When I fly back from other parts of the world to Europe, you are blinded by the colour of the land – green! The stories of our land and culture are held within folk music which has played such a big part in our history, from the celtic world of Ireland, Wales, Scotland, England, Brittany, Galicia and Asturas in Spain to the gypsy jazz and polyphonic choirs of the Balkans. In fact, over a century ago, musicians noticed that European folk music seemed to exhibit a certain personality. Today, much of this orally transmitted music has been re-imagined and fusions birthed such as folk rock, folk metal and electric folk.
Romana Kročilová grew up wanting to sing, dance and act but as a young girl she was told she wasn’t slim enough to dance and not able to pitch high notes. She decided to go to the doctor for help and he told her that she had a vocal chord disease and shouldn’t shout, whisper or sing! Her faith and her perseverance kept her childhood dreams alive and she eventually got a place in a music conservatory and she now sings in many bands and has sung in the Opera Carmen. Listen to her performing 2 Czech folk songs. Read More
You won’t find it on a map and its not recognised by the UN! Yet this slither of land between the Dniester river and the Ukraine is home to 500,000, has a government, army and passport (that is not recognised outside of the territory). Transnistria proclaimed independence from Moldova in 1990 to remain part of the Soviet Union (who also don’t recognise the country). Sadly this has given rise to it being “a major haven for smuggling weapons and women” (Wall Street Journal). The good news – the only place I have come across that doesn’t have a McDonalds!
I am back after a Swedish tour with musician friend Mark Riley from Hawai’i. During a couple of days off, I got to capture some video of this beautiful country. I also met up with Annelie Westerlund from Alingsås, who talked about the resurgence of folk music. She also told me some great stories of how music had impacted her life and how she was able to use music to encourage others.
After many trips to Sweden I finally got a chance to sit with a Nyckleharpa player. I had heard the stories and seen videos but this was the first time to see the instrument up close – and what a work of art. The making of instruments always fascinates me and I could see the influences of the hurry-gurdy that must have inspired the inventors way back in the mists of time. This particular instrument was made by Annelie Westerlund’s father.
This remote island community of around 2000, explodes during the summer vacation to over 20,000! Arriving after the storm is like walking into a very beautiful ghost town, almost all the shops are closed and only a few tourist stragglers are to be found enjoying the peace and quiet. Read More
Enjoying the amazing city of Geneva where you can hear most of the world’s language’s as you walk down the streets. I played at a wonderful gathering of the nations. 12 hours of musical expression, praying for the country and it’s people. This is the city where many organisations have their headquarters, including the UN, International Red Cross and World Health Organization’s. I was amazed to go to the church where the International Red Cross was started – a vision in 1863 that now has around 97 million volunteers! WOW! This weekend is the 200th year celebrations of Geneva joining the Swiss Confederation.