After seven long years Fanfare Ciocărlia, a Rromani brass band, returns to Zagreb, preparing a spectacle at Vintage Industrial Bar on June 11th. By many, they are the world’s best brass orchestra captivating audiences around the world with their energetic music, playing skills and a vivid spirit.
On the occasion of their upcoming concert, we talked with saxophone player Costel Oprica Ivancea.
What does the name Fanfare Ciocărlia mean and does it describe the music you are performing?
Ciocărliain Romanian language means nightingale, and the fanfareis a touching and ecstatic song for brass wind instruments. By combining these two words we get the meaning: song of the nightingale. Our music is of technically very demanding performance. We can describe it as a multitude of musical notes that spin, fly by air just like birds. Yet, in this whirlwind of wild and unbridled birds there is a firm, rocky structure. It is just like our music, and the name of our orchestra represents it in the best possible way.
Oh God, our childhood in Zece Prăjini was wonderful. A magical place hidden behind mild hills where music and field work were the focus of life. There were no borders for us children, the hills were our playgrounds and our kingdoms at the same time. Village square was our stage of glory. We would all gather there, play music together and practice. We dreamed of conquering unknown regions and continents with our music. Of course, in these dreams of ours we would always return home with the bags full of money. After so much time we still live there and we have made our dreams come true!
In everyday life, nothing has changed – we love country life, we love our neighbours and, of course, we participate at every village party!
The words of the song “Lume, lume” tell about life full of suffering and probably many would agree that throughout history, even today, the life of the Rroma has been marked by injustice. Does music help you overcome such moments in life?
In the song “Lume, lume” we sing about the eternal cycle of life: you are born, you live with all suffering and joy and then you leave the earth. And that is the same for everyone, whether president or poor man – no one can escape that cycle!
On your latest album Onward to Mars! you have combined your music style with Colombian cumbia music. What inspired you and is there similarity between Balkan and Colombian music?
We often perform in South America and we love everything that comes from Mexico, Colombia, Brazil or Venezuela: people, language, food and, of course, cumbia music. So it is not surprising that we have mixed their culture with ours.
On your album Devil’s Tale you worked with the guitarist Adrian Raso, and the album is brilliant though pretty noir. Since you come from different genres of music, have you wondered what the outcome of this partnership would be?
Great Canadian guitarist Adrian Raso invited us to be guests on his studio album he was preparing. It was supposed that we would participate with one or two songs, but we sent him a demo tape with ten songs and he was delighted. He decided to collaborate with us on a whole album, and together we toured Europe and Canada during two years. This noir aspect of the album represented a challenge and a kind of test of our talents. Can we, being funny, rapid and joyful, sound completely different? You can all listen to the result of our cooperation and judge for yourself.
How do fans and critics react to your experimental approach to music in recent years?
The concert halls are crowded, we are touring all the time, and the albums have been selling like hot cakes…
Since different musical styles, such as jazz, rock, blues or reggae, have influenced your music, can you name some musicians who have left a lasting impression upon you?
My God, there are a lot of them! Duke Ellington, Ennio Morricone, The Skatalites, Johann Sebastian Bach, Romica Puceanu, the great Šaban Bajramović – God Bless Him, Nino Rota, Rachid Taha, Hot 8 Brass Band and many others! Listen and see for yourself!