Building bridges between east and west is what young Czech musician Barbora Xu is aiming at on her debut Olin Ennen (“I was” in Finnish), drawing on millennia-old traditions to do so. The artist, who lives on a Finnish island, attaches great significance to the relationship between man and nature. It is important to her that already hundreds of years ago both the Chinese and the Finns used to pass on their traditions through the symbolism of flowing water and wild birds, handing them down in this way from generation to generation. Unfortunately, only small remnants of these ancient texts survive to the present day while the vast majority of the melodies and sounds that accompanied them have been lost.
Olin Ennen imbues the lively beating heart of these age-old Finnish and Chinese texts with fresh, new life by featuring newly composed melodies and unusual musical settings. At the same time, Barbora Xu succeeds in combining the sound of the Finnish kantele with the ancient Chinese instruments guzheng and guqin, the guzheng being more than 2,500 years old and famous for the sound of its bended strings. The kantele is the national instrument of Finland, which according to legend was created by Väinämöinen, a wizard using it to enchant people and nature and to fight his enemies. But Barbora Xu also manages to captivate the audience with her expressive voice which she keeps deliberately restrained giving the overall impression of poetry being sung. Barbora Xu has done live performances all over the world – for example at King’s Place in London and at Turku Concert Hall in Finland. Her work has been featured on Finnish TV and radio station YLE, on the BBC, on International Radio Taiwan, on Czech National Radio and the Spanish Radio and Television Corporation, among others.