RAYMOND - Make plans to include a "Bit of Finland" in your summer musical experience!

Folks attending the National Finn Fest Celebration July 26 to 30 in Naselle and Astoria will have the unique opportunity of hearing a renowned musical group. They are in for a special treat when Ampron Prunni Trio, in conjunction with the annual Finnish festival activities, takes the stage of the Raymond Theatre at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 30.

Ampron Prunni means "The Well of Ambrosius (ambrosia). Founded in 1987 in Kaustinen, Finland, the group's intent has been to make music with traditional Finnish instruments. Ampron Prunni plays "eagerly traditional" Finnish folk music on fiddle and nyckelharpa, and gives a lot of space to the harmonium as the lead instrument. Most of the trio's tunes come from the Perho River Valley, but some derive from other areas of Finland as well.

The leader of the Ampron Prunni Trio is Arto Jarvela who is described as "one of the most important fiddlers of our time." He has performed in or produced approximately 30 CDs, and he was the winner of the Folk Music Album of the Year in 1988, 1994 and 2001. He was a founding member of another musical group at the age of 17, plays in numerous bands, and is currently a professor of Folk Music Studies and teacher of folk music at the prestigious Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland.

Tino Valo is one of the leading harmonium players in Finland. He and Risto Hotakainen carry out the musical tradition of fiddle and mandolin. Risto is a master fiddler from Halsua, and both he and Timo also play in a professional folk music group, Tallari, in Kaustinen.

In Raymond, Timo will even be performing a couple of numbers on the Wurlitzer theatre organ, and that's something you will probably never see again - an accomplished Finnish fiddler playing a theatre organ in a small Southwest Washington town on a Sunday afternoon!

Amy Carlson of Tacoma, daughter of Virginia and Andy Carlson who reside in South Bend, will be one of the dancers, wearing her grandmother's Finnish folk dress. Her mother laughingly reports that, "Yes, they were the parents who drove to Aberdeen every week so she (Amy) could learn to Scandi dance, and her Finnish grandmother is probably smiling now."

Audience members will be well advised to put on a pair of dancing shoes too, as there is likely to be some "joining in" at the front of the theatre!

The Ampron Prunni concert is sponsored by the law firm of Brown Lewis Janhunen & Spencer of Aberdeen. Tickets may be purchased at Sagen's Drug in Raymond, Sandra's Art & Frame and South Bend Pharmacy in South Bend, or by calling 360-875-5123, e-mailing vecarlson@hotmail.com, or sending a stamped, self-addressed envelope to P.O. Box 41, South Bend, WA 98586. Pre-sale tickets are $8. Day-of-performance tickets will cost $12.

This musical event is a must for anyone having the least little bit of an adventurous soul. Ampron Prunni has toured in The Netherlands, Sweden and Germany, but this is its first official trip to the United States and Canada.

Mark your calendars now, and plan to attend this very first Ampron Prunni U.S. concert while it's right on your doorstep!

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