This post is the first of five in a series that outlines key components of an Arts Midwest World Fest residency. Arts Midwest World Fest presents international musical ensembles in intensive week-long residencies in smaller Midwest communities. Its purpose is to foster an understanding of and appreciation for global uniqueness and differences. The residencies consist of school concerts, workshops, and outreach activities, and culminate in a public concert. This series will follow the Unni Boksasp Ensemble from Norway as they visit five Midwest towns during their second and final tour with Arts Midwest World Fest.
Introducing the Ensemble
The Unni Boksasp Ensemble arrived in Minneapolis in early March, a day before a spring blizzard hit the Twin Cities. Luckily the group was able to scoot down to Prairie du Chien before the rough weather set in. The Unni Boksasp Ensemble is comprised of four world-class musicians from Norway that specialize in traditional and contemporary Norwegian folk music. It’s important that each musician has experience teaching, since residencies typically consist of many educational workshops and community events. Let’s meet the ensemble members:
Unni Boksasp leads the group with her award-winning voice and decades of experience researching and performing Norwegian folk music. She’s a Norwegian Grammy winner and a fine instrumentalist on the zither and dulcimer.
Photo of Unni Boksasp. All photos by Eric Young Smith.
Guro Kvifte Nesheim plays the stunning Hardanger fiddle, charming audiences throughout the week. The Hardanger fiddle is Norway’s national instrument. You can learn more about it here .
Photo of Guro Kvifte Nesheim.
Kenneth Ekornes is an amazing drummer and story-teller. Our Prairie du Chien contacts tell us that Kenneth’s famous story of the polar bear will be told and retold there for a long while.
Photo of Kenneth Ekornes.
Gjermud Silset is the guitarist and electric bassist of the group. He met a young guitar enthusiast after a workshop.
Photo of Gjermud Silset.
No ensemble can perform well without an excellent sound engineer. Here’s Fridtjof Lindeman hard at work at the mixer… uh, here is Fridtjof dancing at a workshop with our intrepid host for the week, Terri Connell! What about the band, Fridtjof??
Photo of Fridtjof Lindeman dancing with Terri Connell.
Unni’s ensemble had a great week in Prairie du Chien. The ensemble visited all Prairie du Chien schools and also traveled to nearby by Manona for workshops in the school there. We send our gratitude to Bob Smudde, Matt Lenz and their school district colleagues as well as to Terri Connell who accompanied the group throughout the week.
We continue to be so grateful for 3M’s support of this Arts Midwest World Fest. The ensemble enjoyed a visit to the Prairie du Chien plant where it conducted a workshop for employees. Plant Manager Steve Kleist was a gracious and enthusiastic host, as always. We were delighted that Karen Goeschko from the Wisconsin Arts Board could join us as well!
Full group photo with Ken Carlson of Arts Midwest, Steve Kleist of 3M, and Karen Goeschko from the Wisconsin Arts Board.