Unni Boksasp Ensemble visits Northwest Illinois

By Ken Carlson, Senior Program Director

Unni, Mattis, Kenneth and Fridtjof arrived in Chicago on April 6 and Mia, who went to heroic effort to overcome visa tangles, arrived a day later. We took some time to rest and enjoy a little sliver of Chicago before arriving in Sterling.

It’s always fun for the ensembles to see a poster in the window and we’re glad for Woodlawn’s efforts to get them up all over town.

Poster for Unni Boksasp Ensemble's concert

No time to slowly ease into the action! The ensemble jumped right into three big workshops on Monday at Centennial Auditorium

Workshops at the Centennial Auditorium.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

Christy Zepezauer, Executive Director of Woodlawn Arts Academy in Sterling, accompanied the ensemble throughout the week and did a wonderful job pulling all the details together. The ensemble was eager to get a photo with Christy following the first big day of workshops. The only person missing here is Fridtjof, the sound engineer, and we’ll get to him in a minute.

Photo of Christy Zepezauer and the Unni Boksasp Ensemble.
Left to right is Mia Marin (fiddle), George Cruze (road manager), Unni Boksasp (vocals/zither/dulcimer), Christy Zepezauer (Woodlawn Arts Academy), Kenneth Ekornes (percussion), and Mattis Kleppen (bass guitar).

One of the best parts about Arts Midwest World Fest is the connections we make. It’s what we hope for. Mia had a nice conversation with a student at Christ Lutheran School and students always flock around her to see if the story she tells about a little scar on her finger is really true! Unni signed a few postcards!

Photo of Mia having a nice conversation with a student at Christ Lutheran School.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

Photo of Unni showing students the little scar on her finger.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

We always hope the ensembles get to experience some fun surprises each week and Sterling did not disappoint. The ensemble takes questions from students and answers them faithfully. When one youngster asked the group if they could jump high, they didn’t hesitate to show that they could!

Unni Boksasp Ensemble proves to a curious student that they can jump high!
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

The Sterling Fire Department showed up one day; Mattis was amazed to try locally famous foods like spaghetti, pizza, and Chicken George; Fridtjof borrowed a bike from Christy’s husband and rode it very happily around town all week.

Unni Boksasp and her ensemble climb aboard the Sterling Fire Department fire truck!
Photo by George Cruze.

Mattis Kleppen is excited to try American cuisine.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

Fridtjof rides bike.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

There are many stories to tell from the week, but let’s skip to the end. The public concert was a big success with over 250 people attending. It seemed like 240 stayed long after the concert to visit with the musicians and admire Kenneth’s amazing drum set-up. Thanks to Christy and her team at Woodlawn Arts Academy and all the schools in Sterling, Rock Falls, Dixon and Port Byron. It was a great week!

Kenneth shows and demonstrates his wide array of percussion with students after the public concert.
Photo by Fridtjof Lindeman.

Unni takes a photo with fans after the public concert.
Photo by George Cruze.