Musician Oren Tikkanen, right, performs during Heikinpäivä 2007 with his young apprentice, fiddler Kelly Suvanto, who studied under the late fiddle master Ed Lauluma. Kelly is now playing mandolin under Tikkanen's direction. (Photo © 2007 Sharon Cuffe)
A regular with numerous Copper Country bands, Tikkanen plays a wide variety of instruments and an equally wide variety of tunes. He is well known in the Finnish communities of North America for his musical performances with several bands at festivals and dances. Tikkanen also recorded four albums with old friend and mentor Al Reko of St. Paul, Minnesota. The two musicians, who both sing in Finnish, have performed together many times at FinnFest USA programs, the Smithsonian Institution’s Festival of American Folklife and three times at Finland’s Kaustinen Folk Music Festival, among others.
In January 2007, Tikkanen was selected by the Michigan Traditional Arts Program as a "master folk musician" and began teaching his style of Finnish-American mandolin playing to apprentice Kelly Suvanto of Houghton. Along with mandolin techniques, she and Tikkanen are also reviewing the music she learned while apprenticing under the late fiddle master Ed Lauluma. Tikkanen and Lauluma had played together on a regular basis for two decades.
When asked how he feels about being honored with the Hankooki Heikki award, Tikkanen replied with his typical creative improvisation:
Fourth of July and the First of May,
Mix with snowflakes falling down
On a pretty UP hillside town.
Music, dancing, old-world food,
Arts and crafts, and a cheerful mood,
Ice-hole divers, lots of smiles,
Parading Finns and Finn-o-philes.
But my mouth goes dry, and my knees grow shaky
When I am named as Hankook Heikki.
Great the honor--yes, by golly!
(And I hope I don't meet Hankook Lalli...)
For more information about Hankooki Heikki, or any aspect of Heikinpäivä, call (906) 482-0248 or visit pasty.com/heikki.