Finnish Choral Society of Seattle in Helsinki Rock Church in Summer 2012

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Kalevala Festival - A Long Tradition

The Kalevala Day Tradition goes back to 1835, when the national epic of Finland, the Kalevala, was published for the first time by Elias Lönnrot. The Kalevala epic played an important part in developing Finland's national identity and Finnish language, art, and music. The first Kalevala Day was celebrated on February 28th, in 1885. The Kalevala Day celebration continues to this day in Finland with cultural events.

The Finnish Choral Society of Seattle has maintained an Annual Kalevala Festival since 1976 in Seattle, hosted at the National Nordic Museum since 1982. The most recent Kalevala Festivals are available on YouTube:

46th Annual Kalevala Day Festival (2022)

Finnish Kantele: Re membering Wilho

The 46th Annual Kalevala Event: Finnish Kantele: Remembering Wilho - YouTube

This 45-minute YouTube program will feature the Finnish Choral Society of Seattle, the Evergreen Livakat Kantele players, and Arja Kastinen, kantele player and first Finnish folk musician to earn Doctor of Music at Sibelius Academy, Helsinki, Finland. The program will honor the passing of Wilho Saari, Washington State kantele player and composer who received numerous awards including the Washington State Governor’s Heritage Award, the Finlandia Foundation National Performer of the Year, and the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship in 2006 - the highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

45th Annual Kalevala Day Festival (2021)

The Healing Power of Singing

The 45th Annual Kalevala Day Festival - The Healing Power of Singing - YouTube

With Inspiration from the magic of Kalevala and Kanteletar the program of the 45th Kalevala features:

Guest Speaker: Marita Toivonen, Master of Theology and Ethnomusicology, Helsinki, Finland, speaking about “The Kalevala Rune Song”Guest Performer: Anna Fält, Renowned Loitsu Singer and Researcher, talking and singing about the Spells, Charms and Magic of the Kalevala. Anna, born and raised in Finland, living in Sweden, combines the different voice traditions, languages and singing aesthetics to a unique combination of sounds.

44th Annual Kalevala Day Festival (2020)

A Tribute to the Finnish Sauna

44th Annual Kalevala Day: A Celebration of the Finnish Sauna - YouTube

The 44th Annual Festival was a tribute to the Finnish sauna and sauna culture in honor of the authentic log sauna, built in 1914-1918, relocate d from Finn Hill in Bothell, WA to the East Sculpture Garden of the Museum. On the program:

Choir sings “sauna songs” and choral songs inspired by the Kalevala; Presentation of the “Finnish sauna culture” by Kaija Kauppinen, Fulbright Scholar at UW; Instrumentals by Kalevala Trio and Evergreen Kantele Players, Dancing, Maria Männistö solo performance, Presentation of the NNM refurbished sauna.

The Finnish Choral Society Of Seattle

Who are we?

We are a group of men and women who enjoy singing, especially Finnish choral music, for ourselves and our listeners’ pleasure. People in our choir range in age from the teens up to 90. Most of us have some connection with Finnish culture such as ancestry, travel, study, friends or spouses. Some are fascinated by Finnish music and its composers (many others in addition to Sibelius). We are commited to the community to keeping Finnish music alive.

The Finnish Choral Society is one of the few choirs, which still preserves traditional Finnish language choir music in the USA. The roots date back to 1963, when a choir named “Kaleva Korus” was started. The choir eventually merged with the West Coast Singers’ Seattle Chapter in the mid 1970’s. The name Finnish Choral Society was established around 1980. Earlier choir directors have included Eric Salo, Sirkka Wilson, Florence Mesler and others, with accompaniment provided by the noted Finnish-American composer and pianist John Sundsten. Current choir conductors are Heather McLaughlin-Garbes and Maria Mannisto. The choir specializes in Finnish choral music, reflecting the commitment to keep Finnish choral music alive and make it known. The choir performs at numerous Finnish and Scandinavian community events, including the Finnish Independence Day celebration, the Yulefest at the Nordic Heritage Museum, the Finland Summer Festival, Scandinavian Heritage Choir Festivals, at retirement homes, etc. Since 1976 the choir maintains the annual Kalevala Day Festival, which in 2020 will be celebrated at the National Nordic Museum for the 44th time.

The latest tour to Finland was in summer 2012. During that tour the choir performed to an enthusiastic public in six venues, including the famous Rock Church (Temppeliaukion kirkko) in Helsinki. In March 2015 the choir performed at the Benaroya Hall during Seattle Symphony's multi concert series celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of Jean Sibelius, who is widely recognized as Finland's national composer. In November 2017 we again performed at the Benaroya Hall to celebrate Finland's 100th year of Independence

New singers are always welcome! It's a great opportunity to learn about Finnish music.

What do we sing?

Mostly Finnish choral numbers, folk songs, patriotic, humorous, sacred and secular. Besides Finnish, we are singing in Swedish, English, German, French, Latin, Estonian and...

When and where do we sing?

We sing at various venues: at the Finnish Lutheran Church Services and events, the Nordic Heritage Museum, retirement homes, Seattle sings, Folklife

and events especially within the Finnish and Nordic community.

Rehearsals: Saturdays at 10 AM

at the Finnish Lutheran Church 8504 13th Avenue NW, Seattle (map)


At various programs of the Finnish Community, Christmas programs, retirement homes, programs at the Nordic Heritage Museum (Yule Fest and the Kalevala Festival).


Choir Conductors:

Mus. Dr. Heather MacLaughlin Garbes (

MM Maria Mannisto (

Choir President-

Eva Mannisto (