Duo Luomala & Salminen

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Duo Luomala & Salminen

For the 11th annual Finlandia University Sibelius Academy Music Festival, Duo Luomala & Salminen - Markus Luomala, accordion, and Anssi Salminen, guitar - will  co-lead a folk and jazz music workshop September 22 at the Finnish American Heritage Center in Hancock, and  perform three concerts: September 22 in at the Finnish American Heritage Center, September 23 at the W.C. Peterson Auditorium  in Ishpeming, and September 25 at the Calumet Theatre.

Markus Luomala

Markus Luomala started his accordion studies at the age of 8. At the moment he studies in the Sibelius Acadamy Music Education department accordion as his main instrument. Luomala plays music which varies from modern Finnish experimental folk music to classical music and avantgarde. Luomala has won several prizes in Finland as a soloist and with his folk rock band Snekka.

Anssi Salminen

Inspired by Jimi Hendrix, traditional music, and his father

Anssi Salminen says he was inspired to become a musician by his father, who has a collection of several thousand records. The traditional music off Anssi's home village, Kaustinen, was also a significant influence. And although he started his music studies with the violin at age seven, Anssi says the guitar became the obvious choice after viewing his father's Jimi Hendrix videos.

Anssi plays several stringed instruments, including guitar, violin, mandolin, and bouzuki. He performs with several music groups, among them Hot'n'Tot (American-style folk), Mona (pop/rock), Luomala & Salminen (experimental folk), and the Anssi Salminen Trio (rock mixed with folk).

"It's the power you get from other people that makes playing with a group so enjoyable," Anssi says of the number of groups he plays with. "It's always a challenge to mix your own playing style with different kinds of musicians. For example, with this duo (Luomala & Salminen) we have to cope with some very hard technical challenges where the music is written for a larger ensemble and typically suits more than two people."

Annsi says he and Markus Luomala applied to play in this year's Sibelius Festival because he feels it will be a good opportunity to promote their duo in the United States. He has never before performed in U.S. and says he is looking forward to meeting the local people and sharing information about his music.

"Performing abroad is always good experience for a musician," Anssi adds. "You have to handle many different kind of situations."

Anssi and Markus are both known as charismatic live performers.  What Anssi likes best about performing is "the flow" he gets when he's performing and the crowd is really enjoying it.

"The strength off my performance style is that I can easily throw myself deeply into different kind of musical situations," he explains. "I'm most proud off the situations where I have been satisfied with my own playing - that's not often when you're a professional musician."

Anssi will complete his studies in the Folk Music Department at the Sibelius Academy in 2013, and he plans to teach, and to write and perform his own music as much as possible. He has studied with several well-known guitar players, including Petri Hakala and Risto Toppola.

"Music is everywhere! It's the part of our daily life, I think, that gives the joy to carry on when you're having difficult times," Anssi concludes. "Music is everything to me. I express myself through the music."

The Duo Luomala & Salminen performances will include modern arrangements of traditional Finnish fiddle tunes and original compositions.