By Drew Brown
When a concert titled Nordic Vibrations comes to PLU's Lagerquist Concert Hall on Nov. 3, it will be a triumphant event for Lynn Berg '64. Berg won't play in the string quartet, but the performers will use his instruments, which were meticulously crafted in the Norwegian tradition.
Berg started making traditional Hardanger fiddles a decade ago, after his daughter, Kari '90, brought him a book from Norway about what is widely called the country's national instrument. It is similar to the violin, and each is a handmade work of art. It has four or five strings that run underneath the fingerboard and add echoing overtones.
Earlier this year, Berg completed construction of an unusual Hardanger viola and cello. Berg won't come right out and say his is the only Hardanger cello in existence, but it looks like that is the case. He saw one earlier this year at a museum in Norway that was made in 1860, but it lacked the understrings or other characteristics of true Hardanger instruments.
The idea for building all the instruments started when Linda Caspersen Andresen, exhibit committee co-chair at the Scandinavian Cultural Center and a cellist, wanted to play the Nordic tunes. She mentioned to Berg that it would be easier to play them on a cello than to learn to play the fiddle.
"For fun I thought I would make a Hardanger cello and surprise her," said Berg, who lives in Eugene, Ore., where he runs a violin repair shop. "But I was so excited that I had to tell her.
"Then the thought occurred to me that if I had two fiddles and a cello, I only needed a viola to complete a quartet," Berg said. He learned about the viola-and then built it.
Berg and Andresen felt the instruments had to be played. That's how Nordic Vibrations was born. Andresen, Tove Hanson '05, Karin and David Lober Code make up the quartet. In addition will be other violinists, PLU assistant professor Svend Rønning '89, Natalie Nesvig '79, Jan (Olsen '92) Upshall, Andrea (Tronset '78) Bryant, with accompaniment by David Dahl '60, PLU's organist emeritus.
Along with creating the Hardangers, Berg also makes his own design of an alternatively shaped instrument called a "VioLynn," which Rønning will play at the concert.
Berg looks forward to hearing the instruments played in Lagerquist on his first visit to the acoustic masterpiece.
"It is truly exciting to have a concert where so many of my instruments
will be played,"
Berg made his first Hardanger in 1993. In 1997, he contributed a golden-hued Hardanger fiddle to PLU's Scandinavian Cultural Center.
Berg became interested in strings when Kari was 6 and began taking violin lessons. One of his Hardangers, earned a bronze medal in June at the Landskappleiken competition in Vågå, Norway. He was first American to ever place in the contest.
Tickets for the concert are available through the Scandinavian Cultural Center or cosponsor, the Cultural Arts Commission of Gig Harbor.
Visit encore! to learn more about Berg and the upcoming concert.
Caption: Lynn Berg '64 holds the Hardanger viola and cello he built.