Posts Tagged ‘bert ridderbos’

A beautiful journey

February 2, 2009
We’ve been back for a while now and have had some time to adjust.  Right now we’re working on the journey’s  DVD that will be released in about one year.  Meanwhile Bert and I are undertaking new adventures.
Last week  we played at Celtic Connections in Glasgow and at the Cathedral Quarter Arts festival in Belfast and we will start touring with “Het Internationaal Folkcomplot” soon.  I’d still promised to write about the last part of the journey, so..here it is..

After leaving Darjeeling we headed for Kalimpong, a small Ghorka city where we recorded Sandy Denny’s “Rising for the moon” in a flower garden with the snowy peaks of the Himalaya in the background. The next morning as we left quite early, I walked down the hill into town in a very good mood.  As I passed a Buddhist monastery below with prayer flags waving in the wind and the snow mountains in sight, I heard the low sound of prayer coming out of the building and I stopped for a while. It seemed like a perfect moment.

Then we drove to lower India, passed the poor but beautiful province Assam, where we travelled the last few miles with armed police escorte (for there’d been about 30 kidnappings there in the last month). On a desolated road we proceeded through the rural border area.  And then..entered Bhutan.

Being there, after  two hard  months of travelling, was wonderful. Like a fairytale. We crossed  the border at Gelephu, a quite uncommon crossing where no group of western cars had entered before..and there was a welcome commity of Bhutanese school children there. Very overwhelming. It made me smile.

After two days of driving through Bhutan’s  gorgeous mountain landscape we reached the capital Thimphu where we played at the Kilu Music School. Arnold donated the cittern and the other musical instruments. Also a giclee of Henk Helmantel’s still life painting of the cittern was presented to a representative of the Bhutanese Government. To me personally the highlight that day was meeting Namkha and Lhamo, the two royal traditional  singers of Trio Druk Yul, with whom I rehearsed a Bhutanese song that we would record together the next day.

Namkha & Lhamo

Namkha & Lhamo

The next day we also met with Jigme of Trio Druk Yul,  a very special encounter. The five of us rehearsed in our hotelroom, Bert on the cittern, Jigme on his dranyen (a beautiful 6 stringed instrument with a dragon shaped end). Hans filmed it all and that afternoon we went to the Dzong (see the earlier pictures) to make some outside recordings. We repeated our rehearsals the next day and performed together at the finale, the big centenary concert, as part of the festivities of the crowning of the King in the center of Thimphu on the festival grounds aside the river. All was broadcasted live by Bhutanese national television. Afterwards Namkha, Lhamo and Jigme took us to a National Gross Happiness congres in another part of town, where the five of us perfomed once more. As we were about to start the power went off and the lights went out, but that made it all the more special, as we started singing and playing in the dark untill it switched on again.

And then, after our short, but very intense stay in Bhutan, we flew home and entered the Dutch winter.  It has been a tremendous journey of numerous impressions. I’m looking forward to the release of the DVD as well as to future collaborations with the musicians we met along the way. I will still be writing on this blog if there’s any news..

Linde, The Netherlands

p.s.  a special giclee of the still life with cittern by Henk Helmantel (like the one donated to the Bhutanese Government) can be ordered via this link.

The final concert

The final concert

Henk Helmantel's still life painting of the cittern

Henk Helmantel's still life painting of the cittern

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Final recording session

December 2, 2008
We’re back home..it’s all gone so fast! Our stay in Bhutan was amazing. I will post a piece about that soon. For now, here are some wonderful pictures of our recording session  with Jigme Drukpa, Lhamo Dukpa and Namkha Lhamo..
Inbetween takes
Inbetween takes
Bert and Jigme recording

Bert and Jigme recording

with Namkha and Lhamo

with Namkha and Lhamo

All together (picture by Arnold)

All together (picture by Arnold)

Going underground

October 24, 2008
We have crossed a large part of Iran and have just left the small desert village where we stayed for a few days. The houses there were made of yellow mud and earth in beautiful round shapes. It was my first time ever in the desert and this place was a real oasis..and felt like home. Yesterday evening we recorded Richard Thompson’s “Waltzing for Dreamers” in an old Karavanserai under the starry sky.

By now we have given three concerts in Iran. The first in the safety of the residency of the ambassador in Teheran for a mixed Dutch/Iranian company. This was a very special gathering since people hardly ever have the chance to visit a concert and never get to hear a women’s voice in public. I received such warm response afterwards..it was a joy to play there. The people were very open to the music and it was nice to find out that audiences are the same everywhere (and this has been my experience in general while travelling through Iran. For contradictory to what some might think it is very safe here and the people are very, very friendly..).
We also gave a small concert for sick children and nurses at Mahak Hospital in Teheran, where I was allowed to sing in public, which we were told is very special and unique for Iran. Finally we gave another precious concert..underground. And this was real underground music for even though the concert was private, the Iranian musicians involved were scared and a lot of precautions were taken.. We were brought to a secret location, with a secret password and all and gave a concert  for a very sympathetic Iranian audience. It was a very good experience. Unfortunately Hans was ill that evening so we don’t have any film recordings.

( It has been hard finding a good internet connection the last few weeks. While I am posting this we are in east Iran and will cross the Pakistan border tomorrow. I will write more as soon as I can..)

 Our earlier encounter with the instrument builder in Qazvin
Special moments during the recording with the instrument builder in Qazvin

Bert playing together with some excellent Iranian musicians
Bert playing with two excellent Iranian musicians

 tuning (with another excellent Iranian musician)

Tuning with another excellent musician

Meeting Danica

September 30, 2008

As I’m writing this post we are driving through the Serbian mountains. We have left Kragujevac where we were very warmly welcomed last night by twelve year old singer Danica Krstic and her family. In less than 24 hours we got to know them a little bit and recorded two beautiful traditional Balkan songs; Zaspo Janko and Ajde Kato. The first was filmed in the orthodox town church (Danica wearing a traditional white dress with colourful flowers)..a stunning atmospheric church with iconic paintings everywhere..A lot of golden ornaments and the smell of incense. No musical instruments were allowed in here, only the two pure voices, singing a melancholic song. As Bert pointed out..there was not even an organ..in contrast to Dutch churches where a lot of things are possible nowadays.

with Danica and the musicians

all musicians

Afterwards we went outside to meet with four musicians, some of whom we’d met the day before and they were excellent players. With this small orchestra (violin, double bass, accordion and guitar) Danica and I recorded the song Ajde Kato. Bert was the sound engineer for today and didn’t play himself.

So I sang in Serbian today..and managed to remember the words, not knowing what they meant but concentrating on the sound and trying to follow the pronunciation. I think I did well..the people were satisfied and the priest gave me a compliment. It was a fruitful day!

(I also was interviewed and filmed for a TV Station and they will use a track of the Ygdrassil Live at the Folkwoods Festival DVD in their broadcast)

traffic jam in Serbia, on our way to Kragujevac, on sunday

traffic jam in Serbia, on our way to Kragujevac, on sunday

waiting for our recording session in the beautiful orthodox church

waiting for our recording session in the beautiful orthodox church

singing with Danica (Zaspo Janko)

singing with Danica (Zaspo Janko) Danica and Linde

with Danica and her orchestra, outside the church (Ajde Kato)

with Danica and her orchestra, outside the church (Ajde Kato)