PREVIEW ‌ Transtrand Spelmanslag 

Fiddle Folk: The string's the thing for these super troupers

To begin, a bit of linguistic housekeeping: spelman is a fiddler, slag is a group, and Transtrand is the Swedish mountain locale they call home.

Transtrand — really, the whole of the Dalarna area of central Sweden, near the Norwegian border — is renowned as a place where life is set to song, much of that being profoundly old-time mountain music played on fiddle. It's a place of whittled horses (one does not visit Dalarna without returning with a bright red wooden horse), skiing, long winter nights, and even longer traditions involving folk dances and strings concerts.

That kind of immersion gives rise to instrumental mastery. Many of these players have had a fiddle in hand since they were toddlers.

Transtrand Spelmanslag itself dates back to 1946, a kind of crème de la crème grouping of players brought in for weddings and other celebrations. Their repertoire has grown through the decades as new musicians brought new talents, styles, and practice methods into the fold.

Today, a performance may include anything from traditional Nordic polska, schottische, waltzes, and bride's marches to contemporary compositions from Benny Andersson of ABBA fame (Mamma Mia! That guy certainly gets around, doesn't he?).

Stig Larsson is the music teacher credited with the direct tutelage of today's cast. Since the mid-1980s, Larsson has employed the Suzuki method of education, helping the musicians fine-tune their ability to repeat a selection by hearing it played. The process, which in theory parallels the normal developmental process of language acquisition, is said to yield a warm and natural performance style.

Local entrepreneur Don Olson, himself a player of violin and viola, first met Larsson and other members of the group more than 20 years ago when he traveled to Sweden on an American Swedish Institute of Minneapolis outing. He worked with Ellen Dressler Moryl and Holley Van Horn of the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs to make this rare local appearance by the group a reality. He's even played some Swedish fiddle tunes at the Farmer's Market at Marion Square, grooming Charleston for their arrival, but adds that what the audience will see at their actual performances is the real deal, as good as it gets. "Europeans take their traditional arts very seriously," Olson says. "This event will be authentic: costumes, dance, and all."

In addition to globetrotting to arts festivals far from their native land, Transtrand Spelmanslag also performs on Swedish television and is regularly booked for weddings, funerals, parties, and other events.

Skiers warming up in the lodge back in Transtrand get to sample the Spelmanslag's skills all the time. But here in the Lowcountry, chances to hear this kind of authentic Old World rhythm live on stage don't pop up every day.

Transtrand Spelmanslag • Piccolo Spoleto's Special Events • $15; $10 students and seniors • June 1 at 9 p.m.; June 3 at 2 p.m. • Footlight Players Theatre, 20 Queen St. • 554-6060


Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Classified Listings
  • Lidl
    I have already shopped in Lidl store goose creek sc. three times. I find the… -tim wernicke
  • Black Bean Co.
    I am typically not one to complain or write a bad review but I felt… -Morgan P.

Powered by Foundation   © Copyright 2017, Charleston City Paper   RSS