Office of Musicians' Affairs

Gesine Bänfer & Ian Harrison are known as the masterminds of the ensembles Les Haulz et les Bas and The Early Folk Band. In 28 years of playing together they have initiated and supervised many projects and played at a high level with musicians from all over the world around the world - with untamed joy and a real appetite for experimenting with the musical material. With their prizewinning wind band  Les haulz et les bas they have researched Gothic and Renaissance wind music from 1200 to 1600 and produced 7 CDs. With The Early Folk Band they have explored music of the British Folk from 1600 to 1900 and just released their third CD. They combine conscientious research of historical sources with lively performances and present this timeless music for the 21st century. They are also available for commissioned work, master classes and lecture talks. And they are always delighted to work together with musicologists, festival directors and producers on joint projects and commissions for festival themes, historical film music. In 2020 they will be playing in Germany, Switzerland, France, Spain, Slovenia, England and Scotland.

Office of Musicians' Affairs
Gesine Bänfer & Ian Harrison
Harriet-Straub-Str. 39
79100 Freiburg, Germany
fon ++49 - (0) 761- 29 23 110
mobile ++49 - (0) 172 - 76 46 178

Gesine Bänfer & Ian Harrison - Quarantunes

In the last few weeks, we have had time to work on the music that is dear to us - regardless of profitability, organizers' wishes or audiences' reactions. We have recorded some of the pieces - and as a small window to the world during lockdown we publish them here with our best wishes. Enjoy listening!

The Early Folk Duo, Gesine Bänfer and Ian Harrison, play "Kemp's Jig" - a classic tune from John Playford's 'The English Dancing Master' published in London in 1651. The title refers to Will Kemp, the clown in William Shakespeare's theatre company, who danced a jig from London to Norwich in nine days in the year 1600. The dulcimer was made by Winfried Goerge and the Northumbrian Smallpipe by Mike York. Enjoy!

The Early Folk Duo - plays Go no more a rushing. This is one of those riddle songs - a sequel to 'I will give my love a cherry' which we posted a couple of weeks ago. The text goes back to the 14th century and this tune is found in English keyboard manuscripts from the early 17th century. The arrangement is by Gesine and the diminutions by Ian. Enjoy!

Les haulz et les bas lockdown duo with Gesine Bänfer - bombard, and Ian Harrison - shawm. We recorded this madrigal Quale leçe move, by the 14th-century Italian composer Bartolino da Padova, for the Early Music Day on 21st March 2020. It was the first of our quarantunes.

Les haulz et les bas - Quarantune from the Middle Ages: Rostibolli Gioioso is one of the most popular court dances of the 15th century. Dance master Domenico da Piacenza was a dance teacher at the Court of Este in Ferrara and left a tract with melodies and choreographies. We play copies of the 15th century harp and dulcimer.

Les haulz et les bas - still in lockdown and still playing as a duo - Gesine Bänfer and Ian Harrison play Jacopo da Bologna's madrigal Aquila altera in the ornamented version from the Faenza Codex (15th century) on shawm and bombard. Enjoy!

Les haulz et les bas - lockdown duo:
Amor ch'al tuo sugetto, ballata by Francesco Landini (1325–1397)

Early Folk Duo - Quarantune: our Early-Folk-Band shrunk to a duo. I will give my Love a Cherry is a traditional ballad of the typical impossible things that lovers promise each other and how they work them out in the end. We dedicate this song to Fiona, our second daughter to have flown the nest.  Enjoy!

"Singing will make a man laugh - and laughing long live will bring!"

Early Folk Duo sings the traditional English song Rue & Thyme: "There grows a flower in our garden, they call it hope..."

Ian learnt Polly put the kettle on from his parents, Brian and Margaret Harrison. The second tune is Tormaid a bh'air a Ghille, or Willie made a wedding o't from William Gunn's The Caledonian repositary of music adapted to the bagpipies, published in Glasgow in 1843.

Celebrating Beethoven's 250th Birthday with his Minuet in G Major on two whistles - Ian improvising a counterpoint... Enjoy!

One of the most painful cancellations we had this year was a planned concert with Hirundo Maris with music from the Llibre Vermell de Montserrat in the beautiful church of Montserrat itelf. A little consolation was the invitation from Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen to play Stella splendens with them online. With us is Pilar Figueras - who inspired Ian in his youth to play medieval bagpipes ...

Our ensembles:

Les haulz et les bas - Gothic and Renaissance Wind Music
ars supernova - medieval jazz –  an experience of timelessness...
The Early Folk Band - Ballads, Songs and Dance tunes from the Past
The Early Folk Duo - Northumbrian Bagpipe Music, songs and ballads

Les haulz et les bas plays music of the alta capella, the 'loud' wind ensemble of the middle ages and Renaissance. The rediscovery and reconstruction of the music of the mediaeval civic and court wind bands has been one of the great musical detective stories of our times. The results of the ensemble's work has acheived international acclaim: they have won prizes at several international competitions and they are regularly present in Europe's most prestigious Early Music Festivals. They regularly give lectures and workshops and have been guests of the Universities of Oxford, London and Manchester, the Royal Conservatory, The Hague and the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. The ensemble has produced a series of highly-acclaimed CDs. Les haulz et les bas guarantees its audience an extraordinary and unforgettable experience. The ensemble offers a huge range of programmes from the 'classic' trio formation up to big-scale productions for larger venues and outdoor events.

The mediaeval wind ensemble Les haulz et les bas plays Guillaume du Fay's (c.1400-1476) chanson Se la face ay pale live at Montalbane Festival 2009. Ian Harrison - shawm, Gesine Bänfer - bombard, David Yacus & Christian Braun - buisines, Michael Metzler - tympani, Andrea Piccioni - tamburello

Medieval Jazz – new directions for early music

The forgotten sound of the alta capella - the medieval and renaissance wind band - lies at the historical heart of this project. Shawms, bombards, slide trumpet and sackbut are combined with a jazz combo of saxophone, guitar, double bass, tuba and drum set, and members of the ensemble themselves double on saxophone, trombone, cornett and bagpipes. Old material is newly arranged, new pieces composed for old instruments and all is delivered by a star-studded cast with lashings of improvisatory panache. Les haulz et les bas offer proof that the saxophone is the ideal instrument for the 14th-century ars nova and that the medieval shawm has just the sound that jazz has been waiting for.

With this programme Les haulz et les bas won a CD production with the German national radio station Deutschlandradio Kultur - now released by www.ahalani-records.

ars supernova im Jazzhaus Freiburg

Ballads, Songs and DanceTunes from the North Countries

The musicians of The Early Folk Band are all outstanding specialists in early music. Originally from England, Sweden and Germany, they bring with them the traditional music of their home countries as well as a great experience with the study and performance of music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance and Baroque. 'Folk Music' influences 'art music' and vice versa. The members of the group also won important competitions such as: Anders Wrath silver medal ('riksspelman'), Global Ruth (Germany's leading World Music Award), Grammy Award, Festival van Vlandern, Bruges, BRTN Radio Price (Belgium), Festival Rencontre Internationales de St. Chartier (France) "Best Blasters" and "Best Folk rock Band" of the German Popstiftung.

The Early Folk Band plays Packingtons Pound

Riddles & Reels

Ian Harrison (GB/D) - Northumbrian smallpipes, flageolets, harp, fiddle, voice
Gesine Bänfer (D) - Northumbrian smallpipes, flagelolets, dulcimer, English guittar, voice
Lee Santana (USA/A) - Cittern, baroque guitar, lute, voice

The Early Folk Trio presents riddle songs and virtuoso folk tunes from the British Isles and Old Time music from North America.

  1. Wedding Dress - (traditional Appalachian Folk Song) - a puzzling song about a marriage proposal - The Early Folk Trio with very special guest Florian Döling on double bass.

Early Folk Music

Gesine Bänfer from Freiburg, Germany and Ian Harrison from Newcastle upon Tyne are an unusual duo. With their interpretation of old ballads and their virtuoso smallpipe and whistle tunes these two multi-instrumentalists are firmly established in the alternative, world and folk music scenes. In their duo programmes they present traditional riddle songs, ballads of lies and deception, and virtuoso instrumental music from the British Isles.

The collaboration with Catalan singer Arianna Savall, her Norwegian husband Petter Udland Johansen and their ensemble Hirundo Maris leads to a firework of musical ideas and possibilities. This year we have run several new programs together. >>read on<<

mittelalterliche Pilgerlieder mit Arianna Savall und Petter Udland Johansen

Music needs no Passport

Diego Escolano - laud, bandurria
Gesine Bänfer - gaita, cajatom
Ian Harrison - gaita, cornett
Vanesa Muela - voice, pandereita, adufe
Jonas Gimeno - pandereita, percussion

Gaitas are the traditional bagpipes of Galicia, Spains northwesternmost province. The earliest depictions of these instruments are in the manuscripts of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of King Alfonso el Sabio from the 13th century. Gesine and Ian are not only specialists in mediaeval and traditional music but also play their own compositions. The brilliant Vanesa Muela is one of Castille's leading folk singers. Her interpretations of the old traditional songs of her region such as the boleras, jota and albade da Tierrente open a window on past ages. She accompanies herself expertly on a range of percussion instruments including the adufe, an ancient square catskin drum, and the pandereita, the traditional tambourine of Northern Spain.

Unsere Ensembles

Les haulz et les bas - Gothic and Renaissance Wind Music

ars supernova - medieval jazz –  an experience of timelessness...

The Early Folk Band - Ballads, Songs and Dance tunes from the Past

The Early Folk Duo - Northumbrian Bagpipe Music, songs and ballads

Joint-projects with Hirundo Maris - Music of the Middle Ages


Office of Musicians' Affairs
Gesine Bänfer & Ian Harrison
Harriet-Straub-Str. 39
79100 Freiburg, Germany
fon ++49 - (0) 761- 29 23 110
mobile ++49 - (0) 172 - 76 46 178


Office of Musicians' Affairs
Gesine Bänfer & Ian Harrison
Harriet-Straub-Str. 39
79100 Freiburg, Germany
fon ++49 - (0) 761- 29 23 110
mobile ++49 - (0) 172 - 76 46 178

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  • Dieses Feld bitte leer lassen!!!

  • Les haulz et les bas played at:

    Festival Oude Muziek Utrecht
    York Early Music Festival
    Musica Antiqua Bruges
    Laus Polyphoniae Antwerp
    Festivale della musica antiqua Urbino (I)
    Tage der alten Musik Regensburg
    Montalbâne Festival, Freyburg
    Herbst des Mittelalters, Basel
    Freunde Alter Musik, Basel
    Berlin Alte Musik Festival
    Brighton Early Musik Festival
    Cambridge Early Music Festival
    Tage der lten Musik Herne
    Trigonale St Veith (A)
    Styriarte Graz
    Rencontres des Maitres Sonneurs, St. Chartier (F)
    Festival de musique medievale, Le Thoronet (F)
    Leipziger Improvisationsfestival für alte Musik
    Festival Musica Antiqua Bingen
    Tamburi Mundi, Freiburg im Breisgau
    Zürich Festival der alten Musik
    Musikfestpiele Potsdam
    Barockfestival St. Pölten (A)
    Philharmonie Köln,
    Cité de la musique, Paris
    Schloss Tirol (I)
    Hohenloher Kultursommer
    Musica Franconia

    Co-Produktionen mit
    Apollo’s Fire - The Cleveland Baroque Orchestra, Ohio
    Bochumer Symphoniker
    Metropol Orkest, Hilversum
    Freiburger Barockorchester
    Ensemble Recherche, Freiburg
    Capilla Flamenca Antwerp
    Markus Stockhausen & Mike Svoboda
    Ensemble Hirundo Maris - Arianna Savall and Petter Udland Johansen
    Sinfonieorchester St. Galen
    Ensemble Gilles Binchois (F)

    Vorträge & Meisterkurse
    Schola Cantorum Basiliensis
    Koniglijke Conservatorium, Den Haag
    University of London
    University of Oxford
    Musikhochschule Wuppertal
    STIMU, Utrecht
    Kloster Michaelstein
    University of Freiburg

    Deutschlandfunk Kultur
    Radio Bremen
    Bayerischer Rundfunk
    Hessischer Rundfunk
    BBC Radio 3 (UK)
    DRS (CH)