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Oriveden Mieslaulajat; history and today

Music and singing have always been especially important for Finns. In Millenniums long past, before literacy and Christianity, traditions and beliefs were taught to new generations by singing. These stories in verses were the base for the edition of “Kalevala”, a poet book of Finnish mythology, in the 19th Century. As Finland was struggling under the ruling of the Russian Tsar, traditional Finnish folk music raised to it‘s renaissance. As the independence was finally achieved in 1917, music and choir music in particular was a vital tool to emphasize the identity of a new born state. In those days Finland was full of active choirs.

Also in Orivesi, a little town in Southern Finland near the biggest inland city Tampere, a grounding of a male choir was recorded in 1878. Later on it became a part of the activities of The Orivesi Music Society from 1928 until 1964. A separate Orivesi Male Choir association was officially grounded October the12th 1964.  

The renewed choir was lucky to engage from the beginning much talented, enthusiastic singers, although they, with only few exceptions, have been amateurs representing a variety of occupations and social classes. Over the years there usually has been 30- 60 singers in the choir. The choir has always been blessed to have talented musical leaders, who have set the artistic target high enough. 

Traditional Finnish music, e.g. composers like Sibelius, Madetoja or Pacius, is the core of the repertoire of The Orivesi Male Choir. This unique Northern music, greatly influenced by styles from both Western and Eastern Europe, our choir has eagerly promoted overseas in its tours to Denmark, Poland, Romania, Switzerland, Sweden and Estonia. During recent years our choir has, however, expanded its repertoire towards more popular, sometimes even entertaining direction, and also included visual elements to music. In these productions a broad variety of songs from classical ones to pop tunes specially arranged for a male choir is linked to each other with a plot and presented as a music theatre with appropriate acting, costumes and staging. This way were born productions such as “The Trench“, bringing back feelings and themes from the years of the 2nd World War, “Those Golden Days”, in co-operation with The Orivesi Female Choir describing events in a Finnish countryside dancing place back in the 1950’s, and “Let’s Go North, Lads!”, a boy school class reunion after 38 years, which was entirely based on songs of a very popular Finnish troubadour Juha “Junnu” Vainio. These all were utmost successful in the last decade and without a doubt made many new friends for choir singing. 

The diversity of singers appears also in many other activities besides singing that our choir has been involved in, e.g. editing of a Christmas magazine. Especially noteworthy is the rescue of an old but culturally valuable house other vice to be pulled down; after a huge reconditioning work made on a voluntary basis by the members of music society in Orivesi this house has for 15 years now served as a training and meeting place for the local choirs and orchestras.

Ismo Mäkinen