'Echoes of Qiyan' takes up the threads of the Sephardic, Arabic and Occidental traditions, through time and space to the present day, weaving a fabric of sounds and tonal pictures from their European tradition. Adding pearls from near and far and yarn coloured by a thousand years of history, the result becomes a glimmering multicultural tapestry. Qiyans krets present their personal interpretations of Arabic and European music from the early Middle Ages and onwards, with roots in the old, rich, and multifaceted Al-Andalus culture. The CD also brings out a scarcely known female tradition that has been a breeding ground for folk music and ballads all over Europe: Qiyan were highly educated slave-women av varying ethnic backgrounds who entertained at the muslim courts in former times. These women were highly prized poets, singers, instrumentalists and dancers, and were responsible for performing and spreading the works of the composers of the period. As the Christian warlords conquered more and more of the muslim territories in Spain, i.e. al-Andalus/ Sepharad, qiyan were captured and taken back to the courts of Europe as booty. 'The first troubadour', William of Aquitaine (969 - 1030), grew up among qiyan and was surely influenced by them. The troubadour movement which started in Provence contributed to spreading their influence to the rest of Europe, as these travelling musicians moved from court to court Much more could be said about qiyan, but suffice it to say that these our predecessors have forged and handed down a strong tradition of improvisation and renewal. We like to think that we sail in their wake, sending on new ripples to the future... The Sephardic (Spanish Jewish) song tradition is also foremost a women's affair. The Sephardic songs performed by Oscar Fredriks kammarko¨r and Qiyans krets on this album are all original arrangements. When the Sephardic jews were driven out of their 'Sepharad', Spain, in 1492, they had been living there since pre-Christian times. Many of them settled in the Ottoman Empire where they were received well. However a number of them also settled in, amongst other places, North Africa, America and western Europe. During the Umayyad dynasty in Al-Andalus, or Moslem Spain (the district now known as Andalusia), the Jews had experienced a Golden Age during which their poetic and musical cultural expression had been enriched and refined through the amazing mixture of Arabian, Christian and Jewish influences they were surrounded by in that era. The Sephardic Jews took their music and song with them into exile, including a wealth of secular songs sung in their own language, Ladino, a form of early Spanish. These were handed down from woman to woman, despite the disapproval of their male religious leaders. We have these women's flouting of authority to thank for the unbroken Sephardic song tradition that we celebrate today! We do it in our way, just as our predecessors did - countless new elements have crept in during the centuries, both in texts and melodies. And this is how we perform them... Our instruments: The Harp An ancient instrument found in most cultures in a vast variety of shapes and sizes. Harps have often been accredited with personalities and magical powers and even today the harp seems to have a mysterious ability to soothe and comfort. According to the Celtic tradition, each harp has a name, it divulges solely to it's owner ... Three-hole flute & percussion represent the male and female principles. From the 15th century onward, Death was often portrayed as holding these instruments and dancing a "danse macabre", both in live performances and in pictures. This combination of instruments spread at an early stage over the whole of Medieval Europe and is also represented in the Sephardic tradition. Soprano recorder: a relatively recent instrument with very ancient roots - for instance Chinese end-blown flutes with 7 holes, made out of a bird's wing-bone and dated to just over over 9 000 years old! It is believed that the recorder in it's present form became popular in Europa in the 14th century. Kaval: an edge-blown flute widely spread in the Balcans and in the Middle East. Nay: an edge-blown flute with Persian roots and found widely in the Middle East. It is generally made out of a reed and is the major instrument within Sufi form of Islam, where it is used to achieve an ecstatic trance. Percussion Daf: A large flat drum Riq: Egyptian tambourine Tabla: A vase-shaped drum, also known as darbukka or doumbek Sajat: Finger cymbals.