Tag Archives: Karelian music

Artist Profiles: Sattuma


Formed in 2003 in Petrozavodsk, Russian Karelia, Sattuma is a Russian Karelian neo-folk music band that plays both traditional as well as their own compositions and arrangements, singing in Finnish, Russian and Karelian. They can often be scene on the concert hall, club and festival circuit. The name Sattuma is from the Finnish meaning “hitting the mark” or “chance or happenstance.”

Sattuma’s musicians are Eila Rinne on vocals, violin and jouhikko, Arto Rinne on vocals, bouzuki, kantele, harmonica and accordion, Vladik Demin on violin, flute, jembe and vocals and Dmitri Demin on clarinet, flute, mankeri, bagpipes, jembe, didgeridoo and saw.

Sattuma’s discography consists of Folk Music from Karelia and Finland (2003), Kudelma (2005), Palapeli (Sketis Music, 2008), Kinofilmi (2010), Joo Kylla! (Sketis Music, 2013) and Uuzi Kodi (2014). There is also the DVD of a 2010 performance of Live in Moscow. Club Dom available.


Artist Profiles: Noid


Noid is a musical ensemble from Petrozavodsk in Karelia, Russia, founded in 2007. The ensemble composes, arranges and performs traditional songs in the Veps language, with world music or world fusion-style arrangements. The Vepses is a small indegious Finno-Ugric ethnic group located in Russian Karelia bordering Finland.

The name of the band is an ancient Vepsian magical word that could be translated as a sorceress/sorcerer, or a witch/wizard. Every Vepsian village had its own noid.

Band members include Alina Kartynen on vocals; Vladimir Solovjev on keyboards; and Alexander Shashin on bass.


Kukirikku – The Music Of Vepses (2010)


Artist Profiles: Santtu Karhu

In 1987, the Finnish press of Soviet-Karelia wrote about a young guy who was becoming popular on the underground scene of Petrozavodsk. Santtu Karhu (alias Aleksandr Medvedev) was raised by his grandmother in the old Karelian ways, before becoming a student in literature and then the first rock singer in the world using Karelian language with the lyrics of his songs. This was his own political stand. Karelians were at the time bout 75,000 in Russia.

It took some more years before Santtu’s band, Talvisovat (Winter Clothes), had gigs outside Russia and started making records. They found a warm interest and support in Finland where Finnish National TV made several documentaries about Karelian culture starring Santtu and his bands.

This is a five-piece band who explore the poetry and popular folk music of their Karelian homeland, and create their own style, mixing folk type jigs and reels with progressive rock arrangements in a style similar to Covus Corax, early Jethro Tull and Fairport Convention. Santtu Karhu describes his music as Etnofutiristic Rock. Their album Hyvastit Karjala (Hotigloo, 2003) was sold out in Finland. The lyrics are in Karelian.

Santtu and his band are regularly on tour in Finland and Scandinavia.

Line-Up: Santtu Karhu – Vocals and bass; Feodor Astashov on guitars; Arto Rinne on mandolin, harmonica, accordion, backing vocals; Mikael Kasharov – Drums; and Aleksander Leonov – Flutes, Juhikko, Saw, Backing vocals.


Hyvästit Karjala (Hot Igloo, 2003)
Terveh Petroskoi (Hot Igloo, 2006)
Allus oli muna (Hot Igloo, 2009)
E.L.O.S. (Nuori Karjala, 2009)


Artist Profiles: Karelian Folk Music Ensemble

Karelian Folk Music Ensemble

The Karelian Folk Music Ensemble (KPME) is the only touring group of musicians playing traditional folk songs and instrumentals of Karelia, a large region that is part in Russia and part in Finland. Warmly received wherever they perform, the KFME are the keepers of the flame for this distinctive ethnic music.

The Karelian Folk Music Ensemble is a professionally trained and widely traveled trio of singers and musicians from Petrozavodsk, in the Republic of Karelia, Russia. The ensemble’s music is an exciting and interesting mix of Finnish, Russian and Karelian cultures. They sing in Finnish, Karelian and Russian, as well as perform instrumental and dance music.

The ensemble first visited the US in 1991 as a university group with the Petrozavodsk State University. They have since released three recordings on the Gadfly label, including “The Karelian Folk Music Ensemble” (Gadfly 501, an all-instrumental CD) and “Ingrian Folk Songs” (Gadfly 504) which is a set of songs from the region.

The members of the group are:

Igor Arkhipoff – Igor is a graduate of the Petrozavodsk Conservatory of Music. He has been a featured presenter in the Petrozavodsk State University Folk Ensemble, Toive, and is now their music director. He is also the music historian and bell ringer for the island museum of Kizhi, the director of a Finnish choir, Inkeri, and is on the music staff of the Petrozavodsk State University. In addition to performing in Russia, he has toured the USA, Finland, Sweden, Poland and Iraq.

Alexander Bykadoroff – Sasha is a graduate of the Petrozavodsk Conservatory in Choral Conducting. He has been a choir director, and an orchestra conductor of the Karelian national folk ensemble, Kantele. As a child, he performed piano in competitions as a child prodigy and since then has added many other instruments. He is a composer and music arranger and is currently the musical director of a folk group Myllarit. With Myllarit, he has toured Russia, Finland, Norway, Sweden, the USA, Canada, Scotland and Germany.

Arto Rinne – Arto is a graduate of Petrozavodsk State University and was also a member of the Folk Ensemble Toive. He started his musical career as a singer in a boys’ choir when he was six. He sings and plays many instruments. Currently he performs with the folk group Myllarit and with them, has toured Russia, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Norway, the USA, Scotland and Germany.


The Karelian Folk Music Ensemble (Gadfly Records, 1995)
Ingrian Folk Songs (Gadfly Records, 1997)
From The Land Of The Kalevala (Gadfly Records, 2001)
Winds Of The Past (Center Of Cultural Initiatives “Myllärit”, 2004)
Toive (Sketis Music)


Artist Profiles: Myllarit


Myllärit was a seven person, 16 instrument Karelian-Finnish vocal and instrumental folk band from Russia. The group came together in 1992, an outgrowth of the pairing of world-class accordionist Sergei Zobnev and Alexander Bykadorov, who traveled Europe together playing Karelian and Russian folk music in the streets.

The unique sound of Myllarit combined ancient traditions of Karelian-Finnish epic, the Kalevala, Karelian, Finnish and North-Russian folk tunes with elements of rock, jazz, and world music. “Karelia represents a rich mixture of so many different cultures,” said Zobnev. “Our rather severe climatic conditions help to hone this musical style. It is the music of the Russian pomors (White Sea coast natives) and Finnish and Karelian songs. It all mixes together and provides food for Myllarit.”

Line Up: Alexandr Bykadorov “Deda”: guitars, vocals; Janna Lebdejeva: fiddles, vocals; Leo Sevets: lead vocals, kantele and juhikko; Andrew Lukin: drums, percussion, didgeridoo; Roman Ershihin: electric bass, vocals; Andrey Brazevich: accordion; Sergey Klevenskiy: wind instruments.

Sergei Zobnev left the band in 2008. Alexander Bykadorov died in 2010. After his death, Myllärit decided to disband.


Eta Pravda (Mipu Music Oy, 1997)
In The Light Of The White Night (1999)
A Voi Voi! Karelian Fever (Pilfink Records, 2000)
The 10th Spring (Center Of Cultural Initiatives “Myllärit”, 2002)
Saaren Synty / Birth Of An Island (Center Of Cultural Initiatives “Myllärit”, 2003)
Metsolan Kuningas (Center Of Cultural Initiatives “Myllärit”, 2005)


Dramatically Elegant Viena

Varttina – Viena (Westpark Music, 2016)

Thirty years in the making, the Finnish folk group Varttina started out as a children’s music project in the village of Raakkyla in 1983. In those years the group has evolved in membership and endured the occasional change in musical direction, putting out such recordings as Varttina (1987), Musta Lindu (1989), Oi Dai (1991), Ilmatar (2000) and Miero (2006), performed live across the globe and collaborated with A.R. Rahman for the musical theatrical production of The Lord of the Rings performed in Toronto, Canada and London, England. Headed up by original Varttina singer, Mari Kaasinen, Varttina is back with thirteenth studio album Viena on the Westpark Music label.

Varttina’s tight, neat sound is crafted out of the talents of vocalist and kantele player Mari Kaasinen; vocalist and kantele player Karoliina Kantelinen; vocalist Susan Aho; accordionist, bansuri player and vocalist Matti Kallio; fiddler, nyckelharpist, bowed lyre player and vocalist Lassi Logren and guitarist mandocellist, bouzouki player, mandolinist and vocalist Matti Laitinen. Keeping to that sharply honed sound centered on the blending and the myriad of harmonies of its female vocalists, Viena is just as energetic, beguiling and edgily eccentric as ever and the result is contagiously joyful.

Drawing influence from a trip to Russia’s Viena Karelian folklore villages where the last of the “rune singers” and Kalevala folk tradition and poetry have eked out an existence for thousands of years, Viena is a tribute to the region’s untouched nature and the musical roots.

Opening with the lovely “Taivasranta” or “The Heavenly Shore,” fans get the full force of these elegantly entwined vocals surrounded by guitar, accordion and kantele (a Finnish plucked instrument belonging to the dulcimer and zither family).

Dipping into the traditional, Viena offers up the vocally sensational track “Raijan Joiku,” before giving over to the joyfully worked “Kanaset” and the delicately dreamy “Kelo.”

Working through stunners like “Ukonlammas,” the traditional “Kokko” and irrepressibly delightful “Kiri,” Viena exudes the richness of Finland’s musical traditions. Closing traditional track “Oi Dai” with its happy energy is reason enough to check out Viena.

By turns Viena is infectiously folksy and dramatically elegant and well worth the legacy of Varttina.

Buy Viena in North America

Buy Viena in Europe