Harp Music from the Celtic Northwest...
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"I open the door, a cool wind blows in my face, and the sea smells better than ever. The sky is still gray, but the first rays of the sun are scattering on the horizon. I look forward to the new day - life goes on...." This is what music looks like in the imagination of harpist Thomas Loefke.
Thomas' music easily spans the confines of both style and time. From the sounds of the Celtic Middle Ages, the centuries-old music of Ireland's nomadic bards and the lively dances of Irish folk music, to his own original compositions, each of Thomas' works has its own special sound, texture, atmosphere and story to tell.
The tradition of the Celtic harp in Ireland and Scotland began over a thousand years ago. The Celts brought the harp to Europe and developed it into a universal instrument with its own unique repertoire. It wasn't only the sound of the harp, but the depth of its living tradition that intrigued Thomas and moved him to play. He studied in Dublin and Berlin and was taught by some of Ireland's leading harpists - namely Helen Davies, Máire Ní Chathasaigh, Áine Ní Dhúill and Janet Harbison.
Since 1984 Thomas has developed his own performing and musical style, and has toured across Europe, Canada and the USA. He has received numerous international prizes, including first prize at the O'Carolan Harp Festival in 1987. Since that year he has been working together with Scottish guitarist/composer Ian Melrose. Both represented Germany at the European Broadcasting Union Festival in Norway in 1989. Thomas's first album, 1992's "New Music for Celtic Harp", was a collection of tunes written during his first seven years of composing, interspersed with a few of Ian's compositions.
The musicians appearing on Thomas' 2nd CD, the Celtic Heartbeat/Universal album "Norland Wind", are the artists Thomas has been working together with for years: Ian Melrose, vocalist/guitarist Kerstin Blodig, Riverdance fiddle player Máire Breatnach and Clannad's Noel and Pádraig Duggan.
Today much of Thomas' time is spent writing, collaborating and recording. Besides the tours with his band Norland Wind, he also works together with Acoustic Eidolon, Máire Breatnach, piper Finbar Furey, flutist Ellen Czaya, Christiane Stanko ("Stories from Tory") and as a soloist.
Islands in the North Atlantic, like Tory Island - the Irish island of legend and myth, the Hebridean Island of Staffa or the wild archipelago of the Faroe Islands situated between the Shetlands and Iceland - these are the places where Thomas spends a considerable amount of time every year to compose music. Dramatic coastal landscapes, the wide open space of the Atlantic ocean and the ever changing sky reflect in the pieces of music written there. Many of these tunes are part of Norland Wind's musical program, and now they are on CD:
On the album "Northern Isles" (April 2007) Thomas once again is joined by his friends and colleagues of Norland Wind: Ian, Máire, Kerstin, Noel and Pádraig and - for the first time - by Acoustic Eidolon's Hannah Alkire (cello) and Joe Scott (double neck guitjo, guitar, whistles).
"People are listening to quiet haunting music again," says Thomas. "It's amazing how the sound of the harp takes the speed out of everyday life and brings you back to a sort of tingling slowness."