View Full Version : Naselle musician wins national award for Finnish storytelling

18-10-06, 08:46
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NASELLE --- As with most cultures, the history and soul of Finland are stored in music. But Finns focus on one stringed instrument, the kantele, which has been used to tell the nation's epic story for more than a thousand years.

Last month, Wilho "Willie" Saari of Naselle received a national award for his work preserving kantele music.

Saari, 74, was honored by the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., along with 10 other artists, including a New Orleans jazz band, a Tewa Indian linguist and storyteller, and popular soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples.
The 36-string, wood-bodied harp that Willie plays is a link to both his personal and his ancient roots.

A fifth generation kantele player, Willie was born in Naselle, the son of Finnish immigrants. His great-great grandmother, Kreeta Haapasalo, played the kantele to help support her 11 children during a famine in 19th-century Finland.

The wife of a tenant farmer, Kreeta was a professional musician "at a time when women didn't do these things," Willie said. She became widely known as "Kantele Kreeta," he said, and once played for the family of Czar Nicholas II of Russia. In the years after her death in 1893, she was honored with a public statue and a postage stamp in her likeness.

June Pelo
18-10-06, 18:41
Wilho is my 6th cousin once removed through the Wirkkala family. And Kreeta Haapasalo is my 4th cousin 4 times removed. Wilho's sister May Adair has what is considered to be the largest collection of Wirkkala data in the US. Anyone who attended FinnFest probably saw her family chart which she takes with her when she attends various festivals. Wilho and May are considered two of the best kantele players in the US. One of my cousins took a picture of Kreeta's kantele when he visited Finland. And I am fortunate to have a book of postage stamps which includes Kreeta.


28-10-06, 05:59
The Finnish Lutheran Church together with the Livakat and Evergreen Kantele
Players invite you to experience the Kantele Mass on Sunday, October 29.
This Mass was commissioned by the Livakat Kantele group and premiered at the
Finnfest 2006 in Astoria and Naselle. The Mass was composed by
organist/composer Jarkko Yli-Annala, and all the music was set to text by
the poet Anna Mari Kaskinen. Both of them are well known for their works in
Finland. Pastor Nina Tetri from Portland Messiah Lutheran Church and Pastor
Timo Saarinen of the FLC will share in the liturgy, sermon and communion.
The Mass received high praise by Finnfest participants. It has even been
invited to go on a tour to Finland next summer! So please do not miss this
unique event
Wilho Saari of Naselle is one of the visiting Kantele players. Wilho was one
ten recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) award of a NEA
National Heritage Fellowship, the country's highest honor in the folk and
traditional arts. Saari was honored for his playing, writing, composing and
teaching of the Finnish Kantele and received a one-time award of $20,000.
His previous "big honor" was handed out last year. In 2005, Washington's
governor, Christine Gregoire, awarded Saari the Governor's Heritage Award
for his work popularizing and teaching the kantele.

Finnish Lutheran Church, 8504 13th Ave NW, Seattle