Since he was introduced to the duduk by his master Khachik Khachatryan, Vardan Hovanissian has become one of the most talented ambassadors for this ancient double-reeded instrument whose melancholy tones reflect the Armenian soul. He found his musical soul-mate over ten years ago when he met Emre Gültekin, who learned the art of the Turkish saz from his father Lütfü Gültekin and from Talip Özkan.
Vardan Hovanissian (duduk)
Vardan Hovanissian is recognised as a specialist in traditional Armenian woodwind instruments. The duduk, a double-reed instrument dating from the 5th century BC, reflects the very sound and soul of Armenia, and its warm timbre is increasingly appreciated by audiences all over the world. Strongly rooted in traditional Armenian music, Vardan almost naturally creates links with the music of neighboring territories such as Turkey and Syria, and with other European folk and jazz influences.
Vardan has performed with the National Folk Music Ensemble and bands such as Gandzsar, Marathouk & Ervand Saharouny in Armenia. His encounter with Tigran and Yasmin Levy was the catalyst for fruitful collaborations around the world, leading to concerts in Europe, Canada, Australia and Asia with Yasmin Levy, Arax, Hijaz and Blindnote.
Emre Gültekin (saz, baglama, vocals)
In the Gültekin family, playing music is as natural as breathing. Born in 1980 in La Louvière (Belgium), Emre discovered music thanks to his father Lütfü Gültekin teaching him to play the saz, a long-necked lute capable of generating the most subtle harmonies. Elusive and complex, crossing cultural boundaries, the instrument was widely adopted throughout the Middle East – ranging even to Siberia – in various forms, but it was in Anatolian music that it reached its artistic apogee and greatest expression, with great masters such as Talip Ozkan and Mustafa Karaçeper, who also directly instructed Emre and his father Lütfü, whose compositions play an important role in the Turkish folk song repertoire.
Today Emre is an accomplished artist in his own right, engaged in many musical projects and interacting with diverse influences, with musicians from many different backgrounds, from Malick Pathe Sow (Senegal) to Goran Bregovic (Serbia), to Véronique Gillet (Belgium) and Dadmehr (Iran). He also plays in groups such as Blindnote and his family group Gültekinler and has started to write film music alongside his day job as a sound engineer.
Joris Vanvinckenroye (double bass)
One of Belgium’s most creative bass players, Joris Vanvinckenroye finds inspiration in all musical genres – classical, world, rock, jazz and folk – and mixes them ingeniously in his work. A ’De Tijd’ newspaper critic once wrote, ’In his head, Astor Piazzolla lives right next-door to John Cale and Jethro Tull.’ Joris started his career with successful folk band Troissœur before deciding to go his own way. He went on to found the classical-folk-rock band Aranis, whose cinematic fusion style greatly impressed the Belgian music scene. A solo album Cycles (2009) presented another project, his one-man double-bass orchestra BASta! From 2005 to 2012 he combined recording five albums with performances in Europe and United-States. On top of a range of collaborative projects, he is currently turning his talents to composition.
Simon Leleux (daf and percussion)
Simon Leleux started to study oriental percussion at the age of 10. At 12, he became a member of the instrumental ensemble Bouche à oreilles, which fostered his passion for music and for percussion in particular. From the outset, he was lucky enough to benefit from tuition from Quentin Smolderen and Azzedine Jazouli, which he followed up with masterclasses in Belgium and abroad conducted by, among others, Madjid Khaladj (Iran), Misirli Ahmet (Turkey), Kostas Anastasiadis (Turkey) and Pedram Khavarzamini (Iran). A student at Codarts in Rotterdam, Simon performs with the bands Sysmo, Gnatz, Orbal, Creutz Trio and Osvald Arcady.