The 1999 Österby championships for youth

Students from the Eric Sahlström Institute in Tobo of 1998-1999. Third from the right is Anna-Kristina Widell. Photo Esbjörn Hogmark

The first nyckelharpa championship for youth players was held in Österbybruk. Where else? To participate you can be up to 21 years old. The first winner was Anna Kristina Widell from Borås. The circumstances are the same as in the World Championships. That is, you play two tunes in front of the audience and a jury. One winner is selected - there is no second or third place.

Anna-Kristina has specialised on the Wallin tradition, but she also playes in different styles..

In the past the nyckelharpa was played almost exclusively in northern Uppland, but here we could see the evidence that such is not the case anymore. Surprisingly, not one single player came from that region!

First in line was David Eriksson from Vindeln in Västerbotten. He played a kontrabasharpa - and he played it in the old fashioned way. That is, he used the drone traditionally and not in a way you often see on mora- and kontrabasharpas. It is just two different styles. It is not that the jury put one of them before the other! He also played "Trollrikepolska" on a modern nyckelharpa

Next was Josefina Paulsson from Sala who let us listen to a "fresh" and "well performed" "Home from Gesunda" by Eric Sahlström and "Byggnan" by Byss Kalle.

Magnus Dürr from Huddinge - a "polska after Mats Edén" and a "slängpolska" from Småland. "Clear and nicely" played.

Ellinor Pettersson from Sollentuna north of Stockholm also had chosen Home From Gesunda, followed by another of Eric Sahlström's compositions "Stugan". 'High-classed and skillfully'.

Emilia Amper from Torsås in Värmland - "Min levnads afton" after Hjort Anders a polska from Dalarna. Played in a delicious and beautiful way. Not performed as a copy of the original, but as it should be, in her own way. A very fine sense for the rhythm and with strength underneath the surface.

Elin Skoglund from Upplands Väsby had already been seen in the World Championship. A solid style. "It sounds like nyckelharpa" when she plays, one member of the jury said. It would be strange if it did not, but we see what he meant. No doubt we will see more of her in the future!

Anna-Kristina Widell from Borås. Two Polskas. The way she played them, they were certainly masterpieces. So thought the jury as well as the audience.

Jury: Peter Puma Hedlund, Sigurd Sahlström, Curt Tallroth, Nisse Nordström, Gunnar Ahlbäck and Gunnar Fredelius.