The Mitrej Ensemble consists of Finnish kantele player Timo Väänänen and performer Päivi Järvinen.
Timo Väänänen, one of the best kantele players in Finland, molds our preconceptions of folk and world music with an electric kantele. The kantele is one of the oldest Finnish folk instruments, and its history stretches back at least 2000 years. In “Kalevala,” the Finnish national epic, kantele is the musical instrument of the epic hero Väinämöinen. In the final stages of the work, the kantele is an essential part of Väinämöinen's powerful song. Dr. Timo Väänänen is a member of the Loituma and Suunta ensembles. He played the kantele in the Walt Disney Company/Walden Media movie The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.
Finnish choreographer, stage director, and performer Päivi Järvinen has worked widely in dance, theater, opera and other music fields. She leads Pitskun Kulttuurikirkko, a cultural center in Helsinki, Finland with her husband Ilari Nummi. In recent years, Ms. Järvinen has worked extensively with choirs, and her works have been performed by the Philomela Choir in many international festivals.
This Faces – Visions of Kantele concert is part of a project that explores and exposes the symbolic values of the kantele through artistic methods. Instruments used in the concert are the Novgorod kantele (a 14th century reconstruction), Kirjokansi kantele (a modernized acoustic version), and the electric kantele.
The main visual work in the project is a photographic collage comprised of 144 portraits of players of the kantele and related instruments. The work is composed to form the face of Väinämöinen as depicted in Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s (1865–1931) famous painting Väinämöinen’s Departure (1896–1906), an image well-known to all Finns. The photographic work portrays the diversity of contemporary kantele players in relation to the one-sidedness of the kantele’s prevailing image.
Väänänen, a master of the kantele—a traditional Finnish folk instrument in the zither family—combines traditional idioms with world music influences. Presented in cooperation with the Embassy of Finland.