Now multiply that sound by two exquisite fiddlers playing in harmony and add in a brisk rhythm from mandolin or guitar or a slow drone accompaniment on harmonium and you will understand why the only word I have to describe the experience is, well, "incredible."
And what does this have to do with Chicago genealogy? Plenty, actually.
Kaivama musicians Sara Pajunen and Jonathan Rundman are Finnish-Americans hailing from Finnish immigrant communities in Michigan and Minnesota. During a break between tunes, Sara noted, with great feeling, the connection that the music provides to their cultural heritage.
In the midst of collecting names and dates and places, maybe even photos and family stories, let's not overlook the power that music has to strengthen our ties to our ancestors.
For an fascinating overview of ethnic music in Chicago, check out the "Ethnic Music" article in the Chicago History Museum's Encyclopedia of Chicago. Then, if you're in the Chicago area, here are a few examples of ways to learn more about the music of your ancestors:
- Irish? Check out programming at the Irish-American Heritage Center. Click on the "Education" tab to explore classes in music and dance.
- Swedish? Stop by the Swedish American Museum. I see both a dance and a jam on the calendar for March.
- Ukrainian? A search for the topic "music" in the Ukrainian National Museum's library catalog returns 80 results.
- Polish? The Polish Museum of America has a music library with 4000 78rpm records donated by the family of a Polish music store owner.
If your ancestors came from other places or if you're not local, just Google. I suspect you'll be able to turn up all sorts of creative ways to learn about your family's musical heritage.
Arto, Sara, and Jonathan are touring the mid-west right now and they have concerts planned for Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, California, Oregon, and Washington. Kaivama Concert ScheduleIf you have Finnish ancestry and live near one of the cities they'll be visiting, or if you'd just like to be inspired to learn more about the music that accompanied your own ancestors through life, you should go. Really. You should go.