Pirkko Fihlman, Helsinki, Finland.  Born 1938. - (Go to the performance)

Pirkko is the founder and president of the organization called Äänellä Itkijät ry (“Melodically Weepers”).

Lamenting is an ancient oral tradition that combines singing and crying.

Everywhere in the world, women have traditionally sung and continue to sing these songs at transitional moments in life

such as funerals and weddings, or bidding farewell to a loved one.

The ritual is used to express suffering and sorrow, heal pain and trauma,

and connect the past with the present to advance into the future.

Pirkko Fihlman has practiced the art of lament singing many years

and been teaching lament courses since 1998 that have included social- workers, artists, 

therapists and teachers in many countries.

Recently Pirkko Fihlman is active in bringing the Lament Singing into the work for preventing climate change

and making transitions and changes for a sustainable future through singing and artistic expressions.

Pirkko tells:

“ I am born in Sortavala, in Karjala, 20.5.1937. When the winter war 
started in 1939,

we were evacuated to the west part of Finland to Tammela.1940 we moved to Helsinki

and when the war started again my mother send me and my brother to Sweden as a war child.

I grow up in Helsinki, Käpylä. After I graduated  from the school I went 
to England for one year

and when I came back I started to study social work  in the 
School of Social Work in Helsinki,

I graduated l959  but my aim was to continue my 
studies in Tampere University.

I met my husband  in the school and we got married 1961. He was in the army and I was chosen to an international social work program in USA,

so was 6 month in USA while he was in the army. Our son was born -62 and daughter -66 and I was a homemother,

but working all the time with mothers and youngsters doing 
neighbourhoodwork and communitywork in our congrigation.

1971 our youngest 
son was born and in 1973 we went the whole family to Israel, My husband was working for United Nation.

I was teaching blind arabic girls in Jerusalem. We came home 1976 and I 
was working here in Helsinki as a director in the Day Care Center.

I retired 1995  and then I came aware of my own roots.

My mothers grandmother was a lamentsinger and that I got
 interested in old Finnish lament tradition.

I started giving workshops in 1998 and 
did my first lament in 1997.

Since that I have been reveiling this old tradition and 
started the Äänellä Itkijät organisation.

On our courses has taken part over 2000 persons, who are interested in lament.

I have done over 100 laments during this time.

The item has 
been the nature, the problems in our life, our relationship with eachother, death and transitions and the unknown future.”

”Laments are a very ancient tradition and can still be found all over the world.

Lament singing is much older than the Kalevala, the famous Finnish folk epic.

In the days before Christianity, when there was this early nature faith,

it was mainly the shamans who used this lamenting to interact with the other world.

But when people started to settle, they started farming and keeping animals, this lament became a task of the women,

because they were very near life, growing things, having children, taking care of the dead, and all these transitional moments.

In Karelia, where traditions were kept for the longest time, laments were also used when a girl got married and had to leave home,

or when the men went to war. So they had these
 laments to protect them, to give advice on how to behave in that other place. ”