Monocle

Ancient languages and modern sounds

By any standards, SomBy are not your typical visitors to a primary school. This northern Finnish band’s members sing in Sami, the native language of their part of Finland, and they wear brightly embroidered traditional tunics. But they are no folk singers. Their music is turbo-charged metal.

SomBy rock Liet International [Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe]

SomBy rock Liet International [Sandro Weltin/Council of Europe]

“The title of this song translates as something like… Empty Destruction,” says guitarist Oula Guttorm, launching into crunching chords.

The Friessel school in Friesland, in the Netherlands’ northernmost province, where I watched them play this weekend, is hardly a typical educational establishment. It’s one of a growing number of trilingual schools where children are taught Dutch and English and the local language, Frisian.

SomBy are in the Frisian capital, Leeuwarden, to compete at Liet International, an annual event dubbed the “minority languages Eurovision”.

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