Flairck, a brief history
The Netherlands has long experienced a variety of musical influences as befits a country of its
cultural diversity and geological situation.
Flairck, formed by Erik Visser and Peter Weekers in 1978, has tapped into this confluence of musical inspirations, bringing with it its own originality. Like its music the name of the band is an original composition coming from the word ‘flair’ and the old Dutch ‘vlerck’, which means a nimble fingered hand or wing, reflecting the instrumental speed and clarity of the music.
Flairck is basically an instrumental group, playing acoustic instruments and composing the majority of its own material. In essence, the music is a form of chamber music and classically influenced new ‘traditional’ music with touches of jazz and improvisation.
However, such a definition does little to convey the impact of Flairck’s performances, which draw on a variety of influences. The number of instruments the group has collected on its many tours has grown steadily over the years and quite a few of these instruments are used in Flairck’s theatrical stage settings.
Flairck has worked with several well-known artists and symphony orchestras touring Europe and
beyond, including Indonesia, Japan, Australia, and North and South America. The group toured
France with Georges Moustaki, who called its music “Chamber music for the open air” and recorded
an album called “Moustaki and Flairck”.
The group also worked with producer Mike Batt and singer Maggie Reilly which resulted in the “Sleight of Hand” album.
In February 1989 Flairck received the Golden Harp, Holland’s highest music award.
After two years of preparation Flairck released its first album in 1978. “Variations on a Lady”
went double platinum in the Netherlands and received three major awards including an Edison, the
Netherlands highest recording award.
Violinist Sylvia Houtzager joined the group in December 1978, replacing Judy Schomper who chose to finish her classical violin studies.
The second album “The Lady’s Back”, released in 1979, also attained platinum status and received several distinctions including another Edison.
Paintings of the Dutch painter Poen de Wijs, were used for the artwork of six of the early albums. Flairck performances have, through the years, featured a strong relationship with Dutch mediaeval, 17th century or contemporary paintings.
Flairck was the first young band to play the stages of the Dutch theatres.
Over the years, Flairck has played nearly 3000 concerts and released 23 albums. The third album
“Live in Amsterdam” was released in 1980, “Circus” in 1981, “Flairck and Orchestra” in 1982,
“Moustaki and Flairck” also in 1982, “Bal Masquè” was recorded in 1984, “Sleight of Hand” in 1985,
“Encore” in 1986 and “The Emigrant” in 1988.
“Alive”, a live double album, recorded in Holland, Germany and Japan was released in 1990.
“The Parade” (1992) was based on the paintings of the Dutch mediaeval painter Hieronymus Bosch and “Chambers” (1994) on the work of the Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte.
In 1995 Flairck traveled to Chile, where their music was already known and had become associated
with the protest against the dictatorship that lasted until the beginning of the nineties. The
first concert of the band in Santiago de Chile was broadcast on national television and at the end
of that year the 2CD “The Chilean Concerts” was released.
“The Golden Age” (1996) was set in the 17th century and based on the true story of a Dutch sailing vessel.
In 1997 the group spent three months in Chile composing and recording the music for photographer Roberto Edwards’ project Cuerpos Pintados (Painted Bodies) called “Cuerpos Tocados”, an album with music performed on the human body without the aid of any musical instruments.
The 1998 tour “Lijf” (Body) celebrated the 20th anniversary of Flairck.
In the same year, Visser was commissioned to develop and co-write the music for a large orchestral music theatre production called 'The Time Affaire”, which was performed on 23 winter nights in Holland’s largest conference hall, ''De Jaarbeurs' in Utrecht.
The 1999 production “Symphony for the Old World” was performed by 9 musicians, including 4
soloists from the corners of Europe. These were the Romanian cembalonist Marius Preda, flamenco
guitarist Eric Vaarzon Morel, Finnish violinist Mirella Pirskanernen and Uilleann piper Rolf
Rosendal. The 2CD and video “Symphony for the Old World” were released in the year 2000.
“Circus Hieronymus Bosch”, based on the paintings by medieval surrealist 'El Bosco' and in collaboration with acrobatics theatre Corpus from Amsterdam, was performed more than 80 times in Holland and Belgium. The DVD “Circus Hieronymus Bosch” was released in September 2002.
The unusual collaboration between Flairck and Corpus continued the following season, resulting in the acrobatic opera “Lucia the Moucheron”, which premiered on September 21st 2002 in Middelburg, Zeeland.
In 2003, Flairck stopped touring for a period of two years. Erik Visser worked on archiving the
music of the past 25 years and published the scores of “Symphony for the Old World”, “Circus
Hieronymus Bosch” en “Lucia de Moucheron”.
In 2004, Visser released a solo album called “One Man Parade” and published a book called “Thirteen Guitar Solos”, the written music of most of the tracks on the solo cd. From October 2004 until the middle of 2006 he travelled with “One Man Parade” through Holland, to Poland with Ania Faber and her band, to Mexico with La Mueca, to New Zealand and Ireland with Mary Coughlan and also toured Belgium with Wigbert van Lierde.
At the end of 2006 Flairck released the oeuvre box “Twenty Two” containing all audio recordings so
far: 22 cd’s.
During that year Erik Visser, in cooperation with old friend & manager, now the impresario Ruud de Graaf, developed the plan for a Flairck reunion tour of the Lowlands, resulting in 65 Dutch concerts between January and May 2007.
During the second half of 2007, Flairck prepared the first show of the 4th Decennium for the band. Erik Visser engaged three new members: the Mexican guitarist Pablo Ortiz, the American violinist Elaina Cook and Dutch wind player Jeroen Goossens. For this tour Visser designed, together with the organ builders Decap of Belgium and the Dutch Bookorgan Centre, an enormous, air-pressure operated street organ-like instrument. This orchestrion, containing 200 wooden pipes and an automatic playing accordion, featured as 5th musician in the 2008-2009 “Steam Engine Waltz” tour (100 concerts in Holland, Belgium, Germany and Chile).
During this period another plan developed, initiated by gipsy violinist and old friend, Tucsi
Basily. This was a collaboration of the gipsy musicians from the Basily family, the
instrumentalists from Flairck and a number of guest musicians. The ‘symphonic-gipsy-orchestra’
featuring 12 musicians and 7 nationalities from Europe, South America and Asia, first performed in
some well-known Dutch festivals: the 2009 International Gipsy Festival and the Boulevard
The Dutch theatre tour of ‘Global Orchestra’ took place in the spring of 2010 and was prolonged in the seasons 2011-2012, which also saw the release of the ‘Global Orchestra’ DVD and CD box. ‘Global Orchestra’ performed in Holland, Belgium and Germany.
In the beginning of 2011, Erik Visser, together with guitarist Pablo Ortiz and former Flairck
members flautist Jeroen Goossens, cembalist Marius Preda and violinist/vocalist Mirella Pirskanen,
embarked on yet another long Flairck tour called ‘The Battle’, featuring new instrumental and
vocal music written by Visser & Ortiz and original paintings depicting the battle between ‘blue’
(male) and ‘red’ (female).
In September 2011 Flairck’s ‘De Veldslag’ traveled to Japan.
In January 2013 Visser wrote, performed on guitar and produced the music for Mary Coughlan’s latest, as yet unreleased album, his 8th production for the famous Irish singer, after Tired and Emotional (1985), Under The Influence (1987), Sentimental Killer (1992), Love For Sale (1993), Live In Galway (1995), After The Fall (1997) and The House of Ill Repute (2008).
During the first half of 2013 Erik Visser and impresario Ruud de Graaf approached original Flairck
members Sylvia Houtzager and Peter Weekers. The three musicians started rehearsing while Ruud de
Graaf approached the Dutch theatres to check their interest in the old Flairck line up for the
The group, which includes Pablo Ortiz as a 4th musician playing bass and guitar, has travelled to Chile, Japan and Indonesia before commencing the 75 date concert-tour ‘The Lady’s Back” in winter 2014.
At the moment the group is working on new material and a DVD box covering 35 years of Flairck