Bandhistory English Version

A musical journey with the Ensemble ORIENT-EXPRESS (E.O.E.)!

(official press information translated by Bjoern):
Musicians from Germany and Bangla Desh take you on a musical trip where no man has gone before. Since its birth in 1999 the EOE is exploring musical possibilites.
The musicians play on traditional instruments from all over the world as tabla, tampura, sitar, harmonium, didgeridoo & santour, as well as modern instruments as e-piano, electric guitar and bass and sound-effects.

„An ancient gregorianic church song develops with sitar sounds and ostinato piano-bass into trance-spheres. On the other hand the Indian „Saleka Maleka“ with its wahwah-guitar and rhythmic vocals gets kind of soulfunk appearance.“
(Heilbronner Stimme, 09.12.2003)
The Ensemble Orient Express plays mainly their own compositions and adaptions of traditional folksongs from Bengal, Rajasthan, Persia, Pakistan etc. (sometimes even from Germany, Finland and Ireland), arrangements of classical works, musicals, film music, bluesy and jazzy with elements of rock and trance. Song length ranges from 4 up to 20 minutes and leaves the musicians enough time to develop spontaneously and improvise as much as they want and to create new sounds according to place, time and mood. „ The artists (…) create thythm which flows into the very soul of the listeners. (…) The meditative character of some of the tunes makes the visitor fly into other spheres while relaxing totally.“
(Heilbronner Stimme, 27.01.2003)
A „… virtuous, and almost three hours – likewise eternal – ride …“ (Haller Tagblatt, 08.04.2003).
But the E O E can do totally different: you can find elements of progressive rock and sound experiments in their music, too – „experimental music inbetween two musical worlds.“
(Hohenloher Zeitung, 31.01.2001)
The different musical influences come from the fact that the musicians have been playing in several formations for over 30 years now. And sometimes a slides-show and optical effects support the music.

The band is always open for guest musicians. Just to name a few, they played together with percussionist Martin Mueller (Phineas, Percussion-Duo, Mamawori), singer Florence Sharkar, drummer Matthias Peter (Aoxomoxoa, Traven, Bildetbanden), bass player Focus Kindermann (Phineas, Die Achtlosen), tabla players Ilyas Khan (India) and Bipul Sharkar (Bangla Desh), body-percussionist Thomas Scheurer (Percussion-Duo), the brass-section of the Haller Freilichtspiele (Wolfgang Roth / sax., Peter Tuscher / tr., Leo Gmelch / posaune), Anamul Mohammed (bollywood-vocals), Leo James Costa (tabla) and  jazz clarinettist Hans Kumpf (AK Musick). In 2004 they also played together with the fathers of world-music EMBRYO.
In January 2007 the EOE toured Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan and jammed with local musicians in Jaipur and the nomads (Bopa Jatis) in Pushkar and Jaisalmer (excerpts of this session are on our myspace-site). They played three times alone in Ajmer. Both big daily newspapers there called their music „going straight into your heart“ and as smooth as „Honey for the ears“. In 2011 an even more extended tour of India and Bangladesh followed, crowned by an open air concert in front of 8 – 10.000 people in a village surrounded by rice fields!
You see: with the EOE  anything is possible! Variety is the programme.
(end of press information)

WHO WE ARE:

Bjoern Eric Muenz: guitars, bass, tampura, sitar, ramanatha, effects & sonic experiments

-> has been playing in several bands and still is. Some of his bands were (and are) since January 1984 psychedelic-bluesrock-outfit PHINEAS from Schwaebisch Hall – still existing as original triowith Focus Kindermann (bg.) and Martin  Mueller (dr., bluesharp). Sometimes they play with additional guitarist and female singer (doing more westcoast- southern- and countryrock). 1992 to 1994 he played in ALL LAZY MAGIC aka SWABIAN SOUND MACHINE (Swabian rock and swing) from Ludwigsburg / Stuttgart, 1996 to 1998 studio project AGENT PINK EXTRACT (progressive rock in Gentle Giant-tradition) from Oehringen / Hohenlohe and sometimes he’s playing as guest musician with other projects and bands. In 2007 he played at the Burg Herzberg Festival with Krautrock legend  EMBRYO (parts of the three-hour show have been released officially). With Ronju as duett he’s playing classical Indian music and Bengali folksongs.

-> For almost 20 years now Bjoern hosts his own shows on Radio StHoerfunk: DEADICATED HOUR  and TEA FOR TWO and sometimes he’s doing SPECIALS, too.

Ronju A. Sharkar: harmonium, percussion, vocals, tampura, ektara, dotara, didgeridoo, indian santour and more

-> came to Germany in 1978 and played with SARGAM SANGHA, from 1979 to 1985,  later more solo activities (concerts and lectures on Rabindranath Tagore) all over Germany, 1991 first MC „In der Fremde“, after 1992 concerts with Leo James Costa and Florence as trio, 1994 two more MCs „Ohne Heimat“ and „Wahre Unwahrheit“, also „Shubho Boro Din“ together with Florence and Leo James. In 1995 composition of the folk-opera „Phuleshwari and Bholanath“ and production of a radio play of the same name, 1996 MC / CD: „Indische Fest- und Tempellieder“, more tours as soloist and with a trio in Germany, Spain, Austria, India, Switzerland and Bangla Desh with radio- and television shows. 2002 lectures and musical evenings on Hermann Hesse (for example at Frankfurt University), also his own radio show and from 2003 on a research project in Munich (Kali-cult), more about Tagore, 2007 a christmas puppet-play, diwali, 2010 music for his wife Florence’s book presentation…

-> several solo-programmes, concerts with James Da Costa and other instrumentalists and dancers and as duett with Bjoern classical Indian music and Bengali folk songs.

Ralf Andreas Snurawa: grand piano, piano, e-piano & mastermind

-> our main arranger and also composer of modern pianoworks as „In den Abgrund aus Licht“ (Into the abyss of light, 2002) and „Distorted Xing Music 1 + 2“ (2004), free improvisationes as a duett with Hans Kumpf and more to come.

> For almost 20 years now Ralf  hosts his own shows on Radio StHoerfunk: KUNST-PAUSE and TEA FOR TWO and he’s doing several SPECIALS, too.

all photos on this page (C) by Hans Kumpf

… how it all started:

1999

  • … is not only the title of a listenable PRINCE – tune, no, it is also the year the history of the EOE started. Four out of the five founding members did their own radio show on the free and public radio StHoerfunk in Schwaebisch Hall, Germany. Each of the four had his own musical favorites in his shows. But one spring evening during an editorial conference the idea came up to do a series of shows, to introduce all the countries musically and culturally the original Orient Express Train went through (and beyond) to our listeners. This series took several weeks and included many many shows and many people were involved and got to know each other better. Wolf who is also active at the radio station suggested to finish the series with a public concert of the people involved: „Hey guys, let’s do something together!“  He was the first who noticed that some of the editors (some of them didn’t know each other till then) were also active musicians in different bands and projects: Ronju as singer of bengali folk songs, Ralf as classical trained piano player, Bjoern als bassist and blues-guitarist, Bahram as drummer und persian santour-player. So some rehearsals took place, Ronju supplied not only the room but also brought up Erich, a tabla player,  and in a very short time the EOE developed the first programme. After not more than five weeks the first real EOE concert took place at Club Alpha, Schwaebisch Hall in May 1999. The rest of the year was filled with rehearsals and sessions.
  • EOE in May 1999: Erich Lenz: tabla / Bjoern Eric Muenz: git, bg, perc. / Bahram Nikmard: santour, perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf Snurawa: piano, perc.

2000

  • The year started with rehearsal after rehearsal, trying out new instruments and ideas. The repertoir expanded enormously and the older songs developed into new directions. The first public live concert of that year featured long improvisations together with guest clarinet-player Guenther.

    Pressefoto 2000

    EOE im Mai 2000

2005

  • EOE 2005 – Aug. 2006: Erich Lenz: tabla / Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2006

  • EOE from Sep. 2006 on: Erich Lenz: tabla / Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Thomas Scheurer: perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2007

  • EOE in Jan 2007: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Bipul Sharkar: perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano / P.F. Schuerrle-Sharkar: voc.
  • EOE from Feb 2007 on: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano
  • Mar / Apr 2007: Erich Lenz: tabla / Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano
  • May 2007 – July 2008: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, perc. / Thomas Scheurer: perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2009

  • EOE Mar – July 2009 : Focus Kindermann: bg / Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, sitar, ravanahatha / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2010

  • EOE in Aug 2010: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, ravanahatha, perc. sitar / Bipul Sharkar: tablas / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2011

  • EOE in Jan / Feb 2011: Khokon Iqbal Ahmed: perc. / Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, perc. / Bipul Sharkar: tablas / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, perc. (India & Bangla Desh Tour)
  • EOE from Feb 2011 on: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, bg, sitar, sarod, perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano

2012

  • Jun 2012: Wuppertal Open Air with special guest Focus on bass
  • since then most of the time performing as a trio and with a steadily growing number of instruments and guest musicians
2018
  • EOE in Feb/Mar 2018: Bjoern Eric Muenz:  git, loops, perc. / Bipul Sharkar: perc. / Ronju Sharkar: harmonium, vocals, tampura, perc. / Ralf A. Snurawa: piano (Touring in Rajasthan – Goa – Uttarakandh)

— to be continued —

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