FANFARE Ciocarlia, a Gypsy brass band from Romania, are frequent visitors to Slovakia. On April 17, they played at the KC Dunaj culture hub in downtown Bratislava, and although the concert, part of a long European tour, started relatively late (at about 22:30) they gave a full performance and got people dancing and singing along with them.
The name of the band means “lark’s song”, their website says, and was coined by Henry Ernst, their manager. Ernst, a German, told The Slovak Spectator that he originally heard the “larks”, playing music at weddings and folk celebrations in and around their native village of Zece Prajini, in a remote region of north-eastern Romania where the tradition of brass-band music has survived.
After Ernst started promoting their distinct musical style in 1997, they achieved success as word spread across Europe. They formed the cast of a popular feature film by German director Ralf Marschalleck which records their performances at Romanian weddings, often lasting for as long as 30 hours.
Fanfare Ciocarlia have released several albums that featured in world music charts, the TASR newswire wrote. In 2011, they recorded the album Balkan Brass Battle, in which they joined forces with another famous Balkan Gypsy brass band, the Boban and Marko Markovic Orchestra. In the same year, these two bands also waged a “musical battle” at the Bažant Pohoda Festival in Slovakia.
The Bratislava concert was late starting but any restlessness among the audience subsided as soon as the band started playing. The club soon heated up, with everyone dancing, jumping and clapping to the electrifying rhythms. The 12-member band dubbed “the fastest band in the world” thanks to its relentless style, played for almost two hours. Fanfare Ciocarlia’s gig culminated when the band members left the stage, marched to the centre of the dance floor and gave their encore there, thus recalling the very beginnings of their career – playing among dancing crowds at folk feasts.
Fanfare Ciocarlia plan to release a new album together with Canadian guitar player Adrian Raso in September 2012. Although no new dates have been confirmed for Slovakia, Ernst informed The Slovak Spectator that they hoped to return in 2013.
Balkan Gypsy brass music, though still not mainstream, has been gaining popularity in the last decade, and the Romanian “larks” can rightly be called its best ambassadors.
28. May 2012 at 0:00 | Zuzana Vilikovská