Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: Asmaa Hamzaoui

Asmaa Hamzaoui and Bnat Timbouktou

Asmaa Hamzaoui is the leading female performer of Gnawa music. Together with her band Bnat Timbouktou, she performs Gnawa music that goes back in time when this community was held as slaves and the music revolved around storytelling about their suffering.

Asmaa Hamzaoui and Bnat Timbouktou sing in the native Gnawan language. They advocate for equal rights and for the preservation of traditions and spiritual practices in modern-day Morocco and throughout the world.

In the fall of 2019, Asmaa released her first album Oulad Lghaba, focused on Gnawa spirituality.

The lineup in 2019 included Asmaa Hamzaoui on guembri and vocals; Aicha Hamzaoui on karkabas and vocals; Soukaina Elmeliji on karkabas and vocals; and Lamgammah Hind on karkabas and vocals.

Discography:

Oulad Lghaba (Ajabu! Records, 2019)

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Artist profiles: Katarína Máliková

Katarína Máliková

Composer, multi-instrumentalist and singer Katarína Máliková was born in 1990 in Polomka, Slovakia. Her music combines traditional Slovak folk songs, art-pop, classical and world music.

She grew up in Polomka in the Horehronie region, among mountains and traditional songs. The mystical character of her home region left a strong impression in her music.

In my childhood I was touched by folklore and 90s’ pop culture, which hardly found its way to Horehronie,”says Katarína Máliková. “Later, the dreams about the big city came, together with jazz – that was my remedy during my teenage years. My studies of classical music were also a big influence on me. Returning to my birth place Horehronie with the music of Telgárt, Šumiac, or Pusté pole will always be spots that I pass with feeling of something forgotten, mysterious and haunting.”

Katarína Máliková and her band

In 2017 Katarína Máliková and her band performed at major world music festivals and venues in Slovakia and abroad, such as Pohoda Festival (Slovakia), Colours of Ostrava (Czech Republic), EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival in Krakow (Poland), World Music Festival Bratislava (Slovakia) and Budapest Ritmo (Hungary).

The lineup in 2017 included Andrej Turčin on first violin;  Janko Tomek on acoustic and electric bass;    Katarína Máliková on lead vocals, piano, keyboards, tambourine, and wind instruments; Katarína Turčinová  on flute and fujara; Klaudia Kosmeľová on piano; Ondrej Druga on accordion and vocals;     Tomáš Hríbik on drums and percussions; and Žaneta Mariňáková  on second violin and tambourine.

Katarína Máliková’s music combines Slovak folk, global sounds, electronic and classical music.

Her atmospheric debut album, titled Pustvopol (barren field) included new arrangements of folk songs from Zvolen and quickly attracted the attention of the media and the public, and soon became one of the top albums in Slovakia.

Discography:

Pustvopol (Slnko , 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Trombitáši Štefánikovci

Trombitáši Štefánikovci

The Trombitáši Štefánikovci (Stefaniks Trombita Players) ensemble was founded in 2008 by brothers Ján and Pavol Štefanik, Pavol Novosád, Ivan Bobot, Peter Peťovský, Daniel Káčer and the youngest from the Štefánik family, Juraj. The group performs the shepherds’ folk traditions of the Moravian-Slovak border, primarily from the Puchov region on Slovakia.

The ensemble uses various Slovak wind instruments such as shepherds’ horns, trombitas, fujaras and various whistles. Many of these instruments are made by the Trombitáši Štefánikovci musicians. Some of the musical instruments manufactured by the ensemble’s members are housed in many museums and used by musicians throughout the world.

Ján Štefánik, Pavol Novosád and Ivan Bobot are the winners of prestigious awards, including Instrumentum Excellence and Zlatá Fujara (Golden fujara), received for the folk musical instruments they manufactured.

Pavol Štefánik is a laureate and award winner as performer of trombitas and shepherds’ horns. The musicians performed on many occassions in Slovakia and beyond.

The album Gruňom hore – Up the Hillside (2017) was the debut of this Trombita ensemble.

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Artist Profiles: Preßburger Klezmer Band

Preßburger Klezmer Band

Bratislava-based Preßburger Klezmer Band was formed in 1995. Founding members included saxophonist Daniel Sloboda; viola player Tomáš Kaiser; clarinetist and saxophonist Erik Rothenstein; and violinist Daniel Alexander. The lineup has changed throughout the years.

Although the group is inspired by klezmer music, Preßburger Klezmer Band also incorporates Slovak, Gypsy, jazz, rock, reggae and Latin music.

The Baladen (Ballads) album contains nearly forgotten songs about love, life and God from the Slovak Jewish Heritage. Vocals are in Yiddish, Hebrew, Ladino & Bosnian.

Discography:

Lajv ‎(Akcent, 2002)
Mit Libe… / S Laskow ‎(Hev-Het, 2006)
Ot Azoy! ‎(Millenium Records, 2009)
Preßburger Special ( Slovak Klezmer Association, 2010)
Tants mit mir ( Slovak Klezmer Association, 2012)
Tsvantsik Yorn (Slovak Klezmer Association, 2015)
Baladen (Real Music House & Slovak Klezmer Association, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Banda

Banda

Banda was founded in 2003 in Bratislava, Slovakia. The ensemble includes musicians with extensive experience in folk music performance as well as other genres. Banda is predominantly inspired by Slovak traditional music, incorporating innovative arrangements.

In addition to Slovak roots music, Banda incorporates blues, jazz, pop, earky music and the traditional music of other cultures as well, such as Moravian, Ruthenian, Polish, Romanian, Balkan, Celtic, and Spanish musical influences.

Banda showcased at the World Music Expo WOMEX in 2017.

The ensemble contributed music for the film Tanec medzi črepinami (Glass Splinters Dance) directed by Marek Ťapák (2012) and also a title song of the TV series called 1890 (2017).

Band members include Samo Smetana on lead vocals, violin, mandolin, bouzouki; Ivan Hanula on vocals, viol, mandolin, bouzouki; Alžbeta Lukáčová on cimbalom, vocals, accordion, percussion; Peter Obuch on double bass, vocals; Ajdži Szabo on percussion; and Eva Brunovská on vocals, keyboards.

Discography:

Jedna (2010)

HraBanda (Pavian Records, 2014)

Ľudová hudba Banda: Na Mijave na rínečku (2015)

Telegrafy (Pavian Records, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Miriam Kaiser

Miriam Kaiser

Miriam Kaiser is a Slovak violinist, composer, and vocalist. Her musical pieces are rooted in folk traditions and poetry.

Music had a fundamental role in Miriam’s life from her early childhood. Her parents sent their children to learn music and urged them to perform in front of audiences.

Miriam studied at the Bratislava Conservatory. She presented her first musical piece, Prvá (First), when opened for famed Slovak musician Marián Varga.

Miriam’s first EP Isté veci (Certain things), reached number one in Radio 7 and Radio Lumen music charts, and was aired on the Slovak national radio and Radio Regina.

Her first album Deň dňu, was made in cooperation with Milan Adamec, Andrej Hruška, members of the Slovak National Theater Orchestra and the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra and other guests. It had a more modern sound and reached a wider audience.

In 2016, Miriam attracted the attention of Slovak music fans with her audiovisual project Colour Sounds in which she mixed rich orchestral arrangements, folk melodies and female vocals with an easygoing electronic sound. These elements have continued as essential elements of her compositions.

Tanec strún was released in 2018. It is dedicated to string instruments and is inspired by Slovak folk music, classical music and the poems of Naďa Mitanová.

Miriam Kaiser

Miriam’s band includes arranger Milan Adamec on violin and Júlia Veselá on cello.

Discography:

Isté Veci, EP (2010)

Deň Dňu ( Miriam Kaiser, 2014)

Color Sounds ( Miriam Kaiser, 2016)

Tanec strún ( Miriam Kaiser, 2018)

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Artist Profiles: Čendeš

Čendeš

Čendeš ensemble (formerly known as Rusín Čendeš Orchestra) has gathered an enthusiastic audience during its years of their existence with its modern arrangements of folk songs from Eastern Slovakia.

The debut album titled “Best of” was released in 2015. The second album, titled Cossack Attack, combines Ruthenian, Balkan and Gypsy music with jazz and other musical genres.

The ensemble’s sound is characterized by robust male and female vocals, twin fiddles, guitar, bouncing cimbalom and double bass.

Band members include Zuzana Stračinová on vocals, cimbalom; René Bošeľa on vocals, viola, guitar; Andrej Turčin on vocals and violin; Peter Šipula on vocals and violin; Jakub Stračina con bass; and Robo Bošeľa on drums and percussion.

Discography:

Best of ( Môlča Records, 2015)
Cossack Atack (Môlča Records, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Kwon Soon Kang

Kwon Soon Kang is a leading vocalist in traditional and contemporary music in Korea. She has dedicated herself to performing and perfecting both Korean traditional court vocal music (jeongga) and contemporary music.

She has performed widely throughout Korea and abroad, working with many composers, dancers and theater companies, ensembles and orchestras, including the National Orchestra, the Seoul Metropolitan Traditional Orchestra, the Kim Duksoo Samulnori Group, and the Nan Kye Traditional Ensemble.

Kwon Soon Kang has also appeared in performances directed by international art directors Ong Keng Sen, Jinhi Kim, and Chen Shi-Zeng, working with traditional and contemporary artists from around the world.

Ms. Kang released her first jeongga album, Sounds of Heaven, in 2004, and recorded with the Kim Duksoo Samulnori Group. She has also received prizes at the Dong-A Competition and the Seoul Traditional Music Festival sponsored by Korean Broadcasting System (KBS).

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Artist Profiles: Yoon Jeong Heo

Yoon Jeong Heo

Yoon Jeong Heo, the leader of Tori Ensemble, is an enthusiastic soloist who cuts across various musical genres, expanding the possibilities of geomungo and Korean music. Heo graduated from the National High School of Korean Traditional Music and received her B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University.

In 1984, Yoon Jeong Heo initiated her study of geomungo sanjo, with the Living National Treasure Han Gap Duk, obtaining the significant master title “yisuja.”

Heo served as the deputy concertmaster of the Seoul Metropolitan Korean Music Orchestra from 1990 to 1994. She has performed with the German artist Stephan Micus, the San José Chamber Orchestra, and toured Europe, the US, China, and Japan. She was awarded a Ministry of Culture prize in 2008 in the field of Korean traditional music, as well as a fellowship from the Asian Cultural Council.

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Artist Profiles: Baraji

Baraji

Baraji is a Korean band known for its mystical shows featuring folkloric music, singing, dancing and costumes. Baraji presents exceptional improvisation.

In traditional Korean music, Sinawi, the word Baraji is often used to describe improvised singing in harmony. Baraji’s performances derive from a Korean shamanic tradition known as Jindo Ssitgim Gut. This ceremony is used to cleanse the spirit of a deceased person. Since ancient times, there is a Korean belief that when somebody dies, their body cannot enter the world of the dead because of the impurity of their spirit. The Ssitgim Gut washes away this impurity.

In 2018, the lineup included Han Seung-seok, Artistic Director; Kim Byung-keuk, Sound Director; Kang Min-su on percussion; Kim Tae-young on percussion; Cho Soung-jae on ajaeng; Jeong Kwang-yoon on daegeum; Kim Yul-hee on vocals; Oh Young-bin on piri; Kim Min-young on gayageum; and Won Na-kyungdlal ek on haegeum.

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