The firs Ethnogala was a big success

Award winners

  • Artist of the Year
    Anne-Mari Kivimäki
  • Phenomenon of the Year
    Orivesi All Stars
  • Newcomer of the Year
    Maija Kauhanen
  • Folk Music Songwriter of the Year (awarded by Elvis - The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists)
    Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L
  • Border Breaking Act of the Year (awarded by Music Finland)
  • Intersection Prize (awarded by the Global Music Centre)
    Hildá Länsman
  • Choreographer of the year (awarded by the Dance Info Finland)
    Petri Kauppinen

Pictures for the press (©Ville Tanttu):

You can watch the gala stream online:

More about gala at Music Finland website:

Finland’s first Ethnogala takes over Tavastia Club on Nov. 7

Finland’s first Ethnogala will be held at 7 pm on Tue. Nov. 7 at Helsinki’s legendary Tavastia Club. At the first annual gala, prizes will be handed out to the most interesting and distinguished figures in folk music, world music and folk dance. The Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle) will record and broadcast the event on its TV, radio and internet channels. The live TV stream and radio will be available also abroad.

The Ethnogala will focus on live folk music and folk dance rather than speeches. Tavastia will be transformed into an ethno-club with two performance stages, with the Yle broadcast including performances and interviews from both stages as well as the green room and backstage areas.

Award categories

The Ethnogala rewards the most distinguished and interesting figures in Finnish folk music, world music, and folk dance scenes in seven different categories.

  • Artist of the Year
    The Artist of the Year is a brilliant Finnish soloist or group who has attracted attention in the field of folk music and folk dance.
  • Phenomenon of the Year
    The Phenomenon of the Year may be a research study, event, campaign, movement, innovation, social media campaign or other phenomenon related to folk music, folk dance, instrument-making, costumes or traditions.
  • Newcomer of the Year
    The Newcomer of the Year is someone who has boldly earned his or her place as a new figure in Finland’s folk music and folk dance scene.
  • Folk Music Songwriter of the Year (awarded by Elvis - The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists)
    The Folk Music Songwriter of the Year is a Finnish composer or lyricist who has raised the bar for folk music through multi-faceted, ambitious work.
  • Border Breaking Act of the Year (awarded by Music Finland)
    The export award goes to an act that has aroused interest in the international music field and demonstrated export-readiness.
  • Intersection Prize (awarded by the Global Music Centre)
    The Intersection Award goes to a person, group, community or body that has advanced encounters between cultures and their rights to their own music.
  • Choreographer of the year (awarded by the Dance Info Finland)
    The choreographer of the year influences the folk dance scene and beyond, valuing traditions while also bravely pushing boundaries with new ideas.

2017 Ethnogala nominations:

Expert juries have chosen three nominees for each category. For four of the categories (Artist of the Year, Phenomenon of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, and Folk Music Songwriter of the Year), the nominees were chosen from submissions from the public. All winners will be announced at the Ethnogala. Check the nominees' bios below.

Artist of the Year

  • Anne-Mari Kivimäki
  • Frigg
  • Ismaila Sané

Phenomenon of the Year

  • Orivesi All Stars
  • Pelimanni 8bit

Newcomer of the Year

  • BaranBand
  • Elssa Antikainen
  • Maija Kauhanen

Border Breaking Act of the Year (awarded by Music Finland)

  • Frigg
  • Okra Playground
  • Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L 

Folk Music Songwriter of the Year (awarded by Elvis - The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists)

  • Anne-Mari Kivimäki
  • Pekko Käppi & K:H:H:L
  • Tuuletar

Choreographer of the year (awarded by the Dance Info Finland)

  • Hanna Poikela
  • Petri Kauppinen
  • Rami Meling

Intersection Prize (awarded by the Global Music Centre)

  • Digelius Music
  • Hilda Länsman
  • World Music School Helsinki 


The following artists (and few more) will perform at the Ethnogala:

  • BaranBand
  • Maija Kauhanen
  • Suistamon sähkö
  • Pekko Käppi
  • Duo Vildá

Ethnogala tickets are available from Tiketti

Advance tickets €12-20 through Oct. 15, thereafter and at the door €15-22

 You can also buy joint ticket (20-35 €) for Ethnogala and Taiga-club, which is arranged at Tavasti on Wed 8th of November.


You can book your hotel for Ethnogala for example from Original Sokos Hotel Presidentti.
Room rate / night
120 EUR / 1hh standard
140 EUR / 2hh standard
140 EUR / 1hh standard Ivana
160 EUR / 2hh standard Ivana
Guests pay individually.
Reservations: Sokos Hotels Sales Service Centre, Telephone: +358 20 1234 600, E-mail: Please quote the allotment code ETNOGAALA when making a booking. - reservation code on the internet: BETNOGAALA

Ethnogala organiser and partners

Ethnogala is arranged by the Committee of Folk Music and Dance in Finland (KEK) in partnership with the Finnish Broadcasting Company (Yle). The other partners are the Global Music Centre, Music Finland, Elvis - The Finnish Society of Composers and Lyricists, the Finnish Musicians’ Union, Teosto (the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society), the Folk Music Institute of Finland, the Finnish Folk Music Association and Radio Helsinki. The Ethnogala is part of the Etnosoi! world music festival. The gala is supported by the Finnish Music Foundation (MES), the Kalevala Society and the Association for Rural Education and Culture.


More information:

Sirpa Lahti, Executive director
Committee of Folk Music and Dance in Finland (KEK)

Bios of the Ethnogala nominees

Anne-Mari Kivimäki 

Anne-Mari Kivimäki (b. 1976) is a musician, composer and lyricist, with the two-row Russian Notka accordion at the core of her creative output. She has founded several bands and created multi-disciplinary artworks featuring the instrument, as well as developing her own style of playing: a contemporary Karelian accordion trance. Anne-Mari Kivimäki’s ensembles include the boundary pushing duo Puhti, experimental electronic group Suistamon Sähkö, and Anne-Mari Kivimäki & Palomylly -76. In 2017, she has toured Finland with the Lakkautettu kylä (A Closed-Down Village) concert.



The Iranian brothers Marouf and Gian Majidi were travelling around the world on their own, before coming together and founding BaranBand. ‘Baran’ is Kurdish and means ‘rain’, and the band’s music brings together Kurdish Iranian traditions and a wealth of influences that the brothers gathered on their journeys. BaranBand’s debut album Mn Bo To, which was released in the summer of 2017, received a lot of media attention in both Finland and internationally.


Digelius Music

Since 1971, Digelius Music has provided the Finnish people with expert insight into all music cultures of the world through their record shop in Helsinki, their sales catalogues and, more recently, their online shop. In addition to selling new recordings, recycling records is an important part of the store’s philosophy. Digelius Music also prides itself in its unparalleled level of service; if the store doesn’t already hold a particular record, it will go above and beyond to find it. 

Duo Vildá

Joik singing is an ancient tradition of the Sámis, the indigenous people living in the very north of Finland. Accordion in turn is traditionally regarded as a very popular folk instrument among all the Finns. But no Finn before has put these two traditions together - and that is what VILDÁ is all about.

Elssa Antikainen 

29-year-old Elssa Antikainen started folk dancing at the age of two, and is currently finalising her dance teaching degree in Oulu. She works across many different dance disciplines and has been involved in founding the Hämy Dance Theatre. As a dance teacher, her strengths lie in her social approach, and the high level of skill in her work. Elssa Antikainen’s choreographies and dance groups have been successful in several national dance reviews.


Frigg has been at the forefront of Finnish folk music for nearly two decades. The septet has been conquering the world with a fusion of Western folk music styles, for which the world music media has coined the term nordgrass, referring to the bluegrass influences. The tight interplay of four violins, string instruments, and double bass has made an impact on listeners all over the world. Frigg’s eighth album Frost on Fiddles was released in June 2017, gaining widespread international attention. 

Hanna Poikela

Hanna Poikela (b. 1986) is an Oulu-based dance artist and dance teacher, with a passion for Finnish folk dance. Previous notable choreographies include Rautatie (Railway), a co-production between JoJo - Oulu Dance Centre and Oulu City Theatre, and Sokeana Hetkenä, a collaboration with Elssa Antikainen. Hanna Poikela’s new piece has been selected for JoJo - Oulu Dance Centre’s 2018 season. Hanna is the artistic director of the Hämy Dance Theatre and Polokkarit folk dance group. 


Hilda Länsman

Hilda Länsman’s artistry straddles a rich crossing of different musical cultures. Having grown up with a Sami joik tradition that spans several generations, she connects this with contemporary world music and academic studies in music. Hilda Länsman has performed with several successful groups, including Gájanas, which was selected ‘Ensemble of the Year’ at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in 2017. Her work with the Sami joik tradition has been widely featured in the media.

Ismaila Sané 

Ismaila Sané is a Senegal-born percussionist, singer, solo dancer of African ballet, composer, choreographer, and pedagogue. He is well-known for being the long-time percussionist of Piirpauke, and for his work with groups Saïsba, Galaxy, Senfi and Buddha Surfers. He has also been a guest artist on numerous groups’ concerts and recordings. Ismaila Sané is an experienced educator and he has worked in both schools and universities. He started his career in Senegal as a professional dancer, and has been based in Finland since 1999. is a modern-day troubadour group founded by Aapo Niininen and Kimmo Numminen, taking its inspiration directly from one of the most popular Finnish online discussion forums, For the duo, the forum posts become lyrics that they compose their songs around. was launched in 2016 at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, and the group has gained a lot of attention since. They released their debut album in the spring of 2017, and have spent the summer touring Finland.  

Maija Kauhanen 

A powerfully expressive voice, deep-rooted kantele, and inventive percussion: fleet-fingered virtuoso and one-woman band Maija Kauhanen specialises in Finnish Saarijärvi kantele and the old and rare technique of playing kantele using a tiny wooden stick as a plectrum. Weaving this together with poly-rhythms and organic beats, she creates unique soundscapes and compelling grooves. Her first solo album, Raivopyörä (The Whirl of Rage), invokes powerful atmospheres that get under the listener’s skin. 


Okra Playground

In electro-folk band Okra Playground’s music, the ancient folk instruments kantele and the bowed lyre coexist in a new, exciting symbiosis of modern instruments and electronic soundscapes. The musical roots run deep in the Finnish soil, but its tallest branches reach the furthest fringes of world music. The strong voices of the singers and the age-old lyrics simultaneously take the listener to far-off places and close to home. Okra Playground’s fresh music captivates the listener with its hypnotic beat and mystical energy.

Orivesi All Stars

Orivesi All Stars (OAS) is a folk musician collective open to anyone with basic skills in their instrument, from beginner to professional, with musicians ranging in age from 10 and 85. For OAS, music is, first and foremost, a collaboratively produced experience, and the orchestra is where musicians can learn and share the joy of playing together. OAS wants to be part of a movement, which brings forth the rich musical heritage of Finland. The orchestra is conducted by Antti Järvelä.



They go by the name PEKKO KÄPPI & K:H:H:L (Bones of the Dead Crazy Horses), and their music deals with love, death, Finnish voodoo and archaic grooves. Their minimalistic and straightforward sound has a distinct odour of pop, layered with colliding rhythms and psychedelic sights. Yet it is sweetly dangerous, like sounds from the Finnish summer swamps with hidden secrets from the past. Traditional lyrics and harshly joyous jouhikko playing butt heads with drones and distortions from the past and future.


Pelimanni 8bit

The mobile platformer game Pelimanni 8bit introduces young fiddler Friiti who embarks on a journey through Nordic sceneries towards his ambitious goal: the title of Master Pelimanni, a widely renowned traditional musician. Pelimanni 8bit was released by the Finnish Folk Music Institute to carry the torch of Finnish traditional music in a new and entertaining way. The retro graphics designed by Jimmy Träskelin are filled with Nordic mythology and accompanied by chiptune arrangements of traditional Finnish folk tunes by Antti Janka-Murros.


Petri Kauppinen

Petri Kauppinen is a dancer, dance teacher, choreographer and director who took his first dance steps in 1977. He started studying dance at the Oulu Conservatoire in 1991, and has since completed choreographer studies at London Contemporary Dance School (1996-1997), and gained an MFA in Dance from University of California Irvine (2002). Petri’s background is in folk dance, which he has further expanded on with contemporary dance, dance theatre and musical theatre. To date, he has created 174 choreographies, 67 of which are full-length pieces.


Rami Meling 

Rami Meling is a folk music enthusiast, director and choreographer, hailing from a dance background. Rami’s path in dancing developed in the Karelian Youth association in Helsinki, where he also made his directing debut as a 13-year-old. Rami has created choreographies for the groups Pitko and Roigu, as well as field choreographies for larger events. Rami’s work brings together well-known elements from folk dance with surprising music, and is influenced further by other dance forms.



Tuuletar’s virtuoso singers use only their voices to create a vivid sonic landscape, where beatbox rhythms meet Finnish folk tradition and global influences. The band has taken their music on tour in Japan and Germany, with further tours planned for Taiwan and India. Tuuletar has named its brand of cheery and captivating music vocal folk hop. The band released their globally acclaimed debut album Tules Maas Vedes Taivaal (Bafe’s Factory) in June 2016.


World Music School Helsinki

World Music School Helsinki is a forum for anyone to take part and learn about the different international cultures present in Helsinki. Each folk dance event introduces two distinct musical cultures to the local Helsinki audience, and the different communities learn from each other by dancing together. World Music School Helsinki’s dancing events and the international music teaching activities highlight the communities’ right to their own cultural traditions, while also enabling the exploration and meeting of different cultures and societies.