Winner of the 2023 Nordic Council Music Prize

Maija Kauhanen vinder Nordsik Råds musikpris 2023

Maija Kauhanen vinder Nordsik Råds musikpris 2023

Magnus Fröderberg,
The 2023 Nordic Council Music Prize goes to the folk musician, singer-songwriter, and kantele artist Maija Kauhanen from Finland.


Folk musician, singer-songwriter, and kantele player Maija Kauhanen is an explosively strong, versatile one-woman orchestra who has carved out an impressive international career in a short space of time. A solo artist and master musician, she has already released two critically acclaimed albums. Kauhanen’s debut album, Raivopyörä (“The Wheel of Wrath”) from 2017, has won several respected art prizes in Finland, while her latest album, Menneet (“The Predecessors”) from 2022, shows that her personal grasp of holistic creativity has grown even more.


Kauhanen’s art is based on the Finnish-Karelian tradition and its instrumentation, playing, and singing techniques. Her kantele playing draws on a deeply rhythmic traditional technique where the strings are played by using a wooden stick as a plectrum. Kauhanen’s way of fusing traditional folk singing techniques with new effects and soundscapes, even from the world of pop music, is skilful, personal, and innovative.


Kauhanen is best known as a multi-instrumentalist in her live performances as a one-woman orchestra. On stage, you can simultaneously hear wild kantele playing, powerful expressions of song, and a percussion arsenal consisting of dozens of instruments, from cymbals to bells, bowls, and various vessels. Kauhanen shows mastery of everything at once and consistently varies and improvises the whole with incredible skill. The result of this fusion of different eras, techniques, and styles is a powerful spectacle that enchants audiences everywhere.


The singers’ stories and words, in which the theme is often the fate of women in different ages, play an important role in Kauhanen’s powerful interpretation. Old folk songs are also skilfully placed in the present. Although the often feminist texts depict challenges in human relationships, domestic violence, and fear, there is also room for joy, comfort, and hope.


Kauhanen is a unique musician who sounds like no-one else.