Nordic Culture, Music and Dance this weekend at St. Olaf

Editor's note: I received this event notice from Ruth Sylte, one of my fellow Nordic Jammers.

This Friday and Saturday, June 23 & 24, there will be two unique (and free!) concerts in Northfield.

The performances are a part of the Valdres Samband annual meeting, held this year at St Olaf College. The Samband is the organization of descendants of immigrants from the Valdres valley in Norway. Many American, Canadian and Norwegian descendants will be in attendance.

Friday night's "cultural night" will begin at 7 p.m. in Urness Recital Hall at St. Olaf. The evening event will feature a sing-a-long with St. Olaf Professor of Norwegian Margaret O'Leary, greetings from Mayor Lee Lansing and Professor Emeritus Joe Shaw, the vocal group "Reflections" and will end with music by Northfield's own Nordic Jam.

The Saturday night program will begin at 7:30 p.m., again in St. Olaf's Urness Recital Hall. After a short program of  Norwegian vocal music, the evening will feature the program "Dancing through Norway, a presentaton of Norwegian traditional couple's "courting dances" by HjerteDans, the dance team of Ruth Sylte from Northfield and Mikkel Thompson from Underwood, MN.

Mikkel and Ruth have been dancing and performing together since 1995 and represent over 30 years of combined experience in the traditional music, dance and folk culture of Norway. They have performed through the U.S., Canada and Norway -- but this is the first time they have performed in the Northfield area. Their performances have earned standing ovations for five years at Norsk Hostfest in Minot and other major Scandinavian festivals in North America.

They will be accompanied for some of the dances by St. Olaf Professor of Music Andrea Een on the Norwegian hardanger fiddle. Een is one of the most respected fiddlers of the Norwegian tradition in North America and is highly regarded in Norway for her playing and knowledge of the music.

"Andrea, Mikkel and I have long wanted to present a program together", says Sylte. "We were delighted when the Valdres Samband invited us to perform -- and in Northfield!"

Both events are free and open to the public.

The Valdres Samband also has a daily schedule of lectures and events that the public may attend for a registration fee of $10 per day per person.