Life's Blood Ensemble Lords of Outland Deciduous Otherworld Ensemble Bloom Project
Manala Road to Aacheron The Otherworld Cycle
MANALA :: Rent Romus & Heikki Koskinen
photos: Peter B Kaars, painting top: 9.15.18-II-art-by-Charles-Smith

Like most ethnic Finnish immigrants who came to the United States at the turn of the century fleeing the impact of the fall of the Russian Heikki Koskinen photo by Peter B KaarsEmpire, Romus' family was strongly encouraged to shed their identity through name, language and/or cultural practices upon entering. Research, mentoring, and music has given him the tools needed to reclaim a larger portion of his lost cultural identity culminating within the last thirty years.
Rent Romus photo by Peter B Kaars
Part of an ongoing music research project started by Romus in early 2002 and working with mentor and fellow composer/musician Heikki Koskinen, Manala (netherworld) is a representation of deep cultural rediscovery through the lens of music.
Manala weaves the elements of jazz, traditional folk, and free improvisation inspired by the mythic prose, poetry, and songs of cultural liberation and identity found in the rune poems of the Kalevala as well as folklore of Finno-Ugric cultural shamanic traditions into an original suite of music.

The concept of Manala also known as Tuonela is the metaphysical netherworld of the dead in the Finnish Kalevala or Jabmeaivo in Sami traditions. It is a place opposite of the land of the living, a place that contains answers to mysteries of the universe for the Noaidde or Noita (shaman) in Fino-Ugric cultures. It can be very dangerous for a living person to journey there, and only the most experienced may successfully emerge from its dark waters richer in knowledge and song for the experience.

  • Photo Gallery May 25-26 debut @ Finnish Heritage Society, Berkeley Finnish Hall, Berkeley CA
  • Preview Manala May 25-26 debut from Memory Select

  • Research Bibliography: - Lönnrot, Elias. The Kalevala, third edition. Cincinnati Ohio 1910 The Kalevala, A Land of Heros vol. 1&2, London 1966 The Kalevala, Epic of the Finnish People, Helsinki 1988 The Kalevala, paperback edition. Oxford 1999 - Pentikäinen, Juha. Kalevala Mythology Expanded edition, Indiana University Press, United States 1999 Shamanism and Culture, 3rd edition. Jyväskylä 2006 "The Shamanic Drum as Cognitive Map" Mythology and Cosmic Order (ed. Gothoni R., & Pentikäinen, J). Studia Fennica 32. Piesä`maki 1987. - Koskimies, August V. Itkonen, Toivo I. Inari Sami Folklore, Stories from Aanaar, revised edition by Laitinen Lea, Madison Wisconsin 2019 - Viires, Ants. The Red Book of the Peoples of the Russian Empire Tallinn 1993

    Foundation Support  
    The Spring 2020 release of Manala is made possible through the Musical Grant Program, which is administered by InterMusic SF, and supported by the Clarence E. Heller Charitable Foundation, the Hewlett Foundation, and San Francisco Grants for the Arts.
    Finlandia Foundation National
    The debut performance May 25 & 26, 2019 of Manala by the Rent Romus Life's Blood Ensemble was made possible through the Grants for Cultural Projects Program, which is administered by Finlandia Foundation National.

    Suomi Seura ry
    The debut performance May 25 & 26, 2019 of Manala was made possible in part
    Suomi-Seura-ry Grants for Foreign Societies awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture Helsinki Finland.