Varttina in Prague

varttina in Prague Värttinä (Finnish for spindle) is a Finnish folk music band which was started 1983 in the village of Rääkkylä, in the southeastern region of Finland.

Many transformations have taken place in the band since then. Värttinä shot into fame with the release of their 1990 album Oi Dai. As of 2006, the band consists of three lead female vocalists supported by six acoustic musicians.

Their list of concerts and successes are quite impressive, but not least impressive are the members themselves. Their musical education is something the author have never seen to form a World music band. Let’s go through.

SUSAN AHO – vocals. Playing accordion since the age of 13, she played accordion on Värttinä‘s Vihma album before moving to vocals.

MARI KAASINEN – vocals. Her first public performance took place at the age of 2 ½. During her career she’s studied classical singing, accordion and fiddle and majored in folk voice in Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. Partly because of her own North Karelian roots and dialect, she’s always been keen on Kalevala poetry and has become the main lyricist for Värttinä.

JOHANNA VIRTANEN – vocals. Johanna studied folk music at the Central Ostrobothnian Conservatory in Kokkola and is now studying folk music and singing at Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. Also plays harmonium, kantele and 2-row accordion.

varttina in Prague2 JANNE LAPPALAINEN – bouzouki, soprano saxophone. Janne is involved over the years with Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. A wind instrument specialist.

HANNU RANTANEN – basses. Hannu Rantanen is one of Finland’s top bassists. Having studied and now teaching at Helsinki Pop Jazz Conservatory and brilliantly skillful on double bass and electric bass, Hannu has been involved with numerous Finnish groups and orchestras.

MARKKU LEPISTÖ – accordions. Playing Ostrobothnian folk music on accordion since age five, Markku Lepistö later entered and graduated at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department before finally joining Värttinä in 1998 just after the Vihma recordings.

LASSI LOGREN – fiddle, jouhikko, nyckelharpa.
Also playing nyckelharpa and jouhikko, Lassi graduated from Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department in 2002.

JAAKKO LUKKARINEN – drums, percussion.
Jaakko “Jaska” Lukkarinen is one of Finland’s most versatile and energetic drummers/percussionists. Having studied under Jukkis Uotila, Marko Timonen and Mika Kallio in Sibelius Academy and also in Espoo Pop/Jazz School and Helsinki Pop/Jazz Conservatory, Jaska has developed a personal musical style that accentuates and propels Värttinä‘s rhythmical music to new directions, particularly those with jazz leanings.

ANTTO VARILO – guitars, stringed instruments.
A professional Helsinki guitarist since 1985, Antto joined Värttinä in 1993. Has performed with numerous rock, Afro and jazz artists and bands including Hasse Walli, Badu N’Djay. He played in Finnish National Theatre and with singing star Reijo Taipale.

From this impressive list it clear their show is of such professional standards that are anything but ordinary. For the Czech settings it can, however, be very unusual, so our recommendation is to youtube it first. If you know what is good for you, you can go to their concert in Palac Akropolis, Kubelikova 27, Prague, on November 1th 2007.

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