Sommelo is a dynamic mixed choir of about 40 members from the town of Akaa in Finland. The members are all amateur singers of different age and professional background sharing a common interest in music. The word ”Sommelo” comes from Kalevala, the Finnish national epic. It means "the birch-bark ball" around which threads were coiled and unwound - symbolically, in the same way as the singer collects and performs songs.
Sommelo has been an essential part of the cultural life of Akaa town for about forty years. The choir was founded in 1977 by Mr Niilo Villanen who was a teacher and a multicultural influential person in Akaa. At the beginning there were only a few singers and the repertoire consisted of simple folksongs. After Niilo Villanen's sudden death in 1983 the choir had two conductors, first Mr Juha Nuora and then Mr Juha Viitanen who were both skilful conductors. In 1994 the choir got a conductor, Mrs Leena Aarnipuu-Lampela, who led the choir into new and unforeseen interpretations of choir music.
Since 2011 Mr Juha Holma has been the artistic director and conductor of Sommelo. He is an internationally renowned and award-winning composer and choral conductor. His career with choirs has brought him several achievements in international choir competitions. In International Madetoja Choir Competition his choir won the first prize and Holma was nominated the best conductor. He is well-known for constantly trying to find new aspects into choral music and renewing the choral performing traditions. Juha Holma has composed a huge amount of commissions, also to foreign countries. For the last three years he has won the first prize with his compositions in four competitions. He has composed chamber music and orchestral music but the majority of his compositions are for choir.
Since August 2017, the choir’s artistic director and conductor has been Ms Marjukka Manner. She studied conducting at Jyväskylä JAMK University of Applied Sciences with Rita Varonen and also conducts the choirs of Musica and Mäntän Naislaulajat.
Sommelo has a wide variety of repertoire: spirituals, hymns, traditional a cappella-songs, folk-music - from Finland and abroad - and even pop music and modern music. Sommelo has made five recordings. Aside from regular local concert events, Sommelo has made concert tours to Estonia, The Czech Republic and Bulgaria as well as attended choir competitions in Finland and Spain with achievements. In 2015 Sommelo participated in Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfodd in Wales.
2.9.2016 Maija Kenttä, Pia Harju