King Ayisoba

“King” is no exaggerated title in the name of this remarkable Ghanaian artist. King Ayisoba is a real superstar in his home country and known all over the world as the King of kologo (a lute instrument from West Africa, made of calabash and a goatskin). His hypnotic and bouncing wild melodies, a trademark raspy vocals and straightforward and persuasive  songs have enchanted audiences across the world. 

King Ayisoba has been called “a musical preacher” because in his tunes he often gives advice and talks about good and bad. He himself has said, that his music is the medium to talk to his people, to advise and encourage them with the ancestors’ wisdom that never grows old. King Ayisoba grew up in a small village and as a boy he always had his kologo with him whenever he took the family sheep and cattle out to graze. He played at markets, local bars and funerals until he was old enough to leave the region and try his songs on the people in big cities. He has won many notable music awards and participated in numerous collaborations with different artists from around the world.

King Ayisoba - Kologo player, singer
Abaadongo Adontanga – dancer, backing singer and dorgo player
Ayuune Sulley – Sinyaka, backing singer, kologo player
Gemeka Akligilalatanda – guluku drums, dundun drums
Ayamga Francis – Djembe and Bemne drums


Lena Jonsson Trio


Lena Jonsson’s ability to balance a deep knowledge of traditional Swedish folk music with innovative artistic sensibilities, sparkling joy of life and a charisma of a rock-star have made her one Sweden’s most visionary musicians. She has created a unique style inspired by traditional Swedish music as well as rock, pop and the american old-time and bluegrass traditions. This world-class musician is coming to Viljandi with her amazing trio that was nominated for a Swedish Grammy this year for best Folk album.

Lena Jonsson- fiddle
Erik Ronström- guitar
Kristofer "Krydda" Sundström- bass


MandoTrio & Friends


MandoTrio is a group of three young mandolin players who play traditional music and their own compositions. In addition to the husky sounds of double strings they are also using stomp-box and octave to spice things up with bass and drum.

MandoTrio’s mission is to infect people with mandolin madness. Hans is from Tallinn, Kristjan from Liimala and Tanel from Jõgeva, they were brought together by Viljandi Cultural Academy and by the love of mandolins in traditional music.

Kristjan Kuusmik is describing the band: “MandoTrio’s concert is made special both by our soundscape and repertoire. We play traditional dance tunes and songs but also our own heartfelt compositions. We like to communicate with people and we hope our music will give them a wish to take up the mandolin as well.“

These happy fellows will present their second studio album in Viljandi and they’ve invited along their most inspiring friends and fellow musicians, to make it truly memorable.

Hans Mihkel Vares - mandolin, vocal
Tanel Sakrits - mandolin, vocal
Kristjan Kuusmik - mandolin, vocal




Nagy Bögö plays post-traditional music. The pillars of their musical creation are the folklore and the traditions, their source of inspiration the nature, home and friendship. Nagy Bögö starts with our own roots and ends up in Hungary, Bulgaria, in a fascinating symbiosis between the modern and old times or possibly in some completely unexpected place. The band is not afraid of putting together the opposites, crossing the boundaries and experimenting with traditional tunes on their musical journeys. The sizzling synergy between Nagy Bögö and the audience charges everyone with positive load that will last for a long time.

Karolin Übner - Eesti ja Hungarian bagpipe
Katariina Tirmaste - flute, violin
Martin Vill - Bulgarian bagpipe, soprano saxophone
Jaan-Eerik Aardam - guitar
Mart Nõmm - double bass
Kevin Lilleleht - percussions


Orivesi All Stars

Orivesi All Stars is the biggest folk music collective in Finland with almost 100 members whose age varies from 8 to 85 years. The orchestra was founded to promote the discovery, learning, experience and sharing of musical joy. This lovely group does not distinguish between amateurs and professionals and the only goal is to produce nice and meaningful music together in a good spirit. The whole big and happy beehive is headed by true Finnish folk music legends Antti Järvelä and Timo Alakotila.




RIFFARRICA (ex-Duo Malva & Priks) started in 2016. Kulno Malva and Kristjan Priks, both experienced folk musicians, joined forces to make vigorous and masculine folk music, drawing inspiration from centuries-old folktale songs. The combination of Kulno’s raspy vocals, dynamic accordion grooves and the sound of Kristjan’s distinctive drum set gave birth to a fresh and exciting sound –"Folk with muscle" as Baltic Music News so accurately named it.

“Accordion, vocals and percussion create a sound that you’d never associate with just two musicians – with a little help from some electronic gadgets, the accordion starts to screech like a hard rock guitar or obtains a tonal ambience as rich as that of a grand piano. It helps to emphasise the strong groove which is an unmistakable trademark of the duo.” 

Dani Heyvaert, Rootstime

In 2017, Duo Malva & Priks released an EP “Mässiv”

Kulno Malva - accordion, Estonian bagpipe, vocals
Kristjan Priks - drums, vocals




Rüüt is a dynamic, playful and bold ensemble in which different worlds of an actress, jazz-musician and two Estonian diatonic accordion players meet and become combined into one. As a result Rüüt’s music is a good listening to folk lovers, those interested in technical intricacies and also to wonderers of mellow musical landscapes.

They have made characteristic arrangements to quite a few of Estonian traditional folk tunes and songs. In addition, the ensemble also arranges their own compositions. And the search for piece’s final arrangement does not end until all the members are entranced by it. To achieve that, the band conjures all kinds of ideas and solutions that will form the music.

The band is characterized by mystical atmosphere, intricate harmonic, melodic and rhythmic combinations, precision and a common feel.

Maili Metssalu- vocals, fiddle
Maarja Soomre- vokals, melodica, kannel
Toomas Oks - Estonian diatonic accordion, guitar, vocals
Juhan Uppin - Estonian diatonic accordion, kannel, vocals




In ancient Latvia, the name “tautumeitas” was given to young women at marriageable age but today it stands for all women dressed in national costumes.

Tautumeitas's music is created by six voices and six pairs of hands owned by Latvian girls, who believe that music makes the world a better place.

The principal interest of the group is traditional singing, especially multipart singing. The particular voice resonance created by this form of Latvian traditional singing provides enjoyment not only for the audience but also for the performers themselves. In order to portray traditional music from their own perspective and to show how the modern day 'Tautumeita' thinks and feels, the members each incorporate different instruments into this traditional a capella vocal music. The majority of the band's members have studied ethnomusicology, which is why there are many traditional music influences from different parts of the world.

Timbral variety, fresh ideas and eclectic musical taste all fuse together to give Tautumeitas its unique sound.


The Heritage Projekt

Estonia / Canada

Curly Strings, a four-piece from Estonia, and the April Verch Band, a trio lead by Ottawa Valley (Ontario, Canada) native, April Verch. The beginnings of this collaboration were simple. A mutual respect for each others music, a couple of brief chance meetings, and most importantly, the discovery of their mutual passion for the early traditional music of their homelands.

The set list for The Heritage Projekt begins by presenting the oldest form of music from both bands’ traditions, builds into medleys that highlight songs and tunes from Estonia and the Ottawa Valley that sound like long-lost cousins, then melds into selections both bands have composed together that fit within these traditions. It’s a journey of their roots and influences from history into present day. It is an opportunity to preserve and continue this heritage music all at once.

Both bands grew up rooted in the music of their specific region, honed their musicianship, and began to draw inspiration from other sources in forging their own brand of roots music. For Curly Strings that included blending inspiration from American bluegrass with their Estonian cultural space, and for the April Verch Band, fusing Old Time American, Scandinavian and classic country influences with regional Canadian styles.

While standing in a long line together at a burger joint in New York City, the bands entered into deep discussions and comparisons about their homelands and musical traditions, and quickly discovered that they had a lot in common. Both Estonian and Ottawa Valley traditional music styles grew out of a mixed pot of cultures and people, and included dance music from the various immigrants who settled in each location. A question emerged amongst these young musicians from opposite sides of the globe. What would a collaboration sound like that honored these timeless traditions and celebrated the common ground of these unique ethnic styles? Thus began, The Heritage Projekt.

This partnership is also an opportunity for both bands to revisit the roots that their music comes from, without concerns for having it fit their current band sound. Eeva Talsi of Curly Strings says “it’s something that both our bands have wanted to do for some time, and it’s been even more fun and exciting to do it as a team.” April Verch agrees, “by combining our efforts, we’re able to present our ethnic styles to each other, and to more and different parts of the world than we would be able to just on our own.”

Curly Strings:

Eeva Talsi – violin, voice
Taavet Niller – bass, voice
Jaan Jaago – guitar, voice
Villu Talsi – mandolin, voice

The April Verch Band:

Cody Walters - upright-electric bass, banjo
Alex Rubin - guitar, mandolin
April Verch - voice, violin,  stepdance


Tintura & Arno Tamm


Tintura and Arno Tamm have got together for the 27th Viljandi Folk Music Festival, to create a special production dedicated to Estonians who’ve been force to leave their homeland.

Songs, that have been brought along from the home country, songs, that have helped to retain the memory of the long lost home, stories behind these songs, and the tunes that have managed to survive despite everything and found their way back home - all this creates a truly powerful story worth telling and remembering.

The heritage of Siberian Estonians has inspired many musicians lately, but this is a first  concert dedicated especially to the music of Siberian Estonians. Tintura, a band playing with folktronic, trip-hop and worldmusic, and Arno Tamm, the frontman of Paabel, will bring you their contemporary vision on how to bring back the tradition and move forward within it.

Karoliina Kreintaal - voice, fiddle, bowed lyre, cither
Taavet Niller – double bass, voice
Lauri Täht – beats, samples, effects
Arno Tamm - voice

Trio Durand Millet Raillard


Trio Durand Millet Raillard comes from a mountainous region of Morvan in Burgundy. The members of the trio have been surrounded by traditional music of the region from early childhood and today they are one of the best ambassadors of the traditional music of  Morvan region. This inspiring trio is doing a wonderful job at keeping the purest and the oldest function of folk music alive - they play for dancing and for delight of the community. They explore a repertoire of traditional Morvan music from which they create modern, dynamic and original arrangements for an energetic performance. This is a real treat for everyone who loves to dance the night away!

Gregoire Durand - violin
Quentin Millet - bagpipes
Alex Raillard - guitar

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