In English

Heli Hartikainen (she/they, b. 1993) is a Helsinki based saxophonist, clarinetist, composer and performing artist whose training and interests lie in experimental free improvisation and multidisciplinary art. Hartikainen is also known for their art folk ensemble Aoide and their solo project CHRONOVARIATIONS that was part of FLOW FESTIVAL 2022. Hartikainen performs both solo and in ensembles and works as an instrument teacher and a studio musician. 

Hartikainen has studied classical clarinet playing and jazz saxophone and graduated as a master of folk music from Sibelius Academy of the University of the Arts, Helsinki. Within their folk music studies Hartikainen has especially researched the ancient styles of improvisation and the aesthetics of repetitiveness. 

CHRONOVARIATIONS sound installation 2022

CHRONOVARIATIONS is a visual sound art piece which combines a sound installation and an electroacoustic experimental music concert. Every sound in the piece – even though some of them are heavily effected – originate from the acoustic sounds and special techniques of the tenor saxophone. In the sound installation electromagnetic transducers convert industrial scrap metal pieces and thunder sheets into resonating speaker objects. The music explores resonance and spectralism with contemporary approach by the means of electroacoustic improvisation. The name CHRONOVARIATIONS is created to describe the themes and concepts presented and studied in the piece; time, timelessness, the subjectivity of the sense of time, erosion of memory and recurrence. The installation consists of a 20-voice aleatoric composition that works algorithmically, allowing up to 1950 different kinds of sonic results.

The CHRONOVARIATIONS album was recorded binaurally in a medieval church in Nousiainen, Finland in March 2023 and will be published later in 2023.

”Astonishing wall of sound – – shape-shifting from a rich, warm sound to a rough-edged keening, at times echoing the more soulful side of John Surman or Jan Garbarek (ECM should snap her up while they have a chance).

– – mind-expanding journey” 


Pietari Purovaara_Keksi_Aoide_PROMO

Aoide uses both archaic and modern instruments to bring traditional Finnish melodies to the present day and via improvisation forms music that is at the same time ancient and new, soft and fierce, still and constantly evolving. In summer 2018 in Kaustinen Folk Music Festival Aoide won a nationwide ’Konsta Jylhä competition’ held by the Finnish Folk Music Institute and was greatly acclaimed for their incomparable musicianship, deep understanding of Finnish archaic music and passionate performances. Record company Helmi Levyt released Aoide’s debut album in November 2020. 

Heli Hartikainen – woodwinds
Minttu Hellstén – voice
Jenni Venäläinen – kantele
Essi Hirvonen – double bass

pic: Pietari Purovaara


Tanssiteatteri Auraco:

Hartikainen has worked as a musician and performer in Dance Theatre Auracos pieces ‘Tuntu’ (2017) and ‘Miksi Mix’ (2020) and ´AINUT´ (2022). In ‘Miksi Mix’ Hartikainen also worked as a composer and sound designer.


Since 2018 Hartikainen has worked as a “fire saxophonist” in Maria Baric Company and Fire theatre Tulikansa.

pic: Sampsa Kares

Peloton collective:
Dance Like A MoFo


Aoide – I (Helmi Levyt 2020)

Passionate, minimalistic, improvisational art folk that has its roots in the finno-ugric music traditions

Sibelius Academy Folk Big Band – Katrilli toisesta elämästä (Siba Records 2019)

Finnish folk orchestra of 40 musicians with fiddles, kanteles, accordions, harmoniums, guitars, percussions, winds and vocals

Museum of Impossible Forms – thinking sound (Impossible Reader 2019)

Thinking Sound is the first edition of the Impossible Reader – a biennial publication in the form of vinyl record. 11 artists respond to the curatorial vision of ‘The Fierce Urgency of Now‘ and perform a series of manifestos on Improvisation, experimentation, Music and Sound as Art.

Project Vainiolla Ensemble – Suruvesi (Vainiolla Sounds 2018)

Project Vainiolla Ensemble’s debut album Suruvesi is an exploration of possibilities of laments and a prepared piano. The laments – also called poetry of eternal parting and final passing – are mixed with instruments, both acoustic and electronic, and improvised soundscapes that were recorded in the fields and forests.


pics: Heidi Piiroinen

pic: Roosa Oksaharj


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