The annual San Francisco Bay Area Scandia Festival returns this February 15-16 to Hermann Sons Hall in Petaluma and offers two full days of dance and music instruction featuring teachers from Dalarna, Sweden. Teaching dances from Eastern and Western Dalarna will be Britt-Marie Westholm and Bengt Mård. Britt-Marie and Bengt are known for their high energy, clear style and articulate suggestions. They have taught together for many years at workshops in Sweden including the advanced polska course at Rättviksdansen. Since they first taught at the Scandia Festival in 1993, they have been invited back regularly to teach in the United States. Two years ago, Britt-Marie taught Western Dalarna dances with Kalle Strandel at a workshop in El Cerrito. She is also a judge of the Hälsingland Hambo contest.
At the Festival this year, Britt-Marie will also be assisting Ragnar (Ragge) Eriksson as he teaches dances from southern Dalarna. Making his first trip to the United States, Ragge learned his dancing in tradition, that is from his grandmother as a small boy. He is a retired forester who dances seven nights a week. An excellent dancer, he earned his big silver medal last year at the annual polska medal-testing in Sweden.
Fiddler Olle Wallman from southern Dalarna will be playing for all the dance instruction. Olle is well known to the Bay Area community since his visit for Scandia Festival in 1993. He is a "riksspelman" who leads his local spelmanslag. For more than twenty years he has been playing music for the annual medal-testing.
Ole Hjorth and Anders Bjernulf will be the featured fiddle instructors this year. Ole probably introduced the majority of fiddlers in the United States to the world of Swedish folk fiddling. In 1969, he appeared with Björn Ståbi at the Newport Folk Festival after which they recorded "Folk Fiddling from Sweden" for Nonsuch. Until recordings from Scandinavia became more available in the United States, this record was likely the only one that Swedish folk fiddling enthusiasts owned. Although born in Uppsala in Uppland in 1930, Ole is first and foremost an expert on the music from Bingsjö. One of his early teachers was the legendary Hjort Anders. Ole has also had a long association with Bingsjö fiddler Päkkos Gustaf with whom he has toured and made recordings. For many years Ole has taught violin at community music schools and at the Stockholm Academy of Music. He is also interested in classical music and has played with the Royal Opera Orchestra in Stockholm.
Anders Bjernulf was born in 1966 and started playing fiddle at the age of nine. He learned from two of Rättvik¹s greatest fiddlers, Påhl Olle and Pers Hans. He has also had a long musical friendship with Päkkos Gustaf. Anders became a riksspelman in 1987 and two years later received the Tällberg Foundation Scholarship in recognition as one of Dalarna¹s outstanding young fiddlers. He has taught at many workshops within Sweden and the United states, including two well-received workshops in the Bay Area last year. Anders is mainly interested in the music of Rättvik and Bingsjö.
The dance instruction will be at the intermediate and advanced level. Pre-registration is required. Fiddle instruction will also be at an intermediate and advanced level in two simultaneous sessions. Pre-registration is requested. Part-time registration is possible for fiddlers. Workshop applications for both dancers and fiddlers can be obtained by contacting Nobi Kuratori at (415) 851-7077 or Nobi@juno.com (leave your name and address). If you have questions about the fiddle workshops or are a beginning fiddler interested in auditing the sessions, please contact Fred Bialy at (510) 215-5974 or FredBialy@aol.com.
Shortly after that first visit, Ole started taking lessons from Hjort Anders and continued to do so until Hjort Anders' death in 1952 at the age of 87. The lessons were infrequent but long. Ole recalls: "Hjort Anders visited my parent's home for longer and shorter periods a few times each year. The lessons lasted all day. Hjort Anders was my unequivocal ideal and idol. His playing became my ambition; to learn as much as possible of his style and repertoire and to record it on paper. As a teacher he paid scrupulous attention to the details of violin playing. To use the bow so as to produce a good sound and an expressive and captivating style of playing was of utmost importance to him. He summed up the art of playing as follows: 'The fiddler must be so skillful that he can talk with the bow'."
Ole's first contact with Päkkos Gustaf (Bingsjö's most famous living fiddler who turned 80 in 1996) was during the summer of 1954. At that time, Ole was staying with Röjås Jonas in Boda while he was making visits to some of the older fiddlers in Dalarna. Knowing of Ole's interest in the music of Bingsjö, Jonas suggested that Ole look up Gustaf too. Their first meeting was inauspicious. Because they were"shy of each other," Ole remembers, they each played just one tune. Their musical partnership has grown over the years. In 1986 the two of them toured through Sweden together as part of an exhibition called Tre Spelmän. They have co-taught fiddle workshops on the music of Bingsjö and Hjort Anders. In 1996 they collaborated on a recording released on the Giga label.
The Bay Area Scandinavian music and dance community is happy to welcome a temporary new member: Bruce Sagan from Michigan. Bruce arrived in Berkeley in December and will be staying here through the middle of May. His ostensible purpose is to do research at the Math Institute at UC, but we all know the real reason is to take advantage of all the music and dance opportunities here.
Bruce will be living with his mother, a music teacher and choral conductor, who started him on classical violin and recorder as a youngster. While a graduate student in Boston he came under the influence of nyckelharpa player Matt Fichtenbaum who soon had him playing Swedish folk music. He has gone on to be musical director at the Scandinavian Week at Buffalo Gap, which is organized and directed by his wife Judy Barlas. He has played in numerous ensembles, including a band of Swedes playing Balkan music during his sabbatical year in Stockholm! In 1993, together with fiddler Andrea Hoag and bouzouki player Larry Robinson, Bruce made the recording "Spelstundarna" which has received rave reviews both here and in Sweden.
Bruce is available for lessons on fiddle, hardingfele, and nyckelharpa (or even gadulka!). He can also play for dances, workshops, or concerts. He can be reached at (510) 558-1554 (home) or (510) 643-6034 (work).
Due to insufficient registrations to allow two back-to-back weeks, Nancy Linscott recently announced that the Mendocino Scandia Camp will be scheduled this coming summer only for the week of June 14-20. The camp will still feature teachers from both Norway and Sweden.
Teaching dances from the Røros area will be Margot Sollie who was born and raised in Hitterdal (25 km east of Røros). She started dancing about 22 years ago, and has been involved in organizing Røros dance events ever since, both dancing in and judging dance competitions. Margot is also interested in the folk craft traditions of her area and makes the traditional folk costumes of the Røros district. Partnering Margot will be her son, Svein Olav Solli, who began dancing when he was 13 years old. It soon became his favorite hobby. He has been teaching pols and swing in Norway for several years and will introduce us to the Røros dialect of Norwegian swing. Recently he danced in the Norwegian pavilion at the Epcot Center.
Teaching and playing for the Norwegian dance instruction will be Marit Larsen and Borghild Reitan. Marit, who is leader of the ¯sterdolenes Spelemannslag, was born in Hamar and has lived in Oslo since 1984. She is finishing her studies at the university where her main subject is the pols tradition of ¯sterdal. Marit has played fiddle since she was 11 years old and has an education in "violin pedagogue". Borhild is from the village of Ålen which is 39 km north of Røros. She is the leader of the Ålen Spelemannslag. She began fiddling when she was 7 years old, studying first with her father and later with fiddlers from Røros. She was a member of the ¯sterdolenes Spelemannslag while living in Oslo.
Coming from Norrköping, Östergötland will be Stig and Helen Eriksson who will introduce us to dances of their region and teach dances from other parts of Sweden. They began dancing in their teens. Stig taught Helen to dance and she taught him to fiddle. They have been teaching for 20 years, in Sweden, Europe and the US. They won the 1993 Hälsingland Hambo contest. Helen plays in the Klintetten Band.
Rounding out the Swedish contingent this year will be Thomas Westling, a riksspelman from Hälsingland. Thomas began learning fiddle when he was 10 from both his grandfather and his father, Hugo Westling. Since the 1980s, the Westling Spelmän have played for the Hälsingland Hambo contest. They have produced 10 cassettes and have played on radio and TV. Thomas travelled in the US with Bengt Jonsson in 1982.
A recent addition to the music teaching staff is American Becky Weis who will be offering classes for nyckelharpa. A multi-instrumentalist (fiddle and hardingfele too) Becky is working on her doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of Illinois in Urbana. She recently spent a year in Sweden doing research on the nyckelharpa. At the 1996 Riksspelmanstämma in Sweden, she was awarded a bronze diplom (diploma) for her commendable nyckelharpa playing.
This years camp offers a wealth of music and dance talent. The music staff is especially top-notch and the opportunity to learn from them should not be passed up. So musicians, let Nancy hear from you! There is also still space for men. Interested women should also register as cancellations and late registrations from men usually allow women on the waiting list to get into camp. Contact Nancy Linscott at 53 Presidio Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941.
The Thursday night Scandiadans class has recently become affiliated with the Northern California Spelmanslag. This association reflects the inseparable ties between traditional Scandinavian music and dance and allows Scandiadans to benefit from NCS's non-profit status.
Scandiadans has also successfully made it through a trial period and will continue to meet at the Oakland Nature Friends facility in the foothills of northern Oakland. The cozy lodge building with a great wooden floor and fireplace is surrounded by trees in a quiet, isolated setting. To get there, take the Joaquin Miller Rd, exit off Hwy. 13, go east two blocks and turn right onto Butters. Stay on Butters (very curvy) for 0.4 mile. The driveway down to the Nature Friends lodge branches off to the right and is marked by a Scandiadans sign. There is plenty of parking. A donation of $4.00 is requested for the evening.