With Storyteller Nick Hennessey and Musicians Anna-Kaisa Liedes, Kristiina Ilmonen and Timo Väänänen


Saturday 10th October 2015, 8pm

The Sage Gateshead

An international collaboration featuring an outstanding ensemble of artists including leading UK storyteller, Nick Hennessey and three of Finland’s best folk musicians – Anna-Kaisa Liedes (singer), Kristiina Ilmonen (flutes, percussion, vocals) and Timo Väänänen (kantele – Finland’s national instrument – and pyngyr or Siberian lyre).

Fire in the North Sky: Epic Tales from Finland presents poems, songs and stories in a powerful two-hour performance that draws inspiration from Kalevala, Finland’s national epic and cultural treasure – equal to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, or the old English Beowulf.

Finnish musicians Kristinna Ilmonen, Anna-Kaisa Liedes and Timo Väänänen are all internationally renowned for creating new music that is both experimental and authentic, influenced by the oral traditions, textures and rhythms of runosong.  All three musicians are at the forefront of folk music both in Finland and internationally; they are also high profile lecturers in music at University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius Academy. Nick Hennessey has been telling stories from the Kalevala for the past fourteen years both in Finland and England.  In 2010 he was commissioned by BBC Radio 4 to create a documentary about the work.

The Kalevala was published as a book in 1835, based on thousands of individual ‘rune poems’ or songs, which Elias Lönnrot collected and knitted together into a sequential narrative.

Fire in the North Sky returns Kalevala to its oral roots, as Nick and the musicians create an electric and surprising performance from a collection of stories and episodes – from the mythic creation of the sky and earth, to the forging of the Sampo – a mystical object which brings infinite bounty – to seduction spells and a mother’s love for her son;  Fire in the North Sky combines epic feats of heroes like Väinämöinen and Lemminkäinen with very human stories of love, loss and longing.

These 2000-year old stories come alive with a touch of offbeat fun, enchantment and music that moves between dancing flutes, intoxicating rhythms and hauntingly beautiful sung melodies.

“They conjure up the landscape of the Karelian lands; we hear the birds singing, creatures stirring in the woods and, out to sea, the ice breaking as the seasons turn… we have been held entranced. The Kalevala is reinstated and reinvented for our time.”

Cath Barton, Wales Arts Review

 “It’s rare to hear Kalevala stories performed live, so to experience them with the beautiful soundscapes these musicians create is really special. The performance blends invention and tradition in surprising and engaging ways, tapping into Nordic perspectives with a real sense of fun as well as depth and intimacy. It’s exhilarating.” Naomi Wilds, Producer, Adverse Camber



Tickets £12 / £10 (+ £1.50 handling fee)

T: 0191 443 4661

Leave a Reply