The String Sisters is a collaboration of the Celtic and Nordic music world’s top female fiddlers: Annbjørg Lien from Norway; Catriona Macdonald from Shetland; Liz Carroll and Liz Knowles from the United States of America; Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (Altan) from Ireland; and Emma Härdelin from Sweden.
The String Sisters began at Celtic Connections in January of 2001, when Catriona Macdonald saw one of her dreams become a reality by assembling some of the world’s top leading female fiddlers. Colin Hynd at Celtic Connections grabbed the chance to premiere the event at his festival, and the experience was nothing short of earth shattering for all who participated. The Glasgow concert was a great success and the project was rebooked for the following year. However, despite the repeated success, the Sisters were not since been able to reunite prior to undertaking a grand tour of Norway in 2005.
During the winter of 2005, the sisters went on tour in Norway, in cooperation with the Norwegian National Concerts, and Grappa Music Group. The tour was Annbjørg Lien’s initiative.
A live album and DVD recorded in Norway, titled Live, was released in 2007. The String Sisters were joined by David Milligan on piano, Conrad Ivitsky on double bass, Tore Bruvoll on guitar, and James Mackintosh on drums and percussion.
Bukkene Bruse is an influential Norwegian contemporary folk music band. Bukkene Bruse were appointed as official Olympic Musicians for the 1994 Winter Games at Lillehammer, Norway. Following an international tour, they took part in the closing ceremonies thath were broadcast around the world.
The group plays a mix of traditional and modern instruments. Their repertoire draws from many areas of Norway, combining regional traditions with a number of original compositions.
As a group, Bukkene Bruse have existed since 1988, and through the years have given a great many concerts and performances both at home and abroad. Their repertory consists of a wide and exciting range of Norwegian traditional music, and also of their own compositions.
Bukkene (their name is taken from the folk tale of the three Billy Goats Gruff, who outsmarted and destroyed a big troll on their way to summer pastures) make their own arrangements, elaborating and emphasizing the special style of folk music.
The debut-CD came out in August 1993, and received very good reviews. The second CD, Åre (1995), further developed the musical ideas from the first, but also was heightened by the inspiration and experiences the musicians had gathered in the course of a number of tours.
The Stone Chair followed, breaking new ground. This time all four members contributed with new compositions, while at the same time they kept the traditional music foundation. This is a powerful, mature record, featuringtraditional and modern instruments. The American NorthSide edition includes seven tracks from the first two CDs, making a very special presentation of the group’s music.
In 1992, two years before the Olympic Games in Lillehammer, the Olympic Games Organizing Committee chose Bukkene Bruse as official Olympic musicians. This commission brought them to the USA, Japan, Spain and Germany. In the autumn of 1994 the band represented Norway in China at the celebrations of the 40 years of cooperation between Norway and China. Besides giving a big concert in the Haidian Theatre, they worked together with leading Chinese folk musicians, appearing before the leaders of Chinese government and the Norwegian Foreign Minister.
December 1998 brought Bukkene Bruse to a special holiday concert “Norwegian Visions” at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, appearing with new age performers Secret Garden. They also went to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and South Africa as ambassadors for the relief organization “Save the Children.” There they spent two weeks traveling, performing concerts and collaborating with local musicians.
Annbjørg Lien (born 1971) is one of Norway’s most famous Hardanger fiddle players. She has courageously presented Hardanger fiddle folk music in new musical contexts, in combination with guitar, flute, percussion and electronic instruments.
She comes from a musical family, and studied Hardanger fiddle with her father in addition to classical violin at Ålesund Music School. Annbjørg later studied privately with other fiddlers, including Hauk Buen of Telemark.
Several symphony orchestras have engaged Annbjørg as a guest soloist to perform compositions written for the Hardanger fiddle, such as Geirr Tveitt’s “Tri fjordar”. She has made many television and radio appearances, including a TV special in memory of King Olav V.
In addition to pursuing her solo career, she is a member of the popular group Bukkene Bruse. She is strongly devoted to traditional music. Using music from her home district, Sunnmøre, as a basis, she plays music arranged for unusual combinations of instruments and writes her own material.
Lien has a way of infusing new hues and new life into folk music, and has gained an international reputation. She creates modern folk music with broad appeal, has toured all over the world, and has collaborated with folk musicians from many countries. In 1998 she was the first folk musician to receive a government-sponsored grant to establish her career abroad.
In 2007 she participated in the CD and DVD from String Sisters titled Live. The String Sisters is a collaboration of the Celtic music world’s top female fiddlers; Annbjørg Lien, Catriona Macdonald from Shetland, Liz Carroll and Liz Knowles from the United States of America, Mairead ni Mhaonaigh (Altan) from Ireland and Emma Härdelin from Sweden.
On March 10 of 2008 she released Waltz with me. The album features Bruce Molsky, Mikael Marin, Christine Hanson and Kirsten Bråten Berg.
In 2010, Annbjørg made a duo recording titled Alle Vegne with folk singer Sondre Bratland.
“Khoom Loy”, released in 2012 has a world music focus. It’s a tribute to a ritual in Asia: releasing lanterns in remembrance of the dead, or as a prayer for a good life. “Khoom Loy” is the Thai name for these lanterns that are made of rice paper and bamboo. Annbjørg is joined by six musicians from Nepal as well as her band.
The 2015 album “Drifting like a bird” is a CD version of a commissioned work she composed for the North Sea Festival in Farsund in 2013, about life at sea and on land around the North Sea Basin. The album features Annbjørg Lien on vocals, chorus, Hardanger fiddle, nyckelharpa; Roger Tallroth on 12-string guitar, bowed guitar, choir, irish bouzouki, tenor guitar, terz guitar, ukulele; Anders Løfberg on cello, bass, backing vocals; Tori Wrånes on vocals, accordion, backing vocals, ship`s bell; Cathy Jordan on bodhran, bones, vocals; Bjørn Ole Rasch on backing vocals, Hammond B3, harmonium, kalimba, mellotron; and Rune Arnesen on backing vocals, drums, percussion.
* Eg er liten eg, men eg vågar meg (Grappa Musikkforlag (MC) PNK 8215, 1983)
* Annbjørg (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 88, 1989)
* Bukkene Bruse, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4053, 1993)
* Felefeber (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4081, 1994)
* Åre, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4100, 1995)
* Prisme (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4113, 1996)
* Steinstolen, with Bukkene Bruse (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7145, 1998)
* Baba Yaga (Grappa Musikkforlag GRCD 4158, 1999)
* Aliens alive (Northside NSD 6068, 2002)
* http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001CISIK8?ieUTF8&tagmusidelmund-20&linkCodexm2&camp1789&creativeASINB001CISIK8 | Waltz With Me (Compass Records, 2008)
* Come Home (Grappa, 2009)
* Alle Vegne (Kirkelig Kulturverksted FXCD 358, 2010)
* Khoom Loy (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD 7250, 2012)
* Drifting like a bird (Grappa Musikkforlag HCD7292, 2015)