Fire in the North Sky
Reviews for Fire in the North Sky tour, October 2015:
Photos courtesy of Ilari Ikävalko, Jorma Airola and Timo Väananen.
On Friday 28 February, 2014, Kalevala Day, a new song, story and music performance inspired by Kalevala ‘Tietäjät’ is being previewed at the Music Centre in Helsinki. This unique collaboration features acclaimed English storyteller Nick Hennessey and leading Finnish folk musicians Anna-Kaisa Liedes, Kristiina Ilmonen and Timo Väänänen.
English storyteller Nick Hennessey’s interest in Kalevala began over 14 years ago, sparked by a translated book version then a research visit to Karelia. Nick has been telling stories from Kalevala to adults and children in England and Finland for over a decade, but he has always dreamt of the chance to work with Finnish musicians to transform the epic written text into live performance.
Nick Hennessey says, “I have been inspired by Kalevala since first opening the book but it is really special to work with musicians who know Kalevala from the inside. Elias Lönnrot famously said he could have made seven versions of Kalevala and we are embracing that variety. Nothing is written down. We can change what we sing, tell or play at any moment. It’s very exciting as performers and I hope for audiences too, filled with drama, depth, humour and funky rhythms plus famous stories of Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen. We are inviting audiences to give us their feedback afterwards to help shape how the performance evolves.”
The three Finnish musicians creating the performance with Nick are singer Anna-Kaisa Liedes, flutist and multi-instrumentalist Kristiina Ilmonen and Timo Väänänen on kantele and Siberian lyre. All three have toured world-wide and achieved high acclaim for their outstanding musicianship. They create new music which is both experimental and authentic, influenced by the oral traditions, textures and rhythms of runosong. They are also all lecturers in music at University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy, passing on their skills and knowledge to new generations.
“Hearing how Finns react to our performance on Kalevala Day is the first step of a longer journey,” explains Kristiina Ilmonen, “Nick brings a fresh and different perspective on Kalevala to our point of view in Finland. The mix of English and Finnish language will make Kalevala accessible to audiences beyond Finland and we’re looking forward to touring the work to the UK and beyond in the future.”
Together the artists are embracing Kalevala’s shamanistic roots, as they evoke a series of episodes from the epic – from the story of creation to the awakening of the bear and Lemminkäinen’s journey to the dark river of the underworld.
The collaboration has attracted support from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland. Adverse Camber has been working with the artists to generate funds and partnerships to support this creative development and Finnish and wider European performances for the past few years. Adverse Camber Director/Dramaturge Paula Crutchlow has been instrumental in supporting the piece, leading conversations and practical work between the artists. UK arts venue mac Birmingham and Welsh international storytelling festival are also providing support. A UK premiere of the piece will take place at Beyond the Border Storytelling Festival in July 2014
Tietäjät (The People Who Know The Way) starts at 7.00pm on Fri 28 February 2014.