Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Dawn Glory: Värttinä and "Aamu"

Dawn, when I actually am awake or paying attention, is a glorious time. It is a time of discovery, or rediscovery of things that we may have noticed before, but when we see it in a different light or at the beginning of the day it takes on a whole new significance. In a way, exploration of global music has been like that for me, and even as I listen to a song again that I may have heard before, I can also hear something new in the song. Värttinä is one of those groups - a group that I was listening to in the 1990s but when I go back to that initial album, I still love it and still hear new things.

Värttinä is a Finnish folk group founded in 1983 by sisters Sari and Mari Kaasinen, who had performed together reading poetry in the 1970s. In 1983, the sisters formed Värttinä and entered a youth arts contest with their poetry reading. They made it into the finals that first year, and the next year changed the group to focus on singing and won the event. They brought on some male members in 1985 and entered the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, becoming known as the group that sings high and loud. In 1987, at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, they were chosen "Ensemble of the Year," and in 1988 they released their first album. In the early 1990s, they moved to Helsinki and began training at the Sibelius Academy and perfecting their skills. At first, the band stuck to traditional Finnish folk songs, but in the mid-1990s began playing its own original compositions. Over the years the band has had many forms and lineup changes, and is currently made up of three female vocalists and three acoustic musicians. They have performed worldwide to international acclaim and have released 14 albums, including 3 compilation albums and one live CD. This song, Aamu, is from their 1998 album Vihma.