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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cool Nordics charm a Kennedy Center crowd

Hakon Thelin on his double bass at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage/Patricia Leslie

A hushed crowd listened intently last weekend to Unni Lovlid of Norway sing and hum in her contemporary, distinctive style on the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center.
You know how sometimes (all the time?) you just need a little something to soothe your mind without having to think about it?  Like pressing "refresh" and mental ocean waves sweep through your brain, calming tired wires. You've experienced that, no?   Ms. Lovlid’s voice, Hakon Thelin's double bass, and Ingar Hunskaar's magic with electronics are the remedy Dr. Healer ordered for a weary state.
Unni Lovlid and Hakon Thelin at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage/Patricia Leslie
Ms. Lovlid is known for her contemporary folk music, talents she developed on the west coast of Norway, sharpening her ear for years under the tutelage of older women, especially her mother, who sing and perform. 
If you closed your eyes and allowed your ears and mind to fill with the sounds, her soft chants and humming carried you away to a religious experience at a monastery.  
Unni Lovlid is projected on the big screen with its black lines at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage/Patricia Leslie
With a distinctive, clear voice, reminiscent of a mix of Buffy Sainte Marie and Joan Baez, Ms. Lovlid hypnotized the standing room only crowd with her stare and slight smile, gazing intently upon the crowd while she sang or watched Mr. Thelin, a Norwegian Grammy award-winner, play solo. 
They performed a northern lights number which had the power to summon the northern lights even for those audience members who have never seen the northern lights, with mighty sounds of roaring water which ebbed and flowed with all their friction, compounded by the rumblings of an earthquake.
Hakon Thelin projected on the big screen at the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage/Patricia Leslie
In 2006 Ms. Lovlid was named Norway's "Traditional Musician of the Year," and soon, Mr. Thelin's and her new album will be out. This is Ms. Lovlid's first performance in the U.S.

Their performance was part of the Nordic Cool 2013 Festival underway at KenCen through St. Patrick's Day, March 17, and what a success it has been, from dancing, singing, theatre, shirt sculpture (?) to Legoland on the roof for wee ones.  (Big wee ones are permitted to play, too.)
Click here to see the cool Nordic Cool brochure and leaf through its 64 pages and learn detail about upcoming presentations, many which are free.

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