Okra Playground was originally formed in 2010 from a wish to bring together excellent people and musician to play around traditional Finnish music with a fresh approach. The band became almost literally a musical playground for its musicians. On this playground the kantele and bowed lyre, both ancient folk instruments, coexist in a new, exciting symbiosis with modern instruments and soundscapes. The music resulting from the quite unusual interesting combination has roots deep in the Finnish soil, but its tallest branches spread out towards the furthest shores of world music. The strong voices of the three female singers, as well as the age-old lyrics, simultaneously take the listener to far-off places and close to home. Okra Playground's fresh music captivates the listener with its hypnotic beat and mystical energy.
“This is one of the most exciting bands to come out of Finland in recent times.” (Songlines Magazine UK 122/2016)
Okra Playground’s long-waited debut album Turmio was released in October 2015. The album has ever since been warmly received gaining praises in the new and old mediums – for instance receiving a five star review in Songlines Magazine. Turmio also made it to few listings of best albums of 2015 (Glue at Rosvot blog and Spanish radio program O Recanto do Corcovado). In July 2016 Turmio was re-released by Nordic Notes in most of Europe. The debut also took Okra Playground to perform as the only Finnish band on the official showcase program of World Music Expo WOMEX16.
Päivi Hirvonen – vocals, fiddle, bowed harp jouhikko
Maija Kauhanen – vocals, kantele
Essi Muikku – vocals, kantele
Sami Kujala – electric bass
Veikko Muikku – accordion, synthesizer
Oskari Lehtonen – percussion
DUO MAIJA KAUHANEN & JOHANNES GEWORKIAN HELLMAN
Two highly acclaimed young artists from the Nordic contemporary folkmusic scene join forces and invites the listener to a magical journey full of surprises. A musical meeting between Finnish kantele player and singer, Maija Kauhanen, and the Swedish hurdy-gurdy player Johannes Geworkian Hellman.
With virtuosity and a very strong musical connection the duo creates a world of sounds that you have never experienced before. Maija and Johannes make ancient instruments come alive when creating new music that touches the listener. The music is archaic and progressive and has influences from many genres. From the very small and sensitive sounds to the most powerful ones, this duo plays directly from their hearts to the audience.
Maija Kauhanen – Saarijärvi kantele, vocals
Johannes Geworkian Hellman – hurdy-gurdy, vocals
Seamless ensemble playing, unbelievable solos, deep emotions, strong friendship. This is what the music of Rönsy is made of. The music leads you from refined chamber-folk to dance rhythms that knock the shoes off your feet.
Rönsy is at home when relishing shades of minimalism as well as when diving into the depths of a virtuosic and rootsy beat. Spontaneity, subtlety and their no-bars attitude join hands in their masterfully structured arrangements.
All the members of Rönsy studied at the prestigious Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. The trio has toured extensively in Finland over the years and has also performed abroad. The group’s internationally acclaimed debut album was released in Summer 2010, and it received the ‘Kantele album of the year 2010’ award of the Finnish Kantele Association. On November 2014 Rönsy released it’s second album ’Juureilevia tarinoita - Wandering Tales’.
Helmi Camus – double bass, harmonium, vocals
Maija Kauhanen – kanteles, vocals
Kaisa Ristiluoma – accordions, vocals
LATEST PROJECTS & COLLABORATIONS
AALKA / IT BEGINS - CONCERT (2021)
Musical collaboration with original music from Maija Kauhanen (FI), Marja Mortensson (Sapmi/NO) and Sigrid Jore (NO).
EMIL BRANDQVIST TRIO & MAIJA KAUHANEN (2019- )
Emil Brandqvist (SE) - drums, compositions
Tuomas Antero Turunen (FI) - piano
Max Thornberg (SE) - double bass
Maija Kauhanen (FI) - concert kantele, vocals
MARI KALKUN & RUNORUN (2015-2018)
International project with Estonian artist Mari Kalkun. Music created from the ideas of Mari Kalkun, but music formed by improvising together.
Mari Kalkun (EE) - vocals, Estonian kannel
Maija Kauhanen (FI) - vocals, Finnish kantele
Nathan Riki Thomson (AU/FI) - double bass, vocals
Tatu Viitala - percussion
ERLEND VIKEN: SASTRUGI (2018-2020)
Music by hardanger fiddle artist & composer Erlend Viken. Compositions also from Ellen Andrea Wang and Maija Kauhanen.
Erlend Viken (NO) - hardanger fiddle, vocals
Maija Kauhanen (FI) - concert kantele, vocals
Ellen Andrea Wang (NO) - double bass, vocals
Marius Graff (NO) - guitars
Erland Dahlen (NO) - percussion
MUSICAL COLLABORATIONS WITH ARTIST WORLD WIDE - FEATURING MAIJA KAUHANEN
Maija playes here different sizes of kanteles, vocals, percussion, harmonium. Usually she creates, composes and improvises her music and ideas to the collaborations songs bringing her artistic input and vision strongly to the music.