Traditional Irish Music
Born In Paris, France, Floriane Blancke is a harpist, fiddler, pianist and vocalist who has been embraced into Irish Traditional music circles over the past numbers of years. She studied classical music for 10 years in the conservatoire of Bordeaux before spending a few years studying Jazz and World music In C.I.A.M Jazz School.
After moving to Ireland from France to pursue a full-time career in Traditional Music in 2006, Floriane is now recognised as a skilled harpist and has performed with luminaries such as Sharon Shannon, Dermot Byrne, Brid Harper, Frankie Gavin, Steve Cooney, Paddy Keenan, Pierre Schryer, Seamus Begley and Tim Edey. While for the most part, Floriane collaborations are traditional, she has shown her versatility in sharing the stage with contemporary artists such as Shane Mc Gowan of the Pogues, singer songwriter Declan O'Rourke and the world renowned vocalist Patti Smith.
All of these influences are evident on her new release called Kaleidoscope. Like the definition of its title, Kaleidoscope is an insight into her musical journey through the years. The music on the album is a mix of traditional, classical, and her own compositions. It is mostly about the people from whom she learned tunes, and played with, since arriving in Ireland 10 years ago. It is also about the landscape and its elements that also have inspired her musical journey.
Floriane’s vocal talents are also on display on a couple of tracks including our sample track below called Molly na gCuach ni Chuilleanáin, a traditional song from Ulster. It is about a man who is abandoned by his lover. Floriane first heard it from the singing of Eithne Ní Uallacháin when she lived in Bordeaux.
Regarding the structure of the album we asked Floriane if she had a specific plan in mind when it came to the recording of the album. “I didn't really have a plan, to be honest," she said. "It happened very organically, over time. I wanted to record some solo tracks on the harp and also on the piano. I also wanted to work with great musicians that I respect and admire, and was lucky enough to have the opportunity to do that.”
The album introduces a lot of texture in both sound and arrangement with Brendan O’ Regan, Dermot Byrne, and Kevin Griffin bringing bouzouki, accordion and banjo to the mix. This allowed Floriane to show the range of what can be achieved on harp. She includes a set called Rooney’s Favourite, The Holly Bush and The Ivy Leaf that includes the pairing of harp and banjo which gives an unusual mix. Also featured are Claire Egan, Joanie Madden, Vyvienne Long, Seamus McGuire, Tim Edey, Garry O’ Briain, Trevor Hutchinson and Jimmy Higgins.
This array of talent provides the bedrock of accompaniment that allows Floriane to explore with ease a rich variety of tunes. She says: “With this album I was trying to create a particular vibe or ambience which can be difficult to achieve in a studio setting!"
On the wider issue of the new avenues that harpists are exploring on recent albums, Floriane agrees that there are far more harpists now, and so many young people learning the instrument across the globe. “Some harpists have pushed the boundaries; the likes of Maeve Gilchrist, Catherine McKay and Lisa Canny have been creating and exploring new sounds and pushed the instrument to its limits, which created interest in a wider public. I feel it's an exciting time for the harp and an exciting time to be a harpist!”
The album is also available as a free download for broadcasters that are part of our Download Centre.
Brendan O’Regan : Bouzouki, Steel Guitar, Organ
Dermot Byrne: accordion
Kevin Griffin: Banjo
Claire Egan: Violin
Joanie Madden: Whistle
Vyvienne Long : Cello
Seamus McGuire: violin and Viola
Tim Edey : Guitar
Garry O’Briain: Guitar
Trevor Hutchinson: Double Bass
Jimmy Higgins: Bodhran, Hand-drum & Pota Drum
Produced by Floriane Blancke and Brendan O’Regan
Recorded and mixed by Brendan O’Regan at “Sombre Reptile” Studio in Kinvara Co.Galway except track (Creg na Vagabones) recorded by Garry O’Briain at “Creg Na Vagabones” studio in New Quay, Burrin Co.Clare and track (Jame’s Lament) recorded by Tony Trundle at “Cukoo Studio” in Doorus, Kinvara Co.Galway
Mastered by Paul Mulligan at “Audio Monkey” Studio in kinvara Co.Galway
Photograph by Christy McNamara and Ralph Doyle
Drawing by Benjamin Van Blancke
Design & Graphic by Benjamin Van Blancke
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