Posts Tagged ‘music’

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)

Longing for mountains

November 10, 2008
Bert and the Ganges
Bert and the Ganges
On the Ganges, Varanasi, being filmed by Hans
On the Ganges, Varanasi, being filmed by Hans
We are in the north of India, getting closer to Bhutan now. After leaving Delhi, with very good memories of the concert there, we first travelled to Agra (saw the Taj Mahal..) and then to Varanasi.
On the road from Agra to Varanasi we had a really nice adventure after driving in the dark for hours in a place where it seemed as if all the trucks of entire India were there, slowly proceeding, thus making it a hard road to travel. At around 12 pm, tired and wondering if we’d ever get there, Bert and I stopped at a small petrol station in the middle of nowhere..
I heard music as they were filling up the car with diesel, coming from a barn just aside and saw people coming near, first the men, then the women, dressed for a party and looking very friendly. They invited us into the barn where a 24 hours Hare Krisna worship was being helt by this family that was also celebrating the birthday of a 20 year old relative. Bert and I were offered apples and bananas from a small shrine where some musicians played and chanted their music. Then we were offered delicious food, for as we were told a guest to them is like god and is equally treated. For about an hour we all sat there, both parties enjoying the encounter, everyone making pictures of one another in a very cheerful mood. Then we left again for Varanasi and were part of a beautiful boat trip on the Ganges the next day. Very special seeing that all…the people ritually washing in the (heavily polluted but to them still holy water), the body burnings on the shore, the boats and light and water…
Tomorrow we’ll be heading in the direction of Darjeeling..the mountains (where we’ll make some more on site recordings for the DVD) and I must say I’m starting to yearn for them. For aside from it’s eminent beauty the  crowded Indus Valley through which we’re travelling is covered with smog and smell and I long for some clean air.
shrine

shrine

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

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)