Aallotar is a freshly minted transatlantic collaboration between violinist Sara Pajunen (Minnesota) and accordionist Teija Niku (Finland). The ensemble is founded on the common musical ground the women share, but also revels in the cultural differences born when an ocean and the passage of time separate a lineage.
Aallotar, a daughter of the waves, her name has graced the hulls of Finnish ships for centuries – ships that separated the ancestors of Aallotar’s members. One hundred years ago, their families lived within hours of each other in the western regions of Finland, but the immigration of hundreds of thousands of Finns from 1870-1930 found Pajunen’s ancestors relocating to Northern Minnesota, while Niku’s family remained in Finland.
Both accordionist Teija Niku and violinist Sara Pajunen began performing Finnish folk music at an early age. Niku, born in Haapavesi 1982, has earned a master’s degree in folk music from the Sibelius Academy and won the respected Konsta Jylha competition with her band Grupa Balkan. Her album “Finsko Pajdusko” has been nominated Ethno Album of the Year in Finland’s version of the Grammys. Pajunen, born in Hibbing, Minnesota 1980, has earned classical music degrees both in Minneapolis and Helsinki, then returned to explore the folk music that is both her personal and ancestral past. She has founded two touring ensembles based on her Finnish roots: Kaivama and Tango Pohjan Tähden.
The music on Aallotar’s debut album “In Transit” includes songs, that both Teija and Sara knew from their past (Väliaikainen, Jos voisin), songs that they wanted to share with each other (Juottomarssi, Hellulaulu) and songs especially written for the duo (Aamupolska, Day & Night). The fact that the duo's members have an ocean between them has determined their way of working together: most of the time sharing music through the internet. But the album itself was recorded with both musicians sharing the studio one cold January week in Kärsämäki, Finland.
Aallotar’s physical and cultural separations allow a unique probing of both traditional and personal music. Singing in both English and Finnish, Teija and Sara pay tribute to their respective cultures, which - although they pulsate with many of the same values and energy of 100 years ago - have grown apart. The music of Aallotar is an exploration of those differences, with the intent to create new harmonies that bridge the expanses which water has filled.
released March 21, 2014
AALLOTAR - IN TRANSIT ASWD0321, And Say We Did 2014
1. Syämestäni rakastan (Trad./Niku, lyrics trad.)
2. Lonely Sparrow (Trad.)
3. Lauluni laulan (Trad./Niku/Pajunen, lyrics Pajunen)
4. Juottomarssi (Trad.)
5. Hiljainen suru (Trad./Niku, lyrics trad.)
6. Aamupolska (Niku)
7. Jos voisin (Trad./Pajunen, lyrics trad./Pajunen)
8. High 5 (Niku)
9. Hellulaulu (Trad./Niku, lyrics trad.)
10. Temporary (Jurva/Niku, lyrics Pekkarinen/Helsingius) 11. Day & Night (Niku)