(Video: Huutajat perform a startling tribute to the River Oulu in August 2012.)
Their first brief performance was on Finnish Independence Day, December 6, 1987. Since then, the 30-strong group has spurred amusement, shock and bafflement on tours around the world.
Sporting their trademark black suits, skinny rubber ties and deadpan expressions, the choir members interpret a wide array of texts. These range from national anthem lyrics to EU directives, all delivered in an energetic style that at times approaches the aggressiveness of punk rock or gangster rap.
Starting out at dingy rock bars in northern Finland, the Shouters have gone on to appear at a great variety of venues and events. These include the Venice Biennale, the Vienna Festival, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Roskilde Rock Festival in Denmark, concert halls in Japan, the "Good Morning America" TV show and even an election event back in the USSR. A 2003 documentary, Screaming Men, screened at film festivals on several continents.
Still punks at heart
Despite countless changes in personnel, the group’s founder says the choir has remained true to its irreverent punk roots.
“Despite our success in ‘high culture’ circles, we haven’t given up on our principles. We still like to surprise unsuspecting citizens on the street or in intimate settings,” says artistic director Petri Sirviö, who bears a resemblance to John Lydon of the Sex Pistols.
Huutajat kick off their 25th anniversary tour on December 8 at the Pohjankartano School in Oulu, which they describe on their Facebook page as a “grey pearl of structuralistic brutalism”. The gala anniversary show will feature some 80 former and current members joining forces for the group’s largest-ever line-up. They will holler and scream a selection of works from throughout Huutajat history.