Vocal Group MANOK
1960 – 1990

© Valentina AvdyshevaIn 1960 William Hall (b. in 1932 in Petrozavodsk), Pauli Rinne (b. in 1934 in Novosibirsk, Siberia), Pekka Mikshijev (b. in 1935 in Videle, Karelia), Viljo Ahvonen (b. in 1924 in Viipuri, Finland, d. in 2007 in Helsinki, Finland), Orvo Björninen (b. in 1924 in Bessemer, Michigan, USA) and Aarni Romppainen (b. 1924 in Kirvu, Finland), young actors of the Finnish theatre in Petrozavodsk, Karelia, started to sing together as a vocal group. Almost all of them were children of Finnish emigrants who came to Soviet Karelia from Finland or USA and Canada during so called "Karelian fever" in 1930's.

The vocal group's first leader was Marlen Nokelainen (b. in Saint-Petersburg), conductor of the city's Musical theatre. The group performed Finnish folk songs and Soviet composers' songs usually in Finnish language. The first recordings of the group were made at the Karelian Radio in 1962. Later Ensio Vento (b. in 1927 in Kirkland Lake, Canada), the radio's announcer joined the group.

Marlen Nokelainen died tragically in 1965. He was replaced by Andro Lehmus (b. in 1937 in Petrozavodsk, d. in 2010 in Oulu, Finland), a music teacher at the Pedagogical Institute. The group was named MANOK in memory of their first leader (in Russian "manok" means also hunter's whistle for enticing birds).

From the early 1970-s until the end of their career MANOK performed as a sextet:
First tenors: William Hall and Nikolai Samsonov,
Second tenor: Andro Lehmus,
Baritone: Pauli Rinne,
Basses: Orvo Björninen and Ensio Vento.

© Jevgeny FadeyevMANOK was a very popular performing group in Petrozavodsk and all of Karelia. Especially among Karelia's Finnish population MANOK was the cult group. MANOK's trademarks were beautiful harmony vocals, humorous live-show with elements of theater and excellent knowiedge of Finnish. Singing in the Finnish, Karelian and Russian languages, MANOK was very successful on big festival stages, small clubs and schools. During the years of their activity (1960-1990), MANOK performed in Estonia, Moscow, Leningrad, Murmansk, Finland, Azerbaidjan, DDR, France, and Sweden.

In 1977, Melodia, USSR's one and only recording company recorded their 18 songs and released an LP-record "Finnish Men Vocal Ensemble MANOK".

The sextet MANOK performed until their 30th Anniversary Concert, which also became group's farewell. It was held on December 24, 1990 in the Finnish theatre and was also televised. MANOK performed only few times more on Karelian TV shows in 1991.

Most of the MANOK's singers now live in Finland.

During 1960-1980s MANOK was the favorite and bright star of Karelia's national Finnish musical culture. This group lives on in the memories of thousands of people…

Arto Rinne

See William Hall's homepage.