Fromseier Rose at the Celtic Cafe

The Celtic Cafe is grateful to Keltika Magazine of Italy for sharing some of the work of Alfredo De Pietra, its Music Column Editor, translated into English. Click here for Alfredo's bio page at the Celtic Cafe, with links to some of his other features available here at

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The dynamic duo formed by Ditte Fromseier Mortensen on violin and Michael G. Rose on piano is named Fromseier Rose, and they perform modern acoustic Celtic music so very beautifully, in Copenhagen, Denmark and on tour.

From the Fromseier Rose website: "It was the middle of a late night session at the 2001 Copenhagen Irish Festival. Ditte launched into a lively version of Kitchen Girl and Michael joined in on the piano. It was the first time they played together and their chemistry was evident in the music. By the end of the tune it was obvious that they had to play together...

The music of Fromseier Rose is based on the Celtic tradition. Ditte draws on the heavily rhythmic Scottish and northern Irish styles. This is complemented by the swinging pulse from Michael's New England roots. These traditional sources are combined with their own compositions and a rich variety of musical influences. The result is a swinging and stimulating conversation between two talented musicians that appeals to a broad range of audiences."

Michael was kind enough to provide the Celtic Cafe community with a report on his trip to the Tonder Festival in 2003, along with many wonderful photos of the great performers. Click here for that.

Thanks to Alfredo De Pietra, the following is an interview with Michael about Fromseier Rose's terrific Contradiction CD, which also features the inimitable voice of Niamh Parsons!

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Interview with Michael G. Rose of Fromseier Rose

Piano & violin is very common in classical music, not so in Irish music. How did you decide to play together?

While piano/fiddle isn't so common in pure Irish music, it is a common combination in Boston, where I grew up, and also in Cape Breton and Scotland. So if there is a piano at a session then I'll slip in for a few tunes so long as the other musicians don't raise their eyebrows too much.

Ditte and I met at a session and our playing just seemed to fit together right from the start. We also could tell we had similar tastes because we were learning the same tunes from the same Liz Doherty CD even before we started playing together. From January 2002 we started to get together once a week just to have fun playing tunes. After a few months we realized that we were developing our own sound from adapting to each other's style, playing more lyrically together, improvising and having fun with the rhythms. Since we were enjoying playing together and people seemed to like what we were doing, so we decided to make the duo official and to start gigging and recording.

Due to the "uncommon" situation of piano & violin, we could say that you have no "reference points"; in other words, you have no "models" in your approach to Irish music. Is this a stimulating situation?

The folk dance style in Boston is descended from Irish, Scottish and English dancing, along with a bit of French Canadian. The instrumentation features fiddle and the piano is the main rhythm and harmony instrument. The bands in Boston have pushing the boundaries and improvising during the dancing for the last 30 years. So in a way they have been a model for me.

But we perform mainly in concert settings. So rather than concentrating on giving a beat to the dancers we are free to explore the character of the tunes we play. We like to try and tell a small story to each other and the audience with each set. In this respect, our model is more like small jazz combos, even though we are not playing jazz. It is very inspiring, and we are, without meaning to, always motivating each other to try more and extend what we are doing.

What are your previous musical experiences?

I've spent most of my life hopping between guitar and piano. When I was in high school I would accompany folk singers. From there I went on to study classical guitar and played in a trio called Barolk Folk that played a mixture of classical and O'Carolan. After moving to Denmark I played in a few different folk groups and started hanging out a jazz and salsa clubs, much to the distress of some of my folk music friends. It seems to have affected my rhythmic and harmonic sensibilities.

Ditte grew up playing classical violin, starting when she was four. She went to England to continue her studies at a conservatory in Colchester. But she fell in with a crowd of Irish musicians, and as soon as she saw how spontaneous and spirited the music was, she was hooked. On moving back to Denmark she helped form a traditional Irish band, Flax in Bloom. She is spending this year in the Master's of Traditional Music program in Limerick Ireland.

*Update, September 2004: Ditte has graduated (with First Honors) with a Master's in Traditional Music Performance from the University of Limerick and she is now studying traditional Danish music at the Carl Nielsen Academy in Denmark.*

What are your main influences? Of course Irish music, and then...?

Ditte's main Irish influences are from her current teachers at Limerck. Matt Cranich is inspiring her to explore all of the technical possibilities of the fiddle and Frankie Gavin's drive and energy is also a big influence. Of course growing up with classical violin and traditional Danish fiddle music has also influenced her style. And we will also be adding more tunes from Ditte's home island of Bornholm to our repertoire, they are lovely and some of them fit perfectly with Irish tunes.

My original Celtic influence was Scottish - Capercaille, especially the guitarist, Manus Lunny. In fact, I'm still stealing ( a lot of ideas from contemporary Irish guitarists, like Gerry Paul and Tony Byrne, and adapting them to piano. The pianists I listen to most are Michel Camillo, Chick Corea and Niels Lan Doky - all jazz pianists who are very inventive and energetic. There are also a couple of great pianists I grew up with in Boston, Peter Barnes and Jackie Schwab - they were my original inspiration for using the piano in folk music.

Please tell us someting about the presence of Niamh parsons on the album...

I was talking with a friend of mine, Mich Nielsen, and told him that we were planning on recording a CD and were looking for a singer for a few songs. Mich is a good friend of Niamh Parsons and he took it upon himself to contact her for us. She said yes, and she was wonderfully generous with her time and talent. It was an honor to play with her, and an absolute delight.

Why the title "Contradiction"?

We originally called our duo Contradiction. It seemed to be a natural name given our totally different backgrounds and approaches to the music. But then we found out that there is a German thrash metal band called Contradiction, and we were worried that their fans might be disappointed if they came to one of our gigs in Germany expecting some heavy rock. So we changed our name to Fromseier Rose and kept Contradiction to use as the title of the CD.

See the official Fromseier Rose site at:

Click here for Michael's coverage of the 2003 Tønder Festival

Click here for Alfredo De Pietra's section at the Celtic Cafe and click here to go directly to his own site.

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Interview: Alfredo De Pietra
Feature: Bernadette Price
Original Web Design: Alexander Servas

Ditte Fromseier and Michael Rose
Ditte and Michael at the Tonder Festival in 2003
Niamh Parsons
© 2003 by