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Sara Pajunen

Finlandia Foundation National named violinist and composer Sara Pajunen of Minnesota as 2015 Performer of the Year (POY).

The classically-trained musician draws on the music of her heritage in what she calls “progressive yet reverent ways.” Sara is a native of Minnesota’s Iron Range, where she experienced Finnish folk music as a child. She  earned a bachelor’s degree in classical violin performance from the University of Minnesota and a Solo Studies degree from Stadia in Helsinki, Finland.

With a grant from FFN she studied folk music in Finland and became interested in melding the past of her Finnish ancestors with the present. In 2014 Pajunen created a multimedia and interactive piece called Laatikko/Box, which combines materials drawn from Finnish-American archives and music, voices and electronics. 

FinnFest 2015 Aallotar.P1140361
Sara Pajunen and Teija Niku are Aallotar

Her recordings include an album of Finnish tangos and collaborations with the duos Aallotar and Kaivama, and she has studied, toured and recorded with Finland’s top folk musicians. Pajunen has been called “an amazingly versatile musician who now counts among the most ambitious and notable practitioners of Finnish folk music outside of Finland.”

Find more about the artist at



FFN chapters interested in arranging an appearance by Sara should contact POY Coordinator Betsey Norgard, norgard @

Sara Pajunen’s Performer of the Year appearances for 2015-2016

September: Finnish-Americans and Friends (Hibbing Chapter), Virginia, Minnesota

November 21: Finlandia Foundation Florida, Lake Worth

January 24: The Finnish-American Club of Tucson

March 13: Finnish Center Association, Farmington Hills, Michigan

March 20: Finnish-American Society of the Midwest, Chicago

April 2: Finnish American Society of West-Central Michigan, Coopersville

April 30: Finlandia Foundation Columbia-Pacific Chapter at Nordia House

May 9: First Lutheran Church, hosted by Finnish-American Society of Cape Cod, West Barnstable, MA

May 11: Finger Lakes Finns, Ithaca, New York

May 14: Finnish Heritage House, South Thomaston, Maine

For more information about the artist:

Click here for a PDF of the Performer of the Year brochure.

cover POY Brochure LO 8.8