Posts Tagged ‘henk helmantel’

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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Songs and Paintings

September 13, 2008

Our departure date, the 25th of September, is getting very close! In the last few weeks Bert and I have enjoyed trying out the film equipment that will be used during the journey, together with Hans; the filmer. Last weekend we spontaneously  re-recorded One morning in the Springtime;  the song that I recorded with Ygdrassil for the 2002 album ‘Nice days under darkest skies’.

On my youtube channel there’s a nice preview of it.

Meanwhile Henk Helmantel has finished painting the special still life of the cittern, the instrument that we will bring with us to Bhutan. Here are some pictures of the actual cittern (together with some Bhutanese objects and a piece of sheet music of the Road to Bhutan titlesong) and the painting when it was still in progress. Impressive, isn’t it..

visiting the painter

July 30, 2008
Bert with the Fylde cittern at Henk Helmantel's house

Bert with the Fylde cittern at Henk Helmantel's house and studio. Henk is a famous Dutch still life painter, who will paint the cittern as part of a still life.

the journey so far

June 27, 2008

This last winter, as I played in a small church in Groningen with my program of Winterliederen / winter songs, a man came up to us with a story that almost seemed too good to be true. He asked us if we wanted to come along on a collective journey of two months over land to Bhutan to visit the festivities there of the crowning of the King, making music as we travelled in Turkey, Iran, Pakistan and India, in a spirit of friendship. All would be filmed..

It took many months before all was confirmed, but it immediately felt good. Since then we’ve met the other group members and things are falling into place. Though we will leave end of September 2008, it seems like we’re already on our way. The project has brought us to surprising, new places  within our own country and we’ve met people that we wouldn’t have otherwise.

Last week we met a man, for instance, who will very kindly borrow his Landrover Discovery to us. This will become the ‘music car’ of the total of 8 cars that are going to undertake the journey. Rogier, as the man is called, lives in a beautiful house in the middle of The Netherlands. He’s a business man.  Sitting outside in his garden,  we were treated to colourful stories about his earlier travels with the car, as well as to bread, cheese and drinks.

Some sort of a symbol during the journey has become the cittern. This beautiful 10 stringed instrument that Bert often uses on our recordings and during concerts can also be found on Renaissance paintings. ‘Road to Bhutan’ will acquire a cittern especially for the journey that will be used by Bert in concerts while we’re travelling. Finally after all it’s adventures the instrument will be donated to the Kilu Music School in Bhutan. In a few weeks when Bert and I are in the UK for concerts at two festivals, we will bring a special cittern back to The Netherlands with us. There it will be painted by Henk Helmantel, the famous Dutch painter, who lives in a small village called Westeremden in Groningen not far from where we live.

So..the cittern, that will travel over land and sea via England to The Netherlands, to Bhutan, will be studied and painted by Henk. Then it will sound in all these other countries as all will be filmed. Finally it will get a new home in a Himalaya Kingdom. How beautiful!!

Linde (Groningen, The Netherlands)