Norwegian Ensemble Takes Center Stage at University of Dubuque

Feb 21, 2019

DUBUQUE, Iowa – University of Dubuque Heritage Center continues its sixth annual Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series with the Unni Boksasp Ensemble on Saturday, March 23, at 7:30 p.m. in John and Alice Butler Hall. Part of Arts Midwest World Fest, Unni Boksasp’s warm and bright voice is sure to bring audience members to the heart and tradition of her homeland, Norway. Unni is accompanied by Guro Kvifte Nesheim on fiddle, Gjermund Silset on bass guitar, and Kenneth Ekornes on percussion.

WHAT:            Live at Heritage Center Performing Arts Series – Unni Boksasp Ensemble

WHEN:            Saturday, March 23 – 7:30 p.m.

WHERE:          John and Alice Butler Hall, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque

TICKETS:        Adult $15-$20 advance/$20-$25 day of show; Alumni/Military $12 advance/$17 day of show; Child/Student $10 advance/$15 day of show

The purity of Unni’s voice, her ability to connect with an audience, and the vitality and joy of the entire ensemble ensures a compelling concert experience. Over the years, Unni has delved deep into Scandinavian traditions, studying music and dance with renowned singers and folk arts departments in Norway and Sweden. With their knowledge and love for this music, Unni’s ensemble builds their own musical world, where lopsided rhythms, unusual scales, and creative instrumentation capture audiences far beyond the Norwegian border. The musicians of the ensemble are highly qualified performers and educators, grounding themselves in tradition while inventing new approaches to their instruments. Unni’s fresh arrangements of folk songs and original compositions have earned wide acclaim: she was a Norwegian national champion of traditional singing in 2010 and 2011 and won a Norwegian Grammy Award and Norwegian Folk Music Award for her 2010 album, Karamello.

In collaboration with Dubuque Arts Council, UD closes in on this final residency of a two-year partnership with Minneapolis-based Arts Midwest. As a result of the partnership, four international ensembles representing Israel, Japan, China, and Norway will have each spent a week in the Dubuque area. The Unni Boksasp Ensemble is the last of the four groups to visit.

“We’re fortunate to have these groups coming to our community,” said Thomas Robbins, executive director of Heritage Center. “The groups not only perform a public concert but most of the week they are in the schools sharing their culture through workshops. It’s not often communities like ours have the chance to host international ensembles like Unni Boksasp at all—let alone for a full week. It’s a rare opportunity for us to enjoy an authentic slice of Norwegian music and culture right here.”

Arts Midwest, one of six U.S. Regional Arts Organizations, partners with program sponsors like The National Endowment for the Arts, 3M, and The Heart Foundations to cover a substantial portion of the program cost so communities throughout the Midwest can enjoy this rich arts experience. Dubuque was selected as one of nine Midwestern cities to host the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest season and it is the only partner community in Iowa.

Arts Midwest World Fest presents international music ensembles in the nine-state region it serves with the goal of connecting small and mid-sized Midwestern communities to world cultures. Arts Midwest’s mission is to promote creativity, nurture cultural leadership, and engage people in meaningful arts experiences, bringing vitality to Midwest communities and enriching people's lives.

“Arts Midwest’s goal is to make meaningful and lasting impressions on the communities that host this program,” said David Fraher, president and CEO of Arts Midwest. “We think weeklong residencies can offer so much more than one day visits. There are more opportunities to truly connect with each other whether through workshops in schools, concerts in the greater community, or social gatherings. We want this to be a rich experience for the entire community.”

Prior to the performance, members of Unni Boksasp Ensemble will deliver a free pre-show lecture from 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in Babka Theatre, adjacent to Butler Hall, offering insights on the group and their music as well as time for questions and answers.

Tickets for the Unni Boksasp Ensemble are available Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Farber Box Office, Heritage Center, University of Dubuque, 2255 Bennett Street; by phone at 563.585.SHOW; or online at

A program of Arts Midwest, the 2017–2019 Arts Midwest World Fest cycle is generously supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Hearst Foundations, 3M, the Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program, the Kaufman Family Fund for Israeli Cultural Exchange, the Nordic Culture Fund, and Music Norway. Additional support is provided by the Ministry of Culture of the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese Heritage Foundation Grants Fund of The Minneapolis Foundation for Manhu. Funding for Sofi & the Baladis was provided, in part, by contributions from the Consulate General of Israel to the Midwest, Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts, and Music Port.

Arts Midwest is also generously supported by Illinois Arts Council Agency, Indiana Arts Commission, Iowa Arts Council, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Minnesota State Arts Board, North Dakota Council on the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, South Dakota Arts Council, and Wisconsin Arts Board.