On Monday, September 17, Joyce Hakala will read selections from The Rowan Tree at the Cloquet Public Library at 6:30 p.m. She will discuss how (and why) she became interested in the life and work of Marjorie Edgar. Refreshments will be served following the program.
Minneapolis Girl Scout Founder Marjorie Edgar is the subject of a new book by Joyce Hakala, titled The Rowan Tree: The Lifework of Marjorie Edgar, Girl Scout Pioneer and Folklorist. The Rowan Tree describes Edgar’s collections of folklore and folk music, and how aspects of folk culture were part of the early Girl Scout programs. The book includes Edgar’s compilation of Finnish folk songs, Songs from Metsola, gathered from Finnish immigrants and their descendants in northern Minnesota. Hakala augmented this collection with transcriptions of recordings by vocalists in northern Minnesota, obtained for the Library of Congress in 1937. The Rowan Tree includes selections of materials Edgar wrote for the WPA collection of Finnish materials. In a major appendix to the book, Hakala presents brief biographies of the people who contributed to Edgar’s collections, including the Simi family of Cloquet.
This is Hakala’s second book about Finnish folk music. Memento of Finland: A Musical Legacy, published in 1997, describes the history of the Finnish national folk instrument (the kantele), from mythological beginnings to the immigrants who brought this musical tradition to the United States. Each chapter highlights a particular kantele playing style and the immigrant musicians who formed part of each legacy.
Hakala is no stranger to the kantele or Finnish folk music. Her first kantele was one inherited from her grandfather, and she presented many programs as a solo performer. Having learned to play the 5-string kantele in Kaustinen, Finland, Hakala then began teaching that instrument to Twin Cities Finnish Americans. The group became Koivun Kaiku (Echo of the Birch), which made four recordings and has performed coast-to-coast and in Finland.