Ensemble Baroque Update, Belgium, 2019

Tour Dates: 15th May - 27th May, 2019, 2019

In Sweden, the viola d'amore a chiavi is called nyckelharpa and despite its danger of extinction (in central Europe), Swedes have kept it alive for the last 400 years.

Tour Dates
  • 15th May - 27th May, 2019, 2019


Didier Francois, Nyckelharpa
Floris De Rycker, Theorbo
Clémence Schiltz, Viol

In Sweden, the viola d'amore a chiavi is called nyckelharpa and despite its danger of extinction (in central Europe), Swedes have kept it alive for the last 400 years. The Swedish word nyckel means 'keyed' and harpa means 'string instrument', so it translates as 'keyed fiddle'. The theorbo and viola da gamba have no keys but are also tied with strings.

The three instruments on this album are a so called 'key' to open a world of contrasts; tension and relaxation, light and darkness,...: important keys in the language of baroque music, imagery and aesthetics. Eager to translate this particular language into a new era, they aim to transcend baroque chord progressions, intervals, harmonies and forms. They're curiously exploring these historical instruments in a contemporary context.

Didier Francois, Nyckelharpa

'Didier Francois, a sound artist, a musician and musical designer, offers us a small revolution in strings and emotions.

Viola d'amore a chiavi is the name of the instrument, the object and the product, virtually, of his creativity and expression. Look closely at the photo and, most importantly, listen: a body of a grand violin or, rather, a viola, strings being rubbed by the bow, and below, a multitude of resonance strings – that is to say which resonate only by the vibration of the sound wave. This imparts so much charm on the sound universe – it captivates us. Between the body of the instrument and the key, a unique keyboard complements this fantastic thing and opens up to polyphony. What our ears hear is: a firework of sound waves, of harmonies and of colours, caressing us, tender and explosive; a sound with an irresistible charm.

The instrument was used in baroque music; but was later forgotten. It remained in use in the traditional music of the Nordic countries called Nyckelharpa and, to our delight, was discovered by the curious Didier Francois, modest Belgian artist, tenacious craftsman, with a lively and profound inspiration. Evidenced by his albums, he reinvents the viola d'amore chiavi in reviving the thread between history and geography, and emotions, and invites us to vibrate for a wonderful revolution with his arrangements of masterpieces by Bach, Ysaïe, Satie, Ottoman classical music, traditional folk and anonymous scholars, typical jazz by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Charlie Mariano, and his own compositions.

What is his secret? The sincerity of emotion at all costs, abandoning himself to the singular vibration of the sound wave and, in order to make all this happen, a technique which is completely original and which he has built up over the years. To allow for the rich expression of the viola d'amore a chiavi, it was necessary to develop a technique/game impregnated by the freedom of traditional chant. This makes the simple and pure sound stand out, just like a natural voice. This technique has been mixed with the technical rigour of scholar musicians who, through the power of the written can access true richness of harmony, a technique capable of opening the wonderful and borderless world of reverberation of resonance cords. Didier Francois has worked for years on the credo by Arthur Grumiaux, great Belgian violinist who has inspired him so much: restfulness and lightness are the key words.

The freedom of composition and the music are also the results of the exploration of live creation. Didier Francois' path began with the great Stephance Grappelli. Today beside his personal projects, he is member of the ensemble Zefiro Torna and ensemble Kapsberger (directed by Rolf Lislevand) specialised in this interpretation with lots of improvisation.

Along the way he met performing artists: choreographer Anne-Marie Porras and the Brussels ensemble known for its bilingual interpretations of classics by Shakespeare, Marivaux, Corneille, for whom he was musical attaché for over ten years; film musicians, storytellers and Howard Shore – The Lord of the rings, Armand Amar – César award –winner for Le concert, Costa-Gavras – Amen and Le Couperet, Yann Arthus-Bertrand – Earth seen from the sky; he has accompanied the voices of other artists such as Ulrika Boden, Swedish revelation, Gabriel Yacoub, Gilles Chabenat, Levon Minassian, duduk player for Peter Gabriel; and, finally, the Italian quartet Elias Nardis alongside an oud and Arabic percussion player, he revisits freely pieces inspired by Ottoman classicals.

What else can be said about this Belgian magician? He is also a sculptor, as one can tell. We cannot remain indifferent to the sound shaped by substance, to the wave that comes to touch our skin and ears, to move us profoundly. It is the effect of a soft drug that changes us and makes us ask for more.

Floris De Rycker, Theorbo

"Belgium´s favourite lute player."

- The Word Magazine

"One of the most prominent members of a young generation Flemish musicians."

- 30CC/Alamire Foundation

Floris De Rycker is the driving force behind Ratas del viejo Mundo. The ´Rats of the Old World ´ is an international ensemble that consists of unique voices and instruments from all over Europe. It brings highly refined pre-1600 profane music to the podia of the biggest concert halls. Ratas del viejo Mundo equally honours music from instrumental and oral folk traditions as well as the most respected polyphonic compositions.

In addition to playing with Ratas, Floris gives solo recitals on the lute, vihuela and baroque guitar. He teaches Music History, Lute and Ensemble Playing at the SLAC/Conservatory and the music schools of Wilrijk-Edegem and Zaventem. Floris also records for Antarctica Records with RedHerring as well as for the acclaimed Spanish label Glossa Music with graindelavoix.

Floris studied with guitar pedagogue Hilde Lenaerts and specialised in lute, vihuela and theorbo with Philippe Malfeyt at the LUCA | School of Arts and the conservatories of Brussels and Ghent. He obtained a postgraduate degree in Early Music and Lute Performance, graduating with honours. In 2003 the Marco Fodella Fondazione selected Floris to study with Paul Beier at the Civica Scuola di Musica in Milan. Furthermore, Floris has attended masterclasses taught by Nigel North, Fred Jacobs, Hopkinson Smith, Paul O´Dette, Yasunori Imamura​, Ross Daly, Sadig Shiakh El-Din Gibril, Vittorio Ghielmi, Nicolau de Figueiredo and Mara Galassi.

From 2006 till 2010 Floris managed theatre company Nasreddin and toured nationwide with performances for children in co-production with C-mine cultuurcentrum Genk and CC De Kern. He also worked for public radio station Klara. Moreover, Floris helped develop the webtool Klarafy, which subsequently won one gold and three silver BOA Awards, Belgium´s Effie Strategic Shift Award 2017 as well as a Golden Pencil at New York´s One Show.

Both Floris and his captivating performances have been celebrated by the authors Bart Stouten and Sandro Veronesi as well as by poet Peter Holvoet-Hanssen.

Clémence Schiltz, Viola da Gamba

Already as a very young child, Clémence was intrigued by the resonance of the viola da gamba. Later on, moved by her curiosity to interpret a wider range of repertoire, she began playing baroque cello as well as viol. She currently studies viola da gamba with Philippe Pierlot and cello with Hervé Douchy at the Royal Conservatory in Brussels.

A regular performer with baroque ensembles (La Fugitive, Les Silvains, Les Passagères...) and with orchestras (Ricercar Consort) or choirs, she also participates in viol consorts (BUGs) or violin consort. On the viola da gamba, she created and performed stage music for a circus show in Académie Fratellini; for the contemporary play "Le Quatrième Mur" adapted from a novel by Sorj Chalandon with the company Les Sans-Lendemains; and also with Anooradha Rughoonundun in a stage duo around her text. With Pauline Schill and Léandre Simioni, she developped and performed musical and poetical wanderings in public places.