Folkelarm – Nordic Folk boosted in Oslo
The annual Folkelarm festival has been a key showcase for Nordic folk music acts since 2005. After a break for reconsideration last year, it was back in force this year at Oslo’s rather impressive Rikscennen hub for traditional music and dance.
Showcases comprised a concise thirteen acts (including one contemporary dance company), timetabled so there was no excuse for not seeing all of them at least once across the three days. A few of them even reappeared at the annual Norwegian Folk Music Awards over the weekend, also organized by Norway’s energetic FolkOrg.
Happily, one of these was undisputed festival hit, glamorous nyckelharpa player Emilia Amper from Sweden, joined by strings and percussion for a couple of rousing sets based around her recent album The Magic Bird. Priority at Folkelarm is given to acts that can be seen as viable for international careers and Emilia certainly ticks that box, as does the “fado, polska and beyond” of Stockholm Lisboa Project. The warm alto voice of Portuguese singer Micaela Vaz and the harmonica brilliance of Swedish Filip Jers, with Simon Stålspets and Sérgio Crisóstomo on violin and Nordic mandola, proved an astonishing and moving blend both times I saw them.
The sophisticated but emotionally raw-edged music and theatrical performance of Sami (the Arctic area of Northern Europe) singer and dancer Elin Kaaven (pictured) could easily make her an international star too, especially now her Maizen-Thaw album has been picked up for Europe-wide distribution. Produced by Oslo-based Juhani Silvola, it features Scottish Hardanger fiddle player Sarah-Jane Summers, a husband and wife team who not only backed Elin at the festival but also, joined by bassist Morten Kvam, impressed with their own band Mala Fama.