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Instruments       Leikarit - Finnish Folk Music since 1975

LEIKARIT - From past to present

The group Leikarit was founded in 1975 in Espoo, the neighboring city of Helsinki. It happened during the awakening of more general interest in the cultural heritage and ethnic roots of the nation. Several folk music associations and festival saw their uprising during the 1970's. It was a boom for Finnish folk music, and since then folk music has gained a well established position in music schools and even in the Academy of Music. Leikarit played locally a fairly important role in the process.

The members of the group were also active in founding the National folk music association of Finland, which helped in part to establish organized activity and training sessions throughout the country. A local association The Folk Music Association of Espoo was also founded by the members of Leikarit in 1975.

Field trips and recordings
The members of the group did field recordings of old traditional fiddlers and wrote down the tunes. The repertoire of Leikarit has its roots in these early years, and most of their tunes are local.

Leikarit took keen interest in publishing the traditional tunes in note books, which are available through our web-site. Many of these tunes can also been heard on the recordings of the group, five in total. The members of the group have also been interviewed a number of times at the national radio and have made special recordings for the radio.

Leikarit has acted in concert with the Cultural Board of the City of Espoo since the founding of the group. We are to thank the generosity and good judgment of the cultural board for long term support for folk music activities in Espoo.

Music classes
The members of the group also started to give folk music classes at the local music school, which led to more wide spread recruitment of young people in traditional music. Perhaps the most well known student at that time was Maria Kalaniemi, who since has pursued a fine solo career as an independent and internationally recognized artist.

Leikarit was one of the first groups to engage in school concerts. The group would go to preschools or to elementary schools to give concerts and tell about musical instruments and the history of local music and musicians. Those were very successful events, and even today we still give some school concerts on occasion.

Concert tours
As soon as the group was founded, it started touring other countries as well. The highlight of the early years was a trip to North Korea in 1979. The most recent trip was destined to the FinnFest in San Diego, California, in 2011. So the group is still going strong. New members have been recruited, a new album is being recorded. The calendar of events includes some annual festivals such as "Pilpatus" in Espoo and the Kaustinen festival.

Leikarit played a key role in starting the annual spring time festival "Pilpatus" in Espoo in 1985. Nowadays "The Root Festival of Espoo" coincides at about the same time and a fine set of concerts is organized. The concerts are also taken to the shopping centers, hospitals, and homes for the elderly.

The musicians of the group are a mixture of people with a long background in Finnish folk music. The main features of the style include double clarinets, fiddles, two accordions, mandolin and the acoustic base. The members have also been active in producing their own music. Nowadays up to about half of the repertoire consists of original tunes written by the members of the group. The tunes are done in traditional style, and are basically music to dance to.

Some members of the group have also recorded solo albums and play in other local ensembles as well (see musicians on our web page).

To see pictures of the group, go to "Photos".

This part of the history was written by Jussi Tarkkanen.