It was the emotion, theatrics and rhythms of folk and Gypsy music that lured violinist Alana Hunt, accordionist Sofia Chapman and double bass player Kirri Büchler away from their classical roots.

Vardos 

It was the emotion, theatrics and rhythms of folk and Gypsy music that lured violinist Alana Hunt, accordionist Sofia Chapman and double bass player Kirri Büchler away from their classical roots.

‘It's emotive and sort of mysterious and dramatic,’ Sofia says. ‘It can be dance music that is played at weddings and parties, it’s comedy and it’s also about the slow, sad and boring things in life too. It’s got it all’ Alana says.

Folk and Gypsy music’s roots include Romanian, Hungarian and Jewish influences with a heavy emphasis on the violin. Sofia and Alana have learned Hungarian and Romanian so they could hone their skills by taking lessons from folk and Roma musicians during repeated visits to Eastern Europe.

Since 1994, Alana, Sofia and Kirri have performed as the trio Vardos, which is Rroma for ‘Gypsy caravan’.

Vardos has played for audiences across Australia and throughout Europe and has been a regular on the Victorian Seniors Festival schedule over the past 20 years.

Alana says seniors are often familiar with folk and Gypsy music. ‘Hungarian Romanian music was used in black and white films. If you watch old movies, especially from America, you often see Gypsy bands in the background when there's an orchestra providing the music.’

However, Sofia says whilst many people with an Eastern European background find folk and Gypsy music very familiar and nostalgic, others are simply intrigued by it.

‘They find it different and weird and are attracted to it for that reason,’ she says.

When the trio perform, Alana’s hope is that people who have never had the opportunity to hear their style of music will fall in love with it, and that listening to folk and Gypsy music will ‘spark a moment of joy’.

Watch Vardos' 2020 Victorian Seniors Festival reimagined performance