Finnish musicians return to Eau Claire

Finish Folk Band Kardemimmit performs at Haas Hall for whole community

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Robin Armagost

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Finnish musicians return to Eau Claire

Finnish folk band Kardemimmit serenades the audience at Haas Hall.

Finnish folk band Kardemimmit serenades the audience at Haas Hall.

Photo by Morgan Burke

Finnish folk band Kardemimmit serenades the audience at Haas Hall.

Photo by Morgan Burke

Photo by Morgan Burke

Finnish folk band Kardemimmit serenades the audience at Haas Hall.

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Finland, a country that’s over 4,000 miles away, was brought here to our campus by four women on Monday night.

Kardemimmit, a folk band originating from Finland, performed at Phillips Recital in Haas Fine Arts, free to both students and the community. Kardemimmit played various songs from their five albums, all ranging from 19th century dance, to Finnish reki-singing style, to Eastern Finnish archaic improvisation, to ancient runo singing.

All four members of Kardemimmit—Anna Wegelius, Leeni Wegelius, Jutta Rahmel and Maija Pokela—came from Espoo, Finland. They all attended the same music institute, Juvenalia, where they studied the kantele, a Finnish instrument, from the same teacher.

This was also where the band was formed back in 2000. Kardemimmit was nominated the Band of the Year by Kantele Association in 2004 and won the International Kantele competition the next year. Since 2008 the band has been touring Japan, Europe and North America.

“We like Eau Claire so much,” Anna Wegelius said. “We play here every two years and the town is very nice.”

Meghan Roeser, a first-year student who attended the concert, originally showed up because of her geography class requirement, but when she listened to the band, she said it no longer felt like a requirement. Roeser always loved music and it was pleasant for her to experience a genre of music that was foreign to her.

“They were actually pretty relatable,” Roeser said. “They said they like Culver’s and so do we! Their performance and my geography class made me realize that even though we’re far apart geographically, we’re connected.”

Paul Kaldjian, head of the geography and anthropology department, helped put on the concert.  Kaldijan is the founder and former chair of the Council on Internationalization and Global Engagement, whose purpose is to help coordinate and promote internationalization on campus.

Kaldjian first found Kardemimmit when they played in Northfield, Minnesota seven years ago. Being of Finnish descent himself, Kaldjian said he was immediately interested and requested they play at UW-Eau Claire.

“The main purpose of this event and the council,” Kaldjian said, “ is to connect us to the world and to learn from what the world has to offer.”

Armagost can be reached at [email protected]

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