Youngsters experience taste of Swedish culture

A group of young Shetland musicians were in Sweden this week to take part in eight days of music and culture at the Ethno festival.

The festival, which has been running for 20 years, takes place throughout Europe every summer. It sees a hundred young musicians from around the world come together to learn and play music from their respective cultures.

Through a combination of workshops, jam sessions, seminars and performances, musicians have the opportunity to learn a variety of musical styles.
This year the festival in Dalarna, Sweden, hosted 95 participants from 13 countries. Shetland musicians Jonny Polson, who plays guitar, accordianist Victoria Laurenson and Adam Johnson, who plays guitar and banjo, were among the attendees this year.

Ethno is organised by Concerts Sweden in collaboration with Folkmusikens Hus and Sweden’s Spelmäns Riksförbund with the support of the Swedish Institute and Rättviks kommun.

Five artistic directors or “leaders” are on hand to assist during the week. One of these is Shetland fiddler Kevin Henderson, now based in Norway. The Shetland students’ trip was arranged by Mr Henderson and Bryan Peterson of Shetland Arts.

Music development officer Mr Peterson said: “It’s an excellent opportunity for young people to immerse themselves in each other musical cultures.”

Jonny, 18, said the group had learnt music from Tunisia, Sweden, Croatia, Estonia, Slovenia, Turkey, Venezuela, France and Belgium.

He said of the festival: “It’s completely different from what we ever imagined. We have met loads of great people [and] musicians.

“We had to be in the main auditorium at 9.30am to start learning and teaching. For the whole weekend we had workshops taught by all the countries, including Shetland. So we were always together in different groups daily which was great as you had the opportunity to meet new people.

“The week has been very hard going, especially teaching the other 96 participants Shetland music. But overall it has been a great learning experience which we have all benefitted from immensely.”

A large concert was held last night which the students all took part in and afterwards a party was held as a special celebration of Ethno’s 20th anniversary.


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