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T.C. Owens from the The ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes came by one of our learning sessions on a night late in 2018 and made some video recordings of our project. They probably wanted to see if we were accomplishing something. We think we are. I guess T.C. thinks so also, because he wrote this nice blurb on their Facebook Page and of course we shared that to ours. Crazy crazy social media times. :-\

Richard Koski

Here is the text from T.C.’s post below. Scroll down for the videos he made. Of course we cannot watch them. Watching yourself on video is even more excruciating than listening to your own voice in a recording (especially for Finns) … so, please tell us what you think!

In 2018, master artist and diatonic button accordionist from Trumansburg, NY, Richard Koski taught mandolinist Michael Ludgate and fiddler Katrina Mackey how to play Finnish-American dance tunes. Many of these tunes were performed at Finnish social gatherings in the Finger Lakes from the 1910s to the present. Although a Finnish cultural group called the Finger Lakes Finns exists today, there is hardly anyone left who knows the old music. These tunes are some of the approximately 100 Finnish tunes that Richard grew up hearing his father, William Koski play. Around 1970, Richard started actively playing with his dad and learning the tunes. Inspired by their Finnish heritage to learn more about traditional music and dance of Finland, Katrina and Michael formed the band Metku. As part of the apprenticeship, they transcribed all the tunes Richard taught them, creating a written record for future generations. “Kallen Valssi” (Carl’s Waltz) is one example. When Richard asked his dad the name of the tune, he said he didn’t know its name, but he used to hear his uncle Jake in West Danby, New York play it. For years, Richard referred to this tune alternately as “Jake’s Waltz” and “West Danby Waltz.” He eventually heard it on an old 78 rpm record listed as “Kallen Valssi”, which is how he refers to it today. This opportunity was made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts Folk Arts Apprenticeship Program with support from the ARTS Council of the Southern Finger Lakes.

Kallen Valssi - Richard Koski, Michael Ludgate, Katrina Mackey - YouTube
Laurin Sottiisi - Richard Koski, Michael Ludgate & Katrina Mackey - YouTube
Sisu Polka - Richard Koski, Michael Ludgate & Katrina Mackey - YouTube
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Remember we received a grant from the NYS Council for the Arts? The purpose of the grant is to preserve styles of art that may be in danger of extinction. It is not always music, but in our case it is. Our focus is Finnish-American dances tunes. See previous blog posts. But, you are probably wondering how this grant tune project is coming along. By-the-way, we just call the project and the tunes “grant tunes”.

We have been meeting at Rich Koski’s music studio about twice per month for a music lesson since January of 2018. During this time, we typically review some of our previous tunes and he teaches us a new new. We record each session on decent quality portable music recorders. Some of the review also includes going over “tunes we should already know” such as the popular waltzes Metsakukkia and Emma. Also, Mike has been learning how to transcribe tunes – this is becoming part of the learning process for him. So Rich offers corrections on the transcriptions. Katrina is getting good at memorizing the tunes by listening to the recordings.

Besides the obvious part of learning and documenting the tunes, other stipulations of the grant include performing them in public and sharing them with others. We will be sharing them at Mike’s weekly jam session and also are hoping to publish a little tune book at some point.

We are gradually sneaking some of the new material into Metku performances. We played a few at summer gatherings this year for the local Finnish Cultural Club – The Finger Lakes Finns. One gathering was at an old church in North Van Etten NY. Where Katrina discovered a very old headstone with the name “Emma” – one of our tunes! And Mike discovered to his surprise the headstones of many ancestors, including his great-great grandfather, Petru Knuutila. See photo below. More photos of Mike’s Finnish ancestry here.

We have an upcoming performance in Lansing NY, where we will present s short concert of mostly these grant tunes for the Lansing Seniors. See events page on this blog and our Facebook events page for more information.

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TRUMANSBURG NY – Wed July 25 2018 – Metku (Katrina & Mike) will be sharing the stage and time slot with Curt Osgood’s band. Should be a fun time! Come say hi! Metku is probably on first 4:00-5:30. Then Curt Osgood’s band from 5:30-7:00. Curt and Suzanne Schwartz will likely join in with Metku for a bit. http://www.metkumusic.org/

Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/365986943899663/

Location: Village Park: The Intersection of Main St and Route 227 (Hector St), Trumansburg, New York 14886

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ITHACA NY – This is an annual event with music and dancing along the waterfront trail. This year will be focused more toward the Stewart Park end. We will post our exact location later this week, but come on down. there will be other fun music there. NEW MAP http://www.triphammer.org/watermusicmap.html FB https://www.facebook.com/events/197862450878646/

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In an earlier post (a year and a half ago), we mentioned that we were applying for a heritage arts preservation grant from NYS Council for the Arts. We could not have attempted or accomplished this without tremendous guidance from Maria Kennedy from the NYS Arts Council in Corning NY. So; we got the grant! The main object of this grant is to preserve a set of Finnish-American dance tunes brought to the Finger Lakes area in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s by Finnish immigrants. We are studying under Richard Koski a musician from the Trumansburg area who learned these tunes from his father and grandfather. Starting in January 2018 we meet every couple weeks at Rich’s place to review what we have so far and tackle another tune. We are learning by ear, but recording each session for documentation. Also we are transcribing the tunes into a simple music score with chords and melody. At some point we hope to print them all up in a little tune book and share them! Also we will perform the tunes and share at jam sessions. So far we have seven new tunes and a small list of more popular dances tunes that we are expected to already know or know about. The photo show Mike’s desk while doing his ‘homework”.

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TRUMANSBURG NY – Here are some Photos from Metku at Trumansburg Farmers Market July 05 2017. We have a Facebook album here  and a Google+ photo album for you no-facebook-for-me hold outs. Next stop is AGAVA for brunch July 22 then Booze and Botany July 27. Take a look on our events page to see where to find us http://canaaninstitute.org/metkumusic/events/

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PHOTOS from FIDDLERS GATHERING – The 2017 Nordic Music Day at The Old Time Fiddlers Gathering at Lakewood Vineyards, Watkins Glen NY. June 18th. Sponsored and organized by the NYS Southern Tier Council for the Arts. Photography by Raylene Ludgate. www.metkumusic.org and https://www.facebook.com/metkumusic ALBUMS: Google+ and Facebook The Google album has more photos. I had trouble uploading to Facebook in the middle of a thunderstorm!

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METKU will be on the main stage in the late afternoon on Sunday June 18th at 4:15 pm. The festival is Sat and Sun at Lakewood Vineyards. We will play tunes from Finland on guitar, flute and mandolin. Mike will play a Finnish tune on the Kantele: a traditional Finnish folk instrument …

We will also be at the Watkins Glen Farmer’s Market on Friday afternoon – come hang out! More details on our events page http://canaaninstitute.org/metkumusic/events/ Oh! Also: we will play some music for the local Finnish club Saturday evening celebrating Juhannus.

WATKINS GLEN NY – This annual event celebrates music that has accompanied the social gatherings in the barns, parlors and dance halls of upstate New York for generations. Fiddling traditions here can be traced back to many distinct musical styles from England, Ireland, Scotland, Finland, Scandinavia and Quebec. Even today fiddlers pass on their songs, styles, and techniques, mingling new traditions with old. The Old Time Fiddlers Gathering has brought together performers and players in the Watkins Glen area since 1989 and continues to be a regional event for the enjoyment and exchange of Old Time music. http://www.earts.org/fiddlers-gathering AND full schedule http://www.earts.org/fiddlers-2017-artists

Festival Facebook event https://www.facebook.com/events/125472294667921

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BING NY – On Sat May 6th Metku musicians will be adding some Finnish energy to the monthly contra dance in Binghamton NY. Dancing from 7-10 pm. Music: Special guest fiddler Derrick Doty from Council Grove, Kansas will join Metku musicians Katrina Mackey, Phil Robinson and Michael Ludgate! Caller: Hilton Baxter. Location: Trinity Memorial Church, 44 Main St., Binghamton NY $8. www.metkumusic.org and www.binghamtondance.org

More about our guest fiddler:

Derrick Doty – fiddle, banjo, etc. A native of Kansas, Derrick has spent the last 12 years in Council Grove where he owned his own barber shop.  For about ten years he hosted a jam session after hours in the shop, or on the walk in front when weather permitted.  Derrick has been playing for contras and barn dances for over a decade around Eastern Kansas with bands such as Tallgrass Express String Band, Instant Grits, and Flint Hills Medicine Show. In addition to barn dances, he has also been active in organizing, calling, and playing for mid-19th century balls.  In fact, about anything 19th century occupies Doty’s free time.  Banjo music from the 1850s-90s is of particular interest as is traditional fiddle music of that period.  However, his fiddle repertoire stretches from the late 18th century up to present, including some of his own compositions.

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Katrina recently accompanied her brother Kent for this silent movie musical score arranged by Kent. They used many of the traditional Finnish melodies also performed by Metku at various gatherings. Here is a Google Photo album from the event. Following is the original article published at Canaan Institute about the event:

ITHACA NY – On Friday, March 10, at 7:30pm, the Finger Lakes Finns will present a rare Finnish silent movie with an original live soundtrack performed by organist Kent Washburn. The program will be presented at the Unitarian Church in Ithaca at the corner of Buffalo and Aurora Streets. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted at the door. Refreshments will follow the program. Phone (607) 387-4854 for more information.

When Rudolph Valentino died unexpectedly in 1926 at the age of 31, audiences around the world wondered if such an icon could be replaced. Rising to the challenge were Finnish actor Teuvo Tulio, later dubbed “Finland’s answer to Rudolph Valentino,” and his friend and fellow director Valentin Vaala.

Tulio is the center of a surprisingly steamy love triangle, made more difficult by his upcoming arranged marriage to another woman. Can he resolve his desires, fight jealous suitors and dodge the Finnish police at the same time? See “Mustalaishurmaaja” (The Gypsy Charmer), a 1929 silent film with Finnish and English intertitles. The original soundtrack was compiled from Finnish folk songs and classical selections by organist Kent Washburn.

Kent Washburn was born in Ithaca, NY where his mother Raili Kerttu Kaarina Tontti and father Carl Washburn were founding members of Ithaca’s Finger Lakes Finns heritage group. He studied organ with concert organist David Jackson of Spencer, NY and became the full-time organist at Danby Federated Methodist Church in Danby, NY in 1994. He moved to Northern Virginia in 1995 and is currently the organist at Arlington Memorial Baptist Church in Arlington, VA. A frequent musical guest at Finnish heritage events in Virginia, Kent also studies Finnish at the Finnish Language School of Arlington, Virginia.

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