The words innovative and fresh are rarely used to describe accordion music. However, Estonian musician and composer Tuulikki Bartosik defies expectations. From crafting introspective solos to expanding notions of traditional music through international collaborations, her inspiration is rooted in her Võrumaa origins in Estonia, growing with the people and places she encounters elsewhere to create spontaneous, unorthodox musical adventures.
Tuulikki continually explores how to adapt her accordions for different surroundings, from a busy city street to a Welch hillside cave, to her beloved deep forests in South Estonia. Her compositions evolve in different environments, in one, exploring a lullaby through the lens of a nightmare during a cosy house concert. In another, as her tune, “Tunturi,” expanded into a substantial production, in which her Estonian Folk Orchestra performed with Konzerthausorchester Berlin, conducted by Kristjan Järvi, during Estonia’s centennial celebration.
Tuulikki first came to the UK’s attention with “Chatterbox,” her album with fellow accordionist and clog dancer, Hannah James. Created in the Welch countryside, the location inspired spontaneous and unorthodox musical adventures, including recording in a cave. The British newspaper, The Telegraph, chose “Chatterbox” as one of its best folk albums of 2015.
Solo album, “Storied Sounds,” was released under the UK label, RootBeat Records, in 2016, followed by Germany’s Nordic Notes and Japan’s Metacompany labels in 2017. The album features solo pieces, as well as duos and trios, with Finnish pianist and composer, Timo Alakotila, Estonian mandolin player, Villu Talsi and Welsh guitarist, Dylan Fowler.
Tuulikki also joins forces with Estonian singer-songwriter, Mari Kalkun, and multi-instrumentalist Pastacas. Their collaboration is available on the Estonian-released album, “Upa-upa ubinakõnõ,” which achieved a reputable 22nd place on Estonian Public Broadcasting’s 2015 list of best Estonian albums. Originally written for children, “Upa-upa ubinakõnõ” got a warm reception from Estonian media and audiences of all ages.
Tuulikki earned nominations for Estonian Folk Music Awards Best Musician and Best Album categories in 2014, 2015 and 2016. She also received an honorary award for promoting South-Estonian traditions in 2016, followed by a 2017 Live and Shine grant from Estonian Culture Capital. Tuulikki accompanied Estonian President, Kersti Kaljulaid, on her state visit to Finland in 2017 for Finland's centennial celebration.
Tuulikki’s latest projects include touring in Japan and the UK, playing with the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and a collaboration between her Estonian Folk Chamber Orchestra and the renowned conductor, Kristjan Järvi. She started an all-female accordion project, Accordionesse, where she participates in along with Hannah James, Karen Tweed, Mairearad Green and Teija Niku, which debuted at Glasgow’s 2018 Celtic Connections Festival. During 2018-2020 Tuulikki tours together with Japanese accordion player Kanako Kato and Danish accordion player Mette Kathrine Jensen Stærk.
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Tuulikki plays on a custom made free-bass accordion by Pigini Accordions.