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Wilho Saari

The tradition bearer of the Finnish Kantle, Naselle, Washington traced his love of kantele playing back five generations in his family.

His great-great grandmother, Kreeta Haapasalo, is one of Finland’s notable kantele matriarchs, a kantele-heroine, as she is often called.

Wilho’s degree in music helped him to develop outstanding skills in teaching himself to play kantele later in life. He was not only a recognized performer in demand, but a well-respected and active teacher, who generously shared his kantele knowledge with numerous students around the country.

The musician received a Washington state Governor’s Heritage Award for his work popularizing and teaching kantele. In 2006, Wilho was honored with a National Endowment for the Arts Heritage Fellowship, the country’s highest honor in folk and traditional arts. He was also a productive composer of kantele music, with more than 2,400 pieces written.

In 2010, Dr. Arja Kastinen of Finland published 365 of Wilho’s compositions in a collection called “Tune-a-Day.” He recorded two CDs on the kantele including Vilhon Vintiltä, featuring mainly his own compositions.

The website of the Masters of Traditional Arts has more info; click here