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GIG: Harpas at Halsway

Saturday 7 Sep 8pm–9:30pm, 2024


A Saturday evening gig from our International line-up of tutors for our Harpas Festival Weekend! See and hear the Nyckelharpa – a traditional Swedish ‘keyed fiddle’ – in the hands of three of Europe’s finest exponents of the instrument – Vicki Swan, Torbjörn Näsbom and Gabi Maas.

Vicki Swan studied at the Royal College of Music on the double bass. She also plays the various types of bagpipes, flute, recorder, piano and nyckelharpa. On leaving music college Vicki started down the long path of folk music and was only seen on rare glimpses back in classical orchestras. You’ll find Vicki now inhabiting the troll-ridden forests on the hunt for new and exciting tunes from the näcken. Vicki plays not only the standard 3-row modern chromatic, but also the 1408 sienaharpa, the 1526 moraharpa, the 1700s kontrabasharpa and the 1800s silverbasharpa. Over the pandemic Vicki worked tirelessly on a Virtual Music Room to try to help isolated nyckelharpa players remain motivated and focused on playing and learning. She is the host of the yearly Halsway Nyckelharpa Festival.

Torbjörn Näsbom was born and grew up in Uppland. After training as a violinist at Sveriges Radio’s music school at Edsberg Castle and at the Royal Music Conservatory in Brussels, he was employed in the Umeå Symphony Orchestra at the Norrland Opera. On the side, he started playing the nyckelharpa, which eventually took over from the violin as his main instrument. He plays folk music (of course!), but is also known for weaving the nyckelharpa into classical music, mainly from the Baroque period. In 2014, he received Zorn’s gold medal, the highest award you can receive as a folk musician, for his ‘virtuosic, masterful and tradition-conscious playing on the violin and nyckelharpa’.

Gabi Maas

Gabi Maas plays modern and baroque violins, viola and nyckelharpa. Her passion for exploring different styles has led her to work with groups ranging from Concerto Caledonia and Istante Collective to Orchestre Révolutionnaire et Romantique and Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

For the last ten years Gabi has been learning various traditional styles. She is particularly interested in fiddle music from the west of Ireland and Scandinavian baroque dance tunes, and took up nyckelharpa in 2013 in order to explore the Swedish and Finnish repertoire further. Since then she has worked with nyckelharpa maker Bo Falk on developing other string instruments with keys attached, including a cello-pitch tenorharpa, gambaharpa, and clog-fiddle harpa.

She has also collaborated extensively with Algerian Berber musicians, played nyckelharpa at Sharq Taronalari festival in Uzbekistan, and enjoys the occasional treat of a ‘study break’ to try something new. Most recently she studied the rudiments of Carnatic violin in Chennai for a month with Sri Vittal Ramamurthy.