Nordic Heritage Museum opened it's Mostly Nordic chamber series with "Northern Lights"

The Gathering Note
February 18, 2011
By Zach Carstensen
in Seattle
For nearly 20 years the Nordic Heritage Museum in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood has been presenting chamber recitals of “mostly Nordic” music. In addition to focusing on standard classical music, the series has sought to infuse programs with Nordic folk and art music tradition. This past Sunday, the museum kicked off their 2011 series in much the same way with a program of short pieces for violin, piano, and voice by Norwegian composers.

Last Sunday’s recital was a success in large part because of Knut Erik Jensen, a young pianist originally from Selbu, Norway who now calls California home. He performed in every work, except for three short traditional pieces Svend Ronnig played on the Hardanger fiddle. Jensen deepened each work on the program – whether it was Grieg’s seldom played Second Violin Sonata or an art song by Christian Sinding. Often it was Jensen providing the heart, atmosphere, and subtle decorations that made each piece on the program memorable. In the Grieg sonata, Jensen demonstrated so much control over the music he moved effortlessly between Grieg’s contrasting, polar moods. Jensen’s playing brooded and smiled – sometimes a few bars apart.

Grieg wrote three sonatas for violin and piano. The second, as Ronning explained, is the least performed in the United States despite its folk charms. Once the pensive opening concludes, violinist and pianist hop and skip through jaunty rhythms, rustic dance music, and beaming harmonies.

Between the concert’s purely instrumental works, soprano Laura Loge introduced the capacity audience to the Norwegian song tradition. Agathe Backer Grondahl composed Loge’s first set of songs. These six miniatures focused on nature. Her second set of songs covered a diverse collection of voices by spotlighting three different composers: Halfdan Kjerulf, Christian Sinding, and Eyvind Alnaes. Whether she was singing about dew, butterflies, or life Loge’s characterful and versatile voice easily adapted to each song’s style.

Of the three performers, Ronning was occasionally inconsistent. His strongest presentation came in the Grieg but also the only non-Nordic work on the program. Manuel de Falla’s Suite Populare Espaganole, as Ronning joked, is the reason the concert is “mostly Nordic.” Ronning’s extroverted approach fit the suite perfectly. Under Ronning’s command, Grieg’s “traditional” sounding violin part deftly looked back to the Hardanger pieces that opened the program.

The rest of the Mostly Nordic season looks promising. The Icicle Creek trio will play pieces by Danish composers. A line up of local freelancers and members of the Seattle Symphony tackle a wide assortment of Finish music in a concert dubbed “Baltic Breezes.”

For kicks, check out Knut Erik Jensen playing the piano part and singing the vocal part to Schubert’s Erlkonig.

A musical night to remember in Superior

The Clark Fork Chronicle
Wednesday, August 15 2007 @ 06:05 PM MDT
Contributed by: markhebert42
by Nancy Garcia
Last Saturday evening, I was among those who filed into the Superior Baptist Church to hear a community concert. The newly organized Mineral County Performing Arts Council sponsored its first event. I expected to hear some great music from the three outstanding featured professionals in their respective fields. I didn’t hear or see it. What I DID experience was absolutely awesome!

Please note that I use the word “experience” for that is truly what it was. There was no printed program. It wasn’t needed. Peter Park did an outstanding job of introducing each performer, their background and their numbers. The evening began with a very familiar face taking the center stage…..Paula Fox. Paula, who taught music at Superior High School for 14 years, accompanied her two daughters, Lauren, 16 and Sarah, 18 and son, Ben, 20 as they opened the program singing several numbers. Needless to say, Grandma Caroline Phillips beamed with pride.

We first met and heard Soprano laura loge who sang several numbers from opera roles in which she has performed. Her lovely voice and range was astounding. There were times I thought the roof of the church might take to the sky! laura is a beautiful lady with an outstanding vocal range. She certainly brought the opera to Superior. Probably the most proud person in the audience was laura’s grandmother, Clara loge.

Former Superior resident, Peter Park, introduced Jodi Marshall as Northwest’s renowned jazz pianist and recipient of the Missoula Cultural Council Award. Jodi executed several ragtime pieces especially mentioning the fact that her mother and Caroline Phillip’s mother played ragtime. I’m sure the church walls had never experienced the jazz and ragtime sound executed by the nimble fingers of this most talented and experienced pianist.

The final, but certainly not the least, performer was Superior’s own Scott Billadeau. All the pieces Scott played were his own compositions. Before playing each piece, he told why or how he came to write each one. The “story” was then transformed into music. I can’t speak for others, but first hearing his story then hearing him play….created scenes in my mind. Most of his creations played that night captured this beautiful state of Montana. I particularly found his story about riding bareback in the park (across the street from the church), clinging for dear life to the horse’s mane, and in the end, the horse finally dumped Scott in the dust and dirt. The event simply came to life through Scott’s fingers as they ran across the keyboard in such fantastic and frantic motion. You saw and felt him hanging onto that mane and suddenly….he hit the dust! Oh, incidentally, the name of that piece is: “Bareback”.

I probably need not mention this ….but there was a standing ovation for each performer. Those who did not attend certainly missed a most enjoyable evening. The Performing Art Council is already planning for a second event. In my personal opinion, it was truly a FIRST for Superior and Mineral County. I know I speak for all those who attended by thanking the performers for sharing their time and outstanding talents with us. A very special thank you to the Council members who made this an evening to remember:

Kay Yost, Mary Jo Berry, Jim DeBree, Betty Magone, Denley loge, Monica Ray, Caroline Phillips, Carol Billadeau and Glenn Koepke.

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