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Ÿ   Barbary Grant (vocals, Irish harp, cello, button accordion)
Ÿ   Verlene Schermer (vocals, harp guitar, nyckelharpa, hardingfele, fiddle, cittra)
Ÿ   Kris Yenney (vocals, Hardanger cello d'Amore, nyckelharpa)

Barbary’s journey toward Nykken began in a tiny house on the vast and lonely plains of North Dakota. Little Barbary, aged 5, was asked to perform a piece on the piano for her Norwegian great-grandmother, Beathe Hendrickson. The bench was too low for a child, so she sat on a stack of Norwegian Bibles to reach the keyboard.

From this humble beginning, Barbary went on to study classical piano, eventually earning her Bachelor of Music degree in composition.  She continues to play and teach piano professionally.

In the early 90’s, Barbary discovered both her singing voice and a love for traditional Celtic music. She bought the biggest Irish harp she could find and began performing with flautist Aimee Aul in the duo, Brigit’s Well. She has recorded four CDs under the Changeling Records label, and is featured on the award-winning “Celtic Dreams” compilation CD produced by Ellipsis Arts.

By day, Barbary works as a hospital musician at Stanford, Packard and El Camino Hospitals in Northern California. With wheels strapped to the bottom of her harp, she moves throughout the hospitals playing for patients, visitors and staff. She also conducts four children’s choirs, teaches privately and serves as organist for Valley Presbyterian Church in Portola Valley.

When her grandfather, Haakon Hove, passed away, Barbary was gifted one of his three button accordions. Though the instrument defies all her previous musical training, it is a vital link to her Norwegian roots and she set about learning how to play it. Aunt Beatta helped by sending books of Norwegian songs. Barbary hopes that the spirits of Beathe, Haakon and Beatta will continue to cheer her on as she explores her Nordic heritage.

Visit barbarygrant.com for more information.

Verlene has been singing and playing music since the age of 3 when she sang M-O-T-H-E-R at a mother-daughter banquet at the church. She started piano at 4, violin at 8, guitar at 11, and continued adding instruments throughout her teens and adult life. Her musical interests and endeavors have included singing and playing viola da gamba with a Renaissance trio, singing and playing jazz and blues on electric harp in a 4-piece band, playing Irish and Scottish fiddle, and playing Celtic music on harp.

A prolific songwriter, her upbeat, thought-provoking songs can be heard on 5 of her 11 CDs. She has published several books of arrangements for solo harp and harp ensemble as well as “how-to” books on singing and arranging for harp, all of which can be found in music stores around the world. She performs in concert and presents workshops on harp and singing throughout the US and in Europe.

As a hospital musician at Stanford Hospital and Clinics and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital she plays her double-strung harp for patients, visitors and staff.  She plays bedside music as well as ambient music in the units and waiting areas. She also maintains a regular schedule of private students on voice, harp, guitar, piano, violin, nyckelharpa, songwriting and music theory.

Verlene first came to love Scandinavian music when she heard harpist Aryeh Frankfurter play Swedish and Norwegian music on his Celtic harp. She didn’t dive into playing the music until she heard Anna Rynesfors of Dråm playing a nyckelharpa and decided that it would be the next instrument she would learn to play.

She started learning Swedish in 2009 in order to improve her pronunciation on Swedish songs, and can now carry on a simple conversation with a very patient Swedish speaker… Her first song written in Swedish, is on Nykken’s debut CD.

Visit verlene.com for more information.

Kris Yenney ~  our intrepid “Hardanger” cellist, Nyckelharper and vocal harmonizer holds a couple of really impressive degrees, several prestigious awards and has performed all across the U.S., in Canada, Jamaica, Central Europe, the British Isles & India... both as cellist and as conductor... Though she has yet to visit Scandinavia, her appreciation of Scandinavian Music and Culture is genetically hard-wired in her DNA through her Swedish Grandmother, Eleanor Christine Svenson. Her interest has blossomed in recent years with exposure to musical artists such as Frifot, Dråm and the inimitable Väsen. 

Upon being invited to join Nykken, Kris mounted a mad quest for better motor and mental skills at the Nyckelharpa - a goal she had fostered since first receiving her instrument from Esbjörn Hogmark in ’09. She has studied with Nyckelhapra masters, Olov Johansson  and Leif Alpsjö, and is thrilled to have an excuse to hone her NH skills with her trio~mates, Barbary and Verlene. The stringy smorgasbord of instruments that make up the Nykken soundscape also provided the perfect setting for her One-of-a-Kind / customHardanger cello d’Amore,” co-conceived and masterfully built by Santa Cruzians, Fred Carlson and Suzy Norris of BeyondTheTrees  (see more on Instrument page).

In her guise as "Cage Free Cellist" at large, Kris plays and sings with the Neo-Medieval - Celtish Trio, “Brocelïande,” with "Biddy Early's Bottle" and with the piano & cello duo, "A Capriccio." She frequently performs in the West Bay Opera and Theatreworks pit orchestras, and particularly enjoys handling the continuo duties on the occasional stint with Schola Cantorum and Oratorio Society orchestras.  As cellist of the New England String Quartet (NESQ) of Boston, she played a Carnegie Hall debut, performed and recorded with New York-based Jazz great, Fred Hersch and presented a private concert with Yo-Yo Ma. She was founding cellist in the cutting edge, San Francisco-based Left Coast Ensemble. Kris has performed and recorded with many Bay Area Singer-Songwriters and is happiest jamming with musical friends and family wherever she goes.

Whether its at a fiddle course with Alasdair Fraser and company on the isle of Skye, on an Indian sojourn, or in a living room, Kris continues to hone her trad. chops and expand her repertoire at every opportunity. A firm believer in the healing powers of music and the Arts, Kris has studied the powers of sound and vibration with Don Campbell, David Darling, Pat Moffit, Mary Brady, Indian sages and accidental saints . . .

Kris maintains a studio for private lessons and coaches chamber music regularly. Directing the Palo Alto Chamber Orchestra's SuperStrings and Preparatory Ensembles and herding the merry M’EarthTones Choir round out her regular musical projects. Between these and other gigs, Kris spends as much quality time as possible caring for her aging mother and her cat(s), catching a play, concert or sunset ... with her Beau, RB.

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