Professional of the Year - Performing Arts - Kantele Music

member photo

Wilho F. Saari

Industry: Performing Arts
Spouse: Kaisa Saari
Married: June 21, 1957
Children: Riki Saari, Karen Nelson; 6 grandchildren
Type of Organization: Performing arts
Major Product: Kantele music
Area of Distribution: International
Expertise: Music composition and performance
University/Degree: B.A., Sacred Music; B.A., Music Education, Northwest College
Title: Writer, Performer
Work History: Grade school teacher for 34 years including 3 years in Liberia, Africa in a missions school and 23 years at Naselle Youth Camp School
Honors & Awards: Awarded the Governor's Heritage Award for his work popularizing and teaching the kantele; one of ten recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) award of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the country's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts
Published Works: Music CD's including Kantele Songs of Praise and Vilhon Vintiltš; 4000+ compositions in progress
Affiliations: Finnish American Festival, Finnish American Historical Society
Career Accomplishments: He is a fifth-generation Finnish American player of the kantele, the Finnish psaltery. Kreeta Haapasalo, a well-known kantele player in Finland in the 19th century, was his great-great grandmother. He performed at FinnFest USA '06, an annual national festival, where he participated in the world premiere of a Kantele Mass composed by Jarkko Yli-Annala.