Vieux Farka Toure
Classy and commercial survivors of the Finnish folk scene ... exquisite three-part female harmony vocals
Sunday 10th December 2017, 7.30pm
The HUBS, 6 Paternoster Row, Sheffield
Click below to watch Värttinä sing Lasetus - recorded to celebrate their 30th anniversary
We are delighted to present the Värttinä trio featuring original vocalist Mari Kaasinen, Susan Aho and Karolina Kantelinen who will be singing acapella or accompanying themselves on accordion and kanteles (a traditional Finnish and Karelian plucked stringed instrument similar to a zither) ... the perfect way to hear the group's return to their roots.
Blending ancient Finnish runo poetry, distinctive vocal harmonies, traditional and modern acoustic instrumentation, complex rhythms and imaginative arrangements, the band have forged their own path in contemporary music. On recordings and in concert the singers’ voices and unique harmonies are the main attraction. Their style is their own, born of their own collective creative energy but with deep roots in the women’s singing tradition of Finno-Urgic tribes of the east, including Karelia, Setu, Mari Republic, Ingria Mordva and others. One key feature of these styles is extremely close harmonies, so close that they often seem strange to western ears.
Click below to hear the group sing Emoton
Värttinä is a Finnish folk music band that started in 1983 by Sari and Mari Kaasinen in the village of Rääkkylä, in Karelia, the southeastern region of Finland. In their early days the group developed an aggressive and powerful vocal style “loud, almost shouting” which was provocative and new to Finnish folk music and which rapidly lead to national recognition, with them being named “Band of the Year” in 1987.
In late 1989 as many members of the original group reached their late teens, several members left the group, leading to a major re-working of their sound and style – relaunching as a 10 piece with 5 front singers. While remaining fully acoustic the group shifted to a more pop/rock approach, introducing original compositions and diversifying further in Finno-Urgic territory borrowing tunes, poems, songs and ideas from local women’s singing traditions. The resulting 1991 album Oi Dai was an overnight smash hit making them a household name in Finland and attracting international attention.
Subsequent albums and years saw the band topping World Music charts in Europe and North America with performances at top venues and festivals across the world, including UK appearances at Glastonbury, WOMAD, the Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall. The group also moved to a front line of just 3 female singers, including Mari Kaasinen from the original line-up, and 6 instrumentalists.
2002 saw another “rebirth” of the group with several personnel changes and the release of their tenth album Iki, which was hailed critically as a new pinnacle in their career – achieving “Top of the World” status and featuring in the “Top 40 World Music Albums You Should Own” in Songlines magazine. Over the next couple of years the group collaborated with Indian composer A.R.Rahman on music for the stage play adaption of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings which premiered in London in May 2007.
The band have continued to tour and record, with their 14th album Viena being released to critical acclaim in October 2015. Fiona Talkington in Songlines gave the album a 5 star review:
The sound is superb, the playing immaculate, and the three singers are on fire. It’s also enormous fun and a huge achievement for a band that has been through so many changes: they can proudly say that the Värttinä sound is as strong as ever … Die-hard fans will be putting this right up there among their best albums; new arrivals will find it a great place to start.