GENRE: a blend of classicism and traditional Carpathian folk music
ABOUT: Hypnotizing mixture of Carpathian tradition with classical musicians evolves into completely new world music quality. String instruments in rock sound, jazzy improvisations and contemporary sensuality. Experience pure emotions from Polish mountains!
Vołosi’s debut in 2010 at the ‘New Tradition’ Festival yielded all possible awards. In 2011 they confirmed their success by winning Grand Prix Svetozar Stracina for the best piece in the ‘world music’ category in Europe, in the contest organized by the European Broadcasting Union. In 2012 their first album entered the special World Charts Europe TOP20 selection. Since then Vołosi have constantly been on tour. All over the world they meet with spontaneous enthusiasm of the audience, and gain very positive critics’ reviews. Their concerts have been broadcasted by the 2 and 3 Programs of the Polish Radio, the BBC and the German WDR3. Vołosi have collaborated with such artists and ensembles as: Mateusz Pospieszalski, Marek Moś and AUKSO Ensemble, Adam Klocek, the legendary Niaz Diasmidze, French group Lo’jo and Norwegian Moldestad Trio.
The critics universally agree that Vołosi have managed to achieve a unique and original musical style, escaping categorization. By exceeding the limits of string instruments they create music that can be described as thoroughly modern and attractive for contemporary listeners – growing out of the Carpathian roots, but also bearing marks of jazz improvisation charged with rock energy and full swing of emotional content.
This phenomenon brings Vołosi praise among big rock festival audiences, as well as highly prestigious concert hall attenders, world music lovers and royal family members.
MORE ABOUT: Vołosi is a music group formed by highlanders of the Silesian Beskid mountains and classically-trained musicians. The string quintet, whose great strength lies in improvisation, joyously and energetically combines genres of music that would seem too distinct to be fused. In their interpretation, the music of the Carpathians is modern and full of life, but does not break its connection with tradition.
In an interview, the co-founder of the band Krzysztof Lasoń recounts the circumstances in which the musicians met: “We met exactly nine years ago [in 2004] at my wedding, where I wanted a real highland band to play for my guests. The group called themselves Wałasi and I was very lucky, because it turned out that they could sensationally perform songs from the repertoire of highlander music from Beskid Silesia. Over time we became friends. First, we started to play for our own pleasure, then it so happened that we started to perform at various concerts.”
In 2007, the band changed its name to Wałasi i Lasoniowie, and invited classical musicians to collaborate – Krzysztof Lasoń and Stanisław Lasoń, and the members of the folk band Wałasi: Zbigniew Wałach, Jan Kaczmarzyk, Zbigniew Michałek and Robert Waszut.
In 2010, under the name of Wołosi i Lasoniowie (already without Zbigniew Wałach) they won the Grand Prix at the New Tradition Festival. This is one of the most important ethnic music events in Poland, and the band made its debut there. Wołosi i Lasoniowie proved to unquestionably be the best in show, as they received all the awards: the Czesław Niemen Special Prize and the audience award Burza Braw (Storm of Applause), as well as the Złote Gęśle (Golden Gusle) individual award for best instrumentalist, which was bestowed on Krzysztof Lasoń.
In March 2011, Wołosi i Lasoniowie’s song Zmierzch (Twilight) won the Svetozar Stracin Grand Prix for the best European folk song at the International Folk Competition organized by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). Soon after, they released their self-titled debut album Wołosi i Lasoniowie, which placed second place in the annual competition for the 2011 Folk Phonogram of the Year. Their increasingly frequent foreign trips made them change the name of the band to Vołosi.
The Lasoń brothers are the sons of the eminent composer Aleksander Lasoń. Krzysztof plays the violin, and Stanisław plays the cello. They describe themselves as “instrumentalists associated with Katowice Academy of Music, who always dreamed of improvisation, and who above all loved folklore, with its spontaneity, vitality and beauty.”
In turn, the musicians coming from the band Wałasi cultivate local traditions – and they still work and live in the area of Istebna (Cieszyn County). They represent “the music of the Silesian Beskid Mountains, Podhale and Orava Beskidy Mountains, Łemkowszczyzna (an eastern Slavic ethnic group) and other Polish and non-Polish corners of the Carpathians”. Zbigniew Michałek plays the violin; Robert Waszut, bass; and Jan Kaczmarzyk – viola and gajdy (a type of bagpipe). Jan Kaczmarzyk was awarded the Oskar Kolberg Prize for promoting folklore.
Vołosi have already given concerts in most of the countries of Europe. They have also visited India, Nepal and Georgia, and shared the stage with artists from various musical “fairy tales”. They have performed, among others, with pianist Janusz Olejniczak, Mamadou Diouf, and Tibetan monks.
They are mainly inspired by the music of the Carpathians, but they are not afraid to include many elements borrowed from Balkan, gypsy and oriental music. This intertwining of influences in their compositions brings them closer to the mainstream of “new ethnic music”, associated with the New Tradition festival. In this genre, music with centuries-old traditions can and should undergo mutations, transformations and remixes. On the folk or ethnic scene, opposition to this trend comes from more conservative musicians who believe that the performance of folk music should be faithful to the original and should precisely reproduce the old piece. Such an approach is represented by students of the last real village musicians, the so-called “sound chroniclers”.
Krzysztof Lasoń admits: “You can not say that our band draws inspiration exclusively from folk music and we merely play ethno music. A large part of our ideas comes from classical music, rock, or from events in your lives. Folk music is an important part of our work, but not the only one.”
Krzysztof Lasoń: violin
Zbigniew Michałek: violin
Stanisław Lasoń: cello
Jan Kaczmarzyk: viola, gajdy (a type of bagpipe)
Robert Waszut: double bass
TFF Rudolstadt, Songlines Encounters in London, Berlinale, United Islands in Prague, Urkult, Stockholm Fringe Festival, Colours of Ostrava, WOMEX Santiago de Compostela, Stockholm Water Prize, EBU Festival in Opatia, Traversees de Tatihou, Cross Culture in Warsaw, ArtPole in Ukraine, ArtGene in Tbilisi, Polish Colours, Two Riversides, Spoiwa Kultury, FolkBaltica in Flensburg, ArtZona in Tbilisi, Globaltica World Cultures Festival, Folk Holidays, Ancient Trance Festival, Szczecin Tenis Festival, Transkaukazja, One Caucasus, Musicalia in Stosdorf, Bronislaw Huberman Festival, Elvermose Koncerter, Ethno Jazz Festival, AUKSO Summer Academy
SELECTED PRESS REVIEWS:
“Vołosi is one of the most exciting, dynamic new bands on the contemporary scene.” (Gerald Seligman, former General Director of WOMEX)
“A spectacular live band, Vołosi should be on every festival’s wish list.” (Simon Broughton, Songlines)
“Vołosi are a revelation – their compelling performance energy transcends musical and geographical boundaries to create a completely irresistible combination. I defy you not to love them!” (Mary Ann Kennedy, BBC Radio 3)
“Exuberant, original band.” (Robin Denselow, The Guardian)
“The music of Vołosi is inimitable and incomparable. It is a great achievement nowadays to create something uniquely fresh and original” (Musical Cracow)
“This CD is a monument not only in the realm of Polish music, but also in the whole Eastern Europe.” (Tego Slucham)
“It’s sparkling, full-blooded and glorious-toned, a heart-lifting surge of brilliantly-played, slithering, thrilling, scampering, surging, sobbing fiddles and chugging bowed bass.” (fRoots Magazine)
“Lyrical, exciting and adventurous music” (Songlines)
“A string quintet of astonishing virtuosity, Vołosi create a magical and accessible blend of classicism and traditional Carpathian folk music, underpinned with melody and melancholy and the flavour of eastern Europe.” (World Music Charts Europe)
“Talent, fantasy and craftsmanship of the five musicians gave us something that we will greatly long for (…) joy of life and a slight jest about common pomposities, as well as a lot of sentiment for plain human yearning for happiness.” (portEl)
– “Nomadism” (Unzipped Fly Records, 2015)
– “Vołosi” (Unzipped Fly Records, 2011)
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