Review: “Gourlen” by An Erminig

“All that emotion alone can do in music the Celt has done”… (Arnold).

Brittany, is much like its cousins, Ireland & Scotland, in nature and attitude and most definitively the music.  An Erminig have passionately made it the love of their life to bring the Celtic music of Brittany to the remembrance of the modern age.  An Erminig are in constant vigil to look for ancient songs and format them as only they can, remaining true to the Celtic roots.  This CD  (one of four) is focused on the salty water (sea life).  The shanties and ballads are sung in the original Celtic language of Brittany.  The instrumentals on this CD are exquisite in bringing the listener’s creativity and emotions to the fore front.  The musicians have with grace and love executed their talents and musical knowledge to benefit us, as well as the people of Celtic Brittany.  The music perfected here is an absolute testament that music is the universal language.

The group consists of Barbara Gerdes, the artistic director (Celtic harp, Irish flute, bombarde, hurdy gurdy and mortars), Andreas Derow (Scottish bagpipes, violin, accordion vocals), Hans Martin Derow (12 & 6 string guitars, accordion, vocals), Thomas Doll (bass, violin, vocals), Amby Schillo (percussion).  Christoph Kleuser, (piano on Gourlen Du).

Barbara, Andreas and Martin are the core of  An Erminig.

With awe and wonder I had the opportunity to ask these questions of Hans Martin Derow for this review.

Mattie:  How did An Erminig come together?

Martin:  “In the summer of 1974 my brother Andreas and me, we spent family holidays in Quiberon/Brittany.  In these holidays we heard the first time the Breton music.  Immediately we were fascinated and enamored by the creative power of this music and the daily presence among the Breton people and its culture.  We brought back disc records to Germany with Breton music and learned the melodies.  We put these melodies in the concerts of our rock group so we inspired my class mate Barbara.  When the rock group came to its end, we created in October of 1975 the folk trio.  In 1976 we moved from Bonn to Saarbrucken, close to the German-French border and there we got to know the folk groups in the Saarbrucken region.  With the creation of the CD ‘Tennadeg’ in 1998, we wanted to improve the sound of An Erminig .  We asked Thomas & Amby to join our group and since these days, they play with us.”

Mattie:  Being that you are from Germany, what drew you to Brittany and Celtic music?

Martin:  ” Brittany is a very impressive region with very different and beautiful landscape between pleasure and melancholy.  The Breton music is the mirror of these landscapes.  The Breton musicians are very faithful and authentic.  During the last more than 30 years they became for us very valuable friends, teachers and companions.”

Mattie:  What Celtic music are you fans of?  What band or musician inspired you most?

Martin: ” In the beginning of our group history we were especially inspiried by Alan Stivell, the famous Breton harp player and “Diaouled Ar Menez”.  In the beginning of the 1980’s we were inspired by the Scottish group “Tannahill Weavers’.  Since the late 80’s until today we are mostly inspired by the groups ‘Gwerz’ and ‘Skolvan’.”

“For me especially the group ‘Milladoiro’ from Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (Celtic part of  Spain) is very important.”

Mattie:  What is the biggest event/largest crowd you have played for and where?  What event is most special to you as a band/personally that you have done?

Martin: ” The largest crowd we have played for was our gig in the anti nuclear demonstration to avoid nuclear station of Cattenom/France in 1986.  There were some  15,000 people.  The most special gig for us was on 1st of May 1989 in Cottbus,  formerGermanDemocratic  Republic’   months before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain….a very special experience under the permanent control of the security authorities.”

Mattie:  For those whom may want to know, what is the best Celtic drink of Brittany?  The Irish claim Guinness……..

Martin:  “There are several good drinks in Brittany: ‘Muscadet’, the white wine from the region around Nantes, some Breton beers: Coreff – the beer from Morlaix in the northern cost of Brittany, ”La Blanche Hermine’, ‘Lancelot’ but also the ‘chistr’ (the Breton cider).

Mattie:  What would you like for me to be sure and put in the article?

Martin:  “Our passion is to be ambassadors of Brittany an the Breton culture for the German-speaking people and to promote Brittany to the people in Middle and South Europe.”

Martin:  ” There is a second program we represent on the German stages;  the musical description of the Celtic Pilgrim way of St. James from Ireland, passing Brittany, the French Atlantic Ocean -coast, Northwestern Spain to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.”

Gourlen has a full compliment of mariner shanties.  Ships lost, starvation, workers of the salt and sea, alas not to forget forlorn  love songs.  This is truly a CD of “folk songs” in the true Celtic form.

Gourlen exemplifies  creating and expressing musical emotion. I suggest pen and paper for this music opens the mind’s creative thought process.  Sorrow and Celtic pride that pass throughout the ages is musically exemplified in this CD.

An Erminig represent to me Classical Celtic Musicians, as they professionally perform Classical Celtic Music….

Band: An Erminig

Album: Gourlen
Residing in Germany and Brittany, France

An Erminig setlists



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