Wilho F. Saari
Oxford Who’s Who has inducted Wilho F. Saari into the highest Professional Distinction “Top Tier of Excellence Lifetime Achievement Recognition” due to his outstanding contributions and achievements in the field of performing arts. He is also a very productive composer of kantele music with over 2,400 pieces written. Mr. Wilho Saari is one of few special honorees distinguished based on his professional accomplishments, academic achievements, and years of service he has provided. Saari’s degree in music has helped him to develop outstanding skill in teaching himself to play kantele later in life. He is not only a recognized performer in demand, but also a well-respected and active teacher, who generously continues to share his kantele knowledge with numerous students around the country.
Wilho F. Saari comes from a family of accomplished performers, specifically the kantele, and the Finnish psaltery. He earned his B.A. in Sacred Music and his B.A. in Music Education at Northwest College. He was a grade school teacher for 34 years including 3 years in Liberia, Africa in a mission’s school and 23 years at Naselle Youth Camp School. Mr. Saari is a fifth generation player of the kantele. His great grandmother Kreeta Haapasalo was a well-known kantele player in Finland in the 19th century. His father, Wilho Sr. was also a performer who brought the kantele to America in 1915. Mr. Saari has performed in Astoria, Oregon and Naselle, Washington. He participated in the world premiere of a Kantelle Mass composed by Jarkko Yli-Annala where he performed at FinnFest USA ’06, an annual national festival. His numerous awards include the Governor’s Heritage Award for his work popularizing and teaching the kantele; he is one of ten recipients of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) award of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship, the country’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Mr. Saari is affiliated with the Finnish American Festival and the Finnish American Historical Society. He has recorded two CDs on the kantele. His latest CD called, “Vilhon Vintiltä” is mainly made-up of his own compositions. Mr. Saari and his family are originally from Finland and has been married to his wife Mary who is originally from Finland for over 58 happy and loving years.