Monday, April 23, 2018

Fun at the 2018 SoCal Scandinavian Festival

I think the concept of "blogging" didn't originally include skipping an entire year. Oh well. As is said in some big bands, "Where does the time come from?" Or something like that....

So. Yesterday I attended the 43rd Scandinavian Festival, held at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California. 'Twas a lovely, sunny day of 85 degrees F, or thereabouts, and I overheard some Norwegians remark on the heat. Apparently, it's somewhat warmer here than there.

My good friend, Dr. Joan Haaland Paddock, Professor of Music at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon, was there, presenting, performing, and teaching about aspects of Scandinavian culture, especially the Norwegian wooden natural trumpet called the "lur." And all this time, I thought the lur of Norway was its fjords!

Dr. Joan Haaland Paddock plays the Norwegian lur

Joan and I have coached and played brass chamber music at the Humboldt State University Brass Chamber Music Workshop for quite a few years now, and we became old friends in about five minutes when we first met there. Hubby Paul bravely endures her various travels away from home, as she flies to Norway now and then and performs annually at the Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota. This was her second year at the SoCal ScanFest, but only my first. And it was wonderful!

What's that little guy on my shoulder doing?

It really isn't a large event, geographically, situated as it is in a beautiful dell on the Cal Lu campus, complete with trees and a stream, which was a big hit with the many kids there. Quite the family outing, and despite its title, the ethnic diversity in attendance was terrific. After all, who doesn't like aebleskiver? It had all the elements you'd expect -- Scandinavian food court, booths to buy all sorts of fun and beautiful things, cooking demonstrations, folk dancing, folk music, storytelling, and of course, the lur of Joan. And they had the truly requisite element -- an ABBA tribute band on the main stage at end of day. Mamma mia, it was good times. (If the Swedish Chef was there, I didn't see him.)

One highlight for me and other children was when Joan showed a dozen-or-so kids how to play the lur. Okay, they were in fact collapsible vuvuzelas, but the younguns got to decorate and keep them. Actual birch-wrapped spruce lurs might have been a bit pricey.

Another highlight was "Under the Northern Lights," a presentation by Stina Fagertun and Trine Strand featuring stories and traditional songs of northern Norway along with some of Trine's original songs. I learned a bit about the Sami culture and history, and Stina -- who hails from WAY up north in Norway -- told the best joke I've heard in quite awhile: Referring to the cold Norwegian temperatures, she said, "There's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!" Perfect.

Stina Fagertun (L) and Trine Strand (R)

The show by Stina and Trine was actually very moving. I expect to study up on Norway and its northern climes. I could see composing a suite about it. And Trine Strand is quite the composer and recording artist. What a voice. She made a gift to me of her latest CD, "Nord," and I'm listening to it over and over. So beautiful, and I don't even know what she's singing about! I highly recommend it.  Please visit her site.

And I almost forgot. Joan played some of my music for postlude for yesterday's church service. Trumpet and organ, with a lur descant that she wrote herself. What an honor, Joan.

Thanks to Joan, Stina, and Trine for a lovely day.

Dr. Ray

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