Meet the featured artists for
The Christmas Revels: A Nordic Celebration of the Winter Solstice
Lydia Ievins & Andrea Larson
Lydia plays 5-string fiddle and nyckelharpa for Scandinavian and English Country dancing. Her absolute favorite thing about playing in either genre is the boundless opportunity to create rich harmonic lines. As an avid dancer herself, she infuses her playing with rhythmic clarity and sensitive phrasing to produce eminently danceable music. Her duo album Northlands with Bruce Sagan features a collection of original tunes inspired by Scandinavian traditional styles. She is a 2013 graduate of the Eric Sahlström Institute in Sweden, located at the epicenter of the nyckelharpa universe; her duo album Fika with Andrea Larson and Trip to Tobo tunebook feature favorite tunes from that sabbatical year. She maintains an active performance and teaching schedule with duo partner Andrea Larson, with whom she has developed a popular intensive weekend workshop for Scandi-interested dance musicians. Lydia is pleased to have been awarded a bronze Zorn medal in Sweden for her playing in the Uppland tradition.
For almost two decades, Andrea’s passion for Swedish folk music and dance has led her to perform across the northeast US and in Sweden. She has fiddled for Christmas Revels in New York and Boston, toured nationally as a soprano with the Waverly Consort, and performed with Orion Longsword and Grammy-nominated trio Hoag Kelley Pilzer. One of a handful of fiddlers in the United States who carry music and dance traditions from Sweden, Andrea enjoys serving as a musical ambassador between the two countries. In addition to teaching Swedish fiddle tunes and technique, her current passion is teaching sustainable practice methods to students of all ages, using an approach she has developed since her time at the Eric Sahlström Institute in Sweden in 2012–13. With a focus on the body mechanics of playing Swedish fiddle, note initiation, and the source of rhythmic impulse, she greatly enjoys making music with musicians of all ages and levels. Andrea teaches violin, voice, and fiddle styles from her home studio in VA.
Loretta Kelley has been performing on, teaching, and writing about the Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele) for more than 30 years. She has appeared on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion and American Radio Company, as well as National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Performance Today. She is a regular teacher at the Nordic Fiddles and Feet Scandinavian music and dance camp and at the Annual Workshops of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America, as well as at innumerable local workshops throughout the U.S. She has performed in five different productions of the “Northlands” Revels show: in Washington DC, New York, Hanover, and Portland. She has made over 30 study trips to Norway and has placed highly in many fiddle competitions there. Her playing has been featured in an hour-long radio program on Norwegian radio. Her recording with Andrea Hoag and Charlie Pilzer, Hambo in the Snow, was nominated for a GRAMMY award in the Best Traditional World Music Album category. Loretta is currently the president of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America.
Merja Soria, a native of Finland, was the first Finlandia Foundation performer of the year in 1996. She received a Masters Degree in Music at Sibelius Academy in Finland and has taught Finnish music at San Diego State University and University of San Diego. In 2003 and 2006 Ms. Soria was featured in the Who’s Who in America, and in 2005 she received an award at SDSU for Academic Excellence and Community outreach. Merja has performed at the Los Angeles Music Center, Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., Toronto Centre For the Arts, Peninsula Music Fair and many other music festivals in United States and Europe. Ms. Soria’s CD Arctic Silence is a selection of ancient Finnish songs, and had a song featured in the National Geographic Television’s program Beyond the Movie: Lord of The Rings.
Merja Soria is dedicated to performing the touching music of Finnish heritage. She combines kanteles (Finnish folk harp) and voice to sing the haunting songs of Suomi. Finnish folk poetry tells that when the first kantele was played for the first time, the sound was so beautiful that everybody started to cry. When the tears touched the water of the ocean, they turned to pearls.