Cherkaoui and De Rycker met at the beginning of their careers during a collaboration with the Capilla Flamenca ensemble, a polyphonic vocal ensemble under the direction of Dirk Snellings. Floris De Rycker is a musician, lute player and musical director of the international ensemble Ratas del viejo Mundo, which consists of unique voices and instruments from all over Europe. The ensemble adapts polyphonic music written before 1600. On stage, the Ratas oscillate between virtuosic and festive compositions and music that reflects stillness, serenity and loss. Looking at Flemish polyphony of the 15th and 16th centuries, Ratas del viejo Mundo examines what made these composers human, addressing issues that deal with mortality, human instinct, humour, spirituality, and rejection in love.
“With our eternal dedication to art at the crossroads of cultures and our deep love for polyphonic music, it was only a matter of time before Sidi Larbi and I met. For years I studied the oud, the Arab lute, and the culture surrounding it in the same Flemish city where Sidi Larbi grew up. As a lute player first and foremost, I feel a deep and special bond with the oud, the mother of all plucked string instruments. Arab musical culture has strongly influenced Western music, especially since 711. That is why the musical choices in Vlaemsch are the obvious result of an artistic conspiracy between Sidi Larbi and myself” - Floris De Rycker