Kimmo Pohjonen Accordion Wrestling

Kimmo Pohjonen Accordion Wrestling
Following sell out shows in a Dorset Quarry and on English farms, Kimmo Pohjonen returns to the UK with Accordion Wrestling, a landmark Finnish event that celebrates one of the original sports of the ancient Olympics during 2012.

Starring Pohjonen and twelve wrestlers, Accordion Wrestling takes a modern spin on the Finnish wrestling tradition from early to mid-1900s when the accordion was used as musical accompaniment for wrestling matches. Accordion Wrestling expands this tradition into an innovative and entertaining physical theatre and music performance with World champion Finnish wrestling group Helsinki Nelson, members of the British Wrestling Association and a top production team of Finland’s leading technicians; direction and choreography by Ari Numminen, light design by Mikku Kunttu and sound design by Hekki Iso-Ahola.

For these special UK dates, sounduk is delighted to announce that Krasimir Krastanov and Oleg Druzhynets, two members of the British Wrestling Association who also represent Great Britain, will join the project. Oleg and Krasimir will bring with them the British Wrestling tradition and collaborate with Pohjonen and the Finnish wrestlers in the form of a match as part of the performance.

Why Accordion Wrestling?
When performing at the Kaustinen Festival, Finland in the mid-90s, Pohjonen met an old accordion player who told him that he used to play at wrestling matches in the 40s and 50s. Initially he thought the old man was joking but upon listening more Pohjonen became intrigued and following further investigation found that this story was in fact part of an old, almost forgotten tradition that occurred in Finland from the 1920s to the 1960s.

Pohjonen’s research discovered that ahead of each wrestling match, local newspapers would carry a printed advertisement for the event, listing the names of the wrestlers, the referee and the accordionist. In those days, the accordionist was considered nothing less than a star, equal in stature with the fame of the wrestlers. The purpose of including the accordionist’s name in the newspaper ads was not only because of the player’s drawing power but to lure young ladies to the matches, by adding a more lively, social atmosphere to the events. After the matches, there would follow dances with the accordionist playing dance tunes. The concept of the event was as much social as it was sport. This tradition died out at the end of the 60s, as the popularity of loud amplified music eventually replaced the live accordionist.

Upon learning these stories, Pohjonen was instantly inspired to re-create for modern times the tradition of accordion meets wrestling. In developing Accordion Wrestling Pohjonen met and interviewed old accordion players using their stories and archive photos and film footage as part of the project. He also took his accordion around various Finnish wrestling clubs, playing for wrestlers to recruit those that were interested in taking part of this unique project.

The result is a riveting live show featuring film, music performance and choreographed wrestling presented on a stage with a specially designed amplified mat, circular back screen and lighting rig. The performance makes use of the latest lighting and sound technology, working in surround sound to add to the dramatic effect.

About Kimmo Pohjonen
Finnish accordionist and composer Kimmo Pohjonen stands apart as one of the world’s musical innovators. His singular mission is to expand the capabilities, sound and experience of the accordion to levels never before attempted, seen or heard. Accordion, voice, effects, surround sound and light combine to make highly distinctive and captivating performances which has won Kimmo ardent fans across musical genres.

A visionary of boundless energy, Pohjonen’s roots go back thirty years in all forms of accordion music including folk, dance, classical, rock, experimental, theatre music and more. His studies in the progressive and innovative Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department were a critical factor in Pohjonen’s transition to the boldly creative and versatile musician / performer he is today. Currently, Pohjonen is simultaneously involved in numerous projects including the premier of Soundbreaker, a new documentary spanning Kimmo’s 35 year career in music, Uniko with the Kronos Quartet, Accordion Wrestling and his duo Kluster with sampling genius Samuli Kosminen plus much more. Visit for further information.

About Helsinki Nelson
Accordion Wrestling features ten members of the Finnish wrestling group Helsinki Nelson, including two female wrestlers. The group consists of some of Finland’s best wrestlers, with high ranking world and Finnish champions.

6 June Manchester Royal Northern College of Music, 7.30pm, £15.00 (£13.50 conc), / 0161 907 5555

8 June, London York Hall promoted by the Barbican, 8.00pm, £20, / 020 7638 8891

Produced by: sounduk

Funded by: Arts Council England, Finnish Ministry of Sport, Embassy of Finland London, Turku Abo European City of Culture, Luses and ESEK.

Kimmo Pohjonen website

Tour Dates

6 June 2012 Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
Royal Northern College of Music

8 June 2012 York Hall, London (Barbican Centre)
Barbican Centre

Return to Live Events index page

Dartington International Summer School 2015
Dartington International Summer School 2015
Arve Henriksen
Arve Henriksen
Join mailing list