Finnish Folk Music Camp
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World-renowned Fiddler to Teach at U.P. Finnish Folk Music Camp This July

Arto JarvelaHANCOCK, MI - Considered by many Finnish music experts as "one of the most important fiddlers of our time," Finnish fiddler Arto Järvelä will travel to Michigan's Upper Peninsula this summer thanks to a grant from Suomi Seura (Finland Society).

Järvelä, an instructor of traditional fiddle at the prestigious Sibelius Academy of Helsinki, Finland, is traveling to Hancock to instruct classes at the Copper Country's first-ever Finnish Folk Music Camp, July 12 to 14, at Camp Lahti on Lake Superior's Rabbit Bay, Lake Linden.

The Music Camp is conducted by the Finlandia University Finnish American Heritage Center and the university's Finnish Council in America.

One of the Finland's most talented folk musicians, Arto Järvelä is a fourth-generation descendent of the famous Järvelä family of fiddlers, from the well known folk music area near Kaustinen, Finland. He completed a master's degree at the Sibelius Academy Folk Music Division in 1994.

Järvelä has represented Finnish traditional music in 37 countries and performed with dozens of well-known Finnish folk music ensembles. He was a founding member of JPP, a celebrated folk music ensemble of Finland. He has composed more than 80 tunes, recorded three solo CDs, and appeared on dozens of other music CDs. In addition to fiddle, Järvelä plays nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle), mandolin, octave mandolin, kantele, jouhikko (ancient Finnish bowed lyre), pump harmonium, and string bass.

Registration for the Finnish Folk Music Camp is $125 per person for classes and $125 per person for room and board. If payment is received before June 15, an early-bird rate of $100 for each applies. Music camp attendees can lodge in dormitories for men or women, and space is provided for tent camping and campers (with electric hook ups). For more information, call 906-487-7505 or visit

The Music Camp occurs at what can be considered an exceptionally Finnish time in Michigan's Copper Country. During the same week in July, the Copper Country will host the U.S. premiere of the recently-commissioned Finnish American opera, "Rockland," several Finnish-related concerts, public lectures and discussions are scheduled, and the annual Aura Jamboree music festival is July 15 and 16.

One very special Music Camp class, taught by James Lohmann of Covington, is a workshop to build a five-string kantele,. All materials for creating the instrument are provided, and anyone, regardless of carpentry skill, can build one easily. The kantele-making class requires an additional fee.

Joining Arto Järvelä as instructors at this July's Finnish Folk Music Camp are many Upper Peninsula and Midwest folk musicians, all experts in Finnish-American music.

Oren Tikkanen (guitar, mandolin, banjo, bass guitar), Calumet, is something of a legend among Finnish American musicians. He is very active in the Upper Michigan music scene, and plays with the Pasi Cats, Will Kilpela and Friends, the Thimbleberry Band, the Uptown Swingsters, Les Ross, Sr. and Friends, and other groups.

Randy Seppala (bones and percussion), Covington, carries on the bone playing tradition of the late Johnny Perona of Calumet. Randy has led workshops at many festivals and events throughout the region. He plays Finnish music with Wil Kilpela and Friends, Les Ross Sr. and the Finnish American All Stars, and the Finn Woods Ramblers, among others.

Tanja Stanaway (guitar, accordion, voice), Ishpeming, is an active recording artist originally from Finland. She has been involved with Finnish-North American culture since her arrival in the U.S. in 1972. Tanya has released five music CDs and is working on a sixth CD. She has performed at several Finn Fests, and at many other festivals and events.

Kay Seppala (kantele), Chassell, was a founding member of the Minnesota kantele ensemble, Koivun Kaikuu. A third-generation Finnish-American, Kay has led numerous kantele classes and workshops in the Upper Peninsula. She is also director of the children's Finnish American folk dance group, the Kivajat Dancers, which performs throughout the western Upper Peninsula.

Three members of the well-known U.P. folk and traditional musical group White Water will also instruct classes at the Music Camp: Bette Premo (violin, kantele), Amasa, and Laurel Premo (violin) and Michael Beauchamp (mandolin, guitar), both of Kalamazoo.  Bette Premo has been involved with Finnish folk music and dance since moving to the Upper Peninsula in 1985. White Water performs many concerts each year and the group has released eight music CDs.

Two Music Camp faculty members hail from outside Michigan.

Carl Rahkonen (violin, bass, kantele), is a second generation Finnish American who works as a music librarian and professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He earned his Ph.D. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology, writing his dissertation on "The Kantele Traditions of Finland." Carl has been named 2011 Lecturer of the Year by the national Finlandia Foundation, and is lecturing around the country on Finnish American music.

Folksinger and storyteller Arne Salli (guitar, voice), Wausau, Wisc., is the son of Finnish immigrants who settled and farmed in northern Wisconsin. An expert performer of Finnish-American songs, for many years, Arne performs often for various groups and at festivals.

For more information or to register for the Finnish Folk Music Camp, visit or call 906-487-7505.