March 18, 2013 · Print This Article
Performance Main Stage – Fri 10:15 pm
The story of Neo-Medieval supergroup Corvus Corax and its quest after the lost musical tradition of the medieval minstrel began in 1989 East Germany by members Castus Rabensang and Wim Venustus, who upon escaping from the former GDR began busking in the streets, often performing with jugglers and acrobats of the street performer’s underground. By aspiring to relive the life of travelling minstrels in this genuine way, the band hoped to draw conclusions about the musical practices of medieval secular music.
Continuously searching after authenticity, Corvus Corax began touring with larger ensembles of 7 or 8 musicians. Venues for the concerts during that time were almost exclusively historical places, halls, castles, and medieval spectacles like the Kaltenberger Ritterturnier, the largest jousting tournament in the world. Europe-wide Corvus Corax performed on the Marcus Square during Venice Carnival, before the Pope’s Palace during the Festival d’Avignon, and other places where the minstrels of yore would likely have played.
After seven years of exploration, the band’s perception of medieval authenticity began to change. Like their predecessors, the minstrels of 1000 years ago who used whatever melodies, rhythms and instruments came their way as they roamed Europe – the musicians of Corvus Corax began to examine the influences of contemporary music on their own practice. Using fragments of medieval secular music found in old writings, they began reworking them, employing modern arrangements and electrical amplification of traditional medieval instruments, to forge a new sound. The 4 bag pipe players and 3 percussionists of Corvus Corax have thus helped define a new genre, Neo-Medieval, which unites visual spectacle and medieval music with the hypnotic dance rhythms of contemporary music. Since then the band’s concert activities have exploded and now include clubs, major concert halls, and festivals.
Their concerts are now the stuff of legend, culminating in the recent CANTUS BURANUS project. Working together with a 150 piece ensemble of choir, orchestra, and soloists, they created an epic new setting for texts and music from the medieval manuscript Carmina Burana. With CANTUS BURANUS, Corvus Corax crowned its long lasting preoccupation with historical source and simultaneously breathed new life into the minstrel’s tradition. No wonder passionate fans around the world call them the “Kings of Minstrels”.
Always aware of the threat of stagnation though, Corvus Corax keeps enlarging its vision and has started its next period of life with the just released album Sverker, finding inspiration in the ancient musical traditions of the Vikings and Celts. Currently touring with the new album, Corvus Corax will bring their spectacle, bagpipes, and roaring drums, to stages all around the world.