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Aallotar and Teho
June 9, 2019 @ 7:30 pm$18 – $20
With Finnish and Finnish-American members, Aallotar is an equal parts soothing and energetic accordion, violin, and vocal chamber folk duo, and Teho. is a power fiddle duo. Both groups will bring music speaking to Finnish folk tradition while pushing limits, innovating and improvising to create something beautifully new.
Sara Pajunen – Finnish-American – and Teija Niku – a Finn – use their common musical heritage as a starting point for original “chamber-folk.” Together they create new sounds that reflect their differing contemporary cultures and shared roots.
One could say the duo Aallotar began already in the early 1900s, when Niku’s and Pajunen’s families lived in neighboring regions of Finland. But while Pajunen’s ancestors crossed the Atlantic during ‘Amerikan kuume’ (American fever), Niku’s ancestors stayed in Finland. This separation is the impetus for the music of Aallotar. How does tradition morph in an environment of assimilation – or in the same environment over 100 years’ time? How do two cultures grown apart add variation and depth to collaboration and artistic expression?
Niku (accordion/vocals) spent her Finnish childhood playing folk music on accordion and later received a masters degree from the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. Minnesota-born Pajunen (violin/vocals) studied classical music as her main focus, but also played Finnish folk music with a children’s group that toured The United States, Europe and Australia. Sara has earned classical music degrees in both the United States and Finland and currently studies in the Contemporary Improvisation department at New England Conservatory.
Aallotar released its debut album In Transit (And Say We Did) in 2014 and their second album Ameriikan laulu on June 15, 2018 (Nordic Notes). Since its formation in fall 2013, Aallotar has toured the United States seven times, including shows at Lotus Festival, the Cedar Cultural Center, Old Town School of Folk Music, and various Scandinavian related events. In 2015 Aallotar represented Finland at Folkelarm showcase festival in Oslo and the summer after they performed at all notable folk music festivals in Finland as well as Sounds of the North festival in Poland. In 2016 Aallotar was invited to the cross-genre project ‘Beethoven and Banjos’ in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with Decoda Ensemble from Carnegie Hall (New York), to create a unique program of Finnish folk and classical music.
Aallotar continues to explore the differences and similarities of Finland and Finnish America through their music, taking inspiration from tradition while pushing at boundaries. Their lithe instrumentals and beautiful vocal harmonies in both Finnish and English demonstrate how gracefully traditional and modern folk music can speak together.
Teho. is a Finnish power-fiddle duo that explodes musical boundaries while having roots deeply in the tradition. Teho.’s fiddlers grew up in Central Ostrobothina – an area known for its extremely virile and rich folk music life.
Teho. made a big leap to the spotlight by winning the annual Konsta Jylhä Competition year 2016, which is the most significant folk music competition in Finland.
“Teho.’s musicians are versatile professionals, who know the folk music tradition inside out. They use traditional elements imaginatively and can take their music from a mood to another,” complimented director Hannu Saha in his speech for the winners of the Konsta Jylhä Competition.
Their music combines fluently Finnish traditional pelimanni fiddling, Norwegian halling, Swedish polska, bebop, western swing, and composed, contemporary folk music. Improvisation is also playing a big part in the duo’s sound. Tero Hyväluoma and Esko Järvelä are both top-notch names in the Nordic folk music field and cross-over freelancers without genre boundaries. They have played together for years in various different bands and projects, including the long-running and popular Finnish band Frigg.