I've tried my best to learn Swedish, and do use it on a daily basis (although most of my interactions are in English). However, when crossing the border into Finland, it is amazing to me that our neighboring country's language is completely different! 

Last weekend, Jake, Charles, Anna, and I made the 10-hour journey (by car) to Pori, Finland to give a concert and work with the students at the Palmgren Conservatory. About 7 years ago I attended the Nexus Summer Percussion Seminar in Toronto, Canada and met the members of the Finnish percussion group called Osuma. Then, when we planned our festival last year I reconnected with one of the members of the group, Toni Hietala. He brought over a van full of students and we had a great time here in Piteå. 

I've wanted to head over the border before leaving Piteå, so Toni and I worked out the visit! We arrived at 4am on Friday (yes, driving into the night...but luckily it never gets really dark!), and worked with the students on Friday afternoon. We performed an afternoon concert on Saturday, playing repertoire that is very special to us. We started with Charles' piece "a nice theory" (we were joined by the students and Janne, another member of Osuma), and then performed our 30-minute "Solstormen" Set. For something a bit different, Jake and I performed Casey's "Plato's Cave" and we ended with two songs with Anna ("it was the start of something new" by Jake and Anna, then Green's "Fluffy Ruffles"). We had a fantastic and enthusiastic audience, and got a great review in the paper (at least that's what Google Translate tells us!) On Sunday we gave a 4-hour masterclass to the students and had a great time teaching and giving them some new ideas! 

Pori was a great little town, and we enjoyed a lot of nice food and great company. Hopefully we can return to Finland at some point, but this was a nice first visit! Kiitos (thanks) for having us, Toni!