Hardanger fiddle © 2016 Karen Rebholz

Gold Medal In: Woodworking, 2019

  • Life Dates Born 1965, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Occupation Artist, Luthier, Musician, Speaker, Manager of Madison Bach Musicians
  • Residence at Time of Award Madison, Wisconsin


  • 2016 Blue ribbon for “Birds,” a Hardanger fiddle
  • 2017 Blue ribbon for “Fjertrud,” a Hardanger fiddle
  • 2019 Blue ribbon for a Hardanger fiddle

Artist Statement

My love of my Norwegian heritage grew out of my close relationship with my grandmother, Christine Hassemer of Bloomer, Wisconsin, and by exposure to Norwegian woodworking through relatives, Julian Berg of Sand Creek, Wisconsin and my father Warren Rebholz, who carved. I started to play Hardanger fiddle in 2008 through the workshops of the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America where I became enchanted by the music, the community of people who play and dance, and the beauty of the fiddles. In 2012 when I began to design and build Hardanger fiddles, I found the perfect way to combine my desire to create art I loved—rooted in beauty, craft, pattern, and storytelling, along with my interests in music and science and my Norwegian heritage. I am largely self taught based on print and internet resources, direct study of Norwegian-made Hardanger fiddles, and correspondence with other luthiers.

The most important influence on my art occurred in April 2018, when I spent a month learning to improve the sound of my Hardanger fiddles with Sigvald Rørlien and Wiebke Lüders at Ole Bull Akademiet in Voss, Norway, thanks to a grant from the American Scandinavian Foundation. In Sigvald’s public and private workshops, and staying with him in his home, I was immersed in the local culture of rural Norway. In addition to learning specific building techniques, I experienced first hand how this form of folk art and it’s associated music and dance are derived from, and are integral parts of, the culture of the community in which they exist. I learned that in this living tradition of folk art and culture, one can not exist without the other.