FolkWorld #81 11/2023
© Frøydis Bergheim Ruud / Grappa Musikkforlag AS


Super-Sizing Folk Music

Summers / Silvola

Artist Video Summers / Silvola

Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola have created their own chamber orchestra Sølvstrøk (Silverstroke), consisting of a dream team of Norwegian folk and classical musicians, with a punchy and nuanced sound.


Artist Audio Sarah-Jane Summers, Juhani Silvola & Sølvstrøk, Grappa / Heilo, 2023

Each track takes a tune as its starting point (5 self-composed & 5 traditional), which Summers/Silvola recomposed & expanded into refined string arrangements, focusing on the rhythmic drive & distinctive melodies of Scottish & Norwegian folk music, classical harmonies, and contemporary music colour.

The album opens with Tune For Alistair, illustrating the day of an energetic toddler. Number 81 is a 400 year old 6-bar reel that we call Baroque-Techno, while Christmas Day I Da Mornin’ is a Shetland Christmas meditation. Owerset II, a Scottish-Norwegian pols by Summers, has an extended contemporary music section. Morning Prayer is a prayer that was finally answered. Donald Morison& Miss Mary MacDonald are driving dances, the latter reusing the opening of Mozart's 25th Symphony. Call & Response is inspired by the unique psalm tradition from The Isle of Lewis, which was visited by the Vikings and has many Norwegian place names. Finally, In Dispraise Of Whisky’s energy belies the sober title!

"I always dreamt of ‘super-sizing’ our music for chamber orchestra, and when I was heavily pregnant, we went to see Oslo Chamber Orchestra. Afterwards, I said I wanted to write for them. So, we did! We played together at Oslo World Festival; what a joy! Førdefestivalen then got in touch and suggested we create a chamber orchestra of primarily traditional musicians for the 2021 festival, and Sølvstrøk was born,” explains Sarah-Jane.

Summers & Silvola is an internationally acclaimed Scottish/Finnish duo, who celebrated their 10th anniversary in 2021. All three of their duo albums received Top of the World from Songlines; their latest was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy in 2022.

Summers is one of Scotland's foremost fiddlers & a tradition bearer of the old Highland style. She has a master's degree in Norwegian folk music & improvisation from the Norwegian Academy of Music, has released five solo albums & played with GRIT Orchestra, RANT & Quatuor Bozzini.

Silvola is a sought-after guitarist, renowned composer of electro-acoustic contemporary music, and record producer. He has released five solo albums, toured with the Nils Petter Molvær Group and plays with Susanna Wallumrød and Frode Haltli's Avant Folk.

Sarah-Jane Summers: fiddle/compositions/arrangements
Juhani Silvola: acoustic guitar/compositions/arrangements

Fiddles: Olav Luksengård, Mjelva Bjørn, Kåre Odde, Kevin Henderson, Vegar Vårdal, Selma French Bolstad, Erlend Viken
Viola: Mari Giske, Lise Voldsdal
Cello: Gregor Riddell, Kaja Fjellberg Pettersen
Double bass: Ellen Brekken

Photo Credits: (1), (3) Sarah-Jane Summers, Juhani Silvola & Sølvstrøk, (2) Sarah-Jane Summers & Juhani Silvola (unknown/website).

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