In Finland we like to apply sports terms whenever possible, and therefor we have a word for the people who work in many intersecting branches or professions: the decathlete of culture, for example. Or actually - that’s not correct, ten disciples is not enough. In Finnish the term ”moniottelija” translates loosely to ”multi-athlete”. That refers to a person who doesn’t have just one or two or ten areas where they excel and challenge themselves, but more of a holistic approach on the field of sports.
Annamaija Saarela and Jussi Fredriksson are two of those many remarkable individuals in Finland, who have devoted their careers to advancing the working conditions of jazz professionals, and enlivening the jazz culture itself. They have left their imprint in the jazz culture of the 2000’s, and not just in the capital Helsinki, but also in their home cities, Tampere and Turku. Due to their open-minded approach in festival programming, jazz has gained new audiences in Northern Finland and in the South-Western peninsula too. Of course this kind of relentless pursue does not go unnoticed outside the Finnish borders either. Saarela worked as the President of the Europe Jazz Network in 2010-2012, after a long-term board membership, and Fredriksson has made international appearances both as a musician and a record label manager. Both of them are active in local politics too. In Finland we had a communal election a few weeks back, and both Saarela and Fredriksson ran for the city boards in their respective cities; Saarela as the only candidate of the newly-formed Feminist Party, and Fredriksson on the Green Party bill.
Currently Annamaija Saarela runs her own artist management agency Annamaija Music Company, and coordinates numerous EU-funded projects and application processes for other organizations, including Jazz Finland International project for Jazz Finland. Jussi Fredriksson also runs an agency, called JazzHUG, and a self-titled record label Fredriksson Music. Alongside the agency and label Fredriksson produces a jazz festival in Turku, the historic capital of Finland, and promotes the jazz club scene there under the multi-venture association Flame Jazz.
To even list these duties is exhausting, and to juggle these tasks must be overwhelming. How can they even survive through all this, and more? The professional decathletes have their weekly routine, but for these jazz pros every week is different. Both Saarela and Fredriksson shared one week of their lives with Jazz Finland.
Annamaija Saarela’s week before the election:
- Office day at home. Jet lag from a holiday in Thailand.
- In the morning I go through the massive pile of emails and have a long discussion on the phone with a rep from the Finnish Rock Club Association, about the funding of the music scene.
- I apply a Lost In Music showcase for Oddarrang.
- I find out we are being audited by the Nordic Culture Fund, and I order the missing documents from my accountant
- Later in the day I preview the applications to the live music grants of the Finnish Music Foundation MES, since I’m in the board. I see that the applicant shortlist for the Nordic Puls project arrived too, and I discussed about their processing schedule with the head of the board.
- In the afternoon I take an hour for the Pirkanmaa region festivals business; I take care of the paychecks and have a meeting about the security staff training of the volunteers.
- I finally get my campaign posters and have a meeting about the street poster campaign.
- In the evening me and my partner discuss the ongoing renovation project.
- Office day at the Finlayson’s co-op office. Hear from the landlord that our shared office has to move to another location and I’ll lose my view over the Tammerkoski stream
- The rest of the office hours go by taking time to organize my artists’ matters. I talk on the phone with pianist Kari Ikonen and e-mail my contacts in Tokyo and London.
- In the evening I attend an election-related panel discussion at the local polytechnic. I’m the only female panelist.
- Late at night I catch myself plastering my campaign posters.
- Office day at the Pirkanmaa region festival office.
- Before work I plaster more posters.
- Yesterday was my Kari Ikonen Trio day and this is my Oddarrang day. I call Olavi Louhivuori about updates and future plans.
- I start my campaign at the central square of Tampere.
- I go to see a film called Boiling Point and attend a following public discussion over racism.
- Campaign work at the central square, and an office day at the Pirkanmaa region festival office.
- Basic office duties, spending time on the phone and replying emails.
- In the evening I attend a panel discussion at the university of Tampere. I’m the only one who’s not a student in the panel. I decide to go and celebrate the newly-opened Riga-Tampere air route at a VIP party in Näsinneula tower.
- Office day at home: jazz ahead! stuff and applying for Music Finland’s Japan-project
- I have a meeting with the architect Marco Casagrande about the blueprints and permit issues of the future Live Lab (Livelaboratorio).
- Campaign work.
- I attended a panel discussion about the future of culture. I was in a good company there with the former Minister of Culture Pia Virtanen and the Vice Mayor of Tampere, Anna-Kaisa Heinämäki.
- Day off! I make pancakes with my Dad, and follow the storm forecasts. I think I need to collect some of the posters from the streets tomorrow, if they are destroyed.
Jussi Fredriksson’s week after the election:
I take the train to Helsinki from Pietarsaari in the West coast. Family stays at the in-laws, so I have the perfect opportunity to work. I write a proposal for the upcoming party assembly: freelance artists and culture professionals should be integrated to public culture services.
I attend a meeting of a working group assigned to prepare a bill of a reform of the governmentally funded institutions. After the meeting I head to the Helsinki Music House to practice my piano. On the side of the training, I handle some of the management matters for Mikko Innanen. In the summer, Innanen is going to perform while floating in the river Aura in Turku, surrounded by giant seabird statues.
I need a beer with bassist Ville Herrala.
Morning class about psycho-dynamics. It’s hard to get a doctor’s degree.
After school I take the train to Turku and collect my dog Uuno from the Grandma’s. I meet my accountant while I’m in the city, and attend the first party meeting of the Green city board members.
I drive to Helsinki to meet a student in my mentor class. We discuss over an hour about the everyday life of a jazz musician and the formation of professional identity. After the meeting I teach a class about jazz ensemble pedagogy. My wife and son finally arrived home from Pietarsaari. I missed hanging out with them.
Doctor’s degree seminar at the Sibelius Academy. Jukes Uotila runs the seminar every Friday. After the seminar I drove to my practice place to train, and to seal the final details about tonight’s Flame Jazz concert at Monk jazz club in Turku. It feels awesome to be able to share the workload with someone: this year I hired a part-time producer for Flame Jazz clubs.
Light training in the morning, and planning the marketing campaign for Flame Jazz programme next fall. Wife goes partying with friends, so I stay at home with the baby.
Baby swim day! I try to keep my Sundays off, and this time I think I finally managed!