<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Balkan Organ Carnival - about
  London Gypsy Orchestra




about Balkan Organ Carnival

To  celebrate their newly restored church organ  in a big festive concert, to move the instrument out of its dusty church corner and to feature it in a completely new context: these were the aims of St John’s Church Notting Hill and the Heritage Lottery Fund, when commissioning Gundula Gruen to arrange and compose music for the occasion.

BALKAN ORGAN CARNIVAL is a  performance for Church Organ, Gypsy Orchestra and Steel Pan with music arranged and composed by Gundula. It includes traditional musical treasures from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, as well as a new composition dedicated to the occasion of St. John’s Church organ restoration, named ' One Day in Grunistan '.

The repertoire, as well as the instrumentation, is highly unique. There are slow and reflective pieces, which use the great acoustics of churches to their full advantage; in these, the depth of Balkan vocal harmonies, the virtuosity of Gypsy musicians, and the complexity of compound south-eastern rhythms are brought together in a grand musical fairy tale. The performance also includes vibrant Gypsy songs and Balkan dance pieces. Towards the end, the audience will feel enlivened to dance by the intense music-making of 45 musicians + guests and singers.

The steel pan is played by Jenny Gilberg and has never been heard in Gypsy and Balkan music before. It adds a bright sound and takes a lead part in virtuoso sections and improvised solos.

The church organ acts like a counter-part, adding depth and weight. It naturally takes on a role similar to the accordion in typical Balkan bands. Our guest-organist, Paul Ayres, adds sweet voicing and powerful chords to the orchestra; his highly-energetic Balkan solos shake the whole church.

The  Balkan Organ Carnival's debut performance  took place on the 24th August 2013, at St John's Church Notting Hill, and received standing ovations from the audience, as well as high praises from attending organists, the church congregation and fellow musicians/composers. This performance was preceded by a pre-concert talk from story-teller Sally Pomme-Clayton.

view the program - view the flyer

The next performance of the Balkan Organ Carnival will take place on the 7th June 2014 at St Gabriel's Church, Wanstead.

The London Gypsy Orchestra is looking to bring the Balkan Organ Carnival to a range of churches with organs around the UK.

 Practical Information:

  • While the piece is originally scored for 45 musicians and singers, the music can also be reduced for a chamber orchestra of around 25 performers.
  • The performance venue needs to have a church organ, which is tuned to concert pitch of 440Hz or similar.
the soloists
one day in grunistan