Finnish visitors enjoy ethnic Somali food

Members of Kardemimmit, a group of professional Finnish musicians, enjoy a meal at a downtown Barron Somali restaurant during their recent visit to the city. Included in the photo are, from left, clockwise around the table, Jocelyn Dietsche: Choral Director, Barron High School, Barbara Ritzinger: Continuing Education Program Specialist, UW Barron County, Leeni Wegelius: Kardemimmit, Samuli Volanto: Sound Engineer, Claira: Stephen’s daughter, Stephen Manuszak: Program Director, Arts Midwest, Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, and Anna Wegelius: Members of Kardemimmit. Haylee Lytle: Band Director, Barron High School. Photo contributed

The Barron Area School District music department had the honor of hosting “Kardemimmit,” a four-member group of professional musicians, for three performances on Oct. 10, 2017, at the Barron Area Community Center.

According to choral music teacher Jocelyn Dietsche, Kardemimmit consists of four young women who play the ancient Finnish national stringed instrument, the kantele.

The band members are Maija Pokela, Jutta Rahmel, Anna Wegelius and Leeni Wegelius.

Along with 15- and 38-stringed kanteles, singing has a big part in Kardemimmit’s musical universe.

“Original pieces -- with a modern approach -- still have a strong foundation in Finnish, Eastern European and Scandinavian traditions,” Dietsche said.

Students from Woodland, Ridgeland-Dallas, Almena, Riverview and Barron High School had the opportunity to attend the performances and talk with band members during a question and answer portion.

“We had a wonderful lunch with Kardemimmit at KalKaal Somali Restaurant,” Dietsche said “We particularily enjoyed the jabati with beef sugar!”

Kardemimmit stopped at Barron as part of their Arts Midwest Folk Fest tour, through the University of Wisconsin -Barron County continuing education series.

Dietsche said event sponsors include WESTconsin Credit Union, 3M, Federated Music Club, Springer EyeCare and Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Kardemimmit’s visit was a program of Twin Cities-based Arts Midwest, which “brings international music ensembles for week-long residencies in selected communities,” according to instrumental music teacher Haylee Lytle, a member of the Arts Midwest Folk Fest committee.

During their visit, the Finnish musicians performed and interacted with students in the Barron Area, Cumberland, Shell Lake and Rice Lake school districts.

“This was a great opportunity for our kids to learn of another culture directly from four highly-talented Finnish performers, and to experience their unique, traditional style of music,” Lytle said.

According to its website Arts Midwest “serves audiences, arts organizations, and artists throughout the states of Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, and South Dakota.

“Formed through the merger of the Affiliated State Arts Agencies of the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes Arts Alliance, our history spans more than 25 years.

“Over the years, Arts Midwest’s portfolio of programs has evolved to include performing, visual, and literary arts and leadership development initiatives that provide opportunities for communities large and small to engage with arts and culture.

“Recognizing the value of global activities to Midwest communities, Arts Midwest has worked with foreign governments and arts organizations on an array of international projects in Argentina, Austria, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, Pakistan, Poland, Slovakia, and Turke