Tag Archives: Breton music

Traditional Breton Singer Yann-Fañch Kemener Dies at 61

Yann-Fañch Kemener

Yann-Fañch Kemener, an influential Breton folk music singer died on March 16, 2019.  He was involved in the revival of a Breton style called Kan ha diskan.

Yann-Fañch Kemener was born April 7, 1957 in Sainte-Tréphine (Côtes-d’Armor), in the heart of Brittany’s Fañch region (France). He grew up in a family of singers and dancers.

Breton was his mother tongue and the transmission was done naturally. At four, he participated in his first fest-noz (Breton night festival) and his first performance on stage was at 15, encouraged by Albert Boloré.

Influenced by the great voices of elders like Mrs. Bertrand, Yann-Fañch performed gwerz (Breton epic folk songs) and other styles at fest-noz events, together with artists such as Marcel Guilloux, Erik Marchand, and Ifig Troadec.

He recorded Deep Songs of Brittany Vol. 1, including the Skolvan Ballade, Gousperrou ar ranned and La Grande Passion. In 1982, the Charles-Cros academy gave him the Grand Prix Heritage for the three album series Deep Songs of Brittany.

In 1988, he founded the influential group Barzaz with Gilles Le Bigot (guitars), Jean-Michel Veillon (flutes), Alain Genty (bass) and David Hopkins (percussion). It became one of the legendary bands of Breton music.

In 1991, he recorded the album Kerzh ‘Ba’ n Dañs’ with the group Skolvan. Later, he met Didier Squiban with whom he recorded three albums, creating a new genre called “gwerz de chambre” (chamber gwerz).

In the early 2000s, Yann-Fañch started a duet with cellist Aldo Ripoche.

In 2010, he was awarded the Knight Medal of the Order of Arts and Letters in 2015.

In 2016, he put together another band, along with Erwann Tobie and Heikki Bourgault under the name Yann-Fañch Kemener Trio. The intention was to entertain the fest-noz.


Artist Profiles: Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil

Soig Siberil was born February 1, 1955 in Paris, France. He is a name that keeps coming up in the Breton folk music scene. After recording with Sked, he founded Kornog together with Jamie McMenemy of the Battlefield band and two additional musicians.

Soig Siberil later became a member of Gwerz, another legendary Breton band. Since then he has toured and recorded with Pennou Skoulm, Orion, Les Ours du Scorff, Kemia, Den and Alain Pennec.

Solo Discography:

Digor (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
Entre Ardoise et Granit, Maen Glas… (Gwerz Pladenn, 1996)
Gwenojenn (Gwerz Pladenn, 1999)
Gitar (Naïve Records, 2001)
Du côté de chez Soïg! (Siam Production, 2003)
Lammat (Coop Breizh, 2006)
Tan Dehi, kan ha gitar, withc Lors Jouin (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Botcanou (Coop Breizh, 2009)
Red, with Nolwenn Korbell (Coop Breizh, 2007)
Noazh (Coop Breizh, 2010)
Dek (Coop Breizh, 2014)
Habask (Coop Breizh, 2017)


Artist Profiles: Skolvan


An essential act of the Breton revival for many years, Skolvan originally comprised five of Brittany’s most respected musicians, including guitarist Gilles le Bigot, percussionist Dominique Molard, and Youenn le Bihan on bombarde, biniou, and his own oboe-like invention, the piston.

Skolvan was founded in 1984, at a time of great effort on the part of many musicians in France to preserve traditional music in Brittany. They introduced the atmosphere of a traditional Breton fest noz (“night festival”) to international audiences.


Dañs (Adipho, 1987)
Come to Dance – Musique à danser (Adipho, 1989)
Kerzh Ba’n’ Dañs (Keltia Musique, 1991)
Swing & Tears (Keltia Musique, 1994)
Fest Noz Live (Keltia Musique, 1996)
Cheñchet n’eus an amzer – Les temps changent (Keltia Musique, 2000)
Live in Italia (Keltia Musique, 2004)
C’Hoari Pevar (Keltia Musique, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Myrdhin

Remi Chauvet was born in 1950 in Dinan, in North Brittany. He became a bard at the age of 21, choosing to spend his career playing the harp since then. His friends gave him the name of Myrdhin, following the bardic tradition. He has played in numerous countries and won important singing and harp competitions.

Myrdhin has written several film scores, theater production soundtracks and two pieces for ballet. He also collaborates with Breton flute player Pol Huellou.


Harp et Bamboo avec Pol Huellou (Breizh, 1990)
Harp in Aquarius (Breizh, 1991)
Harpe Instrumental (Sony, 1992)
A Cordes et à Cris (Iguane, 1995)
Harpsody – Duo Ars Celtica (Kerig, 1998)
Chants de Noël (Kerig, 1998)
La vie de Merlin (Ria, 1998)
An Delen Dir (Ethnea, 1998)
Fréhel (Kerig, 2000)
Run (Harpenciel, 2004)
Itinerari Celtici (Fairylands, 2004)
Magic Chaudron, with Pascal Lamour (BNC, 2008)
D’île en île (BNC, 2009)
Clarsàch (Crihc, 2010)


Artist Profiles: Jacky Molard

Jacky Molard

Jacky Molard is one of the key musicians in the rebirth of Breton music. He plays various instruments, including fiddle, guitar and bass. He is also a reputable composer and producer.

Jacky Molard was behind some of the most groups in recent Breton history, such as Den, Archetype, Triptique, Bal Tribal. He was also a member of now legendary bands: Gwerz and Pennou Skoulm, as well as Procession Celtique, the Alain Genty Band and Erik Marchand’s band.


Artist Profiles: Jean-Michel Veillon

Jean-Michel Veillon

Jean-Michel Veillon played the wooden flute in Breton groups Kornog and Pennou Skoulm. After taking up the wooden flute in 1977, Jean Michel Veillon developed a keen interest in the culture and music of Ireland. In 1979, he founded, together with Paddy O’Neill and the piper Martin Nolan, the Breton-Irish Band Kornog. At the same time, Jean-Michel played with a local East-Breton band and was encouraged to adapt the Breton repertoire to the wooden flute.

In addition to his work with Kornog, Jean-Michel was a founding member of the dance band Pennou Skoulm and played with the group Den in the late 1980s/early 1990s. Since 1995 he’s been performing with the Duo Veillon-Riou.


E Koad Nizan (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
Pont Gwenn ha Pont Stang, with Duo Veillon-Riou (Gwerz Pladenn, 1995)
Er Pasker, with Katrien Delavier (Coop Breizh, 1999)
Beo! Live in Belfast, with Duo Veillon-Riou (An Naër Produksion, 2000)
Deus an Aod d’ar Menez, Duo Veillon-Riou (Bemol productions, 2017)

With Kornog

Kornog 1 (Ar Folk, 1981) 33T
Première Live in Minneapolis (Green Linnet, 1983)
Ar Seizh Avel – On Seven Winds (Green Linnet, 1984)
Kornog IV Kanaouennou an Aod (Adipho, 1986)
Korong (Green Linnet, 2000)


Artist Profiles: Gwerz


Gwerz was a supergroup that featured some of the finest innovative musicians in the contemporary Breton folk scene. Patrick and Jacky Molard, Erik Marchand, Youenn le Bihan and Soig Siberil founded it in the mid 1980s. Although most of Gwerz’s members have developed solo careers or joined other well-known bands, the group still performs together occasionally.

The Gwerz sound combines Breton traditional music, vocals and instruments with modern elements and Irish music influences, including the use of Irish pipes (uilleann pipes).

Musicians: Youenn Le Bihan (bombarde and bass bombarde), Jacky Molard (fiddle), Eric Marchand (vocals, clarinet), Patrick Molard (uilleann pipes), Soïg Sibéril (guitar), Alain Genty (bass), and Bruno Caillat (percussion)


Musique bretonne de toujours (Gwerz, 1986)
Au delà (Escalibur, 1988)
Gwerz live (Gwerz Pladen, 1993)


Artist Profiles: Erik Marchand

Erik Marchand

Erik Marchand was born in 1955. He’s a well known Breton vocalist and treujenn-gaol (Breton clarinet) performer. Even though he was born in Paris, his family was of Breton origin, hailing from Quelneuc, Brittany.

Erik was a member of the highly influential Breton band Gwerz and also formed the Erik Marchand Quartet, an ensemble featuring himself and Jacky Molard, two of the most famous artists in Breton traditional music, and by Costica Olan and Viorel Tajkuna, two of the biggest virtuosos of Gypsy music from Romania and Serbia.

The quartet performed suites of Breton dances colored by the stamp of the taragot and by the very specific technique of the accordionist Viorel Tajkuna. These dances are also decorated with improvised introductions and with subjects of gwerzio or doina, played with the particular feeling of this multicultural orchestra.


Chants à danser de Haute-Bretagne, with Gilbert Bourdin ha Christian Dautel (Dastum, 1982)
Gwerz, nouvelle musique de Bretagne (Dastum. 1985)
Chants à répondre de Haute-Bretagne, with Gilbert Bourdin and Christian Dautel (Le Chasse-Marée, 1985)
Au-delà, with Gwerz (Escalibur, 1988)
Gwerz Penmarc’h, with Cabestan (Le Chasse-Marée, 1989)
Songs of Central Brittany – An henchoù treuz, chants du Centre-Bretagne, with Thierry Robin (AMTA/Ocora, 1990)
An tri Breur (Silex, 1991)
Musique têtue gant le Quintet de Clarinettes (Silex, 1991)
Gwerz live (Gwerz Pladenn, 1993)
Bazh du with le Quintet de Clarinettes (Silex, 1993)
Sag an tan ell, with Taraf de Caransebes (Silex, 1993)
Condaghes, with Fresu, Pellen (Silex, 1997)
Dor, with Taraf de Caransebes (BMG, 1998)
Kan, with ensemble de Mallakaster of Albania, Le Tenore de Santu Predu (Sardinia), Fransy Gonzales-Calvo (Galicia, Spain) and Bassey Koné (Mali) (Télérama, 2001)
La Route de la Rose (Attitudes, 2003)
Le Requiem d’Anna Ac’hmatova (2003)
Ephéméra, with Jacques Pellen (Naïve, 2003)
Pruna, with les Balkaniks (Harmonia Mundi, 2004)
Ukronia (2013)


Artist Profiles: Barzaz


Barzaz is a Breton contemporary folk band that combines musical improvisation with folk, poetry and oral tradition tunes researched in the Lower Brittany region and also in Breton music literature. The group’s founders include singer Yann-Fanch Kemener, who has recorded various albums of Breton a cappella chants, flutist Jean-Michel Veillon, known for his work with the groups Galorn, Kornog and Denand guitarist Gilles Le Bigot, with a background in baroque music, rock and jazz, who was also a member of Galorn and Kornog.


Ec’honder (Escalibur, 1989)
An den kozh dall (Keltia Musique, 1992)
Barzaz (Keltia Musique, 2013)