This March, innovative Finnish folk ensemble Kardemimmit will spend a week virtually visiting New York Mills and Menahga as part of Folkefest.

The digital residency is presented in partnership with the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, who was selected to participate in Arts Midwest’s 2020 Folkefest program before touring plans were derailed by COVID-19, according to a Cultural Center news release.

Arts Midwest Folkefest presents music ensembles from Finland and Sweden in Midwestern areas that have ties to Scandinavian heritage with the goal of creating opportunities for cultural exchanges in these communities.

“Community members will have the chance to connect to Finnish music and culture in a deep and engaged way,” Torrie Allen, president and CEO of Arts Midwest, said in the release.

Kardemimmit is a band of four young women who play a rare gem: the Finnish national instrument kantele, an ancient stringed instrument with a silvery sound, according to the release. While playing 15- and 38-string kanteles, Kardemimmit sing mesmerizing harmonies in original compositions that blend a modern approach with a deep foundation in Finnish, Eastern European and Scandinavian traditions.

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Kardemimmit’s digital residency will include a free livestreamed concert, online workshops with schools, virtual events with community members and other educational content including videos and downloadable study guides.

The public are invited to participate in the following unique events with Kardemimmit and the Cultural Center:

Student workshops will take place in the New York Mills and Menahga public schools between March 22-25. Both schools will also be gifted two Finnish kanteles to use in their classrooms, with music teachers taking part in a virtual workshop with Kardemimmit to learn about kantele use and care.

Additionally, the Cultural Center is partnering with local resident and Finnish language and culture expert Amy Tervola Hultberg to create Finnish pulla bread kits and lessons. Hultberg is also the dean of Salolampi Finnish Language Village, and has extended this collaborative program to include Salolampi as a partner.

“This is an incredible opportunity for students and community members in our region to interact with very talented musicians to learn more about Finnish culture and music," Betsy Roder, executive director of the New York Mills Regional Cultural Center, said in the release. "It’s also a great example of the collaborative work we do to connect artists and community through art and culture, working with local partners and national funders to make these unique experiences accessible in our rural communities.”

The 2021 Folkefest program is produced by Arts Midwest with generous support from Margaret A. Cargill Philanthropies and in partnership with the Minnesota State Arts Board.

This residency is also supported by the American-Scandinavian Foundation, the leading cultural and educational link between the United States and Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. ASF works to build international understanding with an extensive program of fellowships, grants, intern/trainee sponsorship, publishing and membership offerings.