Qiyans krets
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Qiyans krets

Göteborg, Västra Götaland, Sweden

Göteborg, Västra Götaland, Sweden
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"Qiyans Krets at the Halmstad Castle"

"Unpretentious and pure... as if through the wardrobe door. you are taken as listener to another time and place"
- HallandsPosten

"Spanish-Jewish Middle Ages with a Swedish take"

The Sephardic people were the Jews of Arabic-Spanish-Jewish origins who were expulsed from Spain when the Christians reconquered the country from the Arabic Moors in the 15th century.
Their music, to a high degree cultivated by the well trained female slaves called qiyan who entertained at the Moslem courts, has now been published by the Swedish ensemble Qiyans Krets, supported by the choir and with newly composed choir arrangements. Apart from the Jewich music, they also present Medieval music of Middle European and Nordic/folk music origins.
Here, slow and flowing laments, embellished with oriental ornaments, alternate with rhythmic, fast and captivating pieces. The cutting point between the European and the Oriental is always exciting, as are the straightforward Medieval timbres.
The instrumental parts are more energetic, and here you also do feel a higher degree of intensity and groove.
This exciting world is worth a greater space, not least in the rich Swedish choir
(Susanne Holmlund)

- Sundsvalls Tidning


Over the last few years, there has been a renaissance for the historical music that evolved during the Al-Andalucian period (between 711 and 1492) in Spain, i.e. the times when the moors ruled in Southern Spain. Sephardic music, which is a long and important Jewish music tradition, has its roots in this period.
Sweden now has its own interpreters of this music in three musicians, flutist Josefine Liftig, harpist Veronika Halten and singer Marianne Holmboe, who together form the ensemble Qiyans Krets. Together with the Oscar Fredric chamber choir, they create a suggestive mood around this music with its fine old traditions, giving an extra depth to the listening experience.

Sephardic music is otherwise generally performed today in essentially two ways, you can hear reproductions faithful of the period performed by the foremost musicologists in the field, and then hear the same songs in modern arrangements by ladino singers such as Yasmin Levy. It is then an exciting and original take when Qiyans Krets accentuates the mystical and dramatic aspects, letting these elements give the music its centre of gravity.

Moreover, in a surprisingly natural and tasteful manner, Nordic tonalities are being intertwined every here and there, blending in nearly seamlessly. The album consists of two CD:s, the first one containing Sephardic music and the second a mix of medieval songs.
(Rolf Nilsén) - Musikmagasinet Lira

"In one of the songs..."

In one of the songs, she runs toward her lover, in another she seeks eternal shelter for her soul –
all expressed with the same butterfly-like ease and grace. Qiyans Krets is the trio Marianne Holmboe, Veronika Halten and Josefine Liftig who were inspired by the “qiyan” – well trained female slaves who worked as poets, singers and dancers at Arabian courts during the Middle Ages. The double-CD “Echoes of Qiyan” presents not only Arabic songs, but also Sephardic songs and dances from other areas around the Mediterranean. Orientally sparkling timbres that are broadened and getting further wings by the Oscar Fredric chamber choir. As in “Dja da kall” – a honeysweet Sufi dream about drowning in love.

(Martin Nyström) - Dagens Nyheter


Double-CD "Echoes of Qiyan"
Available for listening on the Internet via Spotify, as well as sound samples on various download sites



About Qiyan:
Qiyan were highly educated slave-women of varying ethnic backgrounds who entertained at the muslim courts in former times. These women were highly prized poets, singers, instrumentalists and dancers, and were responsible for performing and spreading the works of the composers of the period.

As the Christian warlords conquered more and more of the muslim territories in Spain, i.e. Al Andalus/Sepharad, qiyan were captured and taken back to the courts of Europe as booty.

"The first troubadour", William of Aquitaine (969 - 1030), grew up among qiyan and was surely influenced by them. The troubadour movement which started in Provence contributed to spreading their influence to the rest of Europe, as these travelling musicians moved from court to court.

Much more could be said about qiyan, but perhaps we should leave it at that! Suffice it to say that these our predecessors have forged and handed down a strong tradition of improvisation and renewal. We like to think that we sail in their wake, sending on new ripples to the future!
We take up the threads of the Sephardic, Arabic and Occidental traditions and follow them through time and space to the present day.

”Qiyan's Tapestry”: a programme with roots in Al Andalus and branches all over Europe:

We follow in the footsteps of the Qiyan, weaving a rich fabric of sounds and tonal pictures from their European tradition. Adding pearls from near and far and yarn coloured by a thousand years of history, the result becomes a glimmering multicultural tapestry.

”Las Tres Ermanikas”: our Sephardic programme:

When the Sephardic jews were driven out of their "Sepharad", Spain, in 1492, they had been living there since pre-Christian times. Many of them settled in the Ottoman Empire where they were received well. However, a number of them also settled in, amongst other places, North Africa, America and western Europe.
During the Umayyad dynasty in Al-Andalus, or Moslem Spain (the district now known as Andalusia), the Jews had experienced a Golden Age during which their poetic and musical cultural expression had been enriched and refined through the amazing mixture of Arabian, Christian and Jewish influences they were surrounded by in that era.
The Sephardic Jews took their music and song with them into exile, including a wealth of secular songs sung in their own language, Ladino, a form of early Spanish. These were handed down from woman to woman, despite the disapproval of their male religious leaders.
We have these women's flouting of authority to thank for the unbroken Sephardic song tradition that we celebrate today! We do it in our way, just as our predecessors did – countless new elements have crept in during the centuries, both in texts and melodies.
And this is how we perform them...

More about the band members:
Marianne Holmboe
was born in Oslo, Norway. Her musical career started at an early age, singing in the Radio Choir, and it wasn't long before she started to play guitar and piano and write her own songs. In 1989 Marianne took up oriental dance and became interested in the music. This in turn led to a fascination with oriental song, and resulted in her singing in the music groups Sumer and Cabaret Oriental.
Marianne's musical adventure has taken her in a wealth of different directions, the common factor being folk or ethnic roots - music from the Romany culture, African music, Balkan, Latin-American, folk-rock, reggae...all is grist to her mill.
Besides singing herself, and acting as choir-leader and arranger, Marianne continues to write songs which she performs herself in the singer-songwriter tradition, and has released a CD with her songs , "Med munnen full av jord" ("With a mouth full of earth")
She has been in Spain, studying flamenco song.

Josefine Liftig
was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, and as a young child became fascinated by the tonality of Medieval, Oriental and Swedish folk-music. Her interest in these musical genres has flourished through their active practice and through her competence on wide variety of instruments. She has a broad and multifaceted musical background, illustrated by the many spheres in which she has worked - as flautist, pianist, conductor and arranger. Josefine has also done a lot of dancing, and, in fact, met Marianne when they were both learning oriental dance!
It was while studying Spanish at university that Josefine learned about the Sephardic inheritance and, to make a long story short, all the bits of the jigsaw puzzle fell finally into place – at last the exciting cultural and tonal links between the genres above was made clear and invited her to draw together the threads...

Adele Veronika Halten was born in Bergen, Norway.
As of the autumn of 2008, Adele Veronika Halten is our new harpist.
She is a classically trained professional harpist, educated at the Swedish National Orchestra Academy (SNOA),
the Music Conse