Tore Bruvoll and vocalist Jon Anders Halvorsen has resulted in one of last year’s strongest outings on the Norwegian folk music scene, the critically acclaimed album ‘Trillar for Two’. Now the duo and their dynamic backing band are more than ready to hit the Norwegian Folkelarm stages with full force.
Vocalist Jon Anders Halvorsen, who hails from Norway’s Telemark region, and guitarist Tore Buvoll from Northern Norway’s cultural capital Tromsø, first struck a musical partnership eight years ago – a partnership that has resulted in two applauded releases; 2004’s ‘Nattsang’ (Nightsong) and last year’s ‘Trillar for To’ (Trills for Two). The duo has also toured frequently at home and abroad, particularly in Germany, where the two have a small but loyal following. The last year has seen the duo moving into new musical territories, eschewing the subdued and sombre medieval ballads found on their first album for a more livelier and upbeat expression backed by a six-piece band.
Bruvoll/Halvorsen’s new approach to songwriting has paid off, ‘Trillar for To’ has garnered a string of very positive reviews (including a couple of six-out-six stars) in the domestic press as well as healthy sales. Last year’s achievements were crowned with a prestigious Norwegian Folk Music Award for Innovation.
Norway-based Iraqi quartet Gilgamesh, which derived their name from the ancient Babylon epos written in 2000 B.C., is already well-established in their new home territory, having released an acclaimed album, 2008’s ‘Tigris Nights’ (EM) and have also played a well-received gig at this year’s Førde Folk Music Festival. In addition to their Folkelarm performance, Gilgamesh is also set to play Stockholm’s Orient Festival this October. The ensemble is led by Amir Saion and Hassan Albadri who perform on oud, darbuka and vocals. Alla Saion and Oras Albadri contribute with vocals and percussion.
Camilla Granlien Band
With its applauded 2007 release ‘Jarnnetter’ (ta:lik records), Camilla Granlien Band firmly established itself as one of the Norwegian folk music scene’s most vital acts. Fronted by vocalist Camilla Granlien, the rest of the ensemble is made up of a virtual who’s who on the young Norwegian folk scene; Jorun Marie Kvernberg (of Majorstuen fame) and Erlend Vike on fiddle and Hardanger fiddle, Anders Røine on Jew’s harp, Harald Høyvik on bass and guitar as well as guitarists Jon Solberg and Tore Bruvoll (of Bruvoll/Halvorsen fame).
Writings of well-known poets Tor Jonsson and Olav Aukrust make up the lyrical foundation of CGB’s tunes, to which the collective add both traditional hymns and contemporary melodies and arrangements. The result is both captivating as well as accessible, earning the collective both a long list of strong reviews (including several six-out-of-six stars) and considerable airplay on national radio. A quote from Norwegian daily Aftenposten sums up the collective’s appearance quite well: “Catchy music in every single note, this is music with an extremely powerful radiance...”
Swedish ensemble Den Fule (“The Ugly One”) consists of veterans of the groundbreaking Swedish folk scene, representing such important bands as Filarfolket and Groupa. The band, which was one of scene’s most popular and active outfits in the early 90s, reformed in 2007. In its heyday, Den Fule received a Swedish Grammy and toured extensively throughout Scandinavia. Stylistically, Den Fule combine R&B grooves with pop-rock riffs and jazz phrasing while the melody maintains a loyal reading of a traditional fiddle tune. Den Fule’s strong melodic focus is led by flutes and saxophones with both male and female vocals added to spice up the mix. Den Fule’s coherent mix of styles is firmly rooted in Sweden’s rich folk music tradition, fusing the best of both worlds.
September ’08 will see the release of Den Fule’s third full length album, a follow up to the early 90s classics ‘Lugumleik’ (1993) and ‘Skalv’ (1994) as well as the compilation ‘Quake’ (97).
With appearances at more than 20 domestic music festivals this summer, Valkyrien Allstars deserve to be named ‘festival act of the year’ – regardless of genre. This summer saw the folk trio playing more festival gigs than any major domestic pop/rock act, making the hugely successful outfit a commercially flagship of the current ‘new wave’ of Norwegian folk music. At the end of the year, Valkyrien Allstars will have played more than 200 gigs, ranging from major outdoor rock festivals to intimate settings in rural areas. In addition to the band’s success on the live market, last year’s critically acclaimed self-titled album recently sold to gold on the domestic market. Valkyrien Allstars call themselves a folk/blues/experiential trio of traditional musicians. This entails putting the most epitomic of Norwegian traditional instruments, the Hardanger fiddle, to new uses and infusing the traditional sound and musical structure with a diversity of new elements. Important among these is the unique voice of Tuva Syvertsen. Where traditional Norwegian folk music would emphasise singing reminiscent of a crystalline mountain stream, Syvertsen’s voice is distinctly bluesy and soulful. It has something of Janis Joplin’s coarse-beautiful power, some of pop artist Pink’s vocal pivots, some Norwegian pagan frivolity and a lot of Syvertsen’s own fiery personality. As with the other two members, Ola Hilmen and Erik solid she also plays the Hardanger fiddle though, and Valkyrien is first and foremost a fiddle trio, make no mistake about it.
Danish ensemble Valravn manages to fuse contemporary electronic music with strong Nordic folk traditions, a mix that has earned the collective a loyal following as well as rave reviews at home and abroad. Fronted by Faroese vocalist Anna Katrin Egilstrøð, who sings in Danish, Faroese and Icelandic, impeccable accompaniment is provided by Martin Seeberg, Søren Hammerlund and Juan Pino who master both traditional instruments such as Jew’s harps, violas, flutes, mandolas, a wide array of percussion instruments as well as samplers and live electronics. The live incarnation of Valravn is both fierce, intense and alluring, as witnessed by the outfit’s loyal following their home territory. Their self-titled debut album released earlier this year earned Valravn as many as three Danish Music Awards nominations as well as a number of very positive reviews. A few excerpts: “One of the most interesting bands on the Danish Scene (Gaffa). A seriously electrifying link between folk music and the chaos of contemporary rhythmical music that has been missing for some time in Denmark (Politiken).”
In addition to success in their native Denmark, Valravn is also steadily building up an international following having toured in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Sweden, the Faeroe Islands and Iceland.
Despite the duo’s name, Sudan Dudan has no ties to the west-African country. On the contrary, the focal point for Marit Karlberg and Anders Røine who constitute the duo is the rich vocal traditions of rural Norway. Both contribute with vocals which are accompanied with plucked and bowed guitars, langeleik (the Norwegian equivalent of the zither), fiddles, Jew’s harp and mandolin. SD’s repertoire covers many aspects of Norway’s rich ballad tradition, ranging from humoristic songs to historical hymns to lyrical lullabies. If one was to come up with a common denominator for the duo’s compositions and arrangements, purity and fragility along with plain beauty are terms that spring to mind. The pure timbre of Røine’s strings coupled with the beautiful, yet fragile voice of Karlberg proves to be an irresistible mix. Røine and Karlberg manage to unite folk music’s expression with strong traditional ties as well as drawing a portrait of life in rural Norway in the past as well as in the present. Their 2006 debut album was met with rave reviews and earned the duo the Norwegian National Broadcasting’s ‘Folk Music Record of the Year’ award. A follow up to Sudan Dudan’s debut album is scheduled for release later this autumn.
Although Niko Valkeapää is solidly anchored in the Sami tradition, his musical outings owe more to contemporary and mature electronica-infused pop than traditional Sami chanting does. His three applauded albums manifests Valkeapää as one of Sami music’s foremost performers and one of the most integral voices to emerge on this scene in recent years. With well-developed compositional skills, his feet are equally planted in an Anglo/American singer/songwriter tradition as they are in a traditional Sami lyrical form of expression.
Born in Finland, the now Kautokeino-based Valkeapää relocated to Norway 17 years ago and has since made a name for himself on the Sami scene as a performer and songwriter. Valkeapää’s form of expression is subdued and understated, but the deep, captivating and warm vocal contributions provide enough force to propel the minimalist playing and sparse arrangements into a powerful mix.
Niko Valkeapää’s third album ‘Birrat Birra’ (Duippidit/Musikkoperatørene) was released earlier this autumn and has already racked up a string of strong reviews.
Abdulrahman Surizehi is widely regarded as one of the world’s finest musical ambassadors for Balochistan, a region that spans an area covering parts of eastern Iran, western Pakistan and southern Afghanistan. A virtuoso on his instrument, the benju, Surizehi first came to Norway in 1987 and has since established himself as a solo performer and a vital contributor to Norwegian acts such as Karvan and Combonations. 2005 saw the release of Surizehi’s first proper release, ‘Love Songs and Trance Music from Balochistan’ (EM), an album that in addition to rave reviews earned Surizehi the prestigious German award ‘Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik’ for best world music album. 2006 saw Surizehi receiving the coveted Folkelarm Awards in the ‘open class’.
Norwegian/French/British trio Sym which consists of Anne Hytta, Eléonore Billy (FR) and Clare Salaman (UK) first met in January 2007 with the intention of exploring the sound world of their remarkable instruments which all have sympathetic (resonating) strings. Anne Hytta is among the foremost performers of the Hardanger violin in Norway. As well as performing traditional repertoire in solo and group performances she writes and performs new music with her trio Slagr. Eleonore Billy performs nyckelharpa, Hardanger fiddle and violin. She was the first French musician to study the nyckelharpa at the Eric Salhstrom Institute, the only specialist nyckelharpa course in the world and has since established herself as a highly respected player and teacher in her native France. Clare Salaman plays baroque violin, medieval vielle, Hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa, viola d'amore, viola, hurdy gurdy and accordion. She started her career as a baroque violinist in the English Concert and has since played and recorded with all the major UK period instrument ensembles in the UK and abroad. Through their common interest in resonating string instruments they share their musical experiences as well as their own cultural perspectives, creating a repertoire of original music, grounded in the traditional music of Northern Europe and Scandinavia.
Kim André Rysstad
Kim André Rysstad, born in Rysstad, Setesdal, is a young traditional vocalist who in a short time has earned a reputation as a highly respected performer with his own distinctive idiom. He presents stev, folk songs and ballads from Setesdal and Telemark. He studied classical singing before deciding to study folk music at the Telemark University College and at the Ole Bull Academy in Bergen. During his studies with masters such as Kirsten Bråten Berg, Agnes Buen Garnås and Ånon Egeland he acquired a sound basis in vocal folk music traditions from both Agder and Telemark. Kim André Rysstad has won first prize in the Class B vocal category at the National Contest for Traditional Music, and has qualified for the elite Category A. He has also won the Setesdal Contest for Traditional Music several years in a row. In 2004 he embarked on a collaboration with guitarist Trond Sporsheim Berg, which has resulted in a number of concerts at some of Norway’s largest folk music festivals. He released his debut recording, ‘Tak hardt uti hand’ in autumn 2007 to great critical acclaim. A well deserved 5/5 rating in Songlines magazine sums up Rysstad’s achievements pretty well: “This is quite simply an outstanding album from an outstanding young singer.”
Diom de Kossa & the Touba Orchestra
Diom de Kossa is led by Kossa Diomandé who has been a central figure on the Norwegian world music scene since he settled here in the mid-eighties. Kossa hails from the Ivory Coast, and belongs to a family with strong music and dance traditions. His artistic career began with a 10 year long stint at the National Ballet of the Ivory Coast and Kossa has since then toured extensively in several African countries, throughout Europe and Scandinavia as well as the US. Kossa is widely regarded as a master of the Yadoh drum, a percussion instrument that consists of five small drums bound around a large one. In Norway, Kossa has been active in a wide variety of groups and constellations including such popular ensembles as Super Djembe Kan and Jambo Afrika. Kossa has also toured Norway extensively through the Norwegian Concert Institute’s domestic touring programme, focussing on performances and workshops for children. In addition to the Ivorian Yadoh master, Diom De Kossa consists of three highly respected performers on the Norwegian world/traditional circuit; Olav Torget (guitars, konting, vocals), Kenneth Ekornes (perdcussion, vocals), Dolphos Kouadio Briscard (guitars) and Khaled Saleh (bass, vocals).
Skáidi – Inga Juuso/ Steinar Raknes
Skáidi is a union of two top performers with wildly differing backgrounds; Steinar Raknes – arguably one of Norway’s best jazz double bassists – and Inga Juuso – one of the nation’s foremost female joikers (a performer of the ancient Sámi chanting vocal style). With Skáidi, Raknes and Juuso have managed to derive elements from their respective styles and genres and have literally created a new, raw, coherent and groundbreaking form of expression. Juuso and Raknes have performed frequently together over the last decade, a collaboration that resulted in this year’s critically acclaimed album ‘Where the rivers meet’. The foundation for the duo’s repertoire is compositions written by Raknes to complement Juuso’s joiks, and the end result is a mix that challenges the preconceptions of genres as well as explores uncharted territory. Improvisation is at the forefront for the two who challenge each other to explore new aspects of their respective forms of expression. Skillful management of dynamics is another field in which Skáidi excel – their tunes range from muted lyrical passages to wild and exuberant cascades of energy.
HGH, a duo consisting of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Martin Hagfors and Håkon Gebhardt (of Motorpsycho fame), claim to be inventers of a distinct sub-genre called ‘thrash grass’. Satire and social criticism remains core issues for Hagfors and Gebhardt who combine humor and wit with their own version of bluegrassesque acoustic folk. Live, the two are backed by three additional musicians contributing additional string work to complement Hagfors’ and Gebhartdt’s multitude of instruments. Earlier this year saw the release of HGH’s latest album ‘All the Men in Dresses (Norskamerikaner) - a release that received strong reviews in the domestic press. Their single It’s Mine performed well on national radio charts and saw considerable airplay on the NRKp3 channel earlier this year. Having toured extensively with successful Norwegian act Kaizers Orchestra, HGH has built up a loyal following in Germany, Holland, Austria, Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden.
Storm Weather Shanty Choir
In Scandinavia, Western-Norway based outfit Storm Weather Shanty Choir has a leading position when it comes to preserving maritime choir traditions. As their name implies, shanties is all that SWSC is about. The six salty seadogs have performed together for more than eight years and have to date released three albums. SWSC is a live favourite on the domestic circuit having performed at a wide variety of festivals and events all over the country. The choir seems to enjoy a strong following from a varied and diverse crowd ranging from hardcore shanty enthusiasts to Oslo hipsters. SWSC’s aim is to maintain the legacy of the singing seadogs of the past, and recreate the atmosphere of a full-rigger’s deck filled with sailors singing at the top of their lungs. The choir strives to retain their sound pure and acoustic and sing their shanties primarily a cappella with the odd guitar, mandolin or flute added for variation.
Jorun Marie Kvernberg
Hardanger fiddle virtuoso Jorun Marie Kvernberg is one of the most active players on the Norwegian traditional folk music scene, being an active member in key outfits Majorstuen and Tindra as well as a vital contributor to acts Bruvoll/Halvorsen, Camilla Granlien Band and Unni Boksasp. Kverberg has studied at the nation’s top-level music education institution, the Norwegian State Academy of Music, focusing on both violin as well as Hardanger fiddle. 2006 saw Kvernberg releasing her first solo album to great critical acclaim, a release that was followed by intense domestic touring. The focus for Kvernberg’s solo work is traditional dances from western Norway’s Møre & Romsdal region and the tunes are performed by Jorun while she accompanies herself on violin and Hardanger fiddle. Despite being alone on stage, Kvernberg plays blistering live performances with a stage presence that has few equals on the domestic scene. As a solo performer and band member Kvernberg has toured extensively at home and has also performed throughout Scandinavia and in Canada, Vietnam, India, France, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Israel, Azerbaijan, Spain the Czech Republic and Estonia. With Majorstuen, Kvernberg has also played a well received showcase at the 2007 Womex.
Laptop/Hardanger fiddle/saxophone trio Lucky Loop explore uncharted land as they set out to navigate through the grey area between traditional folk music, noise, electronica and jazz. Members Mathilde Grooss Viddal (saxophones, clarinets), Tellef Kvifte (laptop) and Britt Pernille Frøholm (fiddle, Hardanger fiddle, electronics) represent three generations of musicianship and all share a strong educational background (Kvifte is a professor of musicology at the University of Oslo) as well as diverse musical references. Two Lucky Loop members share strong roots in traditional Norwegian folk music, two have strong roots in jazz, two in freely improvised music and two are more or less active contemporary composers. This breadth of musical references is mirrored in the trio’s unique musical appearance which defies borders created by genre and style. Lucky Loop’s instrument park includes Hardanger fiddle, saxophones, bass clarinet and laptops – not your average instrumentation for a folk outfit. The resulting sonic landscape reflects this – it’s diverse, multi-faceted, surprising and challenging but also utterly rewarding.
With band members from Mali, Cameroon and Norway, Sidiki Band presents a broad sonic palette with acoustic and highly energetic tunes written by the outfit’s leader Sidiki Camara. One of the leading forces of the new wave of African Manding music, Camara is widely regarded as one of Mali’s leading percussionists. In addition to his own collective, Camara is also a permanent member of Bill Frisell’s The Intercontinentals and has also toured Europe on a number of occasions with Frisell’s New Quartet. After leaving Mali and his position with the Mali National Ballet, Camara settled in Brussels and continued his career performing with many of Mali’s best known artists; Mamady Kéita, Gomma Percussion, Rokia Traoré and Boubacar Traoré to mention a few. In addition to performing with his kalebasse and djembe drums, Sidiki Camarra teaches percussion and has founded the ‘Yankadi’ cultural exchange program. Sidiki Band’s additional members include Dieudonne Vakote (guitars and vocals), Øivind Wang Tollefsen (guitar), Bård Gunnar Moe (bass) and Øystein Ølnes (saxophone).
Britt Pernille Frøholm
Fiddler Britt Pernille Frøholm hails from Hornindal in western Norway’s Sogn og Fjordane region. Traditional, acoustic Norwegian folk music was a mainstay of her childhood as she was trained in the art of Hardanger fiddle music by her grandfather, esteemed player Matias Frøholm. Frøholm’s repertoire primarily consists of tunes that originate from the Norwegian west coast, but the well-educated fiddler also performs contemporary music written for the Hardanger fiddle. Frøholm, who performs on both violin and Hardanger fiddle, has a strong academic track record, having studied at Bergen’s Ole Bull Academy, Oslo’s Norwegian State Academy of Music as well as the Regional College of Telemark in Rauland. Frøholm’s first solo album, ‘For allje dei’ (ta:lik) released earlier this year, garnered a string of highly positive reviews in the majority of Norway’s national dailies. A quote from daily paper Dagbladet: ‘Frøholm manages to display the massively contrasting sounds of the Hardanger fiddle which range from the fragile and lonely to the overwhelming grandiose.’
Utilising the stripped-down combinations of Hardanger fiddle, accordion, percussion as well as electric and double bass to the full extent, Flukt ramble their way through the ensemble’s acclaimed live performances. Through energetic interplay and new approach to accompaniment, Flukt manage to add and infectious bounce to traditional tunes. Flukt interpret and renew traditional tunes from Norway, Ireland and the Balakans, creating a unique repertoire filled with youthful energy. Next year marks the outfit’s ten-year anniversary, a decade that has resulted in three critically acclaimed albums as well as domestic and international touring. Sturla Eide (fiddle and Hardanger fiddle), Øivind Farmen (accordion) and Håvard Snerten (percussion) combine virtuosity with child-like curiosity and exploratory playing, resulting in a highly potent brew of extrovert folk music that has reached out to a substantial Scandinavian audience.
With a distinct line-up that includes harp, percussion, bagpipes, nyckelharpa, mandola, fiddle and vocals, Swedish collective Svanevit’s sonic landscape is both coherent, innovative and highly characteristic. Svanevit’s form of expression is both new and modern and at the same time retrospective, drawing inspiration from the past. Earch and every element of the music is filled with an anticipating and narrative zest that allows the tale to continue giving the sounds, magic and legends of the past a chance to live on in our time. Svanevit offer a repertoire that ranges from mesmerising medieval ballads, captivating contemporary ballads as well as infectious dances. The ensemble’s highly educated members Maria Larsson (fiddle, recorder, folk flutes), Erik Ask-Upmark (harp, bagpipes, skränpipa), Anna Rynefors (nyckelharpa, bagpipes, percussion) and Anders Larsson (voice, mandola, mandolin) create swinging contemporary folk music with strong historical roots.
Unni Boksasp is a young, vital and charismatic folk singer who originally hails from Tingvoll on Norway’s north-western coastline. The diverse vocalist, who has her scholastic training from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm and the Faculty of Art and Folk Culture at the Telemark University College, performs both as a solo artist as well as in a band setting. The core of Boksasp’s repertoire is the rich vocal traditions of the Nordmøre region on Norway’s north-western coast. 2007 saw the release of Boksasp’s first solo outing, ‘Songar fra Havdal’, an album that earned Boksasp a number of highly positive reviews. A review excerpt: ‘The disc’s arrangements are sophisticated and leave room for the excellent vocals that are the album’s focal point. This is a debut that solidifies a continued existence of the region’s rich musical heritage.’ Boksasp’s Folkelarm performance is backed by an all-star team of musicians; Jorun Marie Kvernberg (fiddle, vocals), Ånon Egeland (lute, vocals), Magne Vestrum (bass, vocals) and Henning Sommero (harmonium, vocals).
Norwegian/Swedish outfit Skáddjil is led by vocalist/joiker Anja Storelv who hails from Northern Norway while the rest of the collective; Magnus Josbrant (drums, percussion), Andreas Wäppling (Keyboard), Hans-Lennart Bruun (bass guitar, double bass and akkordeon) and Niklas Haak (wind instruments) represent the Swedish contingent of the popular band. Contemporary Sámi music with additional multi-cultural influences makes up the core of the diverse outfit which enjoys a solid following in Northern Sweden which is Skáddjil home territory.
Gjermund Larsen Trio
Gjermund Larsen enjoys a position as one of the most respected and active performers and composers on the contemporary Norwegian folk music scene. The Norwegian State Academy educated fiddler and composer is a member of ensembles Majorstuen, Frigg, Brødrene Larsen, Ragnhild Furebotten trio and Christian Wallumrød ensemble. Larsen’s proper debut as a composer came in the form of the work ‘Brytningstid’ which was commissioned by the Telemark Festival in 2006. The majority of the work is devoted to new, contemporary and original folk music which draws inspiration from the local dance music traditions of the Verdal area in the Trøndelag region. Double bassist Sondre Meisfjord and pianist/organist Andreas Utnem were featured at the premiere of ‘Brytningstid’ and the three have continued the fruitful collaboration to date. The pieces featured in ‘Brytningstid’ still constitute the base of the trio’s repertoire, a repertoire that has continued to grow in magnitude and diversity during the last two years. Their Folkelarm performance is set to feature new works never performed before and likely destined to end up on the trio’s upcoming debut album scheduled for release later this autumn. The three band members represent a wide range of genres ranging from classical and contemporary to jazz and pop as well as traditional folk music – a diverse background that results in a highly aesthetic and rewarding sonic landscape.
John Ole Morken
John Ole Morken is a native of Holtålen County in the region of Trøndelag, Norway. Holtålen, located south of Trondheim and bordering on Røros – a region that has rich music and dance traditions whose history dates back more than 200 years. In the 1990s, at a time when many feared for these traditions, young and eager fiddler Morken turned up, with a burning interest in visiting old-timers to learn their tunes and tales. He quickly became an active participant at local and regional fiddle gatherings, concerts and competitions. Prizes and scholarships from national, regional and local cultural administration and organizations rewarded his talent and provided encouragement. In his home community, Morken’s work has resulted in revival of old tunes and stories that had nearly been forgotten. His knowledge, enthusiasm and participation in various music and history clubs have stimulated interest in local, traditional culture among young and old. Excellent results at Norwegian folk music competitions - as a solo fiddler, as a member (and generator) of a multitude of groups and as a leader for several fiddler clubs - attest to young Morkens’ quality and development as a fiddler and as a musician over the years. 2007 saw the release of Morken’s solo debut album titled ‘Slåtter fra Hessdalen, Haltdalen og Ålen’, a release that earned Morken a string of strong reviews in the domestic music press.
Jonas Simonson – Crane Dance Trio
Jonas Simonson is an experienced wind player and has developed a completely unique and profoundly personal approach to flute playing. His fully ornamented and free performance can also be heard in Bäsk, and the folk veterans Groupa, and in recordings with Den Fule, Kapell Frisell, the Vocal ensemble Amanda and Folk-sax/Riff-Ola. At Folkelarm, Simonson performs with the Crane Dance Trio which features Mats Edén on fiddles and accordion as well as Matttias Pérez on guitars. The Crane Dance Trio’s repertoire strives to conjure up the images and sounds created by the thousands of cranes that each year land at Sweden’s Horngorgasjön Lake on their annual trek to the north. Through their music, the three revered performers offer a trip to the heart of the Västergötland region, as they blend the area’s rich musical heritage with improvisation and their own compositions.
Tassili is fronted by Morocco-born vocalist, fiddler, banjo/sinter/lutar player Aissa Tobi. The collective which also includes Ketil Kielland Lund (bass, flugelhorn, keyboard, percussion), Abderahim Tobi (vocal, percussion), Noredine Fellah (vocal, percussion), Gunnar Augland (drums and percussion) and Luison Medina Capote (congas, imbales) play an irresistible mix of North-African Gnawa and Chaabi styles, rock and improvised music. The collective display a strong command of dynamics as their live shows includes music that ranges from lyrical, acoustic and stripped-down numbers to all-out, big band rhythmic extravaganzas.
Einar Olav Larsen Trio
This trio is the result of the meeting between the folk musician Einar Olav Larsen and blues pianist Daniel Trustrup Røssing. They performed together for the first time at the 2006 Hilmarfestivalen – a festival which is a tribute to one of the finest folk fiddlers in Norway in the 20th century, Hilmar Alexandersen. Alexandersen, and his musical partnership with pianist Sturla Hallå is the trio’s main influence. Theirs is a performance style which found its shape after more than 20 years of performing at local weddings and dance arrangements in the Trøndelag region of mid-Norway. Einar Olav and Daniel, together with Einar Olav’s youngest brother, Audun, on the double bass, have taken on the task of further development this tradition and have managed to make it their own. The trio basks in elegant violin work and varied and original piano accompaniment rounded out by a solid double bass foundation, blending traditional Norwegian folk influences with contemporary sounds.