Trouz Bras is a Sonerion (in Breton) or Sonneurs de Couple (in French). Barry Hall is the talabarder or bombard player and Richard Price is the biniaouer or biniou (bagpipe) player. The project was formed by musician and dance leader Richard, who has become a global ambassador of Breton music and dance. Trouz Bras has performed their "Big Noise" at Celtic and dance festivals, workshops and cultural events of all sizes all over the USA, and remain the only Sonerion in the country. Audiences have marveled at their ancient, mezmerizing sound.
Brittany is a magical place of barren landscapes, megaliths, Celtic myths and legends and unique music and dance. Richard Price, who considers Brittany his second home, describes a tremendous recent renaissance of interest in the Fest Noz or Night Festival. A Fest Noz can have thousands of dancers at large, international festivals, or just a handful of local dancers in a far-flung village,” he says. “The music is driving, insistent and mesmerizing. The spiral and circle dances are performed by everyone from the very young to the very old.”
“Our origins are in the trance-like spiral dances of Brittany,” says Barry, who also plays the vielle (a Medieval-style fiddle), violin and bouzouki. “Much of today’s Breton dance repertoire remains unchanged from Medieval times. Because Brittany has been so culturally isolated, the ancient musical modes have survived for many centuries. These fascinating tunes provide Trouz Bras with a point of departure for our own musical vision.”
Not content with merely recreating the past, Trouz Bras’ repertoire extends from starkly primitive traditional tunes to modern tunes derived from the ancient dance beats. Barry continues, “Each type of dance has its own unique rhythmic pulse, which dictates our approach. When our music locks in with the dancers, it’s like a symbiotic relationship. Their energy channels back to us and further invigorates our playing.”
Since its formation in 2005, Trouz Bras has played at many diverse venues, from the floors of intimate dance halls to the stages of major Celtic festivals. Audiences have enthusiastically embraced Trouz Bras’ unique style of traditional Celtic music that honors the past while giving it a swift kick into the present. Says Richard, “everyone with Celtic blood—and even those from other cultural traditions—seems to instantly connect with this music that our ancestors sang and danced to for thousands of years.”
The musicians of Trouz Bras seek to introduce these ancient traditions to a modern American audiences.