Artist Profile: Finnish native Terhi Miikki-Broersma continues to lead Lynden Music Festival

For six years, Terhi Miikki-Broersma has been one of the central organizers of the Lynden Music Festival, know also as the Claire vg Thomas Music Festival, which honors one of Lynden’s most beloved musicians whose legacy to the Lynden community included helping to start Lynden Pioneer Museum, rallying to save the Queen Juliana Theatre (now the Claire vg Thomas Theatre) and founding the Lynden Performing Arts Guild.

With Thomas one of the people who became involved in the community orchestra that evolved into Whatcom Symphony Orchestra, it’s only fitting that the five-day, 35-event festival (which began Wednesday, Oct. 8, and continues through Sunday, Oct. 12) was created in her name.

This year’s festival ranges from sit-down concerts of jazz, blues and classical music at Jansen Art Center, Judson Hall and Lynden Pioneer Museum, to casual pop-rock gigs at Woods Coffee at Safeway and Katz Coffee on Front Street. There’s also barbershop tunes, a cappella, folk music and a hymn singalong.

Here’s more on Miikki-Broersma, 45, who was born in Turku, Finland, and grew up in Imatra, in the eastern part of Finland (really close to Russian border, she says).

Question: Why did you move to Lynden, and when?

Answer: I think God was having fun with his plans! I moved here 10 years ago. My husband, Doug Broersma, came to perform to my music festival in Finland and after two years of long-distance dating we got married. He didn’t see too much ability for his carpet-cleaning career in Finland, where nobody has carpets, so I moved here. And I had been in this area before, playing in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C., Finnish churches, so I had already my “Finnish Family” here.

Q: When did you first start performing?

A: When I was 4 I joined a children’s choir at our church. When I was 13 I became a regular church organist playing the piano and pipe organ. At the same time I played bassoon at our City Symphony Orchestra. After high school I got my master of music from Sibelius-Academy. And playing my accordion is just a fun addition!

Q: Why do you enjoy performing?

A: I enjoy touching hearts with music, either in the church or at a bar. There is no point doing it if you don’t reach to people’s hearts. That should be the key for the musicians, to make music where you can touch people deeply, and it’s amazing how different music can touch you, at least me!

That’s why our festival includes so large a variety of music. We want to bring the audience different styles; quite often people find new genres to enjoy.

Also I enjoy when people loosen up with music. With accordion I play dance music, and we all should dance more in this life! That’s why our festival offers always great dancing.

I travel regularly to Finnish churches and communities, mostly in Canada, to bring people a piece of their old roots. They enjoy when they can sing in they native language.

Q: Why did you take on the Lynden Music Festival?

A: I started a music festival in Kotka, Finland, (Kymijoen Lohisoitto), which is still very successful, now in its 18th year). When I moved here my friends in Finland were laughing and waiting to see if I would start putting on a “Woodenshoefestival,” but it took couple years when the time was right!

First, we were honoring Claire vg Thomas and somehow we created a festival really fitting to Lynden. Lynden needed a music festival! We wanted to get those Bellingham people to come to north, ha!! at least to perform! October is great time to have a festival.

Q: What else do you enjoy about living in Whatcom County?

A: I love the mountains. Having a private pilot (my husband), you have got to enjoy this beautiful scenery from the air, and it makes you wordless.

All my visitors from Finland never leave without praising how nice people are here and how good service you get everywhere, and I agree.