Artists seek it; wise men follow it.
Valerie Klemetti Blessley
Nominated for Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year 2007
Step into Northern Light and drift through the mystical lands of the Irish bards and Finnish poets with dulcet harp, bright kantele and lyric woodwinds.
Valerie Klemetti Blessley gently leads listeners through the music of ancient northern lands to discover the mysteries, songs and dances of the Celtic folk harp and Finnish kantele. Your heart will smile and your toes will tap as you bask in Northern Light.
A self-described lover of "Celtinavian Music," Valerie's music reflects her Scandinavian and Irish heritage. She began playing music during childhood, when she learned to play the recorder and the flute. Valerie has studied harp with David Harper, in Albuquerque, NM and Marion Fouse in Portland, OR. Most recently, Valerie has studied kantele with Wilho Saari and Cathy Cushing of Washington state, and Dr. Arja Kastinen, a respected Finnish kantele professor.
Valerie plays harp, kantele, and woodwinds in the popular northwest duo, Celtic Muse, with Jennifer Pratt-Walter. She also performs with the Finnish-American kantele ensemble, Livakat, and the trio Soittorasia (Music Box).
Since the 19th century, the kantele has been the Finnish national instrument. Its history dates back about 2000 years, and is described in the epic poem, the Kalevala. In the epic, the hero Väinämöinen made the first kantele from the jawbone of a pike. Its music was so powerful that the whole world stopped to listen. The original instrument was carved from a single piece of wood with 5 strings across the sound board. Modern day kanteles may have up to 38 strings, and some also have sharping mechanisms.
Top picture: Valerie plays the 36 string Finnish kantele in the Perho River Valley style. Middle picture: Valerie Blessley with the instruments she played on Northern Light - her Blessley Instruments Songbird harp, and 36 string kantele by Jussi Ala-Kuha. Bottom picture: Valerie plays the traditional, 5 string Finnish kantele.
To listen, click on the following links:
CD Baby - Several selections
Planxty Fanny Power
Tuoll' on Mun Kultani - My Far Away Sweetheart
Koivukannel - Birchwood Harp
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