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On a Cold Winter's Day

by Ken Kolodner

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The Circle 04:05


After guest recording on each other's albums in 2001 (Ken’s Journey to the Heartland and Elke’s Glenelg), we finally collaborated on our first duo album, Out of the Wood, in 2011. Now, after over 25 years of performing together professionally, we celebrate the winter season with this collection of music from diverse traditions. Winter is a time of reflection and anticipation of renewal, themes you'll find embedded in the music throughout this album. We can hardly wait to get started on our next collaboration!

Ken: “I can’t believe it has been nearly ten years since we recorded Out of the Wood (2011). Ever since that recording, Elke and I have wanted to record from our ever-expanding joint repertoire. We are both ‘tune-hounds’ who get just a little excited about the new pieces we have discovered. More than that, we share the love of ‘our’ tunes. Through her playing, Elke always expresses just how much we love this music. You can feel it in every note that Elke plays! It is such a pleasure to record once again with my friend of so many years, Elke.”

Elke: “For years, Ken and I have gotten together from time to time just to share our latest ‘finds’ in the world of tunes. Nothing is off limits, from Brazilian sambas to American rags to stately English chamber music. It's been apparent to both of us that we have long had a quorum of ‘winter-themed’ music, and the idea of a seasonal album took hold. Ken always brings a wealth of ideas about accompaniment, chords, and bass lines to the music, giving me much inspiration to exploit the strength and range of the viola as well as the violin. We're delighted to have our great friends and music partners Robin Bullock and Alex Lacquement join us.”


released January 3, 2021

On a Cold Winter’s Day

KEN KOLODNER: hammered dulcimer, fiddle
ELKE BAKER: fiddle, viola

With Robin Bullock: 6- and 12-string guitars, cittern
Alex Lacquement: bass

All tunes are traditional except where indicated.
kenkolodner@aol.com ; bakerez1@aol.com
www.kenkolodner.com ; www.kenandbrad.com; www.sandbridgedulcimer.com; www.elkebaker.com
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℗ © 2020 All arrangements by KEN KOLODNER & ELKE BAKER

Ken Kolodner has toured nationally for nearly 40 years, collaborating with many partners such as Laura Risk, Elke Baker, and Helicon with Chris Norman & Robin Bullock. For the last 10 years, the Baltimore-based Kolodner has had the great pleasure of performing with his son, Brad, along with Alex Lacquement and Rachel Eddy as The Ken & Brad Kolodner Quartet which won the Clifftop neo-trad competition in 2019. Ken has performed at countless festivals and venues such as Walnut Valley, Old Songs, the Birchmere, Wolf Trap, the Meyerhoff and the Kennedy Center. Ken has released nearly 20 recordings, including Out of the Wood with Elke Baker, a #1 World Music title Walking Stones and four with Brad. The 2020 Ken & Brad release Stony Run hit #4 on the Bluegrass Billboard Charts. Among his many books on old-time fiddle and the hammered dulcimer is his 2020 collaboration with Mary Lynn Michal: The Complete Guide to Theory & Mapping for the Hammered Dulcimer. Among Ken’s many community building efforts are the six weeks of The Sandbridge Hammered Dulcimer Retreat which attracts 150+ players per year, the hugely popular Baltimore Old-Time Jam, The Baltimore Old-Time Festival (both run with his son Brad), and Helicon’s Annual Winter Solstice Concerts. Ken’s “world-class” (Sing Out!) playing has been described as "nothing short of astonishing" (The Connection), “outstanding” (The New York Times), “marvelous” (The Washington Post), “virtuosic” (Audio), “stunning in its musicality” (Dulcimer Player News) and “not to be missed” (USA TODAY). www.kenkolodner.com; www.kenandbrad.com; www.sandbridgedulcimer.com

U.S. National Scottish Fiddle Champion Elke Baker's distinctive, dance-driven fiddle style has made her one of the most sought-after Scottish fiddlers of our time. Performing solo and with Ken Kolodner, Robin Bullock, and bands Terpsichore, Sugar Beat, Trio con Brio, Olde Vienna, Blue Bamboo and others, Elke has both a range and depth of skill surpassed by very few. She has performed at the Kennedy Center, the Birchmere, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Sanders Theatre at Harvard University, in most of the fifty States, and on four continents. She is world-renowned as a Scottish country dance musician, bandleader, and arranger. The Washington Post writes “Baker's fiddle nearly throws off sparks,” while TACSound calls her fiddling “some of the greatest Scottish music to be heard anywhere.” Her music was featured in the soundtrack of the film The Boyhood of John Muir. As a scholar of Scottish music, Elke taught for many years at the Washington Conservatory of Music, was Artist-in-Residence and lecturer at Montgomery College and a panelist at Harvard University. Elke directs the Potomac Valley Scottish Fiddle Club, a non-profit Scottish music educational organization now in its 28th year. There she has taught monthly music workshops to many hundreds of students, well over 2000 tunes and counting. She has recorded eight albums, including 2020 release Wait 'til You Hear This One! with Sugar Beat, and a world-premiere single, The Fingerlock (A' Ghlas Mheur), an ancient fiddle pibroch. In addition to Elke and Ken's earlier collaboration, Out of the Wood, Elke has appeared on three of Ken's albums, and numerous others. www.elkebaker.com

Ken Kolodner: Hammered dulcimer 1-5, 7-10; fiddle 6
Elke Baker: Fiddle 1, 3, 4, 6, 8-10; viola 1, 2, 5, 7
Robin Bullock: Guitar 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10; 12-string guitar 2; cittern 8
Alex Lacquement: Bass 3, 6, 7, 9, 10

All arrangements copyright by Ken Kolodner and Elke Baker (Fenchurch Music)
All rights reserved. Unauthorized copying, replication, and broadcasting prohibited.

Ken Kolodner & Elke Baker
Fenchurch Music
3806 Fenchurch Rd.
Baltimore, MD 21218

Recorded at Tonal Park Studios, Takoma Park, MD, March 2020, www.tonalpark.com
Engineered & mixed by Charlie Pilzer
Mastering by Bill Wolf, Wolf Productions, Arlington, VA www.wolfproductionsinc.com
Graphic Design by Patrick
Art and design by
Back cover photo by

We’d like to thank our families for their loving support: Alison, Brad, Hillary, Bruce, Julia, Iain, and Eric. Thanks to Robin Bullock and Alex Lacquement for lending their talents, to Charlie for his technical skill and patience in the studio, and to all those musicians from whom we have learned the tunes. Thanks also to Brad, Laurie McCarriar & Mary Lynn Michal for their feedback on the tunes!


1. On a Cold Winter's Day (Ireland)/ Christmas Day in the Morning (England)/ Masters in this Hall (France)
The lovely On a Cold Winter’s Day was published in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland (1903). There's a more modern setting of Christmas Day in the Morning by Percy Grainger, but ours is derived from an older folk tradition that begins with “There was a Pig went out to Dig, on Christmas Day...” and carries on with improvised rhymes through to “Let every Creature on Earth now Sing...” Pigs were of central importance in both Celtic and Scandinavian midwinter traditions. The words for Masters in this Hall (aka Nowell Sing We Clear) were penned around 1860 by English artist, poet, and fantasy novelist William Morris to a French dance tune composed in 1706 by Marin Marais known as Marche pour les Matelots or The Female Saylor.

2. In the Bleak Midwinter (Gustav Holst), England). English poet Christina Rossetti, a member of William Morris's circle of artistic friends, wrote the words for In the Bleak Midwinter in 1872. Gustav Holst composed and arranged melodies for several favorite carols but created an enduring new classic with this melody in 1906. Ken's arrangement gives us scope for beautiful harmonies and soaring countermelodies.

3. The Rumbling Quadrille (Denmark)
Ken learned this lively 4-part dance tune known as Rumlekvadrille from the influential traditional Irish band Buttons & Bows. Elke learned it from Ruthie Dornfeld, who traveled and played extensively in Denmark and brought the tune back to Boston with her when Elke lived there. The tune comes from Tasinge.

4. The Winter Has Passed (Netherlands, circa 1537)/Loftus Jones (O’Carolan, Ireland)
The Winter Has Passed is widely known in the Netherlands and Germany as Der Winter ist Vergangen. We follow this gentle piece with one of the most spectacular compositions from the great Irish harper Turlough O’Carolan (1670-1738).

5. What Child is This? (England, 16th and 19th century)
The words to this carol were written by William Chatterton Dix in 1865 and set to that most famous popular song of the Elizabethan era, Greensleeves.

6. Da Caald Nights o' Winter / Da Boannie Isle o' Whalsay (Shetland Islands) / Granny Will Your Dog Bite? (Old-time)
Da Caald Nights o' Winter and Boannie Isle o' Whalsay are both traditional fiddle tunes from Whalsay in Shetland. It's said that Boannie Isle o' Whalsay is derived from Greensleeves, though it's obviously passed through quite a few changes since then, if that's true! Granny Will Your Dog Bite is a standard in the old-time repertoire, possibly dating back to the mid-1800’s.

7. The Circle (Ken Kolodner, 2018)
Ken wrote this lovely waltz at the request of a group of musician friends in Ontario.

8. Eagle’s Whistle (Ireland)/Three Ships/ Ljunggrens Låga Polska (Sweden)
The Eagle’s Whistle (Fead an Iolair) is typically played as a march dating back to at least the late 1800’s. Elke learned this variant of I Saw Three Ships from Tina Chancey and Scott Reiss. Ken learned the polska from Becky Tracy & Keith Murphy. A polska is a traditional Swedish couple dance.

9. Lay Down Your Arms (Doron Levinson, 1973, Israel)
Ken first heard Lay Down Your Arms (Lo Yisa Goy) at an assembly at his daughter’s school and knew immediately he had to learn it. An Israeli soldier who had been injured during the Yom Kippur War, Doron Levinson wrote Lay Down Your Arms as a prayer for peace. It is unrelated to the better-known Lo Yisa Goy written by Shalom Altman.

10. Säästöpankki Vals (Finland) / Lars and Satu (Elke Baker, 2019)/ Bus Stop (Anita Anderson) / Baker's Favorite (Larry Unger) / Frank's Reel (John McCusker)
Elke was so taken by the chord progression of this rather obscure but lovely Finnish folk tune that she was inspired to transform the pattern into a strathspey for a dance called A Trip to Rovanieme. Elke named the tune for her cousin Lars and his wife Satu, who live near Rovanieme, Finland, at the Artic Circle. Seattle-area pianist Anita Anderson wrote Bus Stop Reel. The prolific tunesmith Larry Unger named Baker's Favorite for Elke. It is one of her very favorites for improvisation. Frank's Reel is a session favorite from Scottish fiddler John McCusker.


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Ken Kolodner Baltimore, Maryland

Ken Kolodner is widely known as one of the top hammered dulcimer players in the U.S. Also a well-respected old-time fiddle, Ken has teamed once again with Scottish National Fiddle Champion Elke Baker on their second duo recording (Out of Wood in 2011). We celebrate the winter season with this collection of music from diverse traditions. embedded in the music throughout this album. ... more

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