FolkWorld article by Eelco Schilder:

Old World with New Sound

Dutch folk band Flairck discovers new ground

It happened on a rainy night, august 1988. My father dragged me to another folkfestival, this time in Roermond Holland, to see Fairport convention play. They were the last act of the evening and just before them a Dutch group called Flairck played . It was a legendary performance; own compositions played with such fire that the crowd was getting more and more excited. And Fairport? Can't remember a note they played that evening. Now, 12 years and many concerts later, Flairck has produced another legendary show: The symphony of the Old World.

Symphony for the old world
Flairck, Photo by Remco van Blokland

It has always been a dream of Erik Visser, founder of flairck, to create an orchestra with musicians from different cultures. He traveled all around the world, met many different musicians and often thought how great it would be to play with them. Being sick and tired of touring with big shows, he wanted to go back to basics, music and no more visual violence. Visser: " It was like we were a kind of circus, always on the road with bigger and more effects. I couldn't take that anymore. I wanted to do again what I like most, create music"

For the first 16 years Visser has been responsible for the biggest part of the repertoire. Started in 1978 with his friend Peter Weekers and his brother Hans. They had immediate success. Their first two records were big sellers. The media called them a new sound in music. It wasn't just one music-style, they mixed different musical influences into the typical Flairck sound.

In 1994, Weekers and other longtime band-members left the band , and made room for a new impulse called Ben van den Berg. Van den Berg, a good musician as well as composer started to write with Visser on their new musical projects. Visser: "It was great to have a new impulse. At the first CD you find only a few lines from his hand but on later CD's we were real co-writers. I noticed that I was going in circles. I worked such a long time with the same people that I needed this youngblood to give me new challenge. It worked, I started to listen more to my feelings, what do I really want. This dream came up again, creating this orchestra".

Symphony of the old world is the first attemt to create such an orchestra. He took Europe as a starting place and divided the continent into four parts. Than he started looking for musicians who could represent their parts of Europe. Visser: "sure the instrument they play is important but more I choose the person. I see a musician play and I just know he is the one I want. They must have something unique in their style". And special persons he did find. The four parts of the symphony were called after the four wind directions. Part one, the west has uilleann-pipes player Roelof Rosendal as solo-musician. Because he played in different kind of music groups with musical influence from all over the world he has a very own style with influence from different places. The second part, the east, has the young cembalon player Marius preda as solo-musician. Visser: " The first time I saw Preda play I knew I wanted to work with him. His style is not pure folk, he mixes jazz through his improvisations and that makes his music sound very original"

Part three, the North played by Mirella Pirskanen from Finland a great violin player and singer. She developed a fantastic way of playing violin and uses her voice at the same time. The last part, the south is played by the famous flamenco guitar player Erik Vaarzon Morel. He let the evening end in a very warm atmosphere.

Flairck, Photo by Remco van Blokland

Visser: " For the first time it wasn't me that was at the front. Together with the other members of Flairck we created the base for the solo-musician to play at their best. I like the role of being a kind of conductor, busy in the background. When we started writing this symphony we didn't want to use any traditional material. That didnt work. You will hear some known traditional material mixed with our own music. I can live with that but I hope in future I will be able to create music that has the atmosphere of the different areas but is created by our selvs".

Symphony for the old world has been a big success in the Dutch theaters last autumn and winter. Both the media and the public were very enthusiastic. Visser: " To be honest I was a bit nervous. What would the public say? This show is very different compared with our earlier work. I'm sure some people were disappointed because they miss the visual aspects but now I also notice that we gained new listeners and the biggest part of our old fans loved this concert."

The success is so big that there will be a reprise in the Dutch theaters (and if theaters in other countries are smart they will try to book this one) The CD of the concerts is just released and is a great document. I hope that Visser and group will continue where they stopped with this symphony.
And if I understood him right, this is only the beginning. Then I can't wait to find out what will be next...

Listening to Flairck on cd:
For those who would like to listen to Flairck music, at their web-site you can order several CD's. Just a short overlook to make your choice easier.

There are many other CD's available, this is just to give you an idea. Check their web-site for more info, booking or ordering CD's.

Photo Credit: Flairck symphony for the old world live on stage; photography by Remco Blokland

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