2017 Ethnogala Nominations Artist of the Year Anne-Mari Kivimäki Frigg Ismaila Sané Phenomenon of the Year Kalevauva.fi Orivesi All Stars Pelimanni 8bit Newcomer of the Year BaranBand Elssa Antikainen Maija Kauhanen Border Breaking Act of the Year Frigg Okra Playground Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L Folk Music Songwriter of the Year Anne-Mari Kivimäki Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L Tuuletar Choreographer of the year Hanna Poikela Petri Kauppinen Rami Meling Intersection Prize Digelius Music Hilda Länsman World Music School Helsinki
1.11. Topi Korhonen 2.11. Liwata's Afro Review 5.11. Towards the light 6.11. Singing storytelling 7.11. Etnogaala Finnish tango in the 21th century 8.11. Taiga-club at Tavastia 9.11. Oum (Morocco) 10.11. Joanna Słowińska (Poland) Dobranotch (RU) 11.11. Etnosoi! in Tampere Duo Ali Saed - Sanna Salmenkallio Hartyga & Albert Kuvezin (Tuva/RU) 12.11. Etnosoi! for kids 17.11. Etnosoi!-jam session 2.12. Etnosoi! POST - Misas Criollas 6.-19.11. Exhibition Macoumba Ndiaye
Finland’s first Ethnogala will be held at 7 pm on Tuesday, November 7 at Helsinki’s legendary Tavastia Club. At the first annual gala, prizes will be handed out to the most interesting and distinguished figures in folk music, world music and folk dance.
The Ethnogala rewards the most distinguished and interesting figures in Finnish folk music, world music, and folk dance scenes in seven different categories. Rather than focusing on speeches, the Ethnogala is about live music and folk dance performances. Tavastia will be transformed into an ethno-club with two performance stages, with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) recording performances and interviews from both stages as well as the green room and backstage areas.
Yle will broadcast the event on its TV, radio and internet channels. The live TV stream and radio will be available also abroad. BaranBand, Maija Kauhanen, Suistamon sähkö, Pekko Käppi, Duo Vildá and Kalevauva.fi will perform at the Gala.
The Ethnogala rewards the most distinguished and interesting figures in Finnish folk music, world music, and folk dance scenes in seven different categories.
Bios of the Ethnogala nominees
Anne-Mari Kivimäki (b. 1976) is a musician, composer and lyricist, with the two-row Russian Notka accordion at the core of her creative output. She has founded several bands and created multi-disciplinary artworks featuring the instrument, as well as developing her own style of playing: a contemporary Karelian accordion trance. Anne-Mari Kivimäki’s ensembles include the boundary pushing duo Puhti, experimental electronic group Suistamon Sähkö, and Anne-Mari Kivimäki & Palomylly -76. In 2017, she has toured Finland with the Lakkautettu kylä (A Closed-Down Village) concert.
The Iranian brothers Marouf and Gian Majidi were travelling around the world on their own, before coming together and founding BaranBand. ‘Baran’ is Kurdish and means ‘rain’, and the band’s music brings together Kurdish Iranian traditions and a wealth of influences that the brothers gathered on their journeys. BaranBand’s debut album Mn Bo To, which was released in the summer of 2017, received a lot of media attention in both Finland and internationally.
Since 1971, Digelius Music has provided the Finnish people with expert insight into all music cultures of the world through their record shop in Helsinki, their sales catalogues and, more recently, their online shop. In addition to selling new recordings, recycling records is an important part of the store’s philosophy. Digelius Music also prides itself in its unparalleled level of service; if the store doesn’t already hold a particular record, it will go above and beyond to find it.
Joik singing is an ancient tradition of the Sámis, the indigenous people living in the very north of Finland. Accordion in turn is traditionally regarded as a very popular folk instrument among all the Finns. But no Finn before has put these two traditions together - and that is what VILDÁ is all about.
29-year-old Elssa Antikainen started folk dancing at the age of two, and is currently finalising her dance teaching degree in Oulu. She works across many different dance disciplines and has been involved in founding the Hämy Dance Theatre. As a dance teacher, her strengths lie in her social approach, and the high level of skill in her work. Elssa Antikainen’s choreographies and dance groups have been successful in several national dance reviews.
Frigg has been at the forefront of Finnish folk music for nearly two decades. The septet has been conquering the world with a fusion of Western folk music styles, for which the world music media has coined the term nordgrass, referring to the bluegrass influences. The tight interplay of four violins, string instruments, and double bass has made an impact on listeners all over the world. Frigg’s eighth album Frost on Fiddles was released in June 2017, gaining widespread international attention.
Hanna Poikela (b. 1986) is an Oulu-based dance artist and dance teacher, with a passion for Finnish folk dance. Previous notable choreographies include Rautatie (Railway), a co-production between JoJo - Oulu Dance Centre and Oulu City Theatre, and Sokeana Hetkenä, a collaboration with Elssa Antikainen. Hanna Poikela’s new piece has been selected for JoJo - Oulu Dance Centre’s 2018 season. Hanna is the artistic director of the Hämy Dance Theatre and Polokkarit folk dance group.
Hilda Länsman’s artistry straddles a rich crossing of different musical cultures. Having grown up with a Sami joik tradition that spans several generations, she connects this with contemporary world music and academic studies in music. Hilda Länsman has performed with several successful groups, including Gájanas, which was selected ‘Ensemble of the Year’ at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in 2017. Her work with the Sami joik tradition has been widely featured in the media.
Ismaila Sané is a Senegal-born percussionist, singer, solo dancer of African ballet, composer, choreographer, and pedagogue. He is well-known for being the long-time percussionist of Piirpauke, and for his work with groups Saïsba, Galaxy, Senfi and Buddha Surfers. He has also been a guest artist on numerous groups’ concerts and recordings. Ismaila Sané is an experienced educator and he has worked in both schools and universities. He started his career in Senegal as a professional dancer, and has been based in Finland since 1999.
Kalevauva.fi is a modern-day troubadour group founded by Aapo Niininen and Kimmo Numminen, taking its inspiration directly from one of the most popular Finnish online discussion forums, www.vauva.fi. For the duo, the forum posts become lyrics that they compose their songs around. Kalevauva.fi was launched in 2016 at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, and the group has gained a lot of attention since. They released their debut album in the spring of 2017, and have spent the summer touring Finland.
A powerfully expressive voice, deep-rooted kantele, and inventive percussion: fleet-fingered virtuoso and one-woman band Maija Kauhanen specialises in Finnish Saarijärvi kantele and the old and rare technique of playing kantele using a tiny wooden stick as a plectrum. Weaving this together with poly-rhythms and organic beats, she creates unique soundscapes and compelling grooves. Her first solo album, Raivopyörä (The Whirl of Rage), invokes powerful atmospheres that get under the listener’s skin.
In electro-folk band Okra Playground’s music, the ancient folk instruments kantele and the bowed lyre coexist in a new, exciting symbiosis of modern instruments and electronic soundscapes. The musical roots run deep in the Finnish soil, but its tallest branches reach the furthest fringes of world music. The strong voices of the singers and the age-old lyrics simultaneously take the listener to far-off places and close to home. Okra Playground’s fresh music captivates the listener with its hypnotic beat and mystical energy.
Orivesi All Stars
Orivesi All Stars (OAS) is a folk musician collective open to anyone with basic skills in their instrument, from beginner to professional, with musicians ranging in age from 10 and 85. For OAS, music is, first and foremost, a collaboratively produced experience, and the orchestra is where musicians can learn and share the joy of playing together. OAS wants to be part of a movement, which brings forth the rich musical heritage of Finland. The orchestra is conducted by Antti Järvelä.
PEKKO KÄPPI & K:H:H:L
They go by the name PEKKO KÄPPI & K:H:H:L (Bones of the Dead Crazy Horses), and their music deals with love, death, Finnish voodoo and archaic grooves. Their minimalistic and straightforward sound has a distinct odour of pop, layered with colliding rhythms and psychedelic sights. Yet it is sweetly dangerous, like sounds from the Finnish summer swamps with hidden secrets from the past. Traditional lyrics and harshly joyous jouhikko playing butt heads with drones and distortions from the past and future.
The mobile platformer game Pelimanni 8bit introduces young fiddler Friiti who embarks on a journey through Nordic sceneries towards his ambitious goal: the title of Master Pelimanni, a widely renowned traditional musician. Pelimanni 8bit was released by the Finnish Folk Music Institute to carry the torch of Finnish traditional music in a new and entertaining way. The retro graphics designed by Jimmy Träskelin are filled with Nordic mythology and accompanied by chiptune arrangements of traditional Finnish folk tunes by Antti Janka-Murros.
Petri Kauppinen is a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer and director who took his first dance steps in 1977. He started studying dance at the Oulu Conservatoire in 1991, and has since completed choreographer studies at London Contemporary Dance School (1996-1997), and gained an MFA in Dance from University of California Irvine (2002). Petri’s background is in folk dance, which he has further expanded on with contemporary dance, dance theatre and musical theatre. To date, he has created 174 choreographies, 67 of which are full-length pieces.
Rami Meling is a folk music enthusiast, director and choreographer, hailing from a dance background. Rami’s path in dancing developed in the Karelian Youth association in Helsinki, where he also made his directing debut as a 13-year-old. Rami has created choreographies for the groups Pitko and Roigu, as well as field choreographies for larger events. Rami’s work brings together well-known elements from folk dance with surprising music, and is influenced further by other dance forms.
Tuuletar’s virtuoso singers use only their voices to create a vivid sonic landscape, where beatbox rhythms meet Finnish folk tradition and global influences. The band has taken their music on tour in Japan and Germany, with further tours planned for Taiwan and India. Tuuletar has named its brand of cheery and captivating music vocal folk hop. The band released their globally acclaimed debut album Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal (Bafe’s Factory) in June 2016.
World Music School Helsinki
World Music School Helsinki is a forum for anyone to take part and learn about the different international cultures present in Helsinki. Each folk dance event introduces two distinct musical cultures to the local Helsinki audience, and the different communities learn from each other by dancing together. World Music School Helsinki’s dancing events and the international music teaching activities highlight the communities’ right to their own cultural traditions, while also enabling the exploration and meeting of different cultures and societies.
Ethnogala is arranged by the Committee of Folk Music and Dance in Finland (KEK) in partnership with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). The other partners are the Global Music Centre, Music Finland, Elvis - The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Finnish Musicians’ Union, Teosto (the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society), the Folk Music Institute of Finland, the Finnish Folk Music Association and Radio Helsinki. The Ethnogala is part of the Etnosoi! world music festival. The gala is supported by the Finnish Music Foundation (MES), the Kalevala Society and the Association for Rural Education and Culture.
Photo Credits: (1) Ethnogala, (2) Puhti ft. Anne Mari Kivimaki, (3) Etnosoi, (4) Maija Kauhanen, (5) Frigg, (6) Oum, (7) Gajanas ft. Hilda Länsman, (8) Joanna Słowińska, (9) Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L:, (10) Okra Playground, (11) Dobranotch, (13) Hartyga, (14) BaranBand, (15) Tuuletar (unknown/website); (12) Antti Järvelä, (by Walkin' Tom).