Vocal group Ketsurat equals six female voices singing stories weaved in a choreography of rhythm and colours. The songs we perform are not just music, to us they are tales, stories, everyday subjects for discussion. Finnish folk music tradition is made of beauty and poverty, yearning and deceit, heartache and pain. These themes have carried us through the years. Being inspired by such touching subjects makes us write more and more songs by ourselves. Nevertheless, sometimes one had better take a look at the worldout there - and we do that by welcoming into our program songs and stories from nearby as well as faraway cultures. Somehow the good ones just keep flowing into our ears and hearts. We cherish all our songs as common treasures meant to be shared with you.
One can't escape the distinct elements of Ketsurat sound, broad ranged polyphonic vocals, variety of tones and the stories behind the songs which are firmly rooted in our past. Ketsurat seeks to obtain the original feeling and sound, and reaches out to grasp the authentic style to use ones voice as an instrument. The repertoire covers every occasion and features both the more simplistic, often daring rhyme songs from the Finnish rural culture in the early 20th century, and local ethnic music, such as a bambara song from Mali. The quest for authenticity is, however, not taken to extremes, as Ketsurat wants to make sure that they always bring something of their own to each piece. Some songs are given an extra dimension with the use of instruments. Colourful appearance and strong visual presence is also a trademark of Ketsurat.
The name goes back to Northern Karelia in the modern Russian territory, where the word 'ketsura' is usedin yoiks and stands for i.a. girl, maiden, wife and mother. Conveniently describing the essential both in the groups as well as in the tales it tells.
Following the footsteps of Finland's legendary folklorist Elias Lönnrot, Karolina wanders through the archives dusting off old fixed concepts of the Viena Carelian yoiks. This feisty researcher is an exceptionally capable user of her distinctive voice which is broad enough in range and style to shake the listeners off their chairs - or bring tears to their eyes with its sensitive clarity. Besides yoiks "Karo" uses traditional Kalevala style and stories to add to the Ketsurat repertoire. She usually has a clear picture of the tone in her mind and it's up to the rest of us to try to reach this musical image. When on stage, Karolina's experience and charisma is heartfelt. The rest of us must strive to perform up to the musical standards and work ethicshe lives by. Karolina has a strong and colourful character, although she does have one weakness - craving for candy. Her nightmare is a day without a candy. We gladly accept the fact which ensures that there is always a varied candy buffet at our practise.
Nora, who we have lovingly dubbed "the African", was born in Turku. She has an earthy sense of beauty which can be both seen and heard. Her voice travels through the air just like a fairy - unless it's required to bring out the tense soprano sound she's also known for. We adore Nora's professional and yet modest approach to singing. Her love for music and consequent musical experiments have finally landed her in the proper playground in the Folk music department of Sibelius Academy. We cannot wait our passionate virtuoso to graduate and blow our minds with all the things she has learned there. Nora's moods are like an open book, as colourful as she is - her laughter echoes to the distance and her good moments are shared with us all. Just remember to treat her fair, or she might just explode! Yet, she is a steady and efficient spouse and mother of two who doesn't cry for help to manage through her busy days filled with family, studies and other bands.
Salla is one of those essential members of our group who are needed to hold the concept together. When we are caught in the spirit and ideas are flying all across the place, Salla keeps the threads in her hands and calls for a time-out. Salla has the guts to yell at us to quit the chat and get on with the business at hand. Precious practise time is not to be wasted. It's common place to hear Salla say: All right, let's continue! Salla has a fully matured alto voice, a consonant partner for Kaarina - and she likes to hit the first beat. Salla's sense of rhythm arrives through visualization, so a transcription software comes handy when making our own music. Being a visual person, she's also known for her inventive choices for clothes and love for dressing up. Ketsurat usually relies on her sense of fashion when deciding on stage outfits. Those who wear the same size have their lucky day every time Salla has to make room for new items in her closet. Salla is outgoing, also literally, and very disciplined. So disciplined that she has had a hard time developing a taste for the mandatory candies during practise. And when she's had her share, she has no problem to quit - and go jogging in the seashore in Vuosaari.
Born on the plains of Botnia, Tiina has blessed her new hometown Helsinki with loads of happy-go-lucky attitude and folk music experience. Her fresh and open-minded character is also featured in her sound.Tiina can play a variety of instruments which makes her another one of those of us whose time and talent Ketsurat has to share with other bands. At festivals this causes her to miss the "after ski" with the rest of us as she hurries from one performance to another. Her calm personality is well needed and proven - we can recall only one occasion when she lost her temper (and it wasn't one of those times when she's carrying a back bag and an upright bass 3 kilometres to the gig venue). Tiina is always in a good swinging mood. Outside her music life she takes upon herself to be involved in common issues of our society. We would not be surprised if one day it was announced that all flaws and problems of the world had been solved - then we would be sure that Tiina had had something to do with it.
Kaarina has a beautiful and soft, yet vibrant, alto voice which Ketsurat uses both for solos and to deepen the sound of the arrangements. She is an amazingly quick to absorb new things: she usually has learned the words, pronunciation and even translated the foreign song into a story in Finnish while the rest of us are still trying to pick up the melody. And if her professional talent and effort fail to unwrap the song, no worries, Kaarina will work it out even if it calls for finding a needle in a hay stack - or a Bulgarian taxi driver in Helsinki. Yet another one of Kaarina's talents is her ability not to get sucked in into mindless talk-a-thonsat practise. This usually helps us get back on track a lot faster. It's a blessing that there is at least one of us who doesn't always have that one "you gotta hear this, guys" -story. Kaarina used to travel the world and stay in different places, some longer than others. There days it's only music that takes her around the world as her family keeps her in place. Kaarina has a contagious laugh and a princess-like hair which, like everything else in her life, she tries to keep in order. But sometimes the order is lost; it must be that someone else has been tampering with her calendar.
While others are caught daydreaming, Annariitta keeps her mind set on the moment. She makes sure that we don't slip from what's been agreed before. Annariitta's Tavastian roots have blessed her witht he gift of uninterrupted speaking which is a great asset in Ketsurat's PR work. Her tendency to speak English with a Tampere-accent can also be counted as an advantage. It is largely up to "Arvi" to ensure that there is enough bass in our sound; enough to even fool you that there is a member of the opposite sex in our group. Annariitta is often seen in the library browsing through music scores for our adoption and arrangement. Nowadays Mrs. Virta manages her family farm (read: garden) in rural Palojoki village. Her adaptation has progressed so well that she's been able to reduce her visits to Helsinki to just one…per day.