Watch this 4-minute video featuring Hedgehog members and luthiers Ain Haas and Ieva Johnson demonstrating Baltic string instrument building, and ending with an excerpt of a Hedgehogs rehearsal.
"Siilikesed" in Estonian, "ezisi" in Latvian, "hedgehogs" in English, this 8-member ensemble includes musicians of Estonian, Latvian, and
American origin. It was formed in the year 2000. The musicians'
specialty is the presentation of medleys of similar or at least
compatible tunes from different nationalities of northeastern Europe.
The Hedgehogs have performed at celebrations of local Estonian,
Latvian, Lithuanian, and Swedish organizations, open-air concerts in
Eagle Creek Park, the International Festival of Indianapolis, Indiana
University ceremonies, and public radio broadcasts in Bloomington.
There have also been performances in other states: at the
international festival of Dayton (Ohio), the Latvian summer camp
"Garezers" (Long Lake) near Three Rivers (Michigan), and the
Milwaukee Latvian House (Wisconsin), as well as at regional meetings
of Midwestern Estonians and Latvians, when these occur in
Indianapolis. The ensemble often performs with Latvian folk dancers,
who have learned Estonian dances, too.
The Hedgehogs play authentic folk instruments, mostly made by the
group members themselves, using ethnographic museum specimens and
archeological finds as a guide. Most of the others were made by
instrument makers in or from Estonia and Latvia. The collection of
instruments includes the archaic and modern Estonian kannel, archaic
Latvian kokle, chord zither, Novgorod lyre, bagpipe, wood
flute/recorder, bowed harp, Latvian giga (two-string trough fiddle),
accordion, guitar, drum, and other percussion instruments.
The Hedgehogs issued a CD recording in February 2005, a second CD in June 2007, and a third CD in November 2012. They include primarily folk songs from
Estonia and Latvia, but also some tunes from other lands and a couple
of original compositions. All CDs come with a booklet of information
about the origin of the tunes and instruments, as well as color
photos of the instruments and musicians. You can listen to some excerpts here.
A track from the first CD called "Sad Songs Medley," consisting of three
archaic Estonian runic melodies, was chosen for a recording
representing the musical scene of Indianapolis (Indy MP3 Project).
Among some 600 soloists or ensembles, a fourth made the final cut,
including the Hedgehogs.