Aira Vehaskari is a director and camerawoman whose roots are in Helsinki and New Orleans. She left her career as a successful reporter to start the Blooming Rock company that focuses on making films and documentaries. The company’s mainstay is to create impressive narration whether filmed at the top of Koli or in the ruins of Kabul. Vehaskari began her collaboration with Jussi Makkonen in 2012. She has filmed and directed Makkonen and Azezian’s portraits and music videos in recent years in Finland, the United States, Italy, and Norway. The filming and creation of the Melody Forest multimedia concert’s material has been an intense and extremely rewarding experience for Vehaskari.
KKatri Kirkkopelto is a visual artist, illustrator and visual arts instructor, and she graduated from the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 1995. In addition to the Melody Forest book, she has also illustrated magazines, educational material, and children’s books and designed book covers. Her first picture book was “Pikku Pesu ja iso Ikävä” (2002). Her work has been displayed in solo and joint exhibitions in Finland and abroad, such as the Biennale of Illustration Bratislava in 2007, and the simultaneous IBBY Finland’s Finnish Feelings exhibition in Bratislava. The book “Hirveää, parkaisi hirviö”, co-created with Suna Vuori, received a Finlandia Junior nomination in 2005 and won the national series of the Nordic Picture Book Competition.
Matti Makkonen graduated from the Kuopio Conservatoire in teaching the cello, and music theory. He has studied the cello with Timo Törmä and Marcel Bergman, orchestral conducting with Jorma Panula, choral conducting with Stefan Sköld and Rita Varonen, and composition with Pekka Kostiainen and Sakari Mononen. Makkonen, currently the CEO of Nova Records Inc., has worked as an executive director of the Savonlinna Music Academy, as a regional artist of musical art of South Savo, as a teacher in the conservatoires of Kuopio and Jyväskylä, the Savonlinna Music Institute, and the Savonlinna Senior Secondary School of Art and Music, and as composer, arranger, conductor and producer. Besides Finland, Makkonen has also performed as cellist and conductor across Europe and in Japan. He has composed, for example, vocal, chamber and incidental music.
JJussi-Matti Haavisto studied at the Sibelius Academy, majoring in Music Composition. He studied composition under the direction of Tapio Nevanlinna. Haavisto has also studied actively the viola under Helge Valtonen at the Sibelius Academy, and participated in masterclasses with teachers such as Simon Rowland Jones, Jouko Mansnerus, and Ilari Angervo. He has also performed as chamber musician in various events, such as at the Musiikkitalvi festival in Joensuu. During his secondary school studies, he got to know composer Pehr Henrik Nordgren. His many meetings with Norgren inspired him to pursue studies in music composition. Haavisto’s music has been performed by the Helsinki Chamber Choir, the AVANTI! chamber orchestra, and various artists. His music has been performed at, for example, the Helsinki Organ Summer, the Klang concert series of the Helsinki Music Centre, and the UNM festivals in Gothenburg.