Back-to-back, head-to-head – either way you look at it, Pohjonen Alanko is an extremely interesting prospect involving singer-songwriter Ismo Alanko and accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen.

AS Finland’s population continues to diversify, one constant over the past quarter-century has been that of the Etnosoi! Festival. Organised since 1989 by the Global Music Centre, the festival annually brings a range of musical styles and approaches from around the globe to illuminate the November gloom.

Events this year commence on Thursday 30 October, with the aptly-named Kick-Off club. Organised in conjunction with Tusovka, the launch party at Korjaamo offers the energetic rhythms of Russian outfit Iva Nova and Finnish trio Celenka.

Greece is the next port of call in Helsinki, with the En Chordais ensemble not only performing classic sounds from Greece on Wednesday 5 November, but also the music of many other Mediterranean countries.

The following day at Malmitalo sees local guitar-playing duo, Timo Kämäräinen and Teemu Viinikainen warming up the stage. Music from Syria, Palestine and France swiftly follows, with the Hubert Dupont Jasmim trio seeking to build musical bridges between the West and the Middle East.

Two of Finland’s greats come together the same day with the intriguing Pohjonen Alanko project. Here Ismo Alanko and accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen study the different dimensions of the human voice, with this Helsinki gig arriving hot on the heels of a pair of Etnosoi! gigs in Hämeenlinna (3.11) and Tampere (4.11).

3-9 November

Collaborations continue

Friday 7 November sees Welsh star harpist Catrin Finch and master kora player Seckou Keita from Senegal performing together. The same evening sees Helsinki-Cotonou Ensemble fill the stage with a hip shaking fusion of Finnish and Beninese sounds.

The following night offers the chance for audiences to enjoy a glimpse of the Joonas Widenius Trio. Bringing together a range of musical elements, the trio performs in support of their recently released full-length Guitarra – Utopia – Musica.

It’s time to head to the Balkans that same evening, with Hungarian band Söndörgő performing forgotten Southern Slavic music, drawing especially from Serbian and Croatian areas. Meanwhile, Finno-Balkan Voices brings together two groups of singers: the Finnish group Mamon and the Vaya Quartet from Bulgaria.

Elsewhere, Etnosoi! celebrates Father’s Day once again, with a range of concerts, workshops and instrument demonstrations being staged during the day.

Note that events are being staged at various venues. More information and the full programme can be found on the Etnosoi! website.

James O’Sullivan
Image: Klaus Welp