Le Vent Du Nord shares musical heritage with Brookings residents

Harmonized voices echoed through the building while strings were plucked, keys were pressed and ears were filled with the tradition of another country.

Le Vent Du Nord, meaning The North Wind, is a band specializing in folk music from Quebec, Canada. Band members Nicolas Boulerice, Olivier Demers, Simon Beaudry and Réjean Brunet held an open workshop Tuesday, April 19 to give a sneak peak into what their concert would be like that Friday.

Heather Kuhlman, director of the Brookings Arts Council, said the group was brought to Brookings as a part of the Arts Midwest World Fest, a two-year tour involving international acts in only nine cities in the Midwest. She said the council was honored to be chosen for this tour. 

People of all ages, including students, faculty, elders and children, attended the workshop to listen to the band, even toddlers were dancing along to the music. 

Jodi Lundgren, the exhibitions coordinator for the museum, said the atmosphere the band created was amazing.

“I love this music,” Lundgren said. “They give a whole other life to this place.” 

The band not only entertained the audience, but they also informed them about the instruments they were using.

In between songs they would explain their instruments, such as a hurdy-gurdy–an instrument Boulerice said is like a “string bagpipe.” Brunet also explained the accordion, how he played it, the many different sounds it can make and the sound combinations he can play. 

Because their music is uncommon in this area, they explained the history of traditional Quebec folk music.

Demers said after the Irish immigrated to Canada, it was tradition for the fiddler to be on top of a table, usually in the kitchen, while people danced around him. This was sometimes called “kitchen music.”

The Irish immigration to Canada had a large impact on Quebec folk music. The band said how, even though they sing in French, many of the instruments they play are of Irish background. 

Though the band plays traditional music for the most part, they said they believed it “should be a movement.” They want to give people the sense of who they are as a French-speaking country through continuing this music. 

They made slight changes to the music to make it a little bit “more modern.” Their main goal, however, is to keep the spirit of Quebec folk music going.

“It’s very important to us to preserve this [music],” Demers said, “and keep it alive.”