One-woman band from the far north
The wondrous instrument played by Maija Kauhanen is not just any zither. It listens to the name kantele and is the national pride of the Finns. Kanteles come in all shapes and sizes and Maija plays them all, but her favourite is still the 23-string saarijärven kantele, a historical variant that requires a special playing technique. Multitalented Kauhanen has also mastered many other instruments, including harmonium, piano, flutes and saxophone, but as a soloist she limits herself to kantele, singing and percussion. Because of a disability - as a one-year-old she lost half of her left little finger - she was forced to develop alternative ways of strumming, something that only further stimulated her creativity and drive for innovation. Together with her father, luthier Kari Kauhanen, she also constantly works on improving her instruments. Despite that missing finger, Maija reaches dizzying speeds while playing, conjuring up a vast and panoramic soundscape full of gossamer details. When she then also starts singing and provides the rhythm section with footwork, the picture of a one-woman-band is complete.