Author Archives: celtadmin

Katja Moslehner – Am Weltenrand (2021)
Review & Give-Away

Katja review & give-away !!

Last month, Katja’s first solo album ‘Am Weltenrand’ was released, featuring a dozen multi-faceted tracks and many guest musicians. And to tell you more about the album, our new-joining crew member Dani (yes, from the Spanish Folk band Vael) has written a beautiful review we would like you to share across the globe. Not only because we feel the world should hear Katja’s music, but also because she has made two copies available for us to give away to you! So, please read the review, and publicly share our original post on Facebook before midnight CET on Saturday the 12th of June, and we will draw the lucky winners on the day after!

Katja Moslehner – Am Weltenrand (2021)

2020m05 – Myrkur – Harpes Kraft

Myrkur - Folkesange (2020)

The Power of the Harp

New month, new monthly marker!

Many songs tell us about the magical beauty of harp play and the powers a skilled player can wield under the right circumstances. Previously I was captured myself by Kati Rán‘s Harpa Toner which upon investigation turned out to be one of many renditions of the same tale that has been traveling throughout Europe, shapeshifting and scope-creeping, evolving in time to well-known versions like Binnorie, The Twa Sisters, The Bonnie Swans and Harp of Death. Now, once more I am mesmerized by a harp-related song (or should I say ‘sange’? ) and this time as well, I simply had to know what was behind the softly sang lyrics brought across by the tempting voice of none other than Amalie Bruun, a.k.a Myrkur.

Though mostly known for her Metal albums, Amalie has been diving deeper and deeper into the richness of Scandinavian traditional songs and clearly she came up with some pure Danish gold. As early as January of 2018, some of you may have been lucky enough to witness performances of Myrkur having struck new ground, touring together with other great artists of our scene, like Christopher Juul ( Heilung, Euzen ) and… you guessed it: Kati Rán. Fortunately her collaboration with Christopher did not end when the tour did. In fact, she stepped into his famous Lava Studios and recently proudly released her latest album Folkesange.

This work of art is a 100% match with our station’s format, which means we will be able to play each individual track and what’s more: we have chosen Harpens Kraft as our new Monthly Marker, meaning we will be playing it 5 to 6 times a day for the month of May!



And this brings me back to the story: Harpens Kraft dates as far back as (at least) 1570 and is a ballade about Villemann and Magnhild. Whilst playing a game, the bride is clearly distraught and Villemann inquires about the reasons for her distress, offering up several possibilities, which all are refuted by Magnhild. Instead, she reveals a premonition that she will fall (to her death) into the river Blide, like her two sisters did before her. Although the lyrics of Harpens Kraft end here, the story does not. Despite Villemann’s reassurances promising her the protection of many of his men and the building of a very strong stone bridge, she is not comforted and as it turns out, rightfully so. When Magnhild crosses the bridge, her horse rears up on its hind legs and she falls off into the river. The moment Villemann hears of this, is where Myrkur picks up lamenting in the song Villemann og Magnhild, the Norwegian part of this tale, which is also part of the repertoire of bands like (amongst others) SKÁLD and Datura:



After her fierce Kulning singing, Amalie continues to tell how Villemann took his golden harp to enchant the troll that was holding Magnhild, by draining the power from his arm with his harp play. As is often the case with Nordic tales, the (here unsung) ending isn’t a happy one, as she doesn’t come back to life, but he can at least provide a proper burial.

Epilogue:
The story of this tale actually doesn’t end here and so, I will finish with the beginning. In the variations that could be heard in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, the troll was the villain, yet in Iceland, there was none but fate itself. Something happened halfway on the Norwegian Sea and clues can be found exactly there: on the Shetland Islands, wherein Unst the Scandinavian versions were predated by a very similar song from the 14th century:



This song has a happier ending, the Celtic influences are clearly recognizable in the character of the Elven King and the clue to the last part of this trip, lies in the naming of the hero of it all: Villemann is called King (or Sir) Orfeo. This is where my wonderings went full circle for me: Orfeo was one of the first Balfolk bands I danced to, back when the scene was just sprouting in the Netherlands and it was the personal CD collection of Erica, the flutist of that very band, that laid the foundation for CeltCast’s musical arsenal not much later.

But wait! There’s even more to this story:
Let me offer you the chance to go even further back in time and have a listen to AmmA‘s King Orfeo, a rendition of the late 13th century version of the Westminster-Middlesex area. This version was introduced via Breton poets in Medieval times and it contains a mixture of Celtic mythology, such as the faeries, the Greek myth of Orpheus.



Yes, you read that correctly: this tale brings you all the way back to Greek mythology when in 438 B.C. Euripides wrote the first known version of this love story of Orpheus and Eurydice in his Alcestis. And that to me is the true power of the harp: this instrument once again welcomed me to travel far beyond the confinement of my home and through 25 centuries to show how we are all connected, supported by the tales that travel through time, preferably put to beautiful music.

– Alex


Fantasy Forest interview


Fantasy Forest is a brand new festival, organised by a very experienced group of people, and it will introduce its concept for the first time to England this year! At a gorgeous location, Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds, they will bring amazing bands to their visitors, like Harmony Glen, PerKelt, The Dolmen and Greenrose Faire. They will organise a market filled with merchants that will cater to all fantasy wishes, and they will even host a costume competition to give people the chance to show off their amazing creations. And that isn’t even the whole of it!

It will also be CeltCast’s first official venture into the UK! In the coming time we will bring you updates on Fantasy Forest, but right now we are starting with an in-depth interview. We had the honour to speak to Martin about organising a festival, about bringing something like this to an area that doesn’t have any experience with it yet. About which bands to book, and how to go about finding a location. And about so much more. If you’ve ever been to a fantasy festival, or you’ve just always been interested in what such an organisation looks like, you can read all about it here. Enjoy, and hopefully we’ll see you all at this beautiful new event!

– First off, please introduce yourselves! Who are you, how old are you, where are you from, and of course, what are your backgrounds regarding festivals?

Well, my name is Martin and I am 48 years old. Born, raised and living in Friesland which is an area in the north of The Netherlands. I started visiting fantasy festivals a long time ago and fell absolutely in love with the concept after the first time. The atmosphere, the friendly people, the music and the smell of campfires and food stalls. Just being there is enough to lift my spirit. After about 5 years I signed up as a festival volunteer for the first time. That was an amazing experience and I never could have imagined how much festivals depend on volunteers and how much effort goes into preparing the venue for a two day festival. Now I volunteer for 4 weeks each year and that basically eats up all my vacation days. 🙂

– When did the first dream of Fantasy Forest emerge?

That was in the summer of 2016. I remember the exact moment well: I had been working as a volunteer at a festival for 7 days already (construction) and the last band was playing their last song on the last day of the festival. I was standing on the stage, to the side where the audience could not see me, but the location gave me a great view of the people dancing in front of the stage. I noticed how happy the people were. How much this festival, this weekend, meant to them and my exact thought was “It must be fantastic to be the organiser of such a festival, stand here and see how much joy it brings to sow many people”. This idea stuck with me and developed in my mind for a while until I decided to move forward and register the company in May 2017.

– We presume that before any plans were made you had to first get your core group of organisers together. How did you go about forming this core group?

After the decision was made to move forward I had to take a good look at the tasks ahead and at my own strengths and weaknesses. What I wanted in the team were people that supplement each other and while each on our own we might not be able to organise a festival, as a group we form the perfect team.

I myself am a project manager (that is my actual paying day job as well) and I can create a whole festival plan on paper, create budgets, host meetings, keep track of tasks and make sure they are completed on time and utterly confuse anyone by producing sheets, overviews and backup plans of backup plans until they are buried in paperwork. But I am at my best in the office. Delegating, organising, problem solving. I needed some “boots on the ground” during the festival. The key to “surviving” a festival as organiser is to surround yourself with people you can rely on when the going gets tough. Enter… Stefan. I had met Stefan before at festivals and had also worked with him at several occasions. Having seen him deal quickly and calmly and efficiently with security and safety incidents I knew he would be the one I would like to have by my side. As a stage manager, often working at festivals throughout Europe, he also had personal contacts with many artists and by adding his personal network to mine we greatly extended our circle of contacts.

That still left a gap though as we are both located in The Netherlands and we had only a few contacts in the UK. I would never have started this adventure without Guy, the third man in our core team. His people skills are second to none. Everybody he meets likes him instantly and I am pretty sure he knows everybody in the UK in one way or another. From his own network and by visiting festivals and meeting people, Guy is responsible for pulling in most of the traders at Fantasy Forest as well as a very big part of the entertainment. He is also our “friendly faced” media contact and our “fixer”. We need a coach company? Guy arranges a coach company. We need a voice over? Guy arranges a voice over. We need an accountant? Guy knows an accountant.

Besides the core team there is a second group of people that play a very important role. Jantien, who is our volunteer coordinator, André who is our Safety Officer, Maria who is our (decoration) advisor, Jurrien who is our design and social media manager and Jessica, our cashflow manager.

– Of course, after forming the initial group there are still a lot of steps to take when organising a festival. How did you end up to where you are now?

Do you have a few hours? 🙂 Selecting a general area in the UK, then the specific venue and the festival dates took the most time. Six months if I recall correct. A process that involved details such using average annual rainfall charts, population density, rail and road connections and creating a huge list of all festivals in the UK, their date, location and genre. And it may sound silly but many people forget about the dull administrative part. Registering a company, setting up a bank account, hiring an accountant, trademarking the name, registering for VAT etc takes a lot of time especially if you are not a UK citizen. Setting up social media accounts, registering and developing websites, insurances, designing and printing flyers comes on top of that.

From January 2018 onward bands and entertainment have been contracted, safety plans created, licenses arranged. And we had to hire stages, trackmats, showers, marquees, market stalls, toilets, offices, fork-lifts, fences, barriers, security, technicians, electricians, generators and several miles of electrical cables, first aid, hotels, crew catering, radios, tables and benches, chairs, a shuttle bus…. the list goes on for a while. Today we are in the final stages of planning, which includes an endless list of details to go through to ensure everything runs smoothly in the weekend.

– How did you find such a stunning location as Sudeley Castle? Were they as excited as you were, or did they need some convincing?

After the decision on date and general area within the UK was made I started searching for possible locations within that area. We started with around 11 possible venues and Guy and I visited each of them. Sudeley Castle was the second location we visited and we were both blown away.

With the castle, the gardens and the amazing views. We did not discuss price with them on that occasion but as we walked out we both said “Wow, how great would it be if we could have the festival at this dream location. But we will probably never be able to afford something like this.” Well we could and here we are!


Astrid (event manager at Sudeley Castle & Gardens) embraced the idea from the very first meeting. She played a big role in our final decision on the location. We were very lucky to arrive at just the right moment as well. Sudeley was at that moment not hosting any large events and it was mainly used as a wedding location. One of the most sought after wedding locations in the UK. They had just decided to allow 2 large events each year and we just slid right in. Today it is no longer possible to organise a new event at this location as all slots are filled. We truly have been very lucky!



– Fantasy Forest seems to combine several aspects, be it music, costumes, markets, re-enactment etc, into one event, but what would you say is the main aspect? Which is the most defining element of the event?

I would say the main aspect is different for each visitor. We have added an abundance of entertainment and activities throughout both days so that if there is something going on that does not interest you that much you still have several other activities going on at the same time. If you would ask me personal I could not even make a choice. I think we excel in many areas. I could not even name you my personal favourite but I am very pleased with the Wickerman Ceremony. That is going to be absolutely amazing. The Wickerman will be built on site by Pyrite Creative who create the most beautiful structures. And Stefan has been working for months on the ceremony itself. Also the costume shows are slowly developing into something amazing. “Costume and Play” is the company that takes care of the organisation and each meeting we have they manage to impress me with their ideas. With a stage, catwalk, monitors and professional sound and light equipment this will be quite a spectacle. The line-up of the bands is a dream line-up. Not just for a first-time festival but for any festival. We also have the top of the fantasy artists worldwide. Imagine Brian and Wendy Froud, Anne Sudworth, Linda Ravenscroft and Anne Stokes all together at one festival on the same field! And I’m particularly proud about the quality of the trader stalls. We have a very impressive selection of around 100 high quality stalls, selling items you are not able to buy in the mainstreet.

So a main aspect.. no, I really could not name it.

– Like the organisers themselves, the bands you invited come from several different countries. Can you tell us a bit about them, and about how you chose these particular bands for your first ever edition?

Well most of them we knew already through Stefan’s network and of course we have seen them play many times at different festivals. That was not the main reason for asking them to come though, we actually did have a plan. 🙂

From day 1 we wanted Harmony Glen as our headliner, closing the festival on Saturday and Sunday. They may not be that well-known in the UK yet but their performance is highly energetic, is very accessible and easy to dance to even if you have never heard it before.

Celt-N-Folk XVI And they will get any crowd dancing and singing in no time. And that is how we want people to go home after the festival.

The Dolmen of course is very well-known in the UK.

They have a very large fan base and it is a pleasure working with them and an honour that they will perform on this first edition.



Greenrose Faire from Finland is another band that was our personal favourite. They are very well-known in the Nordic and Baltic countries and even organise their own festival in Finland once a year. Very talented and professional musicians who compose all their own songs. They have never performed in the UK before but having seen them play before we just know they will be a big hit with the UK audience!

– Fantasy Forest is of course a brand-new concept, but we presume it has its background in one or more other festivals. Which festivals would you say have had the most influence in forming the concept of Fantasy Forest?

Haha, well in preparation I have visited a lot of festivals in 2018. A terrible job but someone had to do it. 🙂 I cannot name a specific festival but I have seen a lot and learned a lot. Not only about what does work but even more important ideas that did not work.

– Did you need and receive a lot of cooperation from the local government with things like permits?

I don’t think they gave us any special treatment but they are familiar with large festivals in their area so they were not afraid to allow this festival to take place and also knew how things worked and which questions to ask. During our first meeting we handed them an impressive amount of documentation which clearly they were not expecting (their actual words: “Wow, we have never seen anything like this before, you are very well prepared”). They took it home with them to read and during the second meeting we received the green light without having to provide any additional information.

– We are all obviously actively hoping for a massive success for this first ever edition. Even though you are still in preparation mode, would you say that there are already things that you would like to do different next year?

Oh yes! In my mind I’m already working on the 2020 edition. We are already discussing which bands we would like to have in 2020 and have reserved the dates (July 18th and 19th 2020, mark it in your agenda). 🙂 Of course the real evaluation will come after the festival, which will also include feedback from visitor experiences, traders and entertainment.

– Where can people find more information about the festival, like dates, sleeping or camping options, and how to acquire tickets?

All the information can be found on our website. Also follow our Facebook page to stay updated on the latest developments. The festival will take place at Sudeley Castle (near Cheltenham) on July 20th and 21st. Camping is available on the venue (though selling out fast!).

– Lastly, what message would you like to pass on to the people reading this interview?

Don’t be one of those people who afterwards posts on Facebook “That looks amazing, I wish I would have been there…”. Just come. It will be grand, amazing and over the top. You cannot compare this with anything in the UK that you have ever been to before.



Interview:
– Arjan de Groot

Photo Harmony Glen:
– Hans-Heinrich Breuer of Heiners art

Photo Greenrose Faire:
– Mariëlle Groot Obbink

Photos castle gardens: (excl. aerial shot)
– Alex Sealgaire


Cesair – Omphalos (2017)



Cesair is a six-person band that blends Classical together with Pop (World) music, giving it a nice Eastern-European feel as they go along. Together, this makes for a unique sounding band. Cesair themselves describe their sound as ‘Epic Folk and Mythic music´. I would say Carl Orf meets Vivaldi meets Rastaban meets Faun equals Cesair. They are one of the few bands that really manage to marry Classical skills with Pop music and get away with it.

With Dies, Nox et Omnia Fieke, as a producer, recorder, editor and mixer, gave Cesair a real powerful sound. Just as Carl Orf‘s Carmina Burana blows you away with the bold sounds of a big orchestra playing at full strength, Cesair managed to do the same. The accordion and hurdy-gurdy themselves are already instruments that can fill a room and Fieke made good use of the surround sound to give the whole band a overpowering impact. Hearing the main instruments in front of you, but nice bouzouki and violin accents coming from all sides. Just listen to Cansa and you’ll hear the violin playing in the corner of your ear. Or Graeica where Thomas’ bouzouki is placed in the same way that gave Dies, Nox et Omnia a really big orchestral sound.

As most of you will know, Fieke van den Hurk left the band last year to focus on her career as a producer and sound engineer at her Dearworld studio. The band was extended with new, but well-experienced band-members Luka Aubri (Rastaban) and Faber Auroch (Sowulo). With this change, there was no way around it… the big question with Cesair‘s second album was: “How would they sound with their new line-up?”. The pre-CD-release concert at Castlefest 2017 sounded very promising. Visually the band was as entertaining as ever. During the concert there was even that bit of ‘Fieke magic’, with her standing in the audience and singer Monique van Deursen and Violinist Sophie Zaaijer goofing with her from off the stage.

But what about the album? Well, Fieke is still part of the band on Omphalos!

Although saying her formal goodbyes to the audience on stage in March of 2017, with a wonderful concert in the Peppel in Zeist, the band decided Fieke was so involved writing the Omphalos songs that she still deserved to be named as a band-member in the credits, next to new members Luka and Faber.

Therefore she says her official goodbyes to us, the fans, with the album Omphalos. A fitting and touching tribute to Fieke from the band, showing how beautiful a friendship in music can be.

Onto Omphalos.

With this album the band went a different route. This time the mix is more open. Fieke, also producing, recording and mixing this album, plays with the volume in stead of putting up this impressive wall of sound. Listening you can discover little pearls. Lead soloists are pushed forward and supporting instruments are less pronounced in the mix, leading your ear through the music. New band-members Luka and Faber fit well within the music.

Fieke took on a more supporting role which made room for my personal highlight on Omphalos: the string section. Both Sophie and Faber play wonderful string melodies. Their solos and melody lines really take the lead role together with Monique’s voice. While Dies, Nox et Omnia focuses on the band as a unit, with Omphalos the talents of each individual musician comes out. And they are talented! Monique has a wonderfully pure and powerful, classically trained voice with an impressive range. One of the strong-points of Cesair. In this more open sound Thomas Biesmeijer really gets the chance to colour the music with his guitar and bouzouki chords. This new sound also means Jan de Vries can shine more as a percussionist. His drums don’t disappear in the overall sound, but are a main feature. Just listen to him drive to music on Troll Kala Mik.

With Dies, Nox et Omnia Cesair took us on a journey through classic texts and history. Quoting and interpreting passages of Babylonian, medieval Dutch, 7th century Greek and 16th century Spanish texts to name a few.

On Omphalos, Monique takes us with her on a similar journey through old and modern literature. The inspiration while writing this album came from the Roman poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (a.k.a. Horace), the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca, the Romanian poet George Coșbuc, some anonymous sources and the poetic Edda, an anonymous collection of Icelandic medieval poems.

As always I don’t want to go through all the songs on the CD. It’s way more fun to discover the music yourself without me spoiling everything. But still, here are some I really wanted to high-light.

Erda, the first track of the album: a first class earworm. Straight away, the more open sound of this album works it’s magic. Monique and Sophie shine in this song. As said, Monique is such a skilled mezzo-soprano, she impresses throughout the whole album, as does Sophie. Hearing her taking the lead solo so clearly and often, I suddenly realise how amazing she is as a violinist. Stunning. In all, if you listen to Erda and like it, you can safely buy the whole album. The song is a perfect representation of Cesair anno 2017.

Many of you will already know Chorihani from various concerts: a cheerful, fast song with, again, a beautiful solo from Sophie, this time straight from a gipsy party it seems. Good old Fieke and her accordion make it even more Eastern-European.

Troll Kala Mik we also know from the Cesair concerts. It´s a duet (or is it a duel?) between the beautiful poet Monique and the ugly troll Thomas. Pick your own favourite, but mine would be… …Jan. His percussion work is the foundation of this song. You could even say he plays the lead instrument on this.

Another duet is Ahes. It’s Cesair’s interpretation of a medieval love story from Brittany. It tells of a forbidden love between princess Ahes (a.k.a. Dahut) and a lover she invited in, before being married. A great sin in medieval times. Of course the whole city was punished and swallowed by the sea, as would happen in old times. Faun‘s Stephan Groth takes on the role of the lover from the ocean, who persuades Ahes to open the gates of her city. A guest appearance to look forward to should Faun and Cesair play the same MPS festivals the coming season.


Mardochaios is the Greek name for the Mesopotamian god Marduk. The song is an anthem for him, again driven by the powerful drums of Jan, followed by some beautiful violin melodies and vocals. My personal favourite song of the album.

Yet another song that has an interesting musical feel is Boudicca. The intro with the strong, almost threatening, male/female vocals make it sound like an menacing Enya or Clannad on their very best days. Sophie´s violin solo pulls you straight back into the Cesair world but the song keeps that eerie feel to it… A real tribute to the lady who dared to defy the Romans.



As i said, I could name all the songs because they all are equally good. Omphalos is an album that you need to get if you love an impressive mix of classical and folk/world music. It’s an album that will mesmerize you, make you want to play it again and again. One piece of advice: play it loud and get the whole impact of the album. It’s going to be worth it. At full volume is where the true beauty of Omphalos appears in all its glory… or live on stage of course!!



– Cliff


– Pictures 1, 3, 4 and 7 taken at Castlefest 2017 and picture 2 taken at the Gothic & Fantasy Beurs 2013,
courtesy of: Cliff de Booy

– Pictures 5, 6, 8 and 9 taken at the Omphalos release party at the Willemijn, Almere 02-12-2017,
courtesy of: Kees Stravers



Helisir – Spin (2017)


The latest (and last) Helisir CD ‘SPIN’ came out this September and it’s a gem!

But first let’s introduce Helisir a bit more.

Helisir is the musical project and brainchild of Jacqueline Stempher. It started out as an idea for a book based around the fictive Nordic land Helisir, a Nordic equivalent of Avalon where the old Gods in ancient times met.

Over time their stories were set into music by Jacqueline and they ended up on the first Helisir album ‘Ravn’. It was produced by Jacqueline herself and could best be described as Nordic influenced ambient Pagan music. All instruments recorded were played by Jacqueline herself.

In 2016, a mini CD came out called ‘Sårbare’. It was recorded at the Dear World studio by Fieke van der Hurk and featured Jacqueline on harp and vocals in an all acoustic setting.

Now the third album ‘SPIN’ is finally here to conclude the Helisir story.

This time Jacqueline visited the Lava Studios in Copenhagen to have Christopher Juul record ‘SPIN’. The album picks up on the sound of ‘Ravn’ and is musically best described as a crossover between Dido and Euzen. (So not the voice/harp sound we have come to know through her ‘live ploink‘ streaming concerts on Facebook or the mini CD ‘Sårbare’.)


Jacqueline’s last Facebook livestream from the Netherlands, just before moving up North.


From the first seconds of ‘The Tide’ it’s clear this album is all about Jacqueline’s beautiful voice. A crossover between the laid back, fragile way of singing of Dido, the strong sound of Anneke van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering, Ayreon) and a touch of Sara Weeda (SeeD, ANÚNA).

In her lyrics Jacqueline stayed close to her heart, making this her most personal album. She has put the feelings and fears she went through the past years in beautiful musical poems, partly in English, but also some in Dutch. Listen to ‘Done’, ‘Lighthouse’, ‘Ashes’ or the Dutch title song ‘Spin’ and you’ll hear how personal her lyrics have become.

Jacqueline composed all the music and Christopher Juul arranged all the songs and took care of the instruments, so Jacqueline could focus on the vocals. He managed to make the music work as a supportive partner to Jacqueline’s voice, enhancing the lyrics instead of the instruments taking over. Those who love Euzen will recognize his style with those subtle touches making the music interesting and ‘SPIN’ a CD well worth buying!


I am now left with two wishes:

1. That somewhere in the future, Jacqueline will team up again with Christopher to make more music. It would be such a shame if that would never happen again.

and

2. That Castlefest will book Euzen for their Winter Edition 2017 and they will ask them to support Jacqueline Stempher there on stage as well, so we can hear her songs live in the way they were intended to sound. Mark… Jacqueline… Christopher… pretty please??? 🙂


– Cliff


– Live concert pictures courtesy of:

Kees Stravers
https://www.flickr.com/photos/case_s








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