How it all started

Minsk, September 2009: During the ride from the airport to the city centre Dimitri, a famous music journalist, hands us a sheet of paper on which it says in capital letters: OUR PLAN. Underneath the programme, which is going to await Marco Käppeli and me over the next 5 days in the capital of Belarus, is listed. Our mission is clear : We search for women’s voices suited to a collaboration which combines the music of our Albin Brun Alpine Ensemble with traditional Belarusian vocals. Therefore we will visit several different bands every day, ranging from small a capella choirs to the big state people’s choir.

However, we have already abandoned the program by the first evening: Marco and I sneak out of the fully booked arena where the band Pesnyary are playing to 3000 people, take a cab and drive to a rehearsal of the group Akana, even though that would have been scheduled for 08.00 the next morning according to OUR PLAN.

Therefore we suddenly find ourselves standing between dimly lit blocks of flats. With the help of the taxi driver we finally spot the band in a backyard, where a narrow video studio serves as a rehearsal room. We squeeze ourselves into the room and the Akanas get started. The three singers are accompanied by young jazz musicians. All of them are visibly a bit nervous – they definitely want to seize the chance for a project in Switzerland. The Akana vocalists sing a couple of the songs a capella and very authentically (on top of that with remarkable inspiration and dazzling charm), while they place others in a jazzy context and combine them with their own arrangements. After the rehearsal we promise to announce our decision by the end of the week.

All the bands we visit over the week invariably impress us with performances of utmost professionalism and a vehemence which almost sweeps us off our feet. Nevertheless it is an easy choice for us at the end of the week, because Akana is a real piece of luck for us. With their great respect for tradition and their openness to modern musical influences at the same time, they are a perfect fit for us. In addition, there is an instant human connection between us – an ideal condition for a collaboration.

Thus OUR PLAN worked out perfectly. The following rehearsals some months later and the concerts in Switzerland and Belarus exceeded all our expectations. That is why with this CD the next chapter of our joint story starts. Finally, we want to say thanks to Madelene Rey of Kulturkontakt Aargau – Belarus. Without her this project would not exist. It was formed on her initiative and became realisable thanks to her support. Thanks!

Albin Brun