1. Background

The Town of Tonder has, through its annual Folk Festival in the last weekend of August presented a wide range of folk genres since 1973. Hagges music pub in Tonder has been a base for a wide variety of musical societies varying from folk, rock to jazz and blues. Musical societies have been part of the cultural life of Tonder for many years. Singing, Choral Societies and a society for the appreciation for Rock and Beat Music (Denmarks first) and a Jazz Club (at one point Denmarks largest) and the still active and thriving, Noldes Nabo and many others. A society for the appreciation of Irish traditional dance, music and singing was lacking not only in Tonder but in the whole region of Southern Jutland.

4. An association

When the initial funding period ended the society was reorganized and some changes were made that made it possible for the society to seek funding from the German organisation “Culture Dialog”.

These arrangements secured the short term future of the project. With the support of Kultue Dialog the society secured enough funding to present, over the following 2 years, 8 traditional Sessions, 8 Dance workshops, 2 of which were “Sean Nos Step dancing 6 of traditional Irish Set dancing, 2 Instrumental workshops in Traditional Irish Music as played on Fiddle, Flute , Box and Piano.

The partnership with Kulture Dialog ended in December 2013 and new funding is now being sought so TSS can build on the success of the past 2 years and continue to bring traditional culture to a wider audience.

The standing commitee of TSS consists of its chairman Ulrike Matzin,
Vice Chairman Klavs Vester, Tønder, Treasurer Halvor Bogh Tønder Ordinary members Damien Reynolds Aarhus and Alex Röeder, Husum, Germany. The societies accountant is Anker Hinze, Tønder.

5. The association's role in the local environment

The society is to hold workshops and sessions of Irish music and dancing throughout the year in Tonder. These events should include an audience not just among musicians but also among a wider public from throughout Danish/German border region wishing to attend for a weekend the workshops, sessions and dancing in Tonder.

Typically a weekend workshop attracts an additional 40 bed nights to the town and some of the towns businesses sponsor prizes for raffles.

6. The artistic profile

From the start TSS has made some basic artistic decisions. The workshops must be of a high standard and the performing teachers and musicians among the best available. Dance workshops must be done by experienced instructors to live music by competent musicians preferably from Ireland. The musicians will also be the cornerstone and serve as inspiration in the sessions.

It is intended that the workshops allow everyone to learn in an atmosphere of mutual respect and the overall result is that everyone gets to improve in their abilities and skills. The sessions allow participants and the general public to listen to, and enjoy some of finest musicians and dancers from Denmark, Germany and Ireland perform in an intimate and informal setting where the lessons from the day can be discussed and occasionally practiced.

The experienced dancer and instructor Mairead Casey on her first visit to Tonder was very impressed by the high standard of dancing in Tonder and praised TSS for not compromising:

”What ever you do, don´t lower the quality of the music!”

2. Startup

The idea to start a local society for Irish Music, Sessions and Dancing in Tonder took its first serious step in 2010. The path had been laid in the preceding years by Rene Rasmussen and Halvor Bogh who later would become founding members of the Tonder Session Scene. Rene was the singer in a Traditional Irish Scottish band “Painted Green” and Halvor is a Long term member of the border based Irish/Scottish band “Drones and Bellows”.

With the active Irish scene for sessions and dance and south of the border in Kiel and Heide Germany in mind they tried to start a similar session in Tonder, it resulted in a few sessions in Hagges pub which faded out. In Denmark, both Copenhagen and Aarhus have a long tradition for Irish sessions, concerts and dance going back over 30 years.
Ulrike Matzen and Klavs Vester moved to Tonder from Aarhus in 2009 bringing with them their long and active participation in Irish music and Dance. Ulrike as an active member and dance instructor with the Aarhus set dancers and Klavs as a former member of the irish trad. band Moving Cloud. Dennis Werner a founding member of the popular German Irish folk band Ballynacally was an active member of the Irish session scene in northern Germany.

Hoping to restore and develop the idea of regular Irish Sessions in Hagges Pub Rene Rasmusen, Ulrike Matzen, Klavs Vester, Halvor Bogh and Dennis Werner agreed to a series of meeting in 2009 and 10.

3. The Project

At these meetings the team discussed the direction for a new Music project based around Irish Music and Dance. All the people involved were from a musical back round rooted in the traditions of Irish Music with networks both south and north of the border. They were united in their motivation to realize their musical ideals. They had a venue in which they were welcome and similar groups in Hamburg, Keil, Heide and Aarhus all within a 2 hour drive of Tonder.

The goal was to create a high quality environment for the practice, participation and enjoyment of trad. Irish music and dance in Tonder and also to strengthen the Musical and social networks south and North of The border. The way to undertake this task was to provide a forum where people could share their ideas. Planning financing, implementation, documentation and Evaluation were all on the forums agenda.
A larger and broader circle of partners should be involved. The project should be lifted both in quality and content in regard to earlier attempts. A dance instructor and 2 to 3 experienced musicians should be hired to accompany the dancing.

The result was that the five promoters formed a partner group with Tonder Festival, the German/Danish orchestra Painted Green and photographer Matthias Ficthner, Niebüll.

The 5 founder members named their society Tonder Session Scene, hereafter TSS. With partner support TSS worked on a detailed description of their project which formed the basis for their funding request from the Danish/German (Kulturbro – Cultural Bridge). The project received funding for a series of Dance workshop and Sessions.

Thanks to our local Sponsores:

Hans Iversen, Det gamle apotek, Sportigan, Vibholm, Kræmmerhuset, AP Blomster, Zizzi, Imerco, Fri Cykler,
Feddersen, Zilo, Tops, Gaveboden, Christian X. Jefsens Boghandel & Zentralmarkt, Süderlügum.