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early folk band northlands

audio sample
Olof Stranges√łn


"Once upon a time there was a king called Orpheus who came from the East. He loved the Lady Isabel, who came from the West. They got married and were happy until one day they went out for a walk and fell asleep under a tree. When they awoke the woman had wild eyes and was full of sadness. The king of the fairies came to her on a milk-white steed and made her leave her husband and her country and go along with him. At this the king went insane and went forth from his castle. Barefoot, he walked into the woods taking only his harp with him. Music was his only comfort, and all the birds and animals of the woods came to listen to him. One day he came to the castle of the king of the fairies. He knocked at the door and called to the watchman: 'Let me in. I am a poor minstrel and wish to sing for the King'. He entered the great hall. The king of the fairies was angry and shouted: 'Who are you? I did not call you here and never did a man posess the courage to come here without being bidden.' 'I am only a poor minstrel and have come to play to you,' spoke Orpheus, and when he started to sing, the whole court came and sat at his feet to listen. First he played songs of joy, then songs of woe and finally he played the 'Fairy Dance'. The fairies were overjoyed and the king of the fairies called out: 'Minstrel, I will reward you generously. Whatever you wish, it shall be yours.' 'Give me Lady Isabel', spoke Orpheus. 'No, I cannot do that, choose something else.' But Orpheus insisted, and the king of the fairies had to keep his word, or else be damned for all time. What a thousand swords could never gain was achieved by the music of a single man for, they say, the fairies love music above good food, wine and even life itself."

The story of King Orpheus has been sung in Northern Europe for at least 700 years and has survived in many variants. The short days, long nights and rough climate of the northern winters brought people together inside to sing stories. The Scandinavian sagas, British ballads, and mystical Celtic songs helped each individual to believe in the justice of fate and feel supported by the community. Still today the Fairy Dance is played, and the long ballad of King Orpheus sung in 'singarounds' in Northern English pubs. Like Orpheus, the Early Folk Band sings in this programme songs of joy and of woe and plays jigs and reels of the folk of the northlands.

The CD of the concert "Northlands"

This CD with ballads and early music from the North is a co-production between the Early Folk Band, the German national radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur and Ahalani records, an independent fair-trade label based in South Germany.



"A wonderful blend of effectfully-arranged pieces - CD of the month" -

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