2021 SPRING SPRINGAR SPREE--STAFF BIOS PAGE
Bios below for:
Norwegian Hardanger fiddlers: Arne Anderdal (featured), Loretta Kelley, Karin Løberg Code, Laura Hummel, Martha Levenson, and maybe more.
Swedish Nyckelharpists: Laura Hummel and Sonia White.
Dance teachers: Roo Lester & Larry Harding (multiple dances) and Kathi Ploeger & Don Meyers (Hallingspringar).
Zoom allows our staff this year to join us from all across the US, plus Arne from Norway.
ARNE ANDERDAL (featured) specializes in the Hardanger fiddle music of two different regional traditions: the music of Hallingdal, the valley where he was born, and the music of Voss in western Norway where he now lives. Arne is an archivist and music instructor at the Ole Bull Academy in Voss, Norway, an institution which offers a 4-year Bachelor of Arts program in traditional music performance. As a practicing and performing artist on the Hardanger fiddle, Arne works mostly with music for dance. He is musical director of the Voss Spelemannslag.
Here’s an interesting interview which Martha Levenson had with him:
Martha adds for us: “…dance is a huge part of his life…it really does inform his playing….he LOVES to play for dancing.”
And here’s a great photo:
LORETTA KELLEY has been performing on, teaching and writing about the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) for more than 30 years. She has appeared on Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion and American Radio Company, and National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" and "Performance Today." She is a regular teacher at the Annual Workshops of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America and the Nordic Fiddles and Feet Scandinavian music and dance camp, as well as at Scandia Camp Mendocino and innumerable local workshops throughout the US. She has made over 30 study trips to Norway and has placed highly in many fiddle competitions there. Her playing has been featured in an hour-long radio program on Norwegian radio. Her recording with Andrea Hoag and Charlie Pilzer, "Hambo in the Snow," was nominated for a GRAMMY award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category. Loretta is currently the president of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America (www.hfaa.org).
KARIN LOBERG CODE, a life-long string player, began intense study of the hardingfele, or Harding fiddle, in 1990. Today, Karin is a respected dance fiddler who has lived two years in Norway, playing for weekly dance groups in Oslo and meeting with master fiddlers. As an American fiddler, she has been on staff, along with Norwegian-born artists, at numerous festivals and workshops in the US. Her first CD, "Norsk Spring Dance," is widely used in this country and in Norway for folk dance accompaniment. Her newest CD, "Harding Tones" features both solo work and the premiere recording of the newly created Harding Quartet.
LAURA HUMMEL: With over 20 years of classical violin training and a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance, Laura Hummel was more than ready for the day that she would discover the wonderful world of eclectic stringed instruments and cross over into the realm of folk music.
It was in late summer of 2017 that she saw a nyckelharpa being played for the first time at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. It was love at first sight. Laura soon joined local Scandinavian folk music and dance groups and camps, Washington’s Spelmanslag, Scandia D.C., and Nordic Fiddles and Feet, to meet other players, learn some tunes, and play for dancing. Less than two years later, she found herself packing her bags, hopping on a plane, and on her way to the intensive one-year folk music course at the Eric Sahlström Institute (ESI) in Tobo, Sweden. There Laura studied nyckelharpa with Olov Johansson, David Eriksson, and Josefina Paulson and she completed the certificate program in May 2020.
While in Sweden, Laura often crossed paths with the mysterious Hardanger fiddle. Unable to resist the hardingfele’s magical sound of resonating strings, she decided it was time to answer its call. Laura was awarded one of the 2020 HFAA Adult Student Fiddle Loans and pursues her Norwegian folk music studies with Loretta Kelley. She has performed on hardingfele for dance evenings for the Mid-Atlantic Norwegian Dancers (MAND) and Folklore Village.
When she’s not playing for dance, Laura studies the intersection of folk music and video games in her ongoing research project, "The Lore of the Strings.” She works as a supply chain data analyst and lives in Maryland along with her husband and her Blue-Headed Pionus parrot, Nami.
MARTHA LEVENSON is a hardingfele player and teacher living in Seattle, WA. She fell in love with the Hardanger fiddle in 2016, and has been going strong since. Her first love is music from Hallingdal, but she also plays music from Telemark and Valdres.
SONIA PEARSON WHITE has studied nyckelharpa with many of the top Swedish players on their trips to music and dance camps in the United States. She studied with Olov Johansson of Väsen, Ditte Andersson, Mia Marin, and Sonia Sahlström during a year-long course at the Eric Sahlström Institute in Sweden in 2014-2015, after she retired from her career as a scientist. Her blog describing this experience is at http://www.soniasvikt.org. Sonia is also an accomplished dancer; she traveled to Sweden 5 times and earned her Big Silver medal in Swedish polska dancing in 2015. This dance experience helps her find the right tempo and “swing” when she plays her nyckelharpa for dancers. She plays Swedish music for dancing regularly at monthly Mid-Atlantic Norwegian Dance (MAND) house parties. Sonia is co-leader of the Washington’s Spelmanslag (https://www.washingtonsspelmanslag.com), a group of musicians who play Swedish music, including many times at the Swedish Embassy and Ambassador’s Residence.
ROO LESTER and LARRY HARDING: Roo Lester is a dance professional as a Scandinavian dance teacher; a performer; a director of dance camps and workshops; a choreographer for stage performances; and has published a number of articles on Norwegian dances including Telespringar, Hallingspringar, and Valdresspringar. In addition, she has written a guide to Scandinavian Dance Basics, and has published several other articles on this subject.
Roo was raised in California and introduced to international folk dance as part of her elementary school curriculum. During her undergrad college education, a folk dance class inspired Roo to further her education to include a Master of Arts in Dance Ethnology from UCLA. She was inspired by Ingvar and Jofrid Sodal to pursue Scandinavian dance after learning Norwegian dances at a San Diego Folk Dance Conference. Since 1983 Roo has traveled extensively in Scandinavia studying dance, taking courses, participating in “kappleiks” (competitions) in Norway, also Hälsinge Hambo as well as receiving a ‘big silver’ medal in polska dance in Sweden.
Larry began folk dancing as an undergraduate in college in Connecticut. Shortly after he moved to Illinois, he participated in and then led the Argonne International Folk Dance Group for over twenty-five years.
Roo and Larry have been dancing and teaching together since shortly after they met. They teach many different types of Scandinavian dance and focus specifically on the turning dances of Norway and Sweden. They have taught at a variety of camps and workshops around the US in addition to their weekly (pre-pandemic) Scandinavian class in the SW suburbs of Chicagoland.
DON MEYERS and KATHI PLOEGER started Scandinavian dance in the early 1970s. They have long experience in learning, teaching, performing and competing in Scandinavian dance both here and in the Nordic countries. They placed third among foreign couples in the Hälsinge Hambo competition held in Sweden every summer, a competition that attracts 900-1500 couples for a day long competition. That same year, they placed third in their category at the Norwegian Jørn Hilme stemnet, performing a springar from Valdres, Norway.
Don and Kathi have both earned their ‘Big Silver’ medal in Swedish polska. This was the culmination of a series of tests in Sweden over a five-year period, in which dancers prove their knowledge of Swedish folk dance for a panel of judges drawn from the group of people who originally researched these dances in Sweden.
The duo teaches both Swedish and Norwegian dance regularly for the Skandia Folkdance Society and have taught workshops in Vancouver BC, Salt Lake City UT, Portland OR, and London, England. They are regular participants in dance workshops and events, including the annual Scandinavian participatory dance at the Northwest Folklife Festival, one of the nation’s largest folk festivals. They have taught classes with participants numbering from two to two hundred and have a reputation for running an entertaining and instructive class.
In the course of all that dancing, there was plenty of opportunity to relax with Scandinavian friends and learn an important part of the culture: Drinking Songs or Snapsvisor! They love share these tunes with new friends and have facilitated many sessions at festivals, local pubs, and parties.