New challenges ahead!

Again a year has passed, leaving us with many memories and experiences. It has been a great year for me, also quite demanding and full of different kind of work. 

A year ago I found myself with my family in my great grandparents farm in the West coast of Estonia. We had a lot of fun in the snow and enjoyed the beautiful sunset together with my uncle who is living there today. I had no idea what 2016 will bring to us but it was a happy feeling when I thought about all the possibilities. Today I am sitting in my living room in Stockholm, there is no snow outside, half of the family has got the flu and it still feels kind of promising when I think about 2017. 


2016 came with many big events and new beginnings. 

I toured with Hannah James in England in January and finished my soloalbum Storied Sounds in February.

With Hannah in Birmingham.

My album cover by Krõõt Kukkur

I also participated in bowed harp winterdays in Viljandi where my son finally got his new bowed harp and we became official members of the bowed harp society! It was really something new for me, just being there for him and observing their playing, not playing myself or teaching others.

The new harp with its maker Mihkel Soon and my son.

The new harp with its maker Mihkel Soon and my son.

In February Upa-upa ubinakõnõ got a grant from Estonian Culture Society in Sweden for a concert in Stockholm and me and my boys accepted the grant and performed as a trio for the first time during the ceremony! In March Upa-upa published a songbook and had a spring tour which began in Stockholm and went on to Tallinn, Tartu, Viljandi, Rakvere and Võru.

Upa-upa on the stage in Stockholm.

Upa-upa concert and workshop in Children Literature Center in Tallinn.

At the end of March i released my soloalbum Storied Sounds at Tallinn Music Week festival, where I had a showcase with Tuulikki Bartosik Trio. We had two concerts - one of them was probably one of the best concerts ever with me playing according to the audience. It was a pleasure to work together with producer Marju Kask, who put loads of energy to get everything work with the concert in her wonderful home.

Tuulikki Bartosik Trio TMW photo by Kaisa Keizars.

I made many new friends at TMW and also met some old ones like French-Bulgarian-Mongolian band Violons Barbares with Dimitar, Enkhjargal and Fabien. We had a great time at the festival together with my family! Violons Barbares have been our familys favourite band for quite many years now and my boys have got a lot of inspiration from meetings with all three of them.

Old friends meet again :-)

There were many things happening in March, almost too many…but we still managed to party together with our good friend composer and pianist Toomas Tuulse at his 70ieth birthday party. In April I got to play together with him again when we had a great concert in Göteborg together with Swedish Estonian vocal group SweedEstSong. My family got to join us for this trip too! Me and my 11year old son played some tunes when the audience mingled after the concert. It is just wonderful to make music together with the boys and not only in our living room!

SweedEst Song, Toomas Tuulse and me on the stage in Göteborg. 

A mother and son duo.

I also made an inspirational trip to Helsinki and met my old schoolmate accordionist Johanna Juhola there. May was almost as busy as March, with travels and different kind of work - I represented Estonia with Toomas Tuulse and my son at the annual European day celebration in Stockholm, held a lecture about Estonian and Swedish traditional music and dance at the Estonian Science Society in Sweden and played togehter with my sons and husband at Toomas 70ieth birthday concert at Eric Ericssonshallen in Stockholm.

European Day in Stockholm 9.5.2016.

Toomas Tuulse 70 - concert in Stockholm.

We also had the last concert with young folk musicians from UFiS in Stockholm at the lovely Skeppsholmens Folkhögskola by the sea in Stockholm. In June I played solo and togehter with Toomas Tuulse again at his little festival in Väddö, near Stockholm. I invited some of my accordion pupils to join us there and ended up playing duo with one of them on the stage. We played some old tunes after the Swedish master player Gössa Anders Andersson.  June had many different work opportunities to offer. I continued to South-Estonia rom Stockholm and had a charity gig for elderly in Tartu, played for the former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and his new wife Ieva in the cosy café Suur Muna by the highest point of the Baltics Suur Munamägi. Made some new musical friends from the Western coast of Estonia - a hilarious duo Ervin and Hillar who could probably play for 24 hours without repeating a tune.

Waiting for mr. President to arrive with my new friends Ervin and Hillar

From there I continued to the residency in Mooste, where I participated in the Omega 3 project togehter with many artists from different countries and worked with Canadian electroacoustic composer Vanessa Massera. We wrote a piece Seeds of Serendipity for the Omega 3 project and also had a photoproject with a Batman figure in different surroundings which made quite exciting expressions on people. You can still see the pictures in the old seeding factory in Mooste.

Omega 3 in Mooste Photo by Sabine Burger

From Mooste I continued to Võru where I got the honour to be part of the jury for Estonian diatonic accordion competition. And then we took a ferry to Hiiumaa - one of the biggest islands in Estonia to participate in the annual bowed harp camp with my older son playing his new harp as the only child in the camp. It was a lot of fun for the whole family as it was the first time for us to visit the beautiful Hiiumaa together. Upa-upa played a concert at the Hiiu folk festival and my boys were our guest artists again. It was a really enjoyable trip!

Bowed harp camp in Hiiumaa photo by Matthias Bartosik

Upa-upa at Hiiu Folk.

We continued to Rõuge from Hiiumaa and I started to prepare the first ever Estonian Children Ethno camp which was organised and held there by me. It was a huge success with fantastic children coming to the camp from all over Estonia. We had such a great time together and played a couple of concerts with the children and the teachers both in Rõuge and at the Viljandi Folk Festival. I was very happy to see my idea being put into effect and becoming such a success! Viljandi Folk Festival was also an EBU Euroradio Folk Festival 2016 which meant that many concerts where recorded for the radio programmes and also played live. Upa-upa got the honour to open the whole festival togehter with Maarja Nuut and TradAttack! and we played in the live TV and radio broadcast for thousands of people. It was one of the greatest concert experiences I have had in my life!

First ever Estonian Children Ethno camp in Rõuge.

Viljandi folk Festival opening concert with Upa-upa.

I had an interesting live recording session in the deep forests of south Estonia with American sound artist John Grzinich. We worked on a piece which contains new material from the recording session and already recorded sounds from our collaboration project in 2015 called Active Crossover. The piece Primary Reception was released by a Portuguese media label Crónica Electronica.

A view from the "forest studio" in the deep forest of Põlvamaa in South Estonia.

 In August I played with my boys at the Omega 3 closing ceremony in Mooste and actually tried to have one week off and have a bit of vacation. We visited Latvia and the manour house there where my great grandparents used work and my grandfather was born and enjoyed the nature in our second home in Rõuge. Back in Stockholm the school started for the boys and our life was back in the usual track again. We played again with the whole family at the Estonian Independence Day celebrations in Stockholm and ended up being shown in Lithuanian Television. I also turned 40 in August and had the most memorable day with good food and family and many surprises!


September was calm and warm and it was needed after all the activities, concerts and other work in the summer. In October I participated in the female musician project together with Mari Kalkun, Siiri Sisask, Aleksandra Kremenetski and Sänni Noormets. We made about an hour music for the Harvest Festival in Viljandi and had an emotional concert there. During the Harvest Festival Estonian Folk Music Awards ceremony was held and I was nominated as the best new folk musician with my Storied Sounds album and Upa-upa was nominated as the best band of the year. I didn’t get any awards this time but we had a nice reunion with Estonian Children Ethno participants and played some awsome tunes with them.

Harvest Festival in Viljandi photo from the website

At the end of October I participated in World Music Expo for the first time! It was such a fun! I made many new friends and contacts and heard some brilliant bands and soloists. Santiago de Compostela was fun too, I even managed to do some sightseeing. Amongst others I met Kepa Junkera, the famous trikitixa player from Basque and enjoyed an off Womex intimate concert with Capo Verde singer Tscheka. A wonderful week and time to remember!

With Kepa Junkera and José Miguel Lopez in Santiago de Compostela.

Some serious dancing with Ruslan Trochynskiy.

November came with preparation work for my Storied Sounds tour which began in Stockholm and took me back to Mooste, Võru and Tallinn. I have this amazing opportunity to work with Timo Alakotila and Villu Talsi, it is such a pure joy to play together with them. This time I used visuals by Jana Soans aka VJ Solaris in two concerts and mixed some field recordings with live music on the stage. I am so thankful for Storied Sounds project and everything I have learned and experienced from the first idea to the complete album and live concerts.

Tuulikki Bartosik Trio in Tallinn photo by Rene Jakobson

Tuulikki Bartosik Trio in Stockholm photo by Matthias Bartosik.

Between my own concerts we played a gig with Upa-upa at the Christmas Jazz Festival by Jazzkaar in the KUMU art museum and this time we hade live visuals by Sveta Bogomolova and Joosep Toomeste as a young guest artist. Such a great organising work by Jazzkaar, we enjoyed every minute of the concert!

Upa-upa Kumu 28.11.16

December was more calm and quiet with time with my family and teaching my boys but two new collaborations saw the daylight - Sara Edin, a Finnish-Swedish fiddler and singer is working on a play about Finnish national epic Kalevala togehter with me and I also started to work with Estonian composer Mirjam Tally. I have also been teaching at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre and celebrated the second master student graduating with me as his supervisor. I have also taught my accordion students in Stockholm and had some nice moments with them playing Swedish traditional tunes and helping them to find the joy in music and a connection between their music making and soul.  I am also grateful for the opportunity that I got to study ergonomics for musicians and singers at the University College of Music Education in Stockholm. 

Happy new year from me and my best supporters - my boys!

A year of many meetings with old and new friends, lots of traveling and music in its different forms! Let the 2017 begin with all new possibilites and cooperations!