This past Tuesday, I had the privilege of hearing a wonderful folk concert by the Finnish group Aallotar at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN. As an alumnus, I have long appreciated and made use of the great acoustics in the chapel, from listening to world class violin concerts to singing church Christmas music to a packed house. With this concert, though, it really struck me just how amazing the acoustics are in Trinity Chapel.
I blame it on the accordion – in a good way! Ok, I was a bit skeptical about listening to an accordion and violin duo, as I’ve only associated accordions with polka, often really bad polka, but Aallotar showed me a different side to the instrument. The accordion added the “band” to the performance. It was the waves, wind, and water of each heartbreaking song, and the acoustics added such breathtaking depth that it almost felt at times as if the whole chapel were adrift at sea or on a lonely point overlooking the Baltic Sea.
Aallotar has a unique style, including original songs and altered tunes from the duo’s childhood. The two women, violinist Sara Pajunen, and accordionist Teija Niku grew up in Finland not far from each other. Since one is now in America, they collaborate via modern technology, and tour together periodically. They both have superb vocals in addition to their instrumental expertise, and it’s a pleasure to listen to them. The songs were nearly all about the tortures of the heart, of missing loved ones and knowing you may never see them again. Every piece was filled with such atmosphere and emotion and given another dimension again by those wonderful acoustics. If you enjoy folk and/or chamber music, check out Aallotar.