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


2020m03 – Priscilla Hernandez – Waking of the Spring

Priscilla Herandez

Time for a new Monthly Marker and some special news!

It’s a new month, so once again, time for a new Monthly Marker!
(And for some special Monthly Marker news! Read to the end!)

In this month of spring, we want to celebrate the returning of vibrant life to the earth, so we went looking for a song that really reflects that feeling. And boy, did we find that in Priscilla Hernandez – Yidneth! Not only does the title of the song we chose, The Waking Of Spring, immediately conjure images of blooming flowers and singing birds, the music and lyrics will transport you to Mother Nature’s reawakening lap. Though this song was released as a single, we strongly recommend you check out her albums as well. The music is beautiful and amazing, but the artwork of the albums is out of this world! So, now for that special news!

Seeing as how this year’s Fantasy Awards 19/20 is the first time that CeltCast is the organiser, we wanted to add some of our own flair to it. One of the ways we decided to do that was to add a brand new category to the list, and one that was undoubtedly linked to the radio stream. So, presenting for the first time ever, the new category: Best Monthly Marker! This category is slightly different than the others, in that we kept the voting for this within CeltCast. (Give us something to vote on too, we can’t vote on any of the other categories 😉) So we listed all of 2019’s Monthly Markers and asked all our volunteers to vote on their favourite! The winner of this category will, of course, be announced during the Awards ceremony on the 14th of March, but to all those interested we can share the contestants here.

Last year’s Markers were:
January: Aérokorda – The Cliffs of MOher
February: M’ANAM – Bitter Wind
March: The Dolmen – Black is the Colour
April: Wouter en de Draak – New Horizons, New Adventures
May: Rob van Barschot feat. Guinevere – Fox and Bird
June: Rapalje Celtic Folk Music – The Strayaway Child
July: Greenrose Faire – Never Walk Alone
August: SeeD Pagan Folk – De Gnoom, de Heks en de Boom
September: Danceperados Of Ireland – Session by the Campfire
October: Emian • PaganFolk Music – Spirit Trail
November: MOJRA – An Raibh Tu Ar An Gcarraig
December: ORO – Music from the wild, wild East – Jovano Jovanke

We wish all contestants the best of luck in this added category, and we hope to see you all there on the 14th of March in the P60. Don’t wait, get your tickets here today!

A new year, a new day, and also a new month.

That means…a new Monthly Marker!

After having enjoyed ORO – Music from the wild, wild East’s Jovana Jovanke in December, we move up North to Sweden for January! Though not in any way a “happy song”, the beauty and emotion of Triakel‘s Häggsjön can not be denied! The song is a true story about a tragedy in Jamtland in the middle of the Scandinavian peninsula in 1883. Though we can obviously not play the video on the radio, we do recommend you watch this at least once, as it paints a very vivid emotional picture of the story.

Häggsjön will be played five to six times a day, all through the month of January.



2019m12 – ORO – Jovano Jovanke

These may be the darker days of the year, but that won’t stop us from shining a light on some amazing music. Last month we were honored to bring you a beautiful recording by Mojra singing a gorgeous traditional, this month we would like to introduce you all to some other friends of the station that we made over these past years, the incredible musicians of ORO – Music from the wild, wild East .

Jovana, Jovanke is also a traditional, but this time one from the Macedonian region. As is so often the case with these beautiful old songs that have withstood the test of time, it is because the subject of the song is equally timeless, two young lovers separated from each other by dissapproving parents. It is this emotion, unattainable love, so well known by many, that is beautifully conveyed by the talented artists of ORO. We hope you will love this song just as much as the lovers in it love each other!

As usual, the Monthly Marker will be played five to six times a day, throughout the entire month, so there’s no reason to miss it 😉

For some more ORO, check out the videos we made of them at Festival – Mediaval this year, for example:
https://www.facebook.com/…/vl.505785606851…/2154377291531778



2019m11 – Mojra – An Raibh Tu Ar An Gcarraig

With our Monthly Marker we try to shine a light on something that we would like to see get some more attention.
Sometimes this is a festival, sometimes a new album, or maybe a band. This month we would like to introduce you all to someone who has been living a life in the world of music for a long time, yet can easily be seen as a new face in the world of folk music. Mojra has studied music and has an extensive background in singing, dancing and musical education. This, combined with an artistic approach, led to her starting as a storyteller. Mixed in with these stories she adds beautiful traditionals that through the lovely sound of her voice carry the listener into a dreamstate. This, at least, is what happened to Alex when he saw her performance at the Castlefest Academy last summer. Right after the show he approached her to ask if she had any recordings, which she hadn’t. But it did get her thinking, and she does enjoy a challenge, so right after getting home Mojra dove into the studio and recorded An Raibh Tu ar an gCarraig, and we couldn’t be happier that she did, as Alex and Arjan were immediately blown away by the song and within seconds decided that this would be our next Monthly Marker!

The song itself also has a whole story behind it. It is an Irish traditional from the 17th century that appears to be a love song (Where you at the rock, and did you see my love there?) but it actually contains a secret message. “The rock” meant the altar and “my love” the priest, as this was a time when British Protestants were actively persecuting Catholics. In the second verse one could answer yes or no, indicating that it was or wasn’t safe to meet for worship that day. And since the song was sung in Irish, the English never had a clue!

Nowadays in most parts of the world religous persecution is fortunately not a big issue anymore, which leaves us with the ability to just enjoy the sheer beauty of the song. Please just sit back, close your eyes, and let Mojra’s beautiful voice carry you away, just like it did us.







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