Growing up on the Iron Range of Minnesota, Sara Pajunen started playing violin at the age of six. She holds classical music degrees in both the United States and Finland, and currently studies contemporary improvisation at New England Conservatory in Boston. Encouraged by her childhood violin teacher, a Finnish expat, Pajunen’s Finnish heritage has always played a strong role in her musical life. In 2010 she received a grant to study Finnish folk music at Ala-Könni-opisto in Kaustinen, Finland - the epicenter of the folk music revival. She has also collaborated and recorded with some of Finland’s leading folk musicians, such as Arto Järvelä, Timo Alakotila, and Teija Niku. Her most recent album with duo Aallotar was released in 2018 on German label Nordic Notes. “‘…Passion and integrity shines through on Ameriikan Laulu, with deeply felt arrangements demonstrating high-quality musicianship.” Songlines Magazine UK
Pajunen has conducted Finnish fiddle workshops in the middle of the US, both coasts, and into Canada. For many years she held a private violin studio where students could learn anything from Bach to Argentine tango to Swedish waltzes. Additionally, she taught in classrooms in east Asia and Helsinki, Finland for nearly half a decade.
If you’re interested in reading more about Finnish folk music, check out this article in FMQ (Finnish Music Quarterly) from 2005.