Raahe Laulutoverit was founded in the autumn of 1975 with the purpose of nurturing working music in the northern steel manufacturing town of Raahe, Finland. since its establishment the choir has been highly active. Raahe Laulutoverit is a member of the Finnish Workers' Music Association (STM, Suomen Työväen Musiikkiliitto).
On Mother's Day 1978 the choir performed its first concert to the general public where it all started and the tradition continues to this day. Raahe and the surrounding population has adopted Laulutoverit as its favourite.
The choir has travelled to festivals throughout Finland. The northernmost Location has been Ivalo and Kittilä in Lapland, and in the south, Kotka and Helsinki. In Helsinki the choir has perfomed the Koiton Song in the Kom Theatre. The choir has performed in Finlandia Hall and Turku Castle. At the Valkeakoski Workers' Music event the choir had its own concert and performances throughout the main celebrations.
The choir has travelled abroad to Russia Vologda and the Raahe twin town of Cherepovets. In the Baltic countries, the choir has visited Riga, Latvia, Estonia in Tallinn, Pärnu and twice in Tartu. In Sweden, the choir has performed in Stockholm and the northern border town of Haparanda and Skellefteå.
The choir's most notable achievement was winning at the international sea shanty festival in Kotka in 1981. The winning performance included tales of Raahe seamen sailing life during the late 1800s, when Raahe was Finland's most important shipowner city.
In 1982, Finnish YLE TV-2 and Raahe Laulutoverit made a movie called 'Above (riding) the waves', which was based on their choir sea shanty song repertoire.
Later, the choir has made numerous recordings, for example with YLE Finnish Radio and these are in the tape archives. YLE TV has recorded music composed by Kaj Chydenius for Laulutoverit along with songs sung by Pasi Jääskeläinen on the deck of a ship.
In the autumn of 1993 Laulutoverit did a programme with Estonian television in Tallinn, which was selected as the best presentation of the week program based on viewer votes.
Laulutoverit has recorded three albums. In 1982, workers music in the album "Toverille" (to comrades). In 1983, a sailor's life is depicted based on folk tunes "Meijän kylän merielämää" (Our village sea life). Jubilee editions of these two albums were made, in 1995 a CD version of "Meijän kylän merielämää" and "Toverille", in May 1998.
The Tramppi CD was released 30.6.2001. The album contains twelve songs composed by Kaj Chydenius for Raahe Laulutoverit based on the poems of the now deceased Raahe seaman; Risto Sassali.
Past, Present, Future...
The choir's artistic leader Pauli Ylitalo worked from the foundation until the summer of 1992 and was then succeeded by Sirje Rätsep. Tapani Säily continued as choir leader from the autumn of 1997 until the end of the spring season of 2010. After the departure of Tapani Säily in 2010, Mauno Konkka became the leader until 2013 when Pauli Ylitalo, the choir's founder returned to the helm as Captain!
The choir continues to maintain the same path of the preservation of workers' music.
The repertoire selection of the choir follows the premise; nothing is impossible! An original program is selected from pieces listeners are interested in, which other choirs do not offer. Richness comes from the sophisticated and regular training from which the group will produce its own accompanists and soloists maintaining an uncompromising level of presentation.
The choir's founder members were Reijo Rautio, Risto Rautio, Seija Tähjänjoki (Hurnanen), Pauli Ylitalo and the now sadly deceased Asko Björkman and Pauli Virtanen.
These members have served more than 30 years in our choir: Päivi Bradburn, Annikki Sarajärvi, Anna-Liisa Turpeinen, Lauri Maarala, Raimo Ukonaho and Heikki Tähjänjoki
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