Kantele House

While wandering through the streets of Petrozavodsk one may notice a beautiful light pink house named Dom Kantele (the Kantele House). The building was finished in 1858 and during the course of its long and colorful history it has had many uses.

Formerly the building served, among other things, as different types of schools and since 1986 the Petrozavodsk Kantele Ensemble has been using it.  The Kantele Ensemble may have become familiar to Finns through the noted kantele scholar Kari Dahlblom through different stages of his life. Now we will get to learn about the house and the group, as well as their past, present and future!

The kantele ensemble was founded by Viktor Gudkov (1899-1942), scholar and musician, who got acquainted with the kantele in Kantalahti. There he saw Andrej Hokkanen’s kanteles in the museum and was eager to learn more about kanteles and kantele-building on his field trips. Inspired by what he saw, Gudkov developed a family of chromatic kanteles, which included piccolo, prima, alto and bass.

Gudkov founded different kinds of kantele orchestras. In 1936 he founded an orchestra that became the national song and dance ensemble, named Kantele in 1942.

Today the Kantele House is a lively center for Karelian culture that has many events throughout the year with the Kantele Ensemble as well as the vocal group Aino, as well as dancers of folk and modern dance and ballet.  The concert hall arranges many concerts and the building also houses a music school where over 100 children learn kantele, dance and singing. There is also the workshop of luthier Aleksandr Frolov and a dressmaker’s workshop, where the costumes inspired by Karelian tradition are produced for the Kantele Ensemble.

In June 2010 the large-scale reconstruction of the building was completed.