25.08.19 Anna Kokkonen & Arosa Ensemble @ Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Helsinki

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If you were around Oodi Library this Sunday, you probably invested at least a couple of minutes of your time to listen to ANNA KOKKONEN and AROSA ENSEMBLE’s beautiful music. The gig was completely for free and, both for those who knew the artists and for those who didn’t, it was a too good of an opportunity to miss out on.

You don’t really need to be that much into indie music to know Anna’s work: she is a very talented Finnish songwriter, based in Helsinki, that has been broadcasted on Radio Suomi many times. Her songs touch upon many topics such as survival, everyday heroes and yearning for goodness. She is now touring to promote her latest album “Matkalla Kotiin” (“On my way home”), released in January this year. She’s been touring along with AROSA ENSEMBLE, an indie-pop band that masterfully mix poetry and music in a totally unique way.

Anna started off with playing “Veljeni”, from her first album “Salainen Puutarha”: this song has strong Irish influence that got a bit muffled due to technical problems: Anna’s guitar cable didn’t work. The problem was fixed immediately by changing it, and the gig continued with no more issues.  The thing that hits the most about Anna’s music is how the sound gets straight to the audience in a very natural and simple way. The artist herself told me that she believes music has healing effects, and the second song performed, “Kesän askeleet” is the proof she’s able to spread positive vibes and leave her listeners with a true sense of peace. But her music is not only about nature and goodness, Anna discusses human rights as well, with a song inspired by a true story of persecution, “Kultainen maa”.  Anna is accompanied by a great band that can easily get along with the flow of Anna’s music. The band is composed of Marja Ahlsved (keyboards), Jaakko Järvinen, who wasn’t present this time (guitar), Niklas Ahlsved (drums) and Jani Snellamn (bass).  The gig lasted about 45 minute and for the whole time, people continuously entered the room summoned by her music, and those who left before the end had a clear satisfied expression on their faces.

After a break of 20 minutes, AROSA ENSEMBLE took the stage. Since I’ve seen them before, I thought it was such a shame that most of the audience left the room during the break, but it didn’t take too much time for the band music to attract both new and old people inside.  What they do is really a one of a kind experience. For those who don’t know, AROSA ENSEMBLE‘s music is about transforming the poems of Edith Södergran, considered one of the most influential modern Swedish-speaking poets.  You may not understand the language, but the feelings they evoke can be intense anyway.  Arrangements and compositions are made by Marja Ahlsved (keyboards and vocal), the other members are Heidi Kivharju (vocals), Juhani Grönroos (electric guitar), Joona Hasan (electric and acoustic guitar), Kalle Ylitalo (bass) and Niklas Ahlsved (drums). Probably the only thing that AROSA ENSEMBLE is missing to get a perfect show is a look that would fit better with their unique style.

Both performances were a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in a totally unusual way, who took part at this event was for sure not disappointed. If you don’t want to miss them playing the next time, you should definitely check out ANNA KOKKONEN and AROSA ENSEMBLE is on the 5th October at Superwood Festival.

Article and photos by Viviella Vivienne Costantino

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