Written by Jessica M. Semins Friday, 21 August 2009 10:11
Ingrid Olsson Feingold brings a little bit of Scandinavia to the North Shore of Long Island. Born to immigrants and raised in a section of Brooklyn abundant with Swedes and Norwegians at the time, the Glen Head resident is one of the few remaining individuals in the world who knows the words to many of the old art and folk songs from the region.
With a father from Sweden and a mother hailing from Norway, the culture of both countries was part of everyday life for the Olsson children. “I came out of the womb singing!” Ingrid joked. She began joining her older sister at the Swedish folk dancing group and by the age of 10 found herself crooning the old songs with folk bands. Even in New York, she was surrounded with the best musicians Scandinavia had to offer. Walter Eriksson, knighted by the King of Norway as the best Swedish accordion player in the world, played for the dance group. His daughter, Jeanne later went on to head the band with which Ingrid sings now called Smörgåsbandet (a play on the word “Smorgasbord”). The group’s specialty is Swedish and Norwegian music, but they throw in some 1950s American hits for fun.
Many of the songs Ingrid sings were taught to her by teacher Agnes Forde, with whom she and her sister took lessons in Brooklyn. Ms. Forde was knighted by the King of Norway for her musical excellence as well. She taught Ingrid many “art songs,” a form of song dealing mainly with various states of love and grew out of the Norwegian nationalist movement in the 19th century. Since she is one of the few Scandinavian-Americans who know these songs, she is highly sought after. She remarked that several people have contacted her having stumbled across her website in an Internet search for some of the lyrics.
Today, Ingrid carries with her an insatiable love for the music and culture of her familial homeland and she encourages a love of it in her children. There are always Scandinavian delicacies ready to eat at the many celebrations she hosts and music. Not only does Ingrid host many Scandinavian groups when they visit New York, but she and her husband, Dick Feingold, a highly skilled and accomplished pianist, play together as well. Together, they created a CD of obscure and beautiful nearly forgotten melodies called Norges Melodier. Ingrid was also the soprano soloist on A Swedish Christmas which also featured her husband and the Vasa Folk Chorus.
Ingrid will be performing with Smörgåsbandet at the only Scandinavian Festival held on Long Island at Eisenhower Park on Monday, August 24 as part of their series of International Nights.
She will also be singing with the group at Scand Fest, the largest Scandinavian event on the east coast to be held September 6 in Budlake, NJ. When Ingrid is not busy singing in Swedish, one can find her at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church where she enriches the choir with her exquisite soprano.