The Kalevala live performance combines the shamanistic magic of Reino Niiniranta’s silhouette animation films from the 1970’s to a unique live soundtrack experience with modern kantele music. Kalevala live contains a complete seven-part series of Kalevala animations accompanied by a vigorous live music performance by the Stringpurée Band.
Strinpurée Band plays raw and progressive kantele music seasoned with bass and drums. The figurehead of the band is Senni Eskelinen’s 39-string electric kantele. In addition of Kalle Ylitalo’s bass and Niko Votkin’s drums, Kalevala live shows are expanded with acoustic viola by Juulia Niiniranta. The band has developed a highly original sound combining elements of rock, jazz, folk and classical music to create an extremely sensitive and even brutally strong impact. The trio, hails from the backwoods of the Northern Savo region in Finland.
Reino Niiniranta (1927– 2012)
In the 1960’s Reino Niiniranta began his career as a real all-around artisan in filmmaking; he produced, wrote, directed and animated his films while also acting as the cinematographer, editor, composer – sometimes even as a musician. In the 1970’s he was recognized as one of the top animators of his time in Finland. With his unique and recognizable minimalist style he conjured up his paper-cut worlds and often found his themes from folklore and myths. He received various awards including the most important accolade in Finnish film industry, the Jussi-prize. His films have been seen at festivals and shown on television all over the world. The Kalevala series was completed in 1975.
The World of Kalevala
The mythical world of Kalevala and its heroes and heroines is an essential part of the Finnish cultural heritage. The mythology survived within tradition of poem-singing and oral folklore well into the 19th century. The epic poetry of the Kalevala was first collected and transformed to written form by a Finnish physician and scholar Elias Lönnrot. His older version of the Kalevala was published in 1835. The storyline of the Niiniranta’s animation films follows Lönnrot’s later version of Kalevala published in 1849.
Kalevala begins with the traditional Finnish creation myth: the creation of the earth and the sky and the birth of Väinämöinen, the great singer and the magician. As well as magical spell casting and singing, Kalevala is about lust, romance, kidnapping and seduction. The protagonists of the stories often have to accomplish feats that are unreasonable or impossible and which they often fail to achieve leading to tragedy and humiliation.
Sampo is a magical mill constructed by Ilmarinen the blacksmith, and a central element of the story. Many actions and their consequences are caused by the Sampo itself or a character’s interaction with the Sampo.
Animation films from 1970’s with live instrumental music from 2000’s – telling the story of an ancient Finnish mythology in a rather dynamic and unconventional way. The performance shows that Kalevala can be – and deserves to be interpreted again and again.
The estimated duration of the performance as a whole is about 1 h 30 min. The production is advisable for children over 7 years but parents need to assess the need for hearing protection. The venue can be any place which may be darkened enough for screening. Also covered outdoor places are possible.