Gypsy fire celebrate 20 years

Virtuoso duo Gypsy Fire will celebrate 20 years since the release of Indigo Moon at The Art Gallery of Ballarat this month.

Guitarist Matthew Fagan and Prague virtuoso violinist Romana Geerman met through Fagan’s mum. Geerman was after a book on gypsy jazz, and Fagan’s mum – a librarian – suggested they make contact.

Just a few months later and Fagan had written his first composition, “a whole concerto for Romana”, he said. 

“My mum, as mothers always do, said ‘my son plays guitar’,” Fagan said.

Gypsy fire: Guitarist Matthew Fagan and Prague virtuoso violinist Romana Geerman were brought together by a search for a book on gypsy jazz.

Gypsy fire: Guitarist Matthew Fagan and Prague virtuoso violinist Romana Geerman were brought together by a search for a book on gypsy jazz.

“I went round and met Romana and her husband and thought ‘wow this is a musician who really knows the European tradition’.”

A child progidy, Geerman was plucked from school at age 12 to tour Europe. 

At night she moonlighted with Prague’s gypsies and learned “the real European gypsy style”, Fagan said. 

Gypsy jazz music was their common love and starting point. 

“Romana is a fantastic improvising musician as well as a classical one and it’s not often you get that combination so there's definitely some improvisation and spontaneity in our concerts.

Matthew Fagan

Matthew Fagan

Czardas, a Hungarian gypsy dance, that’s our big show stopper. It’s a big one in classical repertoire but Romana she has a really stunning way of playing it that she learned from the gypsies musicians in Prague. It’s got a lot of fire and passion.”

Fagan, who has played in 120 countries and on cruise ships for up to three years at a time, said the Indigo Moon performances were like a homecoming. 

“You have a sense of coming home when you’re with a group of people you’ve made music with over time because only that group of people will play that music that way.

“I’m really looking forward to getting back on the road with this music, it hasn’t really dated.”

Gypsy Fire will play Art Gallery of Ballarat’s Oddie Gallery on Saturday, July 29 at 7.30pm.

The program will feature gypsy jazz masters Django Reinhardt and Stephan Grapelli and original Celtic and Flamenco music from Indigo Moon.

Tickets are available from the Art Gallery of Ballarat: 5320 5858.