MANALA :: Rent Romus & Heikki Koskinen
photo left: Michal Zelner, painting top right 9.15.18-II-art-by-Charles-Smith, photo bottom right Rent Romus
Manala is a joint project created by San Francisco Bay Area saxophonist, composer and bandleader Rent Romus alongside trumpet player, composer, educator Heikki "Mike" Koskinen. An original musical project, 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 traditions and shamanic stories, and is part of an ongoing music research project started by Rent Romus in early 2002.
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 shaman may successfully emerge from its dark waters richer in knowledge and song for the experience.
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 http://www.eki.ee/books/redbook/introduction.shtml Tallinn 1993
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.
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.
The debut performance May 25 & 26, 2019 of Manala was made possible in part by Suomi-Seura-ry Grants for Foreign Societies awarded by the Ministry of Education and Culture Helsinki Finland.