Finnish Music Camp Faculty

 

Finnish Music Camp Faculty

Celia JonesCelia E. Jones has embraced the various styles of playing the kantele in her directorship of Maine's Suomalaiset Jouset ensemble. Her "Finnish Strings" members have performed in six different school districts, nine retirement community establishments, and numerous special events and functions in the past two years. Having been inspired by participating in the first Finn Folk Camp in 2011, this mid-coast Maine group has demonstrated the love of Finland's historic folk instrument through its cultural focus at each gathering! Suomalaiset Jouset firmly believes that participants from age 8 to 88, with or without musical backgrounds, discover magical melodies and harmonies of this ancient, folk instrument of Finland every time they pick up the instrument! Finns and non-Finns have such a good time no matter if you live in Michigan or Maine!

 Richard KoskiRichard Koski is a third generation Finnish-American two-row and one-row diatonic button accordion player from Trumansburg, New York. He learned much of his Finnish music from his father, who played accordion at home and for Finnish dances in the area. Both his grandfathers were from Negaunee, Michigan, where they worked in the iron mines before moving with their families in the early 20th century to farms in the Finger Lakes area of New York State near Ithaca. Richard began performing as a child at the Finn Hall in Van Etten, N.Y., and continues to play for local Finnish events, festivals, restaurants, and wineries with his band, Toivo. He has performed at the Kaustinen and Kihaus festivals in Finland, many FinnFests, and was chosen as the 2005 Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year.

Besides Finnish music, Richard enjoys playing Tex-Mex and Cajun music, and composing tunes for the diatonic accordion. He has two CDs: "Saturday Night Sauna with the Crumtown Ramblers" and "Laughing Shoe" with the Toivo band. Juha Niemelä, folklorist and scholar of Finnish-American music in Turku, Finland, says: "Richard Koski is one of the key musicians in the Finnish-American music tradition. He has preserved the old-time music...and has been the source of old Finnish melodies and the way of playing and performing which is already dead and gone in Finland."

James Lohmann has been a professional designer/woodcarver for 35 years with commissioned work all over the country, including The Tribune Tower in Chicago, Harvard University, Andover Academy, Noack Organ Company, and The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities. Although his area of woodcarving is decorative/ornamental he enjoys traditional and ethnic folk music and as a sideline he makes rhythm bones just for the "fun of it" and has recently started to make kanteles and kantele kits to make the Finnish 5-string kantele. You can visit Jim's website at: www.digitalwoodcarving.com.

Steve NiemiSteve Niemi lives in Detroit. He is most frequently heard playing at the Finn Camp in Wixom, Michigan, where he has organized music for their Juhannus (Summer Solstice) and August Finn Fest celebrations. He plays with the group FinnFolk group, based at Finnish Center Association in Farmington Hills, and the Scandinavian-American Spelmanslag, led by Karin Arneson. His main profession is as an art museum educator, with years of experience working at the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Sara PajunenSara Pajunen, one “of the most ambitious and notable practitioners of Finnish folk music outside of Finland,” traveled to Finland from her native Hibbing, Minnesota every four years as a child to perform. After receiving classical music degrees both in Minneapolis and Helsinki, she returned to explore the folk music that is both her personal and ancestral past. She has founded two touring ensembles based on her Finnish roots: Kaivama and Tango Pohjan Tähden. Her recorded compatibility with (mentor/colleague/Finnish fiddler) Arto Järvelä “is superb…the most genuine Finnish music ever recorded in the U.S.” Finland’s Pelimanni magazine, published by the Folk Music Institute, described the sound as “two violins fly(ing) like the fragrance of a summer’s morning.”  Aallotar is a new collaboration between Sara Pajunen and accordionist Teija Niku who is also a faculty member at Finnish Folk Music Camp. Aallotar’s physical and cultural separations allow a unique probing of both traditional and personal music. Singing in both English and Finnish, Teija and Sara pay tribute to their respective cultures, which - although they pulsate with many of the same values and energy of 100 years ago - have grown apart. The music of Aallotar is an exploration of those differences, with the intent to create new harmonies that bridge the expanses which water has filled.  We look forward to hearing and learning from them.

Bette PremoBette Premo has been involved with Finnish folk music and dance since moving to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1985. She loves music and with her family band, called White Water, performs many concerts each year with their folk and traditional music recorded on eight albums. Bette sings and plays fiddle, mandolin and hammer dulcimer. Since 1985 Bette and her husband Dean have been organizers of The Second Sunday Folk Dances and School Performances program that serves to bring in top quality folk performers for an evening of entertainment at Fortune Lake Camp (Crystal Falls) and daytime performances and workshops at local schools. The programs begin each year in October and are held once each month until April. Bette Premo and her family have developed and organized this event since inception, providing the opening act for each program, and supporting the program with promotion, funding, securing performers and school venues. Bette plays viola with the Marquette Symphony Orchestra and the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra. Bette leads other Finnish folk music classes at events such as the annual Aura Jamboree and the Covington Finnish Music Festival. She has also been involved with the Richard Davis Bass Conference at University of Wisconsin, Madison, over the last 13 years leading the sisters and brothers of young bassists in what is called "the siblings orchestra" where all instruments are invited and perform during the conference. Bette Premo, Ph.D., is a scientist and owner of the environmental consulting firm, White Water Associates, Inc. that provides environmental lab testing services and natural resource studies. The web address for all White Water activities is: www.white-water-associates.com.
Carl RahkonenCarl Rahkonen is a second generation Finnish American, who works as a Music Librarian and Professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Folklore and Ethnomusicology from Indiana University, Bloomington, with a dissertation entitled "The Kantele Traditions of Finland." During this research, he and his wife lived in Finland as Fulbright Scholars for two years. He has done research on polka bands in Pennsylvania, Estonian kannel players in Baltimore, fiddling traditions in West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania, and most recently Scandinavian and Finnish-American musicians of the Upper Midwest. He authored the "Overview" for the European-American chapter of the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. During a 2001-02 sabbatical he studied fiddle camps and festivals around the country. He serves on the Board of FinnFest USA and is compiling a directory of Finnish American musicians. The national Finlandia Foundation has named him the 2011 "Lecturer of the Year," to travel to foundation chapters around the country lecturing on Finnish American music. He is a practicing musician who plays classical, popular and folk music in a variety of ensembles, most frequently as a solo Scandinavian and Finnish fiddler, and with the Irish band Aran. More information may be found on his home page at: http://www.people.iup.edu/rahkonen/.

Don ReinholmDon Reinholm began playing the accordion in the Detroit area as a teen, studying under the late Ralph Mannisto along with his younger sister, Carol Reinholm.  As a young adult, his Scandinavian heritage had a large impact on his music along with the creative influence of Art Moilanen, Veikko Ahvenainen, and the Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius.  Don went on to accompany a traveling Scandinavian folk dance group, "Hoijakat" as well as playing in a trio musical group, "Pelimannit" for over two decades including a performance at the Calumet Theater. He has been an active musician for many years with "Finn Folk" and "Spielmanslag", two groups providing Scandinavian music at many events including Finn Fest, and the Aura Jamboree. He released a CD, "Pohjalat Metsassa" in 2006 with his sister.  Don was interviewed and performed on Channel 6 Marquette, "Finland Calling" in 2009 and 2010. His CD has been reviewed in "The Finnish American Reporter" and is sold in boutiques and festivals including "Touch of Finland" in Marquette, Michigan.  Don has been invited to play with many Classical, Bluegrass, Jazz, Indie Rock and Folk music groups as the accordion has made a resurgence in the contemporary music scene.  Since retiring in 2010 as an engineer for DTE Energy, Don has been able to dedicate much more of his time to his love of music.  He is currently working on a new CD with the band "Riley McCurry and the Fiddle Yard Folks" with a release planned for this year.

Carrie Dlutkowski will be teaching some of the beginner fiddle classes at Finnish Folk Music Camp.  Carrie and her sister Emma and mother Susan, who hail from Atlantic Mine, Michigan, have performed Finnish and other folk music regularly with White Water and the Front Parlor Dance Band the past several years, and began playing as a family band three years ago. Carrie started playing violin at the age of 5.  As a classical violinist she has performed with the Pine Mountain Music Festival and served as concertmaster of the Keweenaw Symphony Orchestra.   With her mom and sister she enjoys learning and performing their favorite kind of music: the many styles of French-, Irish-, and Scottish-influenced fiddling found across Canada.  While attending music camps near Ottawa and Toronto she has studied with some of the biggest names in Canadian fiddling, including Natalie MacMaster, Patti Lamoureux, and Calvin Vollrath, as well as noted accompanist Mac Morin.  Adding clogging (foot percussion) and Ottawa Valley step dancing to performances reinforces the driving rhythm of the music.  In 2013 the group celebrated the release of their debut CD, "Still Winter Here."  Its 14 tracks include a generous sampling of many Canadian styles, as well as some American repertoire. 

Arne SalliArne Salli, folksinger and storyteller, is the son of Finnish immigrants who settled and farmed in northern Wisconsin. Dr. Arne Salli is an award winning emeritus Professor of Biology at the University of Wisconsin in Wausau. His first memories of joyful singing are the hours spent milking cows as a kid in the 1940's . For years he has performed for various groups and festivals including Finnish Day at Minnesota's Ironworld USA, Marquette and Covington festivals, Finn Fests in Duluth, Dekalb and Marquette, Sons of Norway festivals in Ashland and Wausau, Little Finland in northern Wisconsin, and for years at the annual Nisswa Stammen Nordic Fest in Minnesota, as well as numerous local performances. Also appearing with Dr. Salli is his singing frog Saima the Sammakko (a.k.a. Frieda the Frog ). Sometimes he appears in costume as Toivo the Logger folksinger. He is accompanied by his wife Nancy who is an accomplished pianist and organist. Much to the delight of audiences that attended the "Fire and Ice" film on the winter war at the Ironwood Theater, she played Finnish folk songs on the historic Barton theater organ. Arne and Nancy recently performed together at the Finnish American Society of West Central Michigan near Grand Rapids. Arne also has an endless supply of Finnish Toivo and Eino stories gathered from the north country.
Kay Seppala

A third-generation Finnish-American, Kay Seppala grew up in the Upper Peninsula and moved to St. Paul as a young adult.  There she learned Finnish folk dancing, met her Finnish-American husband, and was introduced to the traditional Finnish folk instrument the kantele, or lap harp. In the mid – 1980’s, “Mother Kantele,” Joyce Hakala, taught Kay and others how to play the five-and ten-string kanteles in order to form the Koivun Kaiku Kantele Ensemble.  Kay performed with this group for 12 years, until she returned to the U.P.  She now teaches the small kantele for the community enrichment classes at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Finlandia University, and directs the ensemble for small kanteles, Ilon Kaiku.  Kay is also the director of the children’s Finnish-American folk dance groups, Loistavat and Kivajat, who perform throughout the western UP.  Kay has taught several adult dance workshops and enjoys leading “family-fun” dance evenings. Through teaching Finnish folk dancing and kantele, spiced with story telling, Kay is sharing the joy of her Finnish-American roots.  She is helping to preserve the Finnish folk culture and to propagate many grandchildren for “Mother Kantele!”

Randy SeppalaPercussionist Randy Seppala was born to second generation Finnish American parents from Covington Michigan in 1951. At the Covington Centennial in July 1993 he was inspired by an old Finnish lumberjack named Walfred Hamari, singing songs in Finnish and Fienglish. This was the first time he saw Johnny Perona, Oren Tikkanen, Helmer Toyras and Kenny Salo. In 1994 he moved back to his beloved hometown of Covington and soon after started playing with accordionist Wil Kilpela and Friends Band. In 1999 Randy founded and directed The Annual Finnish Music Festival in Covington which ran for 11 years and featured bands and performers from the United States and Finland. Randy led efforts to design and construct The Covington Pavilion and Event Center, which is still an active music venue complete with hard wood dance floor. In 2001 and 2003 Randy was granted an apprenticeship through the Michigan Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program sponsored by the Michigan State University Museum to learn to play the rhythm bones with master folk musician Johnny Perona of Calumet. They became good friends and traveled around the state and the country playing music together. In 2002 at a festival in Avoca, Iowa, which hosted a bones and spoons competition, they met people from the Rhythm Bone Society who were totally blown away by Johnny's spoons playing style. In 2003 randy asked Jim Lohmann if he could make bones on his C&C machine and "Dem Bones" was born. Jim now manufactures rhythm bones in his shop in Covington and they are shipped all over the country and the world via the internet. Dem Bones puts on workshops at many festivals and events throughout the region. Randy plays Finnish music with Wil Kilpela and Friends, Les Ross Sr. and the Finnish American All Stars and the Finn Woods Ramblers. He played with the Copper Country Cajun band Crawfish Mojakka and presently plays Cajun with the Billy Butcher Bayou Band. He also plays old time Mississippi Delta blues with Fast Eddie, Hart and Bones. See Randy's activities at www.playdembones.com.

Tanya StanawayTanya Stanaway came to the USA from Finland 1972 and resides in Ishpeming. She have been involved with the Finnish culture since her arrival and has been teaching the Finnish language since 1979 and currently has two adult classes and one children's class. Tanya has released five (5) music CDs and cassettes and is currently working on the sixth. She plays several instruments including piano, guitar, accordion, violin, cello, clarinette, recorder, and harmonica. Tanya has performed at several Finn Fests, including Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada. She tours many places in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Minnesota, Florida and Montana, and performs at various music festivals. She sings and plays accordion at the Jacobetti Veterans Center in Marquette once a month and sings at several nursing homes in the area. She also performs at local churches especially during their Finnish services.

Eileen Sundquist was titted and tatted on textile art, learning to craft lace at her grandmother's knee. Everything she does in homespunadelic old-style modern. A true Rainbow matriarch, she manifests anything she desires from natural or repurposed materials. This Blue Heron Woman has been taking art to the streets since the '80s, combining forces with Bill Anderson in the 90s to offer up double doses of artistic activism. Showing and selling her work at popular music and art venues from Florida to Vermont, she has enchanted the open-minded at every opportunity. An original Ithaca Child growing up in the shadow of Cornell during the 60s, she knows nothing is impossible. She has moved 25 times in 25 years and gardened in every perching place. She has no fear of flying, spreading her wings, and her dreams around us all. As one of Jamestown, New York's Scandinavian Studies volunteer instructors, she has presented demonstrations and hands-on learning opportunities to the public, and audiences of all ages, for the past ten years. She has also taught weaving at Heikinpäivä in Hancock. Her work is a link between the past and the future.


Ralph Tuttila
was exposed very early to Finnish music at home and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Finnish community where he grew up. He was a member of the Finnish Kantele ensemble "Koivun Kaiku" for 13 years playing a variety of traditional Finnish instruments.  While with that group, he travelled to Finland and performed at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in 1993. Koivun Kauku was awarded performers of the year in 1996 by the Finlandia Foundation National. This involved considerable performances throughout the USA. During that time, Koivun Kaiku produced four recordings.  Ralph has learned his music and instruments almost exclusively in the folk tradition. He is also a dancer and musician with the Kisarit Finnish folkdancers and teaches various types of dance - Finnish and other couple social dances including tango.  Ralph is leader of the group Finn Hall, an award-winning group of musicians dedicated to preserving the feel and sounds of historic Finnish-American dance halls of the last century. Based in Minneapolis,they recreate this experience for local dancers, offering waltz, polka, schottische, mazurka, tango, humppa and other dances.

Perttu Hemminki is a Finnish journalist and a musician who lives and works in Turku, the old capitol of Finland. He was born in Kauhava and started school in Kurikka. Both towns are located in South Oshtrobotnia and are renowned for a strong folk music tradition. He plays all kind of keyboards and has been performing in Finland for over 25 years. With his band he has also played in Germany, Ireland and Estonia. On a database of Teosto (the copyright organization for Finnish composers, lyricists, arrangers and music publishers) there are approximately one hundred songs either written or arranged by him. A couple of years ago he worked as a music producer in a tribute project Laitakadun hämärässä (also an LP) which was dedicated to the memory of Pentti Viherluoto (1915-2004). During his long career Viherluoto wrote dozens of Finnish evergreens like the foxtrot Puhelinlangat laulaa, the waltz Aamu Airistolla and tangos Punaiset Lehdet, Kaukainen ystäväni and Musta Ruusu.  In this tribute project Hemminki wasn’t only a producer but also an arranger and a musician. He has made blues-, jazz-, rock- and folk-recordings as well. In recent years he has written about fifteen lyrics in American Finnish with Osthrobotnian features. His first instrument was harmonium at the age of six and his primary teacher was his grandmother.