Teija Niku & Grupa Balkan

Teija Niku & Grupa Balkan

 Helsinki, Central Finland, FIN

Teija Niku & Grupa Balkan bring a new twist to the Balkan music scene - virtuosity flavoured with delicate northern tones.


Teija Niku (born 1982 in Haapavesi, Finland) is an accordion player with extensive experience in performing ever since she was 7 years old. Her first instrument, the 2-row accordion, led her way towards folk music, and even though she took classical lessons on her 5-row chromatic button accordion for a few years as a teenager, it never felt right for her.

Today Teija Niku is a professional folk musician with a master's degree from the famous Sibelius Academy Folk Music Department. She plays a great variety of music: Nordic folk music, Finnish tango & schlager, accordion evergreens, French musette, etc. But her true speciality is the folk music from the Balkan region, which she's had the honour to learn directly from great accordion masters Lelo Nika & Sasko Velkov. Not to mention that one of the most important mentors and teachers in Teija's accordion playing history has been Maria Kalaniemi.

– I am very lucky that I have had the chance to study accordion with the masters, Teija says.

Teija Niku & Grupa Balkan plays folk music from the Balkans – a region, where music is often characterized with fast tempos and heartbreakingly romantic melodies. The virtuosity of the band and pure joy of playing can be heard in the tricky ornaments and improvised solos. Teija Niku's original compositions include typical Balkan folk music tradition ingredients, but you can hear flavours of Nordic tradition in her music as well. Folk tunes from Serbia, Romania, Macedonia and Bulgaria turn into feminine yet powerful versions in Teija's hands.

– When people listen to Balkan folk music, most notice first the unusual rhythms, but personally I have always been especially inspired by the rich harmonies and skilful decorations, Teija continues.

Teija Niku also plays in bands Polka Chicks and Karuna. Grupa Balkan are Tommi Asplund, violin (e.g. Tsuumi Sound System), Tuomas Logrén, guitar, mandolin, dobro (e.g. Frigg) and Ilkka Heinonen, double bass (e.g. Jouhiorkesteri, Ruuti, Freilach mit Kneidlach).

Publihed in 2011 Teija Niku's debut solo album "Finsko Pajdusko" was one of the four nominees competing for the Emma prize "Ethno Album of the Year" and also made it to the respected "Albums of the Year" list by Helsingin Sanomat newspaper. The list included for example Michael Monroe, 22-Pistepirkko and PJ Harvey, altogether 35 popular music albums and 15 classical albums.


Teija Niku: Finsko Pajdusko (Rockadillo Records 2011)

Set List

1. Teijavo Horo
2. Hora Martisorului
3. Ajde Jano
4. Finsko Pajdusko
5. Bitolcanka Oro
6. Romanian Hora
7. Prelaz Kolo
8. Oriental Cocek
9. Drugarsko Kolo
10. Nova Ruchenitsa
11. Romska Elegija