Finn Hall Band Members:
Ralph, our mandolin player, was exposed very early to Finnish music at home and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan Finnish community where he grew up. He was a member of the Finnish Kantele ensemble "Koivun Kaiku" for 13 years playing a variety of traditional Finnish instruments While with that group, he travelled to Finland and performed at the Kaustinen Folk Music Festival in 1993. Koivun Kauku was awarded performers of the year in 1996 by the Finlandia Foundation National. This involved considerable performances throughout the USA. During that time, Koivun Kaiku produced four recordings.
Ralph has learned his music and instruments almost exclusively in the folk tradition. He is also a dancer and musician with the Kisarit Finnish folkdancers and teaches various types of dance - Finnish and other couple social dances including tango.
Dennis began learning the accordion at age ten under the tutelage of a Finnish American accordionist while living in Michigan. He played at Scandinavian dances in the Detroit area starting in the 1960’s.
He has a significant repertoire of Finnish, other Scandinavian and various ethnic and popular American standards. He learned many of his Finnish songs in the folk tradition having sat in front of the old bands at dances and listening to recordings.
He has also been the accordionist and lead musician for the Kisarit Finnish folkdancers for more that 20 years.
Cheryl Paschke, our violin and nyckelharpa player, has wide ranging experience and musical interests. She has played and performed with several groups from classical to ethnic, including the Mount Curve String Quartet, American Swedish Institute's Spelmanslag, Twin Cities Nyckelharpa Lag, Kisarit Finnish-American Folk Dancers and other groups. The String Teacher’s Association nominated her outstanding music educator for 1995.
She is a Cultural Partner for the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s education outreach program CONNECT.
When Al Reko started school in 1938 in Crosby, Minnesota, he spoke only Finnish. His father, Kalle (Carl) emigrated from Finland in 1929. His mother, Alice, was the daughter of Finnish immigrants. During World War II, Alice, Carl, Al, and Al's sister Kay moved to San Pedro, California. In school and with the Los Angeles Youth Symphony, Al learned to read music and play the clarinet and saxaphone. When he was 12, his father traded a sailer's tavern bill for an accordion. Al eagerly explored this new instrument without benefit of lessons.
After the war, the family returned to Minnesota, to farming, and to mining. Al attended the University of Minnesota - earning a substantial portion of his college tuition by playing in a band. He began a career in Colorado in a fledgling industry - computer programming. After moving back to Minnesota, Al connected with a Twin Cities Finnish Folk Dance Group - the Kisarit - and two Finnish-American musicians, a guitar-playing college student named Oren Tikkanen, and another accordionist, Dennis Halme.
Finn Hall Friends:
Past and Present Performers:
Mary Oberg Hanf
Craig Randal Johnson