Kivimäki graduated with a Doctor of Music degree at the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Sibelius Academy’s Programme in Folk Music in 2018. The central concept in this doctoral dissertation is Perinnelaboratorio, ’The Laboratory of Tradition’, which was born through art research as a tool for combining tradition and the artist’s curiosity with new accordion trance compositions. One of the most important missions of the literary work, the thesis, which was born at The Laboratory of Tradition, is to elevate the Karelian accordion from the archives to stand alongside the kantele harp and runo singing. Through the archival stories of the storyteller and accordionist Ilja Kotikallio (1894–1961) from Suistamo, Kivimäki brings forth the life of the Suistamo municipality, which was located in Finnish Karelia close to the Russian border in the beginning of the 20th century, and especially the occurrence of the accordion in the Suistamo area.
The work at The Laboratory of Tradition brings up the longing for Karelia, being an evacuee, the accordion’s infamy as the devil’s instrument, the performing of unusual folk music and dance, and the conversations on refugees appearing in 2015, which reflected into the dissertation and brought up interesting conversations during the research process. The artistic research opens up a path to understanding Suistamo and how archival stories and music can inspire one to explore the Karelian accordion tradition, the secret of the karmuuni (i.e. one-row accordion), and the life of Ilja Kotikallio.
The Laboratory of Tradition blog 2013-2016 (both Finnish and English content): https://suistamo.wordpress.com/