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Press Release

Midwinter Folk Music Festival Staves Off the Bleak, Well, You Know

A festive winter weekend for the whole family, celebrating old and new-fashioned Nordic folk music on Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6
December 10, 2021 By Lizzy Rode

MINNEAPOLIS —December 10, 2021— In this post-genre “Spotified” music era (what’s a chill vibe even mean?), how does one decide what “new” music to listen to? And how will you impress your friends next year when Spotify Unwrapped comes out?

Here’s an idea! How about discovering traditional Scandinavian folk music’s unique instruments and beats? If you’ve ever yearned to learn more about a nyckelharpa or a spelmanslag, this might be your chance. Saturday, March 5 and Sunday, March 6, the American Swedish Institute will host its Midwinter Folk Festival, an action-packed musical celebration of wintry weather and Scandinavian folk music.

A weekend full of concerts, workshops, dance and drop-in musical opportunities, the Midwinter Folk Festival uplifts the art of folk music— new and old, and warms up the bleakest of seasons. This midwinter’s special guest is Oskar Stenmark, a talented trumpet, cornet & flugelhorn player, recording artist, composer, arranger and educator. Born and raised in Gothenburg, Sweden, has performed with stars such as David Byrne, Chris Potter and multiple GRAMMY award winner Maria Schneider Orchestra. Photos of Mr. Stenmark are available upon request.

Midwinter Folk Festival includes a variety of midwinter musical celebrations, to attend live, or to tune in to from Sweden! Or South Korea. Or anywhere in between. Virtual and in-person workshops led by Swedish instructors Jeanett & Peter Rousu (youth strings), Emma Härdelin (song), and NJ-based Bronwyn Bird (nyckelharpa), will give everyone an up-close and hands-on musical experience. There are music-learning opportunities for children and adults, and the weekend culminates in a group play-along finale.

“Our Midwinter Folk Festival is the perfect introduction to Nordic folk music, and, for those already acquainted, it’s kind of a no-brainer,” says Aly Fulton-Kern, programs coordinator, American Swedish Institute. “This year, the Midwinter Folk Festival looks to the past, recognizing the rich traditions and instrumentations of Nordic folk music, and to the future, celebrating how Nordic folk has and continues to evolve! As an art form primarily passed down through oral tradition and learned by ear, folk music constantly shifts with the times. With each new generation, folk musicians build upon, innovate, and transform the work of countless past generations of musical masters. In this way, folk music is always both a reflection of the current day, and a timeless preservation of past culture and traditions.”

Experiences during the Midwinter Folk Festival include:

  • Nearly non-stop concerts
  • Pop-up performances around the American Swedish Institute campus
  • Workshops for strings, nyckelharpa, song, dulcimer and more
  • Jam sessions
  • Food from the lauded FIKA Café at the American Swedish Institute
  • Cozy outdoor bonfires
  • Crafts for all ages

Registration opens for the festival December 17 (ASI members), December 20 (general public). To register, or to find more information about the ASI and becoming a member, visit www.asimn.org. A virtual option is also available for far-flung attendees.