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Events

This category is dedicated to festival announcements and reviews, markets, trade fairs and travel reports that have something to do with what we do.
  • The Norwegian Jew's Harp Festival 2015 from September 25 till 27 in Dovre

    norsk-munnharpe-forum-festival-2015-imageOne of the liveliest Jew's harp scenes in Europe is to be found in Norway. Thanks to the efforts of the Norwegian Jew´s Harp Forum (Norsk Munnharpeforum), founded in 1998, there are numerous possibilities, year on year, to continuously exchange information regarding the Jew's harp. The forum now has just under 150 members who meet up each year in September for the Jew's harp festival.

    In September 2014 the Norwegian Jew's harp enthusiasts and enthusiasts from other European countries met on the Karljohansvern peninsula on the south coast of Norway. The Jew's harp festival has become a nationwide attraction. Along with concerts and workshops, Jew's harp players have above all the opportunity to exchange ideas about playing techniques, music pieces Jew's harps and the latest news. The festival first took place as early as 1955. Three years later, the Jew's harp specialists of Norway founded the Norwegian Jew's harp forum, with the aim of extending and spreading knowledge about the Jew's harp, cultivating the construction of Jew's harps and stabilizing the music on the Jew's harp, as well as conducting research into the instrument.

    Resulting from that a network consisting of smiths, scientists and musicians sprang up which, among other things, run and administer the munnharpe.no website where numerous links to relevant Jew's harp websites are listed. In 2006, the double CD "Fille-Vern – Old and new masters on Norwegian Jew´s Harp tradition" (Fille-Vern. Gamle Og Nye Mestre I Norsk Munnharpetradisjon) was released, on which recordings from the archive of the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation from the years 1937 to 1970 were published along with some current recordings of tunes. Furthermore, a newsletter appears four times a year, compiled by the well-known folklorist Bernhard Folkestad, and this is also published in English.

    At the international Jew's harp congress in Taucha, Germany in 2014, Bernhard Folkestad told of the many Jew's harp players that one meets at the"kappleiks" - music competitions - in Norway. These folk music competitions take place at local, regional and national level. Along with Jew's harps there are also, among other instruments, fiddles, langeleiks (zithers), flutes and accordeons to be heard. Experts judge, among other things, the standard of the playing technique, the melodic and rhythmic consistency and the interpretations of the folk melodies played. The best performers receive a prize and then advance to the next level of the competition. At national level up to ten musicians compete.

    The first Jew's harp found in Norway, is estimated to be about 800 years old. Bernhard Folkestad writes that in Norway Jew's harps had always been played and the instrument only vanished from the scene after World War II. In the 1990s musicians rediscovered the Jew's harp. Traditionally, it is melodies that are always played on the Jew's harp in Norway. In Norway dance and folk music songs are played on the Jew's harp and the feet are often used to tap out a clear and audible rhythm. According to Bernhard Folkestad, many melodies were adopted from other instruments such as the fiddle or or the langeleik (zither). The Sami, too, incorporated the Jew's harp into their cultural experience. Although it is not a traditional Sami musical instrument, the Jew's harp still received its own name, in Saami the Jew's harp is known as the "njálbmefiolaš", the mouth violin.

    The next opportunity to experience the Norwegian Jew's harp scene will arise September 25th till 27th 2015 in Dovre. There will be workshops on instrument building for Jew's harps and flutes as well as courses in playing the Jew's harp and the langeleik. More information can be found on the website of the Norwegian Jew's harp forum munnharpe.no closer to the event. 

  • In September 2015 the North-American Jew's Harp community gathers in Louisville, Kentucky

    News from the jew's harp community from across the world: On September 16th there will be held a jew's harp congress in Louisville, Kentucky (USA). Jew's harpers, researchers and fans are invited to participate with contribution and to enrich actively the American National Jaw Harp Congress. Jerry Crisp organizes the gathering as part of the National Jug Band Jubilee (the anniversary of the Jug bands).

    After the festival of the Jew´s Harp Guild in the US was canceled last year, this is the next opportunity to get to know the North American jew's harp scene. In planning are concerts, lectures and workshops. Info about and contact to the American National Jaw Harp Congress in 2015 can be found on the Facebook page of the event or on the Facebook profile of Jew's Harp Guild.

    The next Jew's Harp Festival in Europe will take place in Dovre, Norway from September 25 to 27, 2015. There you can learn how a jew's harp is forged. In addition, jew's harp workshops and lectures will be held. The latest information is published by the Norwegian Jew's Harp Forum here.

     

  • Jew's harp playing at the dance and folk festival in Rudolstadt

    The Dance and Folk Festival (TFF) in Rudolstadt (Germany) doubtlessly counts as one of the most important world music festivals in Europe. It has a unique profile which, time and time again, emphasizes new music acts and its own home-grown music projects. The festival stages and markets are embedded in the whole town and bestow a flair on the TFF that can't be found anywhere else in the world. DAN MOI regularly has a stall at the festival and Jew's harp fans, too, can hear their favourite instrument played during some of the stage performances.

    The DAN MOI Jaw Harp stand at the TFF Rudolstadt The DAN MOI Jaw Harp stand at the TFF Rudolstadt

    Traditionally Rudolstadt chooses a magical instrument each year. Some of the most brilliant instrumentalists are invited and in the week before the festival they work out a special schedule of concerts for the TFF. If one now asks when it is the Jew's harp's turn, we can at the moment only look back to the year 1999, for then the Jew's harp (as an instrument with a free reed) was a part of that year's magical instrument, the "mouth harmonica".

    Albina Degtyareva with her band Ayarkhaan

    Ten years later, the breathtaking group Ayarkhaan of Jew's harp expert virtuoso Albina Degtyareva took the stage in Rudolstadt. Ayarkhaan come from Yakutia and are capable of creating a musical experience from another world: the imitation of birdsong, the galloping of horses and a rhythmic speed which can leave a person dizzy. In 2011 the Swiss musician Anton Bruhin was a guest in Rudolstadt with his experimental approach to playing the Jew's harp.

    The Jew's Harp player Anton Bruhin

    The TFF was one of the first places in Europe where one could buy a Vietnamese Dan Moi. As far back as 2001 Clemens Voigt and Sven Otto were present at the start with their newly-founded musical instruments company DAN MOI. Clemens now recalls that: "People were curious the moment we unpacked the instruments. They came to our stall to try out the Dan Moi instruments for themselves. Many people were so surprised and fascinated by the sound of the instruments that they decided to take a Dan Moi with them. Back then we knew that the Jew's harp creates a magic with which one can really please a great many people. What was really special was that one didn't really need previous musical experience to play the Jew's harp.“ These first magical contacts of the audience with the Dan Moi have lost nothing of their power, in fact the contrary is the case, playing the Jew's harp is once again very popular. So we may hope that we will soon be able to experience one of the current virtuosi on the Jew's harp scene at the TFF again. What about the Franco-Chinese Artist Wang Li for instance? By the way, the dance and folk festival in Rudolstadt is taking place this year, as always, on the first weekend in July from July 2 to July 5 2015.

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