Photo courtesy of Lori Ann Reinhall
Lori Ann Reinhall is fluent in Nynorsk and is a Scandinavian musician.

You betcha Norwegian festival music line up sure to be a hit; Mayor Murray to commence 17th of May festival

This year’s 17th of May festival is going to be one to remember because it marks the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution and also the 125th year the parade has been celebrated in Ballard.

To celebrate the event the Norwegian 17th of May Committee will bump up the musical entertainment with Northwest Scandinavian performers jubilating Norwegian music most of the day at Bergen Place Park (5420 22nd Ave. N.W.) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

To help curate the festival tunes the the Committee has asked Lori Ann Reinhall to coordinate, perform and emcee at the event.

Reinhall, grew up in Magnolia and has attended the parade for most of her life. She has also been a participant in the parade sporadically and emceed the music last year. Reinhall is fluent in Nynorsk and is a Scandinavian musician. She studied music in Sweden and said that’s where her love for Scandinavian music developed. She also studied Scandinavian language and literature at University of Washington and UCLA. On top of her rich background in Scandinavian studies, Reinhall also plays the accordion – a traditional instrument found in Norwegian music.

“This is a very special occasion, and I feel it’s import because the Norwegians really built up Ballard, and Ballard is also changing and there’s fewer visible vestiges of that. Bergen Place Park is one of them that was created to celebrate their heritage,” said Reinhall.

“I think it’s really great to perform there right in the middle of Ballard to remind people of what they’ve done in the past and that it’s still a living community.”

The program features some first generation Norwegian’s playing Scandinavian traditional tunes, as well as other musicians that have been inspired by the Norwegian folk instruments and songs.

“The whole focus is on Norwegian music and a little more than what it was in the past. I wanted to invite groups that would be representative of Norwegian music and culture."

Reinhall said that she tried to bring together musicians that will provide something for all ages and interests, making a well-rounded Norwegian celebration.

“The festival is not just for Norwegians, but really for everyone in the community, and so I wanted to showcase a little bit of everything making a wide variety of music for a wide variety of people.”

Reinhall put together an album called “Emigrant,” that explores her Swedish heritage and the CD will be for sale during the festival. The proceeds of the CD will go to the restoration of the Bergen Mural.

Reinhall said that all but one of the musicians are volunteering their performances and that they show a real commitment to their heritage and the community.

“The costs of putting this event on have really gone up over the years and we really want to see it endure and continue, so it’s just really great that all these people volunteer all their time. I think it's very generous.”

At 10 a.m., before the first accordion trills, Mayor Ed Murray will address the Norwegian community and join the crowd to listen Reinhall start off the show with a few of her songs.

Sponsored by Western Towboat Company, Seattle musician, Knut Bell, will take the stage 11 a.m. and jam to some country rock and Norwegian inspired songs.

At noon, spectators can look forward to dancing when the number one polka band in the Northwest, Toby Hanson and the Smilin’ Scandinavians, takes the stage. In some polka circles, Hanson has been called the “accordion king.” According to their website their music is a mix of “Midwestern polka, Scandinavian folk, traditional country western, Dixieland and big band swing.”

Next, Nordic Reflection and Harald Nygaard, a first generation Norwegian, will jam with Ione and Brenda Bard, playing Scandinavian accordion tunes from the 40’s and 50’s. Reinhall said that she will be performing with the band and that some of the song lyrics are in Nynorsk.

The audience will see a colorful spectrum of traditional Norwegian costumed dancers at 2 p.m. when the Leif Erickson Lodge will present Leikarringen. The group will be playing a hardanger, a Norwegian fiddle and dancing. Later the children’s group, Barneleikarringen will perform dancing games.

Next, the Norwegian Male Chorus, who is also celebrating their 125th anniversary, will perform at 3 p.m., followed by the Norwegian Ladies Chorus at 3:30 p.m.

At 4 p.m., Bonnie Birch will play Norwegian traditional songs on the accordion. Considered one of the top accordionists in the Northwest, Birch plays classic pieces, especially some of Edvard Grieg’s popular compositions like “Hall of the Mountain King.”

To end the musical revelry at Bergen Place, a group of young fiddlers, ages eight to 18 called, Seattle Lilla Spelmanslag, will play at 4:30p.m.

“People can relate to music and even if you don’t know the language you can still connect with it. It says something about a culture and it says a lot about the community when traditions are so strong.”

The Syttende Mai Parade will begin at 6 p.m. and musicians will continue to perform in the procession.

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