Presenting the program is Loretta Kelley, member of our Washington Lodge, and well-known to us for her performances on the Hardanger fiddle at our Union Station Holiday Bazaars and the annual Christmas Parties. She will entertain us with stories and songs with her beautiful speaking and singing voice, along with her excellent fiddling.
Many legends and fairy tales are entwined into the music of the Hardanger fiddle. Loretta Kelley's love of the Hardanger fiddle and Norwegian folk music and dance has led her to spend a very large amount of time immersed in Norwegian folklore, history and tradition.
During the past thirty years, she has collected many old fiddle tunes and stories that deal with the supernatural, magic, legends, and folk tales. Loretta will entertain us with tunes and stories of the "nisser" (the little people who live underground; the "hulder" (beautiful women who enchant men); the "mountain king" who steals young maidens, and the "fossegrim" (the waterfall sprite who teaches fiddlers how to play via magical means); along with many other examples from Norwegian folklore.
A year later she became interested in traditional music, and for six years performed folk music from all over the world with the nationally-known Aman Folk Ensemble. Her involvement with the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) began in 1976, when she met Sigbjørn Bernhoft Osa, virtuoso hardingfele player and Norway's "musical ambassador to the world." Immediately she was attracted to this unique instrument and the music it could play. In 1979, she spent a year at the folk high school in Rauland in Western Telemark, where she studied hardingfele playing with local fiddlers and was a member of the fiddlers' group, "Falkeriset."
Since then, she has made more than fifteen trips to Norway to study with master hardingfele players. Loretta has participated in numerous fiddling competitions in Norway, winning first prize in her class several times. In 1985 she became the first American ever to compete in hardingfele at the Landskappleik, the Norwegian national fiddling competition, finishing sixth in a field of 25 in class B. She has performed in concerts and festivals in Norway, and in 1994 her playing was featured in an hour-long radio program on Norway’s national radio station, NRK.
In the USA Loretta has been active since 1985 as a performer and teacher of the hardingfele. Loretta's performances in the USA include appearances on Garrison Keillor's "Prairie Home Companion" and American Radio Company, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," in Washington DC at the Kennedy Center's Millenium Stage, the Christmas Revels, and Norwegian Christmas at Union Station. She has recorded two albums of traditional springar and gangar dance tunes: "Dansekveld" (1990) and AmerikaSpel(1996). Her writings about the "hardingfele" have appeared in "Strings," "The Strad," and "Fiddler" magazines.
When not fiddling, Loretta has worked in the data processing field as a programmer and data analyst for over 20 years.
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