A Grammy nominee, recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award and Washington Area Music Awards “Best Traditional Folk Instrumentalist,” Andrea Hoag is a foremost performer of Swedish folk fiddling in America. Her music has been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Performance Today, at the Kennedy Center and Library of Congress, and at numerous venues around the U.S., Sweden, and beyond. With a particular interest in in-depth musical conversations, Andrea has collaborated across genres with many respected artists, from blues harmonica virtuoso Phil Wiggins to Kathak dancer Brinda Guha.
For more than 30 years, Andrea Hoag has devoted herself to traditional fiddling. Immersing herself first in southern Appalachian music and culture in the early 1980s, she was overtaken by a love of Swedish fiddling’s unusual scales and rhythms. As the recipient of a fellowship from the Skandia Music Foundation, she studied at Sweden’s respected Malungs Folkhögskola, becoming the first non-Swede to earn the certificate in Folk Violin Pedagogy, in 1984. She also studied in-depth with elder tradition-bearers Pekkos Gustaf and Nils Agenmark, masters of the complex, demanding Bingsjö fiddling dialect.
Andrea has long been acknowledged as a stateside expert of Swedish fiddle tradition. Her teaching credentials include the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes, Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Weeks, Swannanoa Gathering, and many other week-long workshops, as well as guest-teaching at Berklee College of Music and the Universities of New Mexico and Washington. She was director of the Seattle Skandia Spelmanslag for seven years, and led the group on an acclaimed performing tour to Sweden.
Adventurousness and curiosity has been a hallmark of Andrea’s career: she’s delved into and performed musical styles from Irish to Klezmer, from country rock to swing. A natural on the concert stage, she has also reveled in the joyous interactivity of playing for dance. Throughout the 80s and 90s, she toured with bands known for their improvisation and rich arrangements, including Footloose and Future Geezers. Her 1998 CD Fire & Water featured her compositions and collaborations across genres. In the “aught” years, Andrea performed and recorded with a variety of performers, including two Scandinavian projects: the Grammy-nominated album Hambo in the Snow with Hardanger-fiddle virtuoso Loretta Kelley and innovative bassist Charlie Pilzer, and two recordings with The Berntsons, a tradition-bearing family from Wisconsin.
In 2009, Andrea founded Freyda’s Hands, a non-profit organization devoted to fostering collaborative skills and intercultural understanding via the performing arts. The organization’s flagship program, Old Doors/New Worlds, blossomed into the touring group Dovetail Ensemble. The Ensemble has been featured in two short documentaries, has made a CD/DVD, and was the recipient of a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation for the project Transmitting Heritage in a New World. Freyda’s Hands also originated a cross-cultural, team-taught music workshop and concert, World on a String, which will present its third annual event in October 2014 in collaboration with the Hill Center in Washington, D.C.. With education and serving underserved populations as central tenets, Freyda’s Hands is currently developing a long-term residency program for elementary and middle schools.
Andrea’s current performing/recording projects include Scandinavian music with Hoag/Kelley/Pilzer and nyckelharpa player Melissa Running; Irish and Scottish music with Maggie Sansone, Pat Egan, and Sharon Knowles and the trio Emerald Glen; an album project with singer/songwriter Annette Wasilik, bassist John Previti, and percussionist Steve Bloom; and the Dovetail Ensemble, which includes Phil Wiggins on blues harmonica and vocals, tap dance master Baakari Wilder, cellist Jodi Beder, guitarist Owen Morrison, fiddler/ballad singer Daron Douglas, and percussive dance master Nic Gareiss. Andrea’s original tunes have attracted notice and been covered by other artists, including “Rose by the Door” which has appeared in a film and been adapted for orchestra. She continues to delight in collaboration and learning, in quiet moments alone with the fiddle, in performance and teaching—in all the conversations that music opens—and is deeply grateful for the sharing of mentors, colleagues, and students along the way.