Picea Orientalis is a string orchestra that brews Western and Eastern music traditions. Western structures, harmonies and bow techniques, together with middle Eastern and balkan ornaments and improvisations, form the DNA of the orchestra. The uniqueness of the orchestra stems from the diversity of its members, and the openness to uncharted musical paths and new trajectories. Picea Orientalis aims above all to build bridges between various music worlds and various audiences.

What if classical music didn’t have to strictly be framed into the “well tempered clavier”? Why another music traditions kept applying microtones, ornaments and improvisations in a free way while these elements were “washed away” in the classical music? We know that Bach was an excellent improvisator who also ornamented his works with complete freedom. Mozart and Beethoven left the cadenzas of their concertos open, thus giving soloists plenty of room to improvise. Meanwhile, later versions of those cadenzas are now an integral part of the score, as a result of which the improvisational character has almost disappeared.

We search ways to bring the eroded elements back on board full of ambition. To the western classical structures, harmony, techniques and acoustics, we add musical aspects that are still essential in the Balkans, and within Arab and Turkish traditions.

“Picea Orientalis” is the Latin name of Caucasian spruce (Picea), that grows in northern Asia and the Caucasus (Orientalis). The wood of these spruces is used for the tops of both Eastern and Western stringed instruments, but also for the construction of traditional instruments as oud, Qanun and Bouzouk.

Photo credit: Katrien Bos