Colleen Bertsch is a Minneapolis-based freelance violinist who specializes in central and eastern European folk music. She plays violin for the Balkan party band Orkestar Bez Ime (OBI), the Transylvanian string band Szászka, and work folk punk band Soul Trouvère. Colleen often collaborates with Ethnic Dance Theatre as a performer and music director, and has also performed with Joe Chvala and the Flying Foot Forum (Heaven; Alice in Wonderland) and Minnesota History Theater (Baby Case; Sweet Land the Musical).
As a member of OBI, Colleen was awarded a 2011 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, and a 2012 Minnesota Emerging Composers Award from the American Composers Forum. She is a four time recipient of the Minnesota State Arts Board’s Artists Initiative grant, all of which have supported projects relating to folk music found in Romania.
Colleen received a Ph.D. in musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Minnesota. Her dissertation research, which focuses on the correspondence of musical techniques and identity among Transylvanian folk violinists, was supported by a 2015-16 Fulbright U.S. Research Award to Romania and a Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship from UMN. Her fieldwork required playing with and interviewing Hungarian, Romanian, and Roma (gypsy) violinists living in and around the city of Cluj-Napoca. Her completed dissertation, Performing Câmpia: Processes of Ethnic Identity in Transylvanian Folk Music, is available for purchase on ProQuest.
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