• Ethno New Zealand

Rachel at Ethno Sweden

Updated: Jul 30, 2019

Fiddle player Rachel Evans was our second New Zealander travelling on the Ethno Mobility Grant. She attended the oldest and biggest Ethno in the world; Ethno Sweden.

Read Rachel's reflections on her trip:

"Receiving a Mobility Grant to travel to Ethno Sweden 2019 was a phenomenal gift. As a full time student, I would not have been able to make the trip otherwise. Having had my first Ethno experience in January this year at Ethno NZ, I was curious to travel to the oldest and largest Ethno where it all started in Sweden.

It’s hard to put what you experience at a weeklong immersive musical residency into words. It’s impossible to quantify the richness of meeting 85 young players of folk music traditions from 22 different countries. But I can say that what stood out for me was the way in which the calibre of musicianship was very high, and yet people were so generous in the way that they shared their musical cultures. I found it inspiring to be surrounded by young people who were so excited about music and engaged in the reclaiming that comes with learning these old traditions that are so intimately connected to place.

As a fiddle player who has mainly played Celtic music, I loved being surrounded by Swedish folk music which has a very strong fiddle tradition. Ethnos are incredibly musically diverse, and I enjoyed the challenge of learning music from idioms with which I’m not familiar- wrapping my head around Colombian beats, Indian intonation, singing Lithuanian lyrics in close part harmonies. Coming from Aotearoa, which is geographically isolated with a small folk scene, I appreciated the connections to the wider folk world that I have made. I also highly value the ethos of collaboration that Ethno is built upon. While the schedule was full, it was good to have a balance between well structured, participant-run workshops working towards a final concert during the day, time to appreciate each other’s talent during the evening Open Mics, and time for spontaneous late-night jam sessions.

I have come home a little tired and very musically inspired. My Spotify is over-flowing with new recommendations, and I am excited to keep unpacking the new musical possibilities that have opened up. The experience of leading a workshop in collaboration with friends who I’d only just met has boosted my confidence as a teacher and performer and gotten me excited to learn more about arranging. It has also challenged me to continue to explore the question of what my musical tradition is, as a Welsh-born Pākehā New Zealander.

In case you’re wondering, I would recommend Ethno- whether here in Aotearoa or elsewhere- to other young musicians. Nothing beats immersion for learning, and I think that Ethno’s model is unique in the way that it creates a space for people to both share their knowledge, and to find those nuggets to add to their skillset. I’ve also met some wonderful friends- Ethno Whānau 10/10 recommend"