Biography / Timeline


 

Roots

 

Roland van Straaten is from a swiss-dutch family. He studied composition, musical theory and classical guitar at the conservatories in Zurich and Geneva. He was acquainted with other cultures at an early age, spending long periods in the United States and Italy, and traveling widely outside Europe.

 

Singer-songwriter

 

He started his career as singer-songwriter with his first album "s'Foifeck i de Hand" (The Pentagram in Your Hand). The songs where written in Swiss German, reflecting Roland van Straaten's wish to relate to the language that is spoken in his native town.

 

Harmonica

 

Most of Straaten's work is underpinned by the harmonica, for which he has developed a playing technique that has released the instrument from its usual restraints. Straaten won several prizes and distinctions for his work, including the "Special Award for Outstanding Performance" at the First World Harmonica Championships on Jersey (Channel Islands). 

 

Performance and Composition

 

He has performed as a soloist on many projects in Europe, Asia, North Africa, Israel, Brazil, the United States and the Caribbean. His compositions include scores for musicals, ballet, theater and film.

 

Blues Harp Concerto Nr.1

 

Commissioned by the Tonhalle-Gesellschaft Zurich, he wrote the "Blues Harp Concerto No.1" (for harmonica and orchestra) on the occasion of the centennial season 1995/96. The work was first performed in 2005 at the Tonhalle Zurich with the Zurich Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Wolfgang Czeipek.


2015

Wandering Minstrel

 

Roland van Straaten traveled with a selected choice of favorite songs, like a musical monk with precious texts on his way into exile to the desert island. He played as a wandering minstrel on Italian village squares and also as a soloist in combination with classical church organ.

 

With Valter Pretelli, el-g & Sergio Baroni, perc

   

With Susanne Philipp, p-org


2014

Collaborations 

 

Sometimes he sings with virtuoso instrumentalists around generously set mediterranean tables, sometimes he plays at night with friends on the marble steps of a awe inspiring cathedral - tapping with one hand chords on the guitar and moving with the other hand a blues harmonica to his lips.

 

With Jim Gulli, el-g

     

With Yves Theiler, el-p


2013

Harmonica Songline

- Zweisimmen Jazz

- Teatro Dimitri Verscio

- Barfussbar Zurich (Derniere)

Roland van Straaten - harmonica, voice & electronics


2012

Harmonica Songline

- Lebewohlfabrik Zurich 

- Blues in the Church

- Openair Wetzikon

Roland van Straaten - harmonica, voice & electronics


2011

Harmonica Songline

B & B Bar, Illnau-Effretikon (Premiere)

Roland van Straaten - harmonica, voice & electronics


2010

AVIA Partnertagung KKL

Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern. Workshop with 500 harmonicas and bird's voices. 


2009

Sepia Songs

Musikfesttage Wallisellen

RvS: vocals, harmonica, guitar, electronics - pics & movies


2008

Int. Jazzfestival Jakarta, Indonesia

RvS: harmonica & voice ( w/guests)


2007

Basilica

Bluesfestival Basel - Stadtkirche Liestal

RvS: (harmonica & vocals), Mike Moling (church organ)