Fanfare Ciocărlia

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Fanfare Ciocărlia
Fanfare Ciocărlia (2017)
Fanfare Ciocărlia (2017)
General information
origin Zece Prăjini (Romania)
Genre (s) Balkan Brass
founding 1996
Current occupation
Saxophone , vocals
Dan Ionel Ivancea
Trumpet , singing
Costica "Cimai" Trifan
Trumpet, singing
Radulescu Lazar
Saxophone, clarinet
Costel Oprica Ivancea
Paul Marian Bulgaru
Craciun Ovidiu Trifan
Constantin Cantea
Monel Trifan
Constantin Calin
Laurentiu Mihai Ivancea
Costel "Gisniaca" Ursu
Paul Benedikt Stehle
Fanfare Ciocărlia 2015 at the Bardentreffen in Nuremberg
Fanfare Ciocărlia 2015 at the Bardentreffen in Nuremberg
Fanfare Ciocărlia at the international world music and land art festival Sheshory-2006 ( Ukraine )

Fanfare Ciocărlia [ ˈfanˌfarə ˈtʃjɔˌkərliɐ ] (from Romanian: Ciocârlie , German: Lerche ) is a twelve-member Balkan brass band from the Roma village of Zece Prăjini in northeast Romania .

Fanfare Ciocărlia are considered pioneers of Balkan Brass. The ensemble has its musical roots in Romanian folklore and the music of the Roma. All members of the band are Roma. The group is considered to be one of the most successful Roma ensembles in Europe.

For the most part, old and battered wind instruments are used at the concerts . Scores or sheet music are not used in the music, which is only transmitted orally. The band has expanded their traditional repertoire with their own arrangements of well-known evergreens ( Born To Be Wild , James Bond Theme , Caravan , Summertime ) and put their own stamp on these songs.

Since its international breakthrough, Fanfare Ciocărlia has played more than 2,000 concerts in over 70 countries. In 2016 the band celebrated their 20th birthday with a world tour.

The origin of the band in Moldova in northeast Romania

Fanfare Ciocărlia comes from Zece Prăjini in the Moldova region in northeast Romania. Zece Prăjini is a small Roma village where the men worked for generations either as self-sufficient farmers or in factories in the surrounding towns. Many of the villagers were hired as musicians for weddings and christenings in the area. Because of the work in the fields, however, her hands were so strained that playing string instruments was out of the question and brass instruments were chosen .

Playing an instrument was part of the family tradition that was passed on from father to son. Zece Prăjini was known for his brass instruments, but none of the villagers would have called themselves a professional musician.

The origin of the marching bands of the Balkans lies in the marching bands of the Austrian and Turkish military. Fanfare Ciocărlia's line-up includes trumpets , tenor and baritone horns , tubas , clarinets , saxophones , a bass drum and percussion . The lyrics are usually written in Romani or Romanian.

From the seclusion of village life to European glory: 1996–1999

In search of traditional village music, the German sound engineer Henry Ernst, who had been traveling regularly through Romania for years, came to northern Romania in October 1996. In Moldova , a farmer suggested that he visit the small Roma village of Zece Prăjini, which was supposed to have a brass band that played at weddings and baptisms. The place was so small, however, that locals said it was probably not on any map.

Ernst nevertheless set out and was introduced to Zece Prăjini Ioan Ivancea, a local farmer and clarinetist. Ivancea invited Ernst to stay with him in the house and gathered his band to play for the guest. Ernst was impressed by the speed, the finesse and the inexhaustible repertoire of the village band. He also became aware that the band was one of the few remaining Roma marching bands in Romania . They played in a completely different way than brass bands from Serbia , Macedonia and Bulgaria , among other things because the musicians were hardly influenced by international pop music due to the isolation in Zece Prăjini .

Ernst returned to Germany and was determined to organize a concert tour. Before leaving, he asked the musicians to apply for passports. In the meantime the right band name had also been found: “Fanfare Ciocărlia”. Back in Germany, Ernst booked a series of gigs at festivals and clubs for Fanfare Ciocărlia with the help of his friend Helmut Neumann. Although the tour was a success, it cost Ernst all of his savings and he was convinced that this would have been a one-off. Then he received a call from WDR , which at the time was also the organizer of a broadcaster's own world music festival. The WDR booked Fanfare Ciocărlia and paid a fee that covered all travel, visa and other costs and also gave Ernst and Neumann the opportunity to set up "asphalt tango production GbR" as an agency for management and booking.

A showcase by the band at Womex 1997 in Marseille turned out to be a springboard for their careers. Fanfare Ciocărlia won over rock and rave fans as well as the large audience with its powerful brass sound and quickly found a large fan base in Northern Europe.

In 1997 Ernst and Neumann withdrew with Fanfare Ciocărlia to the “Electrecord” studio in Bucharest to record the band's debut album. The album "Radio Pascani" was released in 1998 in Berlin on the Piranha Musik label and was an immediate success. “Radio Pascani” received very positive reviews and many reviewers said that they had never before heard a brass band with such speed and Eastern charm. With more than 150,000 CDs sold, "Radio Pascani" became one of the most popular Eastern European albums that was released in Western Europe.

From success in Europe to worldwide fame: 1999–2005

Fanfare Ciocărlia now went on extensive concert tours. They played across Europe and first appeared in the US in 1999. The band's second album "Baro Biao" was recorded again in the Electrecord Studio in Bucharest and released by Piranha Musik . The cover is decorated with the famous photo of Arne Reinhardt, on which Fanfare Ciocărlia play their instruments from a driving Škoda . “Baro Biao” was also very well received and increased Fanfare Ciocărlia's international fame. Concert tours to Japan and Australia followed, as well as an appearance at the Womad Festival in Great Britain.

In 2001 Piranha Musik Fanfare released Ciocărlia's third album "Iag Bari". On this album, in addition to interpretations of New Orleans jazz standards (West Side Blues), the Romanian ballad "Lume, Lume" can be heard again, this time recorded together with the Bulgarian female vocal ensemble " Angelite ". In addition, the energetic Roma songs that made the band famous can be heard again on “Iag Bari”.

Fanfare Ciocărlia continued to do extensive international tours and the German film director Ralf Maschalleck accompanied the band on their travels from their village to Berlin and Tokyo . This resulted in the multiple award-winning documentary "Iag Bari - Brass on Fire". The film shows Fanfare Ciocărlia as an entertainer on and behind the stage and convinces with the humor and warmth that the band exudes.

In the meantime Ernst and Neumann had founded Asphalt Tango Records GmbH and in 2004 released the DVD "Gypsy Brass Legends - The Story Of The Band" by Fanfare Ciocărlia. This DVD contains Ralf Marschalleck's film "Iag Bari - Brass on Fire", a concert recording from the Kesselhaus of the Kulturbrauerei Berlin and some extras. The British magazine Songlines wrote: "'Gypsy Brass Legends - The Story of the Band' sets a new standard for world music DVDs."

In 2005 Ernst and Neumann produced the album "Gili Garabdi - Ancient Secrets of Gypsy Brass" in the home village of the band Zece Prăjini and in the Berlin Headroom Studio. On the album Fanfare Ciocărlia presented their interpretations of "007 ( James Bond Theme ") and Duke Ellington's " Caravan ". Both pieces became very popular titles in the band's repertoire. British world journalist Charlie Gillet often played "Caravan" on his BBC radio broadcasts and licensed the song for his CD compilation "World 2006" ( Rhino ). In 2005 Garth Cartwright's book "Princes Amongst Men: Journeys with Gypsy Musicians" (Serpent Tail) "with Fanfare Ciocărlia on the cover was published. This book includes interviews with Ernst, Ivancea and other members of Fanfare Ciocărlia. Hannibal Verlag published 2008 the German translation "Balkan blues and brass bands - On the way with gypsy musicians in Serbia , Macedonia , Romania and Bulgaria ".

The death of Ioan Ivancea and the beginning of cross-genre collaborations: 2005–2015

In 2005 Ioan Ivancea was diagnosed with cancer; he died after a short illness in October 2006. After the period of mourning, Fanfare Ciocărlia decided to continue without their longstanding band leader.

Ernst and Neumann decided that the appropriate way to appreciate Ivancea's life while keeping people interested in Roma music would be the album and live project "Queens & Kings" at the same time. A number of well-known guest singers appeared together with Fanfare Ciocărlia as a backing band. These included Esma Redžepova ( Macedonia ), Šaban Bajramović ( Serbia ), Kaloomé ( France ), Ljiljana Butler ( Bosnia ), Jony Iliev ( Bulgaria ), Florentina Sandu ( Romania ), Dan Armeanca (Romania) and Mitsou ( Hungary ).

The album of the same name ended with “Farewell March”, a funeral ballad sung by Ioan Ivancea, which Ernst recorded years ago but never released, and “Born To Be Wild”, Fanfare Ciocărlia's interpretation of the Steppenwolf song, which the band for recorded the soundtrack of the film " Borat - Cultural Learning of America to Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan ".

The first concert of the “The Gypsy Queens & Kings” tour took place in December 2006 in Bucharest . It was the first time ever that Fanfare Ciocărlia appeared in the capital of Romania and stood on stage with Esma Redžepova , Mitsou and Jony Iliev. The "Queens & Kings" album was released in 2007 by Asphalt Tango Records . The tour with this program led through Europe and to Australia.

Originally the live project Fanfare was programmed by Ciocărlia, Esma Redžepova, Kaloomé, Jony Iliev and sometimes Mitsou or Ljiljana Butler. After touring for over two years, Fanfare Ciocărlia decided to take a year off, and The Gypsy Queens & Kings continued for the rest of 2009 and most of 2010 with Bucharest Roma band Mahala Raï Banda.

In 2006 Fanfare Ciocărlia won the BBC Radio 3 World Music Award for Europe. In 2008 Asphalt Tango Records released the CD "Princes Amongst Men", the soundtrack for the book of the same name by Garth Cartwright. The compilation appeared at the same time as the German-language edition of the book was published.

In September 2009 Asphalt Tango Records released two albums of Fanfare Ciocărlia. On the one hand "Live" with the recordings from the band's Berlin concert, which was also shown on the DVD "Gypsy Brass Legends" (and the Gypsy Brass Legends DVD as an addition) and "Best of Gypsy Brass", a compilation with Fanfare Ciocărlias most famous tracks to date on vinyl. Fanfare Ciocărlia and Ernst went back to the studio in early 2011 to record the “Balkan Brass Battle” sessions. On the album “Balkan Brass Battle” and the tour that went with it, Fanfare Ciocărlia competed against the Serbian Roma brass band “Boban & Marko Marković Orkestar” in a musical competition. The bringing together of the two outstanding Balkan Brass Bands proved to be successful. The ensembles toured Europe several times together and shared the stage to compete for the audience.

In 2013 Fanfare Ciocărlia toured extensively through North America . In addition, the band went to the studio in Toronto / Canada with the Canadian guitarist Adriano Raso. Raso, a specialist in gypsy swing and hard rock , had been fascinated by Fanfare Ciocărlia's sound for years and had suggested recording an album together. The sessions produced by Ernst can be heard on the CD / LP "Devil's Tale". The album was released in 2014 by Asphalt Tango Records . After headlining the 2015 Womadelaide Festival in Australia and the Womad Taranaki Festival in New Zealand , Fanfare Ciocărlia teamed up with Adriano Raso and his band to go on a “Devil's Tale” tour.

Balkan Beats: Fanfare Ciocărlia's Influence on Dance Music

Fanfare Ciocărlia is seen as a pioneer of the Balkan Beats genre. The name "Balkan Beats" was coined by the Bosnian-born Berlin DJ Robert Soko . In 2001 Soko started the party series “Balkan Beats”, on which he played brass music from the Balkans. Fanfare Ciocărlia was one of the bands Soko played frequently, and since then their music has been essential for many DJs and remixers who play Balkan music in clubs.

Fanfare Ciocărlia's track "Asfalt Tango" was used by the British electronic dance group Basement Jaxx for the song "Hey U" on their album "Crazy Itch Radio".

Fanfare Ciocărlia's cover version of the "James Bond Theme" is included on the album "Gypsy Beats and Balkan Banger", a compilation of "Felix B" by Basement Jaxx .

Fanfare Ciocărlia in films

The documentary “Iag Bari - Brass on Fire” directed by Ralf Marschalleck shows the lives of the members of Fanfare Ciocărlia. It shows the contrast between a life in the small Romanian village of Zece Prăjini and the large concert halls in which the band performs. In November 2003 the film won the “Best Documentary Award” at the Festival De Cine Documental Musical in Barcelona and Madrid . He was also awarded the “Best Long Documentary Award” at the Roma festival for television and radio productions “Golden Wheel” in Skopje / Macedonia .

In the film “ Gegen die Wand ” (2004) by the German-Turkish director Fatih Akın , a short concert excerpt from the band can be seen in the Hamburg cultural center Fabrik .

The title “Asfalt Tango” is based on the animated film “Fallen Art” by Tomasz Bagiński and also the short film “Son” by Daniel Mulloy.

Fanfare Ciocărlia's version of “Moliendo Café ” can be heard in the Spanish comedy “ Crimen ferpecto ”.


The musical style of the band is mainly influenced by the traditional folk dance music of Romania and the Roma , but also incorporated Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian and Macedonian elements. The group also processes melodies from international pop music and from Hollywood such as Bollywood . The band's music is characterized by speed and dynamics, complex rhythms and fast-paced solos from clarinet , saxophone and trumpet .


CDs / vinyl

  • 1998: Radio Pascani (piranha music)
  • 1999: Baro Biao - World Wide Wedding (Piranha Music)
  • 2001: Iag Bari - The Gypsy Horns From The Mountains Beyond (Piranha Music)
  • 2005: Gili Garabdi (Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2007: Queens and Kings (Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2009: Live (Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2009: Best of Gypsy Brass (Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2011: Balkan Brass Battle (with Boban & Marko Marković Orchestra, Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2014: Devil's Tale (with Adrian Raso, Asphalt Tango Records)
  • 2016: Onwards to Mars (Asphalt Tango Records)


  • DVD-ATR 0404 Fanfare Ciocărlia "Gypsy brass legends - the story of the band" / Release October 25, 2004 / Asphalt Tango Records

Web links

Commons : Fanfare Ciocărlia  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Fanfare Ciocarlia. Retrieved January 27, 2020 .