Borås: the friendly west coast

(pics first for now, until i figure out how to conjure a polite display behavior from this thing)

this year's 3 new riksspelmän (silver medalists)

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It happened like this: last summer Ingrid & Thomas flew to the US to teach Swedish dances at NFF (Scandi music/dance camp in NH), and they invited everyone to join them this summer in Borås for the special annual events that their town was hosting this year. So I wrote to them a few months ago and said, really?, and they said, yup! They were actually the core of the organizing team that put together the uppspelning and riksspelmansstämma for this year — a week of medal-testing, concerts and workshops, finishing off with a big open festival of a Sunday — so they were already crazily overextended, but they graciously (if improbably) added the hosting of US visitors to their agenda. We so enjoyed our time with them!

Highlights in Borås:

  • Concerts! Because this week was focused on musicians who have been awarded their silver medal to become riksspelmän, the caliber of the concert programs was stellar. We especially enjoyed lunchtime concerts by Pontus Estling (clarinet, harmonica, Swedish bagpipes), and a silverbas-harpa and fiddle duo whose names do not appear to be listed anywhere. The Fri and Sat evenings each featured concerts with a sort of panel of rikspelmän who are local to Borås — mostly each person played solo but a few also combined into duos, and there was one especially rewarding trio of nyckelharpa, clarinet, and bass clarinet. Sadly my camera ran out of battery right around then, but Mills did get a couple of audio clips.
  • Learning more about the uppspelning! Which, it happens, will be hosted next June in Tobo. So I am now thinking seriously about aiming to “spel upp” on both instruments next year.
  • Buskspel and meeting musicians! I had somehow not noticed ahead of time that Sexdrega is only about a half-hour from Borås, which means all the great tunes from there are local! Also some entertaining instrument hacks — a 5-string fiddle with 4 sympathetic strings,  a 4-string with 6 sympathetics. And, I met Tage Larsson and played on one of his harpas for a while, liked it a lot — good workmanship, some sensible innovations in design.
  • The Borås musem! We were on their grounds, but I only got to see a tiny fraction of their indoor collection. Including their bog woman from the late 17th c., with interesting notes about the remains of her clothing and shoes.

Also, I now have both a Swedish phone number and a new adopted Dad: Thomas stepped in as my guardian so I’d be eligible for a phone plan by subscription rather than just prepaid card.

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