Vidar Skrede: An invitation to Norway

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Nordic Folk Musician Vidar Skrede plays the fiddle in Marty’s.

Nordic Folk Musician Vidar Skrede plays the fiddle in Marty’s.

Ryan Bjelke (‘20) | Chips

Ryan Bjelke (‘20) | Chips

Nordic Folk Musician Vidar Skrede plays the fiddle in Marty’s.

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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Nordic folk musician Vidar Skrede brought a taste of Norwegian traditional music to Marty’s during KWLC’s Norwegian Folk Music Night on April 6.

Skrede, a native of Haugesund, Norway, earned a master’s degree in Nordic folk music from the Royal Academy of Music in Stockholm and has appeared on national television in Norway and Iceland. He is known as a leading member of the Nordic folk music scene. Skrede recently moved to Chicago and travels around the Midwest to teach his style of music.

After discovering that Skrede was scheduled to teach Scandinavian folk music classes at the Vesterheim Museum the same weekend, KWLC’s World Music Director Maddie Tyler (‘17) felt motivated to invite the musician to perform at Luther.

“I’ve been the world music director for three and a half years and I always wanted to organize some kind of cultural music event,” Tyler said. “This year I was really inspired [when I heard] a good friend of my family’s, Vidar Skrede, was coming into town, so I thought we should try to get him to do an event. I’m a huge advocate for Nordic music, so I really wanted to get Vidar here.”

Tyler said that the Nordic studies department and Norskklub provided an immense amount of support for the event.

“I’m so grateful for them because they kept promoting the event very heavily,” Tyler said. “They kept saying ‘Come in and talk about this event’ [in our Norwegian classes]. That energy and their willingness to help us was phenomenal. They’re just as invested in this as KWLC.”

During the event, Skrede played a variety of songs that he says developed differently over time in various areas of Norway.

“The oldest fiddle music we know of is called pols, polska, or springar,” Skrede said. “It came to Scandinavia in the early Renaissance time, from a region between Poland and Germany. It was actually the first dance known in Europe where you could dance as couples. This spread all over Norway, and today each valley has their own version of it. That’s the way to tell where the music comes from, listening to their springa.”

The event attracted approximately 60 people, including Visiting Instructor in Nordic Studies Kari Grønningsæter, who said Skrede’s music was reminiscent of her youth in Norway.

“A concert like this takes me back to Norway, to the mid-1970s and 1980s, when there was folk dance all over the place, in the cities as well as in the countryside,” Grønningsæter said. “We would dress up in our bunads, our national costumes, and dance for hours, often a group of five [or] six people playing [fiddles and guitars]. We went to dances in small school houses in the country [with] the wood stove burning hot and at colleges with hundreds of people gathered.”

The event also brought back memories for attendee and Nordic studies major Linnea Kephart (‘19), who recently studied abroad in Norway.

“I just love everything about [Norwegian] culture,” Kephart said. “I went to Norway this summer and danced to this style of music there. It was exciting to experience something similar here.”

Skrede said he enjoyed sharing his music with others and hopes that those who attended will continue to seek out more musical experiences like this.

“Music brings people together, to listen, dance, and also play together,” Skrede said. “It’s an art form of cultural expression, both individually and as a society. It’s fun, emotional, beautiful, and groovy. It taps into all kind of feelings, identities, and invites others to be part of the experience and connects across borders. I hope they [enjoyed] the music, find interest in hearing more, [and] maybe even start playing themselves.”

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