Estonian-born, Finnish-based musician Hedi Viisma presents a concert performed on the kantele (a traditional plucked instrument of the zither family native to Finland, Estonia, and Karelia) that includes premiere performances of Alex Freeman’s Toccata, Matthew Whittall’s The Snow Watcher, and Sebastian Fagerlund’s Kohti, as well as her own arrangements of J.S. Bach, Isaac Albeniz, John Dowland, Claude Debussy, and John Cage.
Viisma began studies on the kantele at the age of seven. She earned a diploma in performance from the Georg Ots Conservatory in her native Tallinn, and a Master’s degree at the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki, Finland, where she studied under Ritva Koistinen, Finland’s premier kantele pedagogue. A highly sought-after recitalist and guest lecturer, Viisma is currently based in Helsinki, pursing a doctoral degree at the Sibelius Academy, where she also coaches chamber music. Additionally, she holds the post of Lecturer at the Estonian Academy of Music and Theater.
From its roots as a six-string folk zither, the kantele has grown over the last half century into a full-fledged concert instrument, and Hedi Viisma has consistently been at the forefront of its technical and structural development through her commissions, transcriptions and work with instrument makers. Her kantele model, a five-octave, sixty-one-string chromatic kantele, debuted in 2010. Designed in collaboration with master craftsman Otto Koistinen of Rääkkylä, Finland, the instrument is set to become the concert standard for the chromatic kantele. Viisma has recorded music by Bach for the Finnish IMU label and has performed many new works for broadcast in Finland and Estonia. Her upcoming album Reflections, with cellist Seeli Toivio, will be released in 2011.