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The Nordic Heritage Club meets the second Friday of the month from September to May.

The nyckelharpa or “key harp” is a traditional Swedish musical instrument. It is a string instrument. Its keys are attached to tangents which, when a key is depressed, serve as frets to change the pitch of the string.

It is believed, from a painting on a church gate in Gotland, that the nyckelharpa goes back to 1350.

The Twin Cities Nyckelharpalag was formed in 1998 to practice and perform Swedish folk music. Their repertoire is drawn mostly from folk tunes in Uppland, Sweden, where the nyckelharpa tradition has its roots. In performance members of the group wear folk-dräkt, folk costumes modeled after clothing worn on special occasions in the 19th century.

Kristi Sullivan picked up the Nyckelharpa in 2014 and is a member of Twin Cities Nyckelharpa Lag. A retired elementary school orchestra director, Kristi has attended Nyckelharpa camps in New England, Sweden and Germany.

Tom Sullivan plays most kinds of folk music on accordion and can sing and play “Hälsa Dem Därhemma,” if the audience doesn’t include too many folks who are fluent in Swedish. He also plays guitar in the Nyckelharpa Lag. As three of his four grandparents were first generation born in America, his most serious vice is genealogy.

The Nordic Club of Carver County will meet on Jan. 10 to hear Tom and Kristi perform. The gathering is at 7 p.m. and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Victoria Recreation Center. Their performance includes a “show and tell” of the Nyckelharpa itself and a blend of traditional Uppland Nyckelharpa tunes with the more familiar music of our Minnesota Swedish and Norwegian ancestors.

The Nordic Heritage Club meets the second Friday of the month from September to May. The meeting place is at the Victoria Recreation Center, 8475 Kochia Lane, Victoria. Refreshments are served after the program. These meetings are open to everyone and are family friendly.

For more information, write Carolyn Spargo at

Carolyn Spargo lives on the border of Chaska and Victoria, and is active in all things Scandinavian, including the Nordic Heritage Club. Her column appears monthly in the newspaper.

Community Editor

Mark Olson, the Chaska and Chanhassen community editor who has worked in Carver County for 20 years, makes any excuse to write about local history. In his spare time, Mark enjoys perusing old books, watching blockbusters and taking Midwest road trips.


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