Warsaw Village Band and Saint Nicholas Orchestra

12 December 2004
RASA, Utrecht

Warsaw Village Band Though I’m living for than ten years in Utrecht now, I never visited Rasa before. This is a cultural centre and a concert venue for art and culture from around the world. Time to pay a visit at last. In a series with music from all new European Union member states, this time they programmed two groups from Poland, who proved how entertaining more or less traditional folk music can be.Warsaw Village Band The Kapela ze Wsi Warszawa, better known as the Warsaw Village Band, is getting quite some exposure at the moment. This year they already received the BBC World Music Newcomer Award. This group of young musicians with carefully styled looks brings an infectious mixture of folk and more modern sounds. The music is mainly danceable and cheerful, including a number of polka songs with alcoholic themes. The percussion takes care of uptempo trance-like rhythms. The traditional instruments like violins, lyre and xylophone, in combination with the sharp female voices, create an original atmosphere. On their records they also employ electronic means, on stage their sound was purely acoustic. They gave a convincing performance in Utrecht.
mp3: The Owl | avi video: Cranes (19 MB)

Saint Nicholas Orchestra At least as good was The Saint Nicholas Orchestra, in Polish called Orkiestra św. Mikołaja. A generation older than the Warsaw Village Band, with a more traditional sound, less trendy outfits and more beards. But they are great musicians who clearly enjoy performing. A little less danceable than their younger colleagues from the big city, but very entertaining. Their music is very varied, with a mixture of styles. They use many different instruments, including a number of less common ones. A really symphathetic group of musicians who are totally in their element on stage. By the way, both bands used a charming broken English to introduce their songs.
mp3: The Dog | Roaming

Though it was a seated concert, a small corner was reserved for possible dancers. And indeed, after some time a dozen of young folkies indeed started to move their feet to the uplifting sounds. The blind couple who was sitting next to me also could not sit still in their seets. I also had the impression that quite some Polish visitors had showed up to see their countrymen and women in action. Rasa is not exactly a rock ‘n roll venue, it looks more like a cultural society. Neverthless the atmosphere was pleasant, with a mixed audience. I have made up my mind to keep an eye on their programme, because I’d like to attend more of these fine musical events.