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Great review on AD Curaçao

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This article came out on Saturday 22 november on the AD Curaçao newspaper. An interview by writer and journalist Giselle Ecury with Carel Kraayenhof about his project Liberación (Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble).

Translation:
Carel Kraayenhof’s dream: unification

Much has been written about him. Roughly 55 million people from all over the world watched him play the bandoneón at the wedding of our present royal couple. He has performed with the greatest on earth. But what strikes the most about him, is his modest and open look, his honest simplicity and peace of mind, as if everything amazes him and keeps amazing him. Carel Kraayenhof. A guarantee for a good conversation.
By Giselle Ecury

As soon as Alkmaar is behind you, you cross vast polders, where cows are still in the meadows and sheep graze. Mills spin a northwester away. Will there be rain? On a cloudy Monday morning I’m on my way to his home, following the instructions of his wife and manager, Thirza Lourens. The statement: “Behind every successful man stands a strong woman” for sure applies to her, although she certainly will deny that. And yet I will state that. Because she is always there, arranging everything in an adequate way and she does that with a smile. Besides that she is caring. “I will give you one hour. I want Carel to have some rest before his next interview. Is that OK for you?” This last sentence says it all. She has also stayed true to herself and is simply kind. How easy can life be? And so I stand, after a short ride, in the middle of the North-Holland’s Beemster. By many people only known due to its’ delicious cheese, but perhaps among some elder people also because of Jan Adriaanszoon Leeghwater; who by using 43 windmills managed to transform this polder into dry land in 1612. Since 1999 the Beemster is on the Unesco World Heritage list.
This completes the circle for the Dutch boy who became a first class world musician and who, lovingly, received from the country Argentina the official name ‘Tanguero’ . In 2005 he also received in the name of the Argentinian parliament, out of the hands of the tango-poet Horacio Ferrer, the country’s highest cultural decoration for his inexhaustible effort for the Argentinian tango world wide. Later he was also named as Officer in the Order of Oranje Nassau for his personal effort, vision and qualities with which our society provides from. In this way Kraayenhof and his Thirza not only search for connection, they also experience it. As if it should be that way. And that it is.
Actually, I know that for them it is not at all about decorations and praise. That is exactly why I want to mention it. Because it makes this great musician, who completely stayed true to himself and wants to keep it all close to his heart (and manages to do so) to come to a state of connection and interconnectedness, only more unique.
“If my bandoneon, in one way or another, could convince people to bring themselves to also play this instrument with pleasure, and maybe success, then I would know that my playing served a cause”. These were Carel’s words, after he told me about a special meeting on a tango-festival in the South of France. There a bearded Spanish speaking man left a group of friends and held Carel with tears in his eyes. He introduced himself as somebody who was able to work his way up to being a music teacher, thanks to a tango school in Buenos Aires helped by Kraayenhof. “And that’s why I am here now far away in the South of France. Who could ever have thought of that?”
These are heartwarming stories told by the man who now would like to unite refugees and immigrants, preferably also with the common Dutchman, so that new things can arise and our cultures can actually integrate. Halfway November there will be a unique cooperation between Refugee Work The Netherlands and the bandoneón player and his ensemble. “The different forms of art will help us in that matter: the drawing together, the writing of stories together, poetry. We should come forward more, make ourselves better known. The way it goes right now in the Netherlands …… It worries me”, he says. “There is much more than an economic system, in which we are urged to more and bigger. If we keep on going this way, the earth will soon be exhausted, there will be more dissatisfaction, the stream of refugees will increase immensely and not only be a problem for Lampedusa or for the fugitives themselves. The ethic morality should come first instead of always looking at the technical possibilities. Our hearts must begin to speak. Nowadays for instance, robots are being developed to help in the healthcare. Is this still ethical? I don’t think so. What appeals to me so much in Argentina? There people care for each other. With love. I saw that on Curaçao as well. That island has a big place in my heart. The island has something of the two worlds, in which I really feel at home. Although it start to sneak up on me that here I get more and more the feeling that I want to leave, because I miss the involvement that they have. What if you have suddenly must flee. Just think about it.
Kraayenhof, who from his eighth year learned to play the piano, feels for deprived children. His piano of those days has, in the meantime, introduced many other people to music. “An old instrument does not belong in a museum, to look at. An instrument should be played on.” And so, his piano is nowadays in Nijmegen, but will shortly be moved to Ter Apel, to an asylum for refugees.
Together with Lourens, Kraayenhof dedicates himself to the preservation of the bandoneon in Argentina. Too many instruments disappear there, because tourists take them as souvenirs. Together with local people they try to get as many instruments as possible back to Argentina. Also attention is given to training in maintenance and reparation of these instruments. This way unprivileged young people can learn a profession.
We talk about a project in Jujuy, a province in the northwest of Argentina, near the borders of Bolivia, Chili and the foothills of the Andes. Together with the Foundation Tango por los Chicos, started by a tango school in Engelen (near Den Bosch in The Netherlands), it became possible to gather bandoneóns, so that the children in Jujuy no longer have to play on cardboard instruments (this was also possible by holding a benefit concert during a salón evening).
“Do you know that it (the bandoneón) actually has its origins in Germany?”. Indeed Wikipedia tells me that the bandoneon was invented in 1854 in Germany and soon became a popular instrument in Italy as well. From there it probably ended up in Argentina via the season workers. There, the melancholic sound of the bandoneón fitted particularly the tango. In Germany the instrument disappeared during the Second World War. “Actually it is an immigrant” says Kraayenhof with a laugh. “And now that people know him, they learn more and more to appreciate him. So you see: music connects, speaks all languages, makes contact.” And not only that, it seems to have a healing effect on all our body cells. When I look at musicians, I always see (in spite of the concentration) the joy in creating something together, the interaction, eye contact.
I feel the sounds in my body and I can hardly sit still, whether it is a classical concert or the new album of Kraayenhof and his Sexteto Canyengue, with which he already performs about 25 years. Music always touches.
“It is great to perform for an audience that is so involved”, confirms Kraayenhof. “We experienced it on Curacao, now a year ago. There you can feel the love and pride for their own composers and musicians. To, there, play ‘Sabrosita’….” It is like listening for a moment to that piece, before Kraayenhof continues: “Or ‘Atardi Korsou ta Bunita’. That ‘softly singing’ from the audience. Then I feel the bond you have on such a moment. The solidarity. That is where we have to go world wide. That is a dream of mine, a deep desire. That we really leave the narrow minds behind and unify. Then nobody has to be lonesome or to flee.

A beautiful review for the CD Liberación at the ‘Antiliaans Dagblad’

ADCuracao 31.10.14 cd Liberacion

This review was posted on the newspaper of 31st of October.

Translation:
Kraayenhof: tribute to freedom
By Giselle Ecury
On 28 October I attended, in Amsterdam, to the official presentation of the new album of bandoneonist Carel Kraayenhof and his ensemble. A month ago I met him during Millicent Smeets-Muskus’, better known as ‘Dudi’, book presentation. ‘Curacao is deep in our heart’ he confided to the audience at that time. He confirmed that now as well, by playing ‘Cry for freedom’.
He dedicated this number to Nelson Mandela and Tula, the leader of the slave uprising of 1795 on plantation Knip. Right there the tone was set for the afternoon: Kraayenhof and his ensemble want to stand for equal rights and freedom to everyone. And they do that by making music that touches straight to the heart.
This music comes straight from their hearts, and that you can feel. ‘Liberacion’ lives. Between the lines and the notes I start to understand the message: let’s be grateful for all the good we have in our life and for those who fought for that for us. Once back home I notice a very tender song in the klezmer ‘doina’-tradition, it is a tribute to the mother of violinist Bert Vos. The writer Ida Vos (1931-2006) survived the German occupation, but lost many school friends. This song is called ‘Rumeniher Volekh – Ida y vuelta’.
As a traveling musician Carel lets himself be inspired by the music and the people he encounters. He is deeply touched by the multitudes of refugees, which appear to be unstoppable. By their ways and becoming immigrants in another country, world music arises. When the Carel Kraayenhof Ensemble started making this album, two years ago, they didn’t even suspect that the release of it would take place at a moment when the refugee issue is more relevant than ever. The intense number ‘Lampedusa’ – the Italian island which is flooded by refugees from Africa searching for safety – is a proof of this. Just like ‘Aleppo’, a cry out against the warriors who, 100 years after the break out of the First Worldwar, still use chemical weapons causing devastation to the population and entire cities. At the same time it is a tribute to the man in Aleppo who places his piano, every day, among the debris and performs with a little choir. “Because this is the only positive thing we can do in our destroyed city: make music”. So hope prevails; and that you can also hear.
The attentive listening audience was treated with eleven of the eighteen tracks, under which ‘Libertango’, the ‘freedom tango’ (1973), arranged by Kraayenhof in the style of Osvaldo Pugliese; musician, politician and one of the great peacemakers of Argentina.
I think this album is a jewel, a variation of melancholy, nostalgia, tragedy, power and hope. Several times I was carried away, felt like dancing, I wanted to show that nobody can oppress the power of the human spirit. We always recover, especially when we feel united with each other by means of music. Every goodbye is the birth of something new. Carel Kraayenhof (1958) clearly enjoys what he is doing.
This goes for all his musicians: Bert Vos, 1st violinist and partner of also violinist (2nd) Iefke Wang; Juan Pablo Dobal, pianist; Jaap Branderhorst, double bass; and Jan Willem Troost, cello. They all have worked together, frequently and intensively, rehearsing in the Beemster. The result is magnificent. Music is a universal language, which everybody understands and senses. They show that they can spread that language as no one else.
And after coming home, while writing this column, the number ‘So many partings’ touches my soul. It is the number right before ‘Sabrosita’, the Aruban tumba by Rufo Wever, arranged by pianist/composer Randell Corsen. These sounds I can and want to literally take home with me. The next track is ‘Atardi Korsou ta bunita’ by Rudy Plaate, dedicated to Millicent Smeets-Muskus, who the ensemble remembers with bliss and gratitude. It isn’t spelled quite correctly on the cover, but I think that’s actually a bit charming. After all it is the work of men, mistakes are allowed. Like in quilting, not all stitches need to be perfect, because ‘only God makes no mistakes’.
As of the 1st of January this music will be performed in the new theatre show by Carel Kraayenhof and his ensemble: ‘Liberación’. As of the 31st of October the album is for sale. For more information you can visit, and enjoy, the website www.carelkraayenhof.com.

Newsletter November Carel Kraayenhof

Dear friends and colleagues,_L4Z0013 ALT_liggend2_klein

After a successful tour in Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire with the Kraayenhof Tango Ensemble we are reaching the last month of 2013.

Through social media we have kept you updated on a daily basis on our school and theater concerts in these three amazing islands.

In our new website you can also read two reviews of our concerts in Curaçao and Bonaire.

Robbert Brantz (webmaster) and Mark Schoots (marketing) worked really hard on our new website during the last few weeks, where now you can also order CD or download them digitally. Our DVD Tango Heroes and the book Het leven in 3 minuten can be ordered. A great tip for the holiday season!?

 

Carel and Thirza together on TV

On November 21st Carel and Thirza will be live on TV for one hour as guests of the program Tijd voor Max, (in The Netherlands shown on channel Nederland 2 at 17:35hrs). To see the program at a later date please visit: https://www.uitzendinggemist.nl/omroepen/max

 

The Koninkrijksconcert (Concert for the Kingdom)

On November 30th a live show will be presented on TV where Carel will play together with the Curaçaoan singer Izaline Calister, accompanied by the Metropole Orkest. This event will celebrate 200 years of Kingdom of The Netherlands.

‘On the 30th of November it will be precisely 200 years since the arrival of Price Willem Frederic took place at the beach of Scheveningnen. Who became later the first king of The Netherlands, This event will be enacted by hundreds of volunteers together with Huub Stapel, the actor who will play the part of the prince. There will be a festive procession towards the National Monument at Plein 1813 and an official ceremony will start at the Ridderzaal. The artistic gala event  at the Circus Theater will close this festive day.

 

Juli Golin, Management Assistant / Tour Manager

Since September 1st Juli Golin has joined our team. Juli has worked previously as our Tour Manager, together with Sylvia Snel from PR3, during our theater tours ‘Tango Heroes’ in 2007/2008 and ‘Compasión’ in 2009. Juli is at least 2 days a week at the office and will be present in most shows as Tour Manager.

 

Update project Jujuy

All bandoneons for the Jujuy project are being repaired and tuned by Oscar Fischer from Buenos Aires (bandoneón tuner, maker and restorer) who is a good friend of Daniel Vedia (bandonen player and teacher from Jujuy). Oscar has been recently in The Netherlands to present his self made bandoneon, the first Argentinean bandoneon!

Carel met with Oscar during his bandoneón reparation workshop given specially for bandoneon players at the Rotterdam’s Conservatorium. Carel is pleasantly surprised with newly made bandoneón. The kickoff brainstorm session has taken place for possible new bandoneóns made specially for children. Making possibilities for the future generations!

 

Public concerts:

29 nov. KTE Goes, concert Cadant Symfonie Orkest www.cadantorkest.nl/

10 dec. Sexteto Canyengue,  Beusichem,  Theater ’t Heerenlogement                                                    www.theaterheerenlogement.nl

12 dec. DUO, Amsterdam, Kapitein Zeppos www.zeppos.nl

For more concerts please check the agenda on our website:  www.carelkraayenhof.nl

 

Review concert Kraayenhof Tango Ensemble on Curacao

recensie Curacao

Curaçao – Amigoe newspaper, Monday 04 November 2013 (page 6)

‘Bandoneonist’ strikes Curaçao in the heart

 

The bandoneón player who brought queen Maxima to emotional tears during her wedding with the Argentine tango ‘Adiós Nonino’ is in Curaçao. Carel Kraayenhof gave a concert last Saturday together with his Sexteto Canyengue at the ballroom of the Santa Barbara Resort.

 

Songs from internationally known composers such as Astor Piazzolla, Carlos Gardel and Alex North were played as well as own compositions from Kraayenhof and from his piano player, Juan Pablo Dobal. A total of seventeen musical pieces were ‘served’ to the audience in a mix of different influences, origins and time periods. An abundance of music styles and moments in time were presented where, certainly, the Argentine tango was the highlight. Kraayenhof explained the origins of the bandoneón and its functionality. During the Second World War period most of the bandoneóns were ruined by the Nazi-Germans, but some made it by boat to Argentina where the instrument was ‘reborn’ and grew to be a national pride. “This is not an accordion. An accordion has chords, that is not how this instrument works. Here, both sides of the instrument must be played, and that is quite difficult. Honestly either you have to be totally drunk or extremely sober to be able to play the bandoneón… in which state I am in right now I am not going to tell you”, joked Kraayenhof. He also spoke about the well-known composer Gardel, who passed away in 1935 in a plane crash. Gardel played in Curaçao just before his accident. Gardel also discovered Piazolla, who was back then still too young and was not allowed by his father to tour with Gardel. “If he had indeed joined Gardel on tour, I would have never met Piazolla”. The bandoneón player patched more Curaçao and our local culture in his program by mentioning Tula’s history and by playing a piece of the Aruban composer Rufo Wever. A highlight of emotions was during in the encore, when the Sexteto Canyengue played a beautiful version of ‘Atardi Korsou ta Bunita’. Many in the audience allowed the words of this song escape through their lips. With this tribute to one of our local anthems the Dutch bandoneón player stroke our hearts and was embraced by the audience. Last weekend’s concert in Curaçao was organized by Curaçaoan Kunstkring (cultural group) together with the Cultural Comité Fortkerk. Several sponsors played part on this event, including the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds Caribbean Region.

Today a free school concert will take place and tonight Kraayenhof will play once again, this time at the Governor’s House in Punda. Tickets are still available at Mensing’s caminada.

 

Elodie Voorbraak