Orchestras & musicians

Martin Alvarado with Nuevo Quinteto Otra Vez in Riihimäki, 2018 (photo by Terho Aalto).

The pioneers of playing Argentine tango in Finland were Tango-orkesteri Bandola  (“Tango orchestra Bandola”) and Orquesta La Milonga (originally “Tango-orkesteri Milonga”). Bandola concentrated on new tango and was founded in Turku in 1986. Tango-orkesteri Milonga in turn specialized in traditional dance music and was founded in Tampere in 1987.

International acclaim

In march 1996 Orquesta La Milonga was invited to play at the third Cumbre Mundial del Tango festival in Montevideo, Uruguay. InTime Quintet was invited twice in 1994 to perform in Buenos Aires, with a show in Centro Cultural Borges. Quinteto Otra Vez and later Nuevo Quinteto Otra Vez were invited to perform with Martin Alvarado at Buenos Aires Tango Festival in 2010 and 2017 with the 2017 tour involving several other concerts in Buenos Aires as well. Guardia Nueva is a tango and pops orchestra that has performed in Buenos Aires in 2004, toured Turkey in 2006 as well as played in Berliner Philharmonie in 2014  and at the Usedomer Musikfestival in Heringsdorf, Germany in 2015. They have also co-operated with many well known Finnish soloists and arrangers.

Castelfidardo in Italy, known as the international capital of accordion builders, hosts a yearly accordion festival, with a competition featuring a category for the music of Astor Piazzolla, Premio Internaziole Astor Piazzolla. Finnish musicians have done well in this competition: in 1994 when the competition was arranged for the first time, InTime Quintet won first place. Later other ensembles have also placed high: Novjaro Quintet gained first place in 2000, Duo Johanna Juhola and Milla Viljamaa won first place in 2002, Quinteto Fuego came second in 2004 and Milonga del Norte won first place in 2005. In 2009 Tanguedia Quintet won first price at the international Libertango competition ensemble category in Lanciano, Italy.

Skilful bandoneon players

Petri Ikkelä is a pioneer of new tango in Finland. He has performed with many ensembles, both on stage and on record. Ville Hiltula has played for 10 years in the famous Sexteto Canyengue as well as becoming in 2015 the first part-time bandoneon teacher in the esteemed Sibelius academy. Kristina Kuusisto lives in France and has performed with many philharmonic orchestras and in different opera houses and theaters in Europe, as well as recording with a variety of ensembles. Mikko Helenius is a multifaceted virtuoso performing equally easily by singing as by playing the bandoneon and the piano at the same time. Henrik Sandås is a talented and expressive bandoneonist performing both new tango and other styles of music. Sami Pirttilahti has won first prize at the Che Bandoneon International Competition at the Stowe Music Festival in 2018. He also leads the 14-person orchestra, Pirttilahti Tango Experience, that plays Golden Age Argentine tango music. Mercedes Krapovickas is an Argentine bandoneon player, pianist, composer and musicologist, who has lived in Finland for over ten years. She plays both tango and Argentine folk music soulfully. Some classical accordion players – such as Veli Kujala, Niko Kumpuvaara and Mika Väyrynen – have also experimented with bandoneon.

Tango singers – the phenomenon called Alvarado

When talking about Argentine tango singers in Finland, one name comes before all others. The Argentine Martin Alvarado was “discovered” in Barcelona in 2002 and invited to perform in Finland. His career took off after a performance with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra in 2003 and he has since been touring Finland for over fifteen years. Alvarado has been described as “one of the most renowned voices in tango in the world”. He has performed in Finland with Mikko Helenius, (Nuevo) Quinteto Otra Vez, and others.

Another Argentine singer, also from Buenos Aires, who has toured Finland many times, is Romina Bianco. Living in Barcelona nowadays, Bianco has performed in Finland with Tango del Norte and recorded  with the tango legend Néstor Marconi.

Leandro Roco is an Argentine musician and dancer living in Finland. He sings both tango and Argentine folk music in an authentic and captivating manner.

Many singers who perform Finnish tango, such as Eino Grön and Tapani Kansa have also performed and recorded Argentine tango. Eino Grön has also recorded two albums of Finnish tango with Argentine musicians, “Tangon kotimaa” (1984) with Roberto Pansera’s orchestra and “Sininen ja valkoinen” (1990) with Leopoldo Federico’s orchestra. Also classical singers, such as Angelika Klas and Harri Kaitila have ventured into Argentine tango. Musical all-rounder Petri Kaivanto has recorded both Argentine tango and Finnish tango arranged in the style of Argentine tango. Performance artist, musician and writer Yrjänä Sauros has also performed Argentine tango.

Finnish Argentine tango orchestras

Below are listed both professional and amateur tango ensembles that have focused on Argentine tango. Some of the groups are not active any more. A good introduction to Finnish tango nuevo artists (in Finnish) is Suvi Kallio’s thesis Kulttuurisia artikulaatioita uudessa tangossa Suomessa.

Finnish bandoneon players

Finnish recordings of Argentine tango

  • Bandola: ”Astor Piazzolla: Chau Paris” (2002)
  • Eino Grön: ”Bandoneon” (1987)
  • Guardia Nueva: ”Tangokonzert Berlin Philharmonie” (2014), ”Live in Concert” (2013), ”Tango Finlandia” (2011), ”Astor Piazzollan tangoja” (2002)
  • InTime: ”Piazzolla InTime” (1995); ”Piazzolla vol 2 chin chin” (1997); ”Piazzolla Live!” (1999); InTime-kvintetti, Marcelo Nisinman, Tampere Filharmonia: ”Piazzolla InTime” (2004)
  • Lapin Kamariorkesteri: ”Astor Piazzolla” (2002)
  • Las Chicas del Tango: “La Voz Femenina” (2007), Featuring Horacio Ferrer “Tango de Norte a Sur” (2012)
  • Nikolai Blad: “Missä kävit?” (2004)
  • Pedro’s Heavy Gentlemen: ”Mi tango triste” (2000)
  • Petri Kaivanto, Alejandro Polemann y grupo: ”Aires de Finlandia” (2010), Petri Kaivanto & Alejandro Polemann Grupo: ”Aires de Finlandia, vol. 2” (2017).
  • Quinteto Otra Vez & Martin Alvarado: ”Tango Norte, Tango Sur” (2008), Quinteto Otra Vez & Severi Pyysalo: “Nuevo Tango” (2002), Quinteto Otra Vez & La Nueva Orquesta de Cuerdas: “Otra Vez” (2005), Martin Alvarado & Nuevo Quinteto Otra Vez: “Estrellas Sobre El Mar” (2019)
  • Taljanka & Salonkiorkesteri Musikaalinen: ”Zaiori” (2001)
  • Tampere Chamber, Marcelo Nisinman, Hannu Siiskonen, Henrik Perelló, Petri Aarnio, Ilari Angervo, Marko Ylönen: ”Piazzolla: Chamber works” (2001)
  • Tango del Norte: ”Solos & Duos” (2018); Romina Bianco & Tango del Norte: ”Raíces del Pasión” (2016)
  • Tango Sonorte & Harri Kaitila: ”Un finlandés en Buenos Aires” (2012)
  • Tanguedia Quintet: ”Tanguedia Quintet LIVE: The New Tango of Astor Piazzolla” (2009), “Tango Querido” (2010, with Angelika Klas)
  • Tango for Four: ”Tango for Four” (1999); ”Tango for Four No 2” (2001); Tango for Four Quartet, Mika Väyrynen, Atso Almila, Emiko Mizuki, Izumi Tateno, Marko Ylönen, Martti Rautio, Kuopio Symphony Orchestra: ”Piazzolla: Tangos” (2002)
  • Tango-orkesteri Milonga: ”La historia del tango argentino – tango 100 años” (1991); ”Vanhojen aikojen kivilattiotangoa – Tango del empedrado de los viejos tiempos” (2000); Orquesta La Milonga: ”Milonga vieja” (2005)
  • Tapani Kansa: ”Päivä jolloin rakastat” (1999)
  • Ylioppilaskunnan Laulajat: ”YL’ Täysikuun” (2001-2002) ja ”YL Goes Tango” (2001)