By Elisabeth Helgeland Wold, published 16.11.2018 in Dagsavisen Fremtiden. Read the original article in Norwegian.

Karl Espegard (35), Musician / Violinist

Playing with Norwegian-Argentine El Muro Tango, who is about to release their new album and gives a concert at Gummibaren on Sunday 18 November.

What will we hear?
– There will be Argentine tango, and we play a lot from our debut album, which will be released on November 23. By the way, we are bringing the physical record, which also has been launched in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and now with a tour from the north to the south of Norway.

El Muro Tango has held a concert in Drammen earlier, among others at Union Scene during the Cultural Night (Kulturnatt) in 2017, how is it to play in your hometown?
– It’s great, the audience is very receptive. Our first concert in Drammen was also at Gummibaren, furthermore we played at a Tango Weekend in January, where there were instructors from Argentina and Finland, and where we gave a concert in the evening.

Tell me about El Muro, when did you start?
– We started El Muro Tango in 2016 as a trio, so we celebrate two years this year. Juan Pablo de Lucca plays piano, Åsbjørg Ryeng plays bandoneon, Sebastian Noya plays double bass and Juan Villarreal is the lead singer. Bandoneon is a kind of transportable church organ, made in Germany in the late 1800s, arriving to Argentina when people emigrated there. There the instrument was captured by the tango – we can say it went from the church in Europe to the brothels in Buenos Aires.

You are originally from Drammen, share a little about your background?
– I started playing violin when I was eight, and went to the local music school in Drammen with Thode Fagelund as a teacher. Later I moved to Oslo and entered the Barratt Due Institute of Music, before continuing my studies at Hochschule der Künste Bern and the Norwegian Academy of Music.

How did you get passionate about tango?
– It was a coincidence that I went to Argentina, I knew about Astor Piazzolla, he took the music out of the clubs and into the concert halls, but I only knew it superficially, tango is a world in itself. In Argentina, I learned about the styles and the different eras and everything that the tango music contains. I returned later and made friends and learned Spanish, I felt very at home there.

What is it about this music?
– Many things, tango is a bit like classical music, but it is still popular music. You think it’s improvised, but it’s not. Tango gives you a feeling of being alive, both from playing and listening. And it lives in the sense that in all over the world you can dance to tango. Tango is a separate language, a culture of its own. The music deals with universal themes, often about lost love. The tango culture had its peak in the 1930s and 40s. But then it went down, and the 1980s and 90s were dark times for the tango, after all the political difficulties in Latin America. Now, fortunately, it is in bloom again. In Argentina, there is a growing interest in preserving old recordings and manuscripts, and a few years ago, tango was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

What are the feedbacks you get?
– We get very positive feedback, people are taken on a journey, the music stirs emotions. We have received very good response during the whole tour, and good attendance. Several of the concerts have been sold out, I am a little surprised that people who have never heard of us actually show up.

What do you listen to yourself?
– I listen to a lot of different music, often within jazz and latin, and I am particularly fond of the Mexican singer Natalia Lafourcade. Also I listen to music released by friends and colleagues.

Which book has meant the most to you?
– Don’t know which one has meant the most, but one that I recently read, and which was very interesting is “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. He grew up during the apartheid regime in South Africa. The mother was African and the father Swiss – his mere existence was a crime during apartheid.

What makes you happy?
– Good food! Asado, Argentinian barbecue – there is no better. In addition, it is a very social thing.

Who is your childhood hero?
– Arve Tellefsen.

What do you dislike most about yourself?
– That I’m a little intense sometimes, I can’t let go of things. It has its good and bad sides.

What are you willing to go in demonstration for or against?
– Certainly for equal rights for everyone.

Is there anything you regret?
– Yes, but I rather think you can learn from your mistakes instead of regretting – you should not be afraid to make mistakes.

With whom would you get stuck in the elevator?
– Would be been fun to meet Diego El Cigala – a Spanish flamenco singer.

Published 24.12.2018 in Fractura Expuesta. Read the original article in Spanish.

“This album is very important for us, it defines our musical identity”, explains the pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca about Nostálgico, the album that was recently released by the Argentine-Norwegian group El Muro.

That identity that de Lucca – grandson of the well-known singer Alberto Castillo – mentions is based on a sound profile that takes on the elements of classical tango and adds tools of jazz and contemporary music to stamp a deep and vibrant music that does not leave aside the dancing part.

Nostálgico contains 12 songs that are distributed mostly among traditional authors (“Nostálgico”, “Recuerdo”, “Griseta”, “Malena”) and a quota of contemporaries such as Alfredo “Tape” Rubín (“Regin”) or Juan Villareal himself, singer of the group, with “Distinto pero igual”.

“It’s often about lost or impossible love”, says Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard, co-founder of the group, about the material’s title. “It can also mean missing one’s family and land. Tango was born in the lower classes of Argentina, among European immigrants who met through music, poetry and dance”, says Espegard who lived several years in Buenos Aires.

Edited by the German label Galileo Music, Nostálgico was recorded in Oslo and presented through a tour with concerts in Holland, Norway, Belgium and Germany.

“El Muro has an intensity and energy on stage that amazes me every time I play with them”, underlines Villareal who accompanied the quartet on the aforementioned tour. In Argentina, part of the album could be heard live during the group’s visit earlier this year to the city of Buenos Aires and different places in Patagonia.

With its heart in Buenos Aires and home in Europe, El Muro will continue presenting the album in 2019 with concerts in Germany and Norway – its usual circuit – under a proposal that jumps the abyss between the new and the classic and builds, rather than a wall, a solid bridge to connect the best of tradition with the dynamic current scene of tango that already writes its powerful pages in the history of urban music.

A bridge of melancholy and longing extends from Oslo to Buenos Aires. The bridge is called El Muro Tango. It stands on pillars of Skype, musical adventurousness and airline tickets.

By Marianne Lystrup, published 20.12.2018 in Read original article in Norwegian.

El Muro Tango released its debut album this autumn: Nostàlgico. In the recording we hear the Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard and Åsbjørg Ryeng on bandoneon, pianist and composer Juan Pablo de Lucca from Buenos Aires, and bassist Sebastian Noya, who lives in Switzerland. With them, they have the singer Juan Villarreal from Buenos Aires. The band has already been on tour in many countries for the past two years.

A bitter cold afternoon in December I meet Karl Espegard in Oslo. We seek refuge in the apartment he borrows from a friend (the globetrotter has not yet a place to call home) and start a Skype conversation with Juan Pablo de Lucca from Berlin and Juan Villarreal, who is having breakfast in Buenos Aires.

El Muro Tango in Skype Call, © Marianne Lystrup

I’m looking at the small screen and thinking about all the amazing technological opportunities we have at the moment. But these guys create music and that is quite something else, isn´t it?

Fierce dance
Recently, everyone was gathered in Norway for a small release tour, during which they were warming up Oslo and other smaller cities with their hefty tango rhythms. They are also known from the television show “Norway´s Got Talent” on TV2, where they accompanied the dancers Cyrena and Steinar. Lived life and longing for even more adventures vibrates in the air.


– It’s not easy to be a group when we live so far apart, says de Lucca.

– While it’s useful to be able to talk over the web, it’s something quite different to be in the same room and share and develop ideas. When we still are able to pull it off, it’s because we really want it. We are proud of what we have achieved so far. And when we get together, have concerts and notice how the audience gets carried along, it gives us a real kick, he continues.

Espegard nods and adds that it is the desire to live a life filled with music that keeps them going, despite the fact that the distances are cumbersome. For his part, he is also genuinely interested in tango after several long stays in Argentina.

– You Argentinians probably have tango in the blood, and have also played and sung together with many other groups, but how is it for you to work with two Norwegian musicians?

Villarreal takes the word:

– To me it is very nice to work with these Norwegians. They are good musicians. Nationality does not matter, but in the case of tango, it is an additional challenge because it is so closely linked to the culture.

– For us, having grown up with it, tango has been transmitted unnoticed into our life through our parents. But Karl has lived here in Argentina and has learned the language and ways of tango. It’s not about being able to play the right notes, but about the actual basic emotion. I feel he has grabbed it.

El Muro Tango, © David Dollmann

Straight from the spleen
– Yes, what is tango really? On the record there are several different rythms, including waltz and something similar to samba … Can anything be tango if you just perform it in a certain way?

– To me, there is one word that defines tango: esplin, says Villarreal.

He speaks Spanish now, and both Espegard and I find that our language skills come a little short. But Villarreal explains:

– The songs can be about anything. It can be a love story, something about friendship, a story from the past – anything. Sometimes a happy song, but at the bottom you will always find stripes of melancholy and nostalgia. It’s the “party where sadness is danced,” as a friend of mine says. That’s how it is.

– Of course there are certain elements that belong: Syncopes, fermatas, rhythms – many elements – but ultimately, it is a state of mind. To me it is esplin. This is what carries it all, which speaks about everything you’ve lost or almost lost, and about death. Remember that tango is created by poor immigrants, slaves, indigenous people and gauchos – people who have lost their roots.

When I check the term, it appears that the word Villarreal uses to describe tango is a term for the organ “spleen”, and it is linked to an old idea that spleen is the organ in the body that produces “black bile” . People who were sad, melancholic or depressed had an excess of this fluid.

Lentil stew
– It may be symptomatic that while I asked about counting bars in the music, you are more concerned with the inner life of music?

– Yes, you can make tango of many different kinds of rhythms, but if you do not understand the esplin, you do not play tango, confirms Villarreal.

From Berlin, de Lucca jumps in with a bit more music technological explanation:

– Tango is divided into three subcategories: Tango, Milonga and Waltz. Tango is at 4/4 pace, but it must be played with the right feeling. If not, it becomes carousel music.

– There are clearly defined rules, continues Espegard.

– These have been developed over the years. For example, you do not have percussion in the orchestra, but you use the instruments percussively. It’s typical for tango. You have the obvious difference between a legato, marcato and syncope, which are basic structural elements.

De Lucca illustrates:
– Yes, this is the skeleton, but the most important reason to know it is to be able to free yourself from it. You can compare it with a mass-produced suit. You do not want it. Why would you like to have a suit that is identical to what everyone else has? You also don´t want to play tango like everyone else plays it. You want to create your own.

Espegard concludes that making your own version of a tango song is typical.

– The scores you get from the composer usually contain only the melody and the harmony, therefore the same song can sound very different, depending on which artist is performing it.

De Lucca rounds off by testifying to the relationship between jazz and tango, and continues enthusiastically into an explanation of food recipes. Although some dishes have certain elements that must be there, like lentils in a lentil soup, you can add a lot of different ingredients to your own liking.

Dense sound
– What is the core of El Muro Tango?

– You ask about our recipe? Parallel fourths!

The boys are grinning, but de Lucca still reveals a few secrets from their cookbook:

– The sound is for a large part built by mine and Karls interaction. The sound of tango orchestras is almost always directed from the piano. Because of the fact that tango groups do not have any rhythm section, the piano leads through its bass lines and harmonizations. When there is an accelerando or ritardando, it’s always the piano that directs it. The piano also has a lot of volume, so the others must follow. You can say I control what’s going on, hehe.

Espegard says tango today has two distinct directions.

– On the one hand you have the traditional clubs where people go to dance, and it is quite common for the orchestras to faithfully copy the old, well-known artists and styles.

– On the other hand, you have concert tango, which largely flourishes in Europe. Here the main emphasis is on the legend Astor Piazzolla and other classically trained musicians. El Muro Tango finds itself in the middle of these. We want to keep it danceable, but also add some new subtleties, some harmonic explorations and create our own expression. It’s a demanding task, because if you get too experimental, it’s easy to get away from the danceable. It seems like we’ve managed to find our balance.


Woman with bandoneon
Noticeable for the group is the fact that they have a female bandoneon player. Åsbjørg Ryeng is not present while I talk to the rest of the group, but afterwards she tells me about her random way into this particular choice of instrument:

– I was ten years old when I entered the local music school in Trondheim. Just then, Kåre Jostein Simonsen had been in Paris and learned to play bandoneon, and started teaching the instrument. It seemed like fun, so I signed up for the class.

Since then, Ryeng has continued to play the instrument, and several years later graduated with a masters degree from the Norwegian Academy of Music and has become a member of several tango bands. Even in the traditionally male chauvinist Argentina, she has only met positive response to the fact that, as a woman, she plays the instrument which until recently has only been played by men.

– Here we have, once again, the fact that tango relates to the culture, says de Lucca.

– In the typical local milongas (clubs, ed’s note), the women only went out with their family. If you wanted to dance with a women, you had to ask the father for permission. The women never went out alone. My mother, who is around 70 years old, always had to bring her aunt if she wanted to go out to dance while she was young. In the last ten years it is no longer the case, and there are also more women playing the bandoneon. Some of them are really good.


Controls the dance
– Does the dance change as well? When you see people dancing tango, you see that there is a clear hierarchy – the man is the boss and the woman is being led?

– When I started dancing ten years ago I was not taught that the man is the boss, but someone has to lead the dance, and according to tradition it’s the man, says de Lucca.

– But first and foremost it has to do with the fact that he is looking in a forward direction. You cannot lead the dance while walking backwards. But the dance is something we do together. Today, if you dance with young women and try to lead them in a bossy way, they will quickly say thanks and leave the dance floor, he says.

Espegard has observed that in milongas, many couples are switching to take the leading role.

– It can happen both between man and woman, and between two of the same sex. But you can´t ignore the fact that in the dance there are two very distinct roles.

Controlling the fermatas
– In the group, how do you manage to coordinate all the rhythmical and emotional changes that are used in tango? Long fermatas, syncopes or accelerandi – all this passion, how do you agree to when it should happen?

De Lucca explains:

– We make some kind of choreography when we practice. But how we do it is not as important as why we do it. If you only know how to do it, you can only do what the choreography directs. We also improvise. We can do that because we understand each other. It has something to do with the way we speak. There is a lot of singing in the language. We shout, whisper and gesticulate, and much is said with just the eyes.

– A couple of years ago when I arrived to Europe, I first lived in Hamburg, Oslo and Berlin. Then I arrived to Italy, and it struck me that as soon as I got out in the street, I felt that I understood everything that happened. The way people used their eyes, body posture, how they talked to each other … all the insignificant things in communication. It was almost like back home. We do not have a ‘clean’ and tidy communication as you guys in Northern Europe. It is much more dirty, messy and expressive with us.

De Lucca talks warmly about the way to express, and recites a few lines from one of their songs:

Cerrame el ventanal que arrastra el sol su lento caracol de sueño

He recites first softly and confidently, then hard and imperiously to illustrate how the musicians must follow carefully the expression of the soloist and adjust their playing accordingly. The poetic verses are so delicate that I will not try to translate, but we understand that it is a good idea to pay close attention.


– You simply just have to listen very carefully to each other?

– Yes, you should have a choreography at the core, but most interesting things happen when someone in the group strays off from the choreography. As if Juan suddenly discovers something in the text that he has not thought of before and sings it differently than usual, then we have to change the plan, says de Lucca, and emphasizes that they must respond to what the singer is trying to convey.

– When five people go together to tell a story, it’s so powerful that you can hardly stay untouched. You sometimes notice in concerts: Something is happening, you cannot describe it, and you cannot recreate it even if you tried, but it is a strong experience.

– This is not unique to tango, continues Espegard.

– It concerns art in general. The musicians respond to the circumstances and it affects what is happening on stage. However, it is noticable to what extent tango is related to the Argentinian style of life. Therefore, there is also a difference between tango played at club in Buenos Aires and in some German city.

Percussive game
– You are a classically trained violinist. What is the biggest challenge for you as an instrumentalist when playing tango?

– I would rather answer to what’s the biggest benefit! What I like about playing tango is that although the music has certain rules, one is free. Free to experiment. Create your own versions. It is an essential reason to why I play tango.

– As for the technique, there are certain things to learn, such as the percussive way to play such squeaky sounds as one gets when playing with the bow placed behind the bridge. There are other percussive effects as well. I do not feel like I have mastered everything yet, but I have not focused strongly on it either. I’m not looking for cheap effects. The music consists of other things, says Espegard.

Read in EnglishNorwegian / German

Published on Dec 2018 in Ohrenschmauch


A new tango record without electronic beats! The Argentine-Norwegian band EL MURO TANGO strictly adheres to the specification of the title “Nostalgico”. They play tango according to tradition, with heart and soul aimed at the present time. Exquisite emotional roller coaster rides from the past 80 years, supplemented with the singer and guitarist JUAN VILLARREAL, revive the past and show once again that there is music that never grows old. Eric did it, Bob Dylan did it, even Dr. Ring Ding did it, so let’s do it, let’s fall in love! Absolutely. In addition to Richie’s (Dr. Ring Ding) Christmas album from 2015 (‘Once a year’), there is finally another festive menu for the ears and the flying repetitions during the Christmas holidays.


En ny tangoplate uten elektroniske beats! Det argentinsk-norske bandet EL MURO TANGO holder seg strengt til spesifikasjonen av tittelen “Nostalgico”. De spiller tango etter tradisjonen, med hjerte og sjel rettet mot nåtiden. Utsøkte emosjonelle berg- og dalbansturer fra de siste 80 årene, supplert med sanger og gitarist JUAN VILLARREAL, gjenoppliver fortiden og viser igjen at det finnes musikk som aldri blir gammel. Eric gjorde det, Bob Dylan gjorde det, selv Dr. Ring Ding gjorde det, so let’s do it, let’s fall in love! Uten tvil. I tillegg til Richies (Dr. Ring Ding) juleplate fra 2015 (“Once a year”) finnes det endelig enda en festmeny for ørene og de flygende repetisjonene under juleferien.


Eine neue Tango-Platte ohne elektronische Beats! Die argentinisch-norwegische Band EL MURO TANGO hält sich strikt an die Vorgabe des Titels «Nostalgico». Sie spielen Tango, aus der Tradition, mit Herz und Seele in die heutige Zeit gerettet. Ausgesuchte emotionale Achterbahn-Fahrten aus den letzten 80 Jahren, ergänzt mit dem Sänger und Gitarristen JUAN VILLARREAL lassen die Vergangenheit aufleben und zeigen einmal mehr, dass es Musik gibt, die niemals alt wird Eric tat es, Bob Dylan tat es, sogar Dr. Ring Ding tat es, so let’s do it, let’s fall in Love! Unbedingt. Neben Richie’s (Dr. Ring Ding) Weihnachts-platte aus 2015 (,Once a year’) gibt es endlich ein weiteres Festtags-Menu für die Ohren und die fliegende Wiederholung an den Feiertagen.

Read in English / Spanish / Norwegian / German

Published on Dec 2018 in Interkultur Stuttgart Magazine


It took no time for Tango to conquer Europe. At the beginning of the last century, tango fever spread like an epidemy in the big cities, infecting the masses in Berlin, Helsinki, Paris and Oslo.

For the Argentine pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, grandson of the legendary tango singer Alberto Castillo, tango has been ever present since his birth. With Norwegian violinist Karl Espegard and other musicians from Norway and Argentina, de Lucca runs the intercultural project El Muro Tango, founded in 2016 in Oslo. It´s members are Juan Pablo de Lucca (piano), Karl Espegard (violin), Åsbjørg Ryeng (bandoneon) and Sebastián Noya (double bass). Among the guests, we find the well-known Argentine singer and guitarist Juan Villareal with his mixture of soulful virtuosity and self-confidence.

All the musicians act here like a filigree, a sober perfection that is only occasionally interrupted by the sudden sighing of the bandoneon. Very important in classical tango is the vocal, in this album performed by Juan Villareal, one of the leading Argentine tango singers. Waltzes, milongas and candombes from the golden era of Argentine Tango link the band to the tradition, reminiscent of the Habanera, from where tango developed. Remarkably, El Muro Tango resists all temptations to play popular tango hits. The eight musicians elicit from their instruments the finest tones and dynamic nuances, especially in pieces like Asi Se Baila El Tango, Regin and La Vieja Serenata.

El Muro Tango and Juan Villareal play with great energy, captivating melancholy and delicate subtleties in well-known and new tango and musette interpretations.

– Jürgen Spieß


No le tomó tiempo al tango conquistar Europa. A comienzos del siglo pasado, la fiebre del tango se expandió como una epidemia por las grandes ciudades, infectando a las masas de Berlin, Helsinki, Paris y Oslo.

Para el pianista argentino Juan Pablo de Lucca, nieto del legendario cantor de tangos Alberto Castillo, el tango ha estado siempre presente. Junto al violinista noruego Karl Espegard y a otros músicos noruegos y argentinos, de Lucca lleva el mando del proyecto intercultural El Muro Tango. Sus miembros son Juan Pablo de Lucca (piano), Karl Espegard (violin), Åsbjørg Ryeng (bandoneon) and Sebastián Noya (double bass). Entre los invitados del disco, se encuentra el reconocido cantor argentino Juan Villarreal, con su mezcla de cándida dulzura y seguridad.

Los músicos se comportan como una filigrana, una sobria perfección ocasionalmente interrumpida por el gemir del bandoneón. En el tango tradicional es de suma importancia la voz. En el album esta responsabilidad recae en Juan Villarreal, uno de los cantores más importantes de la escena actual argentina. Valses, milongas y candombes de la época dorada del tango unen a la banda con la tradición, remontándonos hasta la habanera, de donde proviene el tango. Es de remarcar como el grupo se resiste a interpretar los lugares comunes del género. Los ocho músicos extraen de sus instrumentos un delicado tono y una paleta llena de dinámicas, especialmente en piezas como Así Se Baila El Tango, Regin y La Vieja Serenata.

El Muro Tango y Juan Villarreal tocan con gran energía, una cautivante melancolía y delicados matices que convierten tangos nuevos y viejos en inspiradas interpretaciones.

– Jürgen Spieß


Det tok ikke lang tid for tangoen å erobre Europa. I begynnelsen av forrige århundre spredte tangofeberen seg som en epidemi i storbyene og smittet massene i Berlin, Helsinki, Paris og Oslo.

For den argentinske pianisten Juan Pablo de Lucca, barnebarn av den legendariske tangosangeren Alberto Castillo, har tango vært til stede siden fødselen. Med den norske fiolinisten Karl Espegard og andre musikere fra Norge og Argentina driver de Lucca det interkulturelle prosjektet El Muro Tango, grunnlagt i 2016 i Oslo. Dets medlemmer er Juan Pablo de Lucca (piano), Karl Espegard (fiolin), Åsbjørg Ryeng (bandoneon) og Sebastián Noya (kontrabass). Blant gjestene finner vi den kjente argentinske sangeren og gitaristen Juan Villareal med sin blanding av soulful virtuositet og selvforglemmende ekstase.

Alle musikerne handler her som en filigran, en edru perfeksjon som bare av og til blir avbrutt av den plutselige sukkingen fra bandoneonet. I tradisjonell tango er vokalen veldig viktig, i dette albumet fremført av Juan Villareal, en av de ledende argentinske tangosangerene. Valser, milongaer og candomber fra den gyldne epoken av argentinsk tango knytter bandet til tradisjonen, og minner om habaneraen, som tangoen utviklet seg fra. Bemerkelsesverdig motstår El Muro Tango alle fristelser til å spille populære tangoslagere. De åtte musikerne fremkaller i sine instrumenter de fineste toner og dynamiske nyanser, spesielt i stykker som Asi Se Baila El Tango, Regin og La Vieja Serenata.

El Muro Tango og Juan Villareal spiller med stor energi, fengslende melankoli og delikate subtiliteter i kjente og nye tango- og musettolkninger.

– Jürgen Spieß


In Windeseile hat der Tango zu Beginn des vorigen Jahrhunderts das alte Europa erobert. Wie eine Epidemie breitete sich das Tangofieber aus in den großen Städten, infizierte die Massen in Berlin, Helsinki, Paris und Oslo.

Einer, für den der Tango seit Geburt präsent war, ist der argentinische Pianist Juan Pablo de Lucca, Neffe des 2002 verstorbenen legendären Tangosängers Alberto Castillo. Mit dem norwegischen Geiger Karl Espegard und weiteren Musikern aus Norwegen und Argentinien betreibt de Lucca das 2016 in Oslo gegründete interkulturelle Projekt El Muro Tango. Darauf spielen Juan Pablo de Lucca (Piano), Karl Espegard (Geige), Asbjorg Ryeng (Bandoneon), Sebastiän Noya (Kontrabass) und mehrere Gäste, unter ihnen auch der bekannte argentinische Sänger und Gitarrist Juan Villareal mit dieser Mischung aus seeliger Virtuosität und selbstvergessener Ekstase.

Die acht Musiker agieren mit einer filigranen, ja zuweilen gar nüchternen Perfektion, die nur ab und an vom jähen Aufseufzen des Bandoneons unterbrochen wird. Ganz wichtig ist im klassischen Tango die Stimme, die auf diesem Album von Juan Villareal, einem der führenden argentinischen Tangosänger, kommt. Walzer, Milongas und Candombes aus der goldenen Ära des Tango Argentino fügt das Orchester ebenfalls in die Tradition, erinnert an die Habanera, aus der sich einst der Tango entwickelt hat, und widersteht allen Versuchungen, populäre Tangoschlager nachzuspielen. Die acht Musiker entlocken ihren Instrumenten vor allem bei den Stücken Asi Se Baila El Tango, Regin und La Vieja Serenata feinste Ton- und Dynamiknuancen.

Mit viel Verve vereinen El Muro Tango und Juan Villareal klassisches Konzertieren mit fesselnder Melancholie, zartikulatorische Feinheiten mit feinem Spielwitz, Altbewährtes mit neuen Tango- und Musette-Interpretationen.

– Jürgen Spieß

Read in English / Norwegian / Spanish / German

Published 06.12.2018 in Nürnberger Zeitung


Tango is transatlantic – argues and, at the same time, proves the Argentinean Juan Pablo de Lucca (on the piano) and Karl Espegard (on the violin) as the founders of the band El Muro Tango. Even in Oslo, erotic sparks can ignite on the dance floor when the musical ingredients are right, and so it does on the album which, not for nothing, is called “Nostálgico”. Here it connects to great old traditions and is not unnecessarily remodernized. The singer Juan Villarreal who also joins the album has quite the class that it needs. – lups


Tango er transatlantisk – argumenterer, og samtidig beviser, den argentinske Juan Pablo de Lucca (på piano) og Karl Espegard (på fiolin) som grunnleggerene av bandet El Muro Tango. Også i Oslo kan det gnistre erotisk på dansegulvet når de musikalske ingrediensene er riktige, og det gjør det på albumet, som ikke for ingenting heter “Nostálgico”. Her knytter det seg til gode gamle tradisjoner og er ikke unødvendig remodernisiert. Sangeren Juan Villarreal som også er med på albumet har virkelig klassen det trenger. – lups


El Tango es transatlántico, argumenta y, al mismo tiempo, demuestra el argentino Juan Pablo de Lucca (en el piano) y Karl Espegard (en el violín) como fundadores de la banda El Muro Tango. También en Oslo puede encender chispas eróticas en la pista de baile cuando los ingredientes musicales son correctos, y lo hacen en el álbum, que no es por nada llamado “Nostálgico”. Aquí está conectado a grandes tradiciones antiguas y no innecesariamente remodernizado. El cantante Juan Villarreal, que participa en el álbum también, realmente tiene la clase que lo necesita. – lups


Tango ist transatlantisch – meinen und beweisen zugleich der Argentinier Juan Pablo De Lucca (am Klavier) und Karl Espegard (an der Geige) als Gründer der Band El Muro Tango. Auch in Oslo kann es also erotisch auf der Tanzfläche knistern, wenn die musikalischen Zutaten stimmen, und das tun sie auf dem Album, das nicht ganz umsonst «Nostálgico» heißt. Hier wird an große alte Traditionen angeknüpft und nicht unnötig herummodernisiert. Auch der als Sänger hinzukommende Juan Villarreal hat ganz die Klasse, die es braucht. – lups

Read in English / Spanish

By Inger Gretasdatter published 19.10.2018 for Rana Blad


RANA: Karl Espegard has worked with both KammeRana and NordlandTeater. Now he is performing at Smeltedigelen with the band El Muro Tango.

El Muro Tango is a Norwegian-Argentine tango band and has been touring the world since 2016.

Random choice
Karl Espegard, the violinist of the band, received his musical training from the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo. Six months after graduation, Espegard traveled to Rana to fulfil a one-year contract as a county musician in Rana municipality.
– This was completely by chance, since I have no connection to Northern Norway other than the fact that my mother lived in Finnsnes as a child, says Espegard.
He says that the year in Mo i Rana was a very positive experience, and he worked partly as a performing musician and partly as a music teacher at Rana Kulturskole.
– I worked a great deal with KammeRana and had a nice collaboration with Nordland Theater, and not least, I got to see the northern lights for the first time, he says.
– I had a lot of freedom to work creatively with different projects, and it was nice to travel around the county with KammeRana, says Espegard.
Since the age of 12-13 he has been a good friend of Alexander Rybak. They studied together at Barratt Due Institute of Music.
– I had a visit from Alexander when I lived at Mo, back then he was still quite unknown although he had won the Kjempesjansen competition at NRK (Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) a year earlier. A few months after his visit to Mo, everything exploded and his career took off with a lightning speed, says Espegard.

To Smeltedigelen
He does not only play tango these days. Espegard is currently also playing in the musical Book of Mormon, and works with other artists such as Herborg Kråkevik and Ylvis.
– In November, El Muro Tango launches its first album, which we recorded for a German label last year, he says.
Now the band will embark on their first tour in Norway, and they will also appear in this year’s edition of Smeltedigelen Music Festival.
– El Muro Tango is a full-blooded tango band with both Norwegian and Argentine musicians, and neither of us lives in the same city. It becomes a bit project-based, but we have activity all year round, he says.
To Smeltedigelen, Espegard and the rest of the band are joined by Cyrena Drusine & Steinar Refsdal, with whom they performed in the finale of Norway’s Got Talent 2018.

EL MURO TANGO: (FLTR) Juan Pablo de Lucca, Åsbjørg Ryeng,
Karl Espegard, Benjamin Groisman and Juan Villarreal will be serving
full-blooded tango at Smeltedigelen Musikkfestival. Photo: David Dollmann.


Volviendo a Rana con Tango.

RANA: Karl Espegard ha estado trabajando con KammeRana y NordlandTeater. Ahora se presentará en Smeltedegilen con su banda El Muro Tango.

El Muro Tango es un ensamble noruego-argentino que ha estado de gira por el mundo desde el 2016.

Karl Espegard, violinista de la banda, recibió su educación musical en la Academia de Música de Noruega, Oslo. Seis meses después de haber finalizado sus estudios, se mudó a Rana para trabajar durante un año como músico del condado en la municipalidad.

-Esto fue completamente aleatorio. Aparte de que mi madre haya vivido en Finnsnes de niña, no tengo ninguna conexión con el norte de Noruega, dice Karl Espegard.

Comenta que su año en Mo i Rana ha sido una experiencia positiva y que trabajó en parte como músico  y en parte como docente en Rana Kulturshole.

-Trabajé mayormente con la KammeRana y colaboré con el Nordland Theater. Y finalmente, pude ver las auroras boreales por primera vez, agrega.

-Tenía mucha libertad para trabajar creativemente en varios proyectos, y fue muy lindo poder viajar y conocer la zona con la KammeRana.

Desde los 12 años, Karl Espegard es amigo con Alexander Rybak. Juntos han estudiado en Barratt Due Institute of Music.

-Recibí una visita de Alexander mientras yo vivía en Mo. En ese entonces aún no era conocido, aunque ya hacía un año había ganado la competición de Kjempesjansen en NRK. Unos meses después de esta visita su carrera despegó a una velocidad impresionante, agrega Espegard.

A Smeltedigelen

Actualmente, no toca solamente tango. Espegard es parte del elenco del musical Book of Mormon y trabaja junto a otros artistas como Herborg Kråkevik and Ylvis.

– En Noviembre, El Muro Tango presenta su primer disco, grabado durante el año pasado para un sello alemán, nos comenta.

Ahora la banda se lanza en su primer gira por Noruega y aparecerán en la edición de este año del Smeltedigelen Music Festival.

– El Muro Tango es un ensamble de tango compuesto por músicos argentinos y noruegos. Vivimos todos en ciudades diferentes. El trabajo se basa en proyectos puntuales, pero tenemos actividad todo el año, dice.

En Smeltedigelen, Espegard y el resto de la banda serán acompañados por Cyrena Drusine & Steinar Refsdal, junto a quiénes se han presentado en la final de Norway’s Got Talent 2018.

Read in English / Spanish

El Muro Tango with guests at Gamle Raadhus Scene, photographed during a rehearsal. From left Åsbjørg Ryeng, Juan Pablo De Lucca, Martin Alvarado, Benjamin Groisman and Karl Espegard. Photo: Rune Hammerstad

By Claudio Castello 03.10.2018 for Read original interview in Norwegian.


Three years ago, tango musicians Karl Espegard, Åsbjørg Ryeng and Juan Pablo De Lucca met on the web. Three years later they appeare on the concert stage with the band El Muro Tango.

“We have been interviewed more often in Argentinian and German websites and media channels when we have had concerts abroad than in Norway,” says Espegard to Utrop.

“But we will now make a change to this,” he says confidently.

We meet the band when practicing in the glorious premises of Gamle Raadhus Scene, one of the oldest preserved houses from the 16th century Kristiania.

Karl, along with Åsbjørg Ryeng from Trondheim and Buenos Aires-born Juan Pablo De Lucca, are willingly posing for Utrop’s photographer, along with the invited guests Martin Alvarado and Benjamin Groisman, both Argentinian musicians living in Spain, who later that evening will participate in a concert of the band’s Norway tour.

Having been several times in Argentina and presented himself to tango communities there, in Norway and Europe, Espegard has learned Spanish with an impeccable Argentine accent.

“Che mirá (look here). Tango triste”, he says when we show him one of the pictures in black and white, and where the whole band looks very serious.

From internet chatting to the stage
The story of El Muro started when Drammen-born Espegard, who for years has developed a passion for Argentina and tango, along with bandoneonist Åsbjørg Ryeng became acquainted with Juan Pablo.

“Juan Pablo contacted Åsbjørg online, and she called me. Then we started talking together the three of us. I chatted with Juan Pablo, told him that I was a violinist and that I had been part of the Orquesta del Centenario tango ensemble. Juan Pablo lived at the time in Hamburg, but then came to live in Oslo from January to April 2017 and moved to Berlin in May. The idea of ​​a more solid partnership between the three of us started growing”.

Juan Pablo comes from a famous tango family in Buenos Aires, and looks at El Muro as a project that will take the tango to the people.

“I think we might have found each other, even without the internet. In the modern global world, life is more transnational and mobile than ever. The tango that my grandfather and many others from his generation performed in closed up houses in Buenos Aires has now reached all corners of the world.”

Hosted on Norway’s Got Talent
For over two years, Juan Pablo has commuted back and forth between Berlin and Oslo to meet Åsbjørg and Karl. Lately life has consisted of a lot of traveling and half-packed suitcases.

“We now realize that there is a lot of logistics and planning into managing a band, and that it is no side job,” explains Karl.

Fans of the TV show Norway’s Got Talent will remember the band, which performed with the dance duo Steinar Refsdal and Cyrena Drusine in the finale of the program.

“It was an adventure for us being on television for the first time. We have not been interviewed by any larger Norwegian publication, unlike in Argentina, where several journalists have talked to us. It is also natural that we get a special focus over there, as there are few Norwegian tango bands. We are a rarity and it creates additional interest.”

Special instrumentalist
Espegard is a violinist educated from Switzerland and from the Norwegian Academy of Music. Juan Pablo has a background as a pianist and composer. Together they brought with them the Trondheim girl Åsbjørg, who is one of the few experts on the bandoneon in the country. An instrument of German origin, but mostly connected with the tango, after German immigrants brought it to Argentina in the late 1800s.

“From the beginning, I was fascinated by the bandoneon, actually since I started at Trondheim Cultural School. I was taught by the bandoneon master Per Arne Glorvigen. I simply became a specialist”, she explains.

– What do you think of the tango interest in Norway?

“I find that there are many small concentrated communities and there is a latent interest. As a band, I feel that we should try to reach not only the enthusiasts, but also people who come from the outside and do not know the genre.”

Proudness that is carried on
Juan Pablo, on his part, feels proud to be able to take the music he was born and bred with into the big world.

“Folklore is something I consider a human activity that crosses ethnic and cultural borders. All people and all countries have their own kind of popular and original art expressions. I have listened to Norwegian folk music and recognize a lot of the same feeling as when I hear the raw urban tango from the 30’s and 40’s of my grandfather’s youth.

– Tango is in the same special situation as other Latin genres like Spanish flamenco and Portuguese fado. The genres have their core area, which is still the creation center, at the same time exporting themselves to the world.

Old and new tango
Espegard describes the style of El Muro Tango as follows:
“To us it is about showing power, visibility and strength. At the same time, the tango we make should not only be traditional. We do not go out of the way to make tango versions of current pop songs. Sometimes we may play some cumbia crossover if someone were to hire us for a wedding. Otherwise, we are a pure tango group, working on our own terms.”

Juan Pablo adds:

“The reason we play both old and new tango is because we like to be inspired by tradition, while we must have something original and relevant. In Argentina, tango is both; the old and the new exist together. We think of tango as contemporary art. That we make something alive, so that you do not have a museum feel, but that you listen to a popular artistic expression that lives in the present.”


About tango
Tango is a dance and a music form that originated in Buenos Aires in Argentina and Montevideo in Uruguay in the late 1800s. The countries have long struggled for the birthplace of the tango, but settled the disagreement in 2008. The following year they jointly applied the UNESCO for the dance to be defined as part of the World Heritage.

Here at home, Norwegian tango musicians have won international recognition, with people like Per Arne Glorvigen and Sverre Indris Joner from the orchestra Tango for 3 and Electrocutango, among the most famous.

Other Norwegian tango ensembles are the quintets (Piazzolla Quintets) Tango Concertino (dissolved in 2010) and Quinteto Nidaros and a “Orquesta Típica”; Tangueros del Norte, all founded by bandoneonist Kåre Jostein Simonsen.



Hace dos años, los músicos Karl Espegard, Åsbjørg Ryeng y Juan Pablo de Lucca se encontraron en Internet. Dos años más tarde aparecen en concierto con El Muro Tango.

“Fuimos entrevistados más en Argentina y Alemania cada vez que tocamos en esos países que en Noruega,” comenta Espegard a Utrop. “Pero esto va a cambiar,” dice confiadamente.

Nos encontramos con la banda mientras ensayaba en las gloriosas instalaciones de Gamle Raadhus Scene, una de las más antiguas salas de concierto que se conservan de la Kristiana del siglo XVI.

Karl, junto a Åsbjørg Ryeng de Trondheim y a Juan Pablo de Lucca de Buenos Aires, posan para el fotógrafo de Utrop, junto a los músicos invitados para este concierto Martín Alvarado y Benjamín Groisman, ambos oriundos de Argentina.

Habiendo estado repetidas veces en Argentina y, tras presentarse en las comunidades de tango de Noruega y Europa, Karl habla español con un impecable acento argentino.

“Che, mirá. Un tango triste”, dice cuando le mostramos uno de los retratos de la banda en blanco y negro donde todos los miembros lucen muy serios.

De chatear en Internet a los escenarios

La historia de El Muro Tango comenzó cuando Karl Espegard, oriundo de Drammen que durante años había desarrollado una pasión por Argentina y el tango, se conoce con Åsbjørg Ryeng y Juan Pablo.

“Juan Pablo contactó a Åsbjørg online y ella me llamó a mí. Luego comenzamos a hablar los tres. Le comenté a Juan Pablo que tocaba el violín y que había sido parte de la Orquesta del Centenario. Juan Pablo estaba parando en Hamburgo por entonces y se vino a Oslo de enero a abril del 2017. Luego, en mayo, se mudó a Berlín. La idea de armar una sociedad más sólida empezó a gestarse”.

Juan Pablo viene de una familia tanguera de Buenos Aires, y ve a El Muro Tango como el proyecto con el cuál puede acercar el tango a la gente.

“Pienso que nos habríamos encontrado, aún sin Internet. En el mundo moderno y global, la vida es más trasladable y móvil que nunca antes. El tango que mi abuelo y muchos otros tocaban en las salas de Buenos Aires llegó ahora a todos los rincones del mundo.

Participando en Noruega Tiene Talento

Durante los último dos años, Juan Pablo ha estado desplazándose entre Berlín y Oslo para encontrarse con Åsbjørg y Karl. Últimamente, la vida tiene mucho de viajes y valijas a medio hacer.

“Ahora nos damos cuenta que hay mucho de logística y planeamiento en manejar una banda, y no es una tarea menor”, explica Karl.

Los fans del show de TV Noruega Tiene Talento recordarán a la banda por su participación en la final de la competición junto a la pareja de baile Steinar Refsdal y Cyrena Drusine.

“Fue una aventura para nosotros estar en televisión por primera vez. En Noruega nunca habíamos sido entrevistados por ningún medio mayor, a diferencia de Argentina. También puede ser natural que se nos ponga el foco ahí ya que hay pocas bandas de tango noruegas. Somos una rareza y eso crea un interés adicional.

Una instrumentista especial

Espegard en un violinista educado en Suiza y en la Academia Noruega de Música. Juan Pablo recibió una formación como pianista y compositor. Juntos trajeron consigo a la joven de Trondheim Åsbjørg, quien es una de las expertas del bandoneón en Noruega. El instrumento de origen alemán llegó al tango cuando los inmigrantes alemanes lo llevaron a Argentina a finales del 1800.

“Desde el principio me sentí fascinada por el bandoneón, desde que lo comencé a tocar en la Escuela de Artes de Trondheim. Mi maestro fue Per Arne Glorvigen. Me dediqué a estudiar el instrumento hasta especializarme”, explica Åsbjørg.

-¿Qué pensás del interés que hay por el tango en Noruega?

“ Encuentro que hay muchas pequeñas comunidades y que hay un interés latente. Como banda, pienso que tenemos que tratar de acercar esta música no solo a los entusiastas del tango, sino también al público que viene de otros géneros”.

Orgullo que se pasa de generación en generación

Por su parte, Juan Pablo se siente orgulloso de poder llevar la música con la que creció a todo el mundo.

“Considero el folklore como una actividad humanada que atraviesa las etnias y los límites culturales. Todos los pueblos tienen sus expresiones artísticas populares. Escuché el folklore noruego y reconozco muchos de los sentimientos y emociones que percibo al escuchar tango del 30 y del 40, de la generación de mi abuelo.

El tango comparte un lugar de privilegio junto a otros géneros latinos como el flamenco español y el fado portugués. Estos géneros tienen todavía su epicentro creativo su lugar de origen y al mismo tiempo se exportan al mundo.

Viejo y nuevo tango

Espegard describe el estilo de El Muro Tango de la siguiente manera:

“Para nosotros se trata de mostrar solidez y potencia. Al mismo tiempo, el tango que hacemos no tiene por qué ser solamente tradicional. No vamos tan lejos como para hacer versiones en tango de canciones pop. Podemos tocar otros ritmos si estamos tocando en algún evento. De lo contrario, somos un grupo dedicado al tango, trabajando en nuestros propios términos.”

Y Juan Pablo agrega:

“La razón por la que tocamos tango tradicional y nuevo es porque buscamos estar inspirados por el tango clásico y al mismo tiempo tener algo original y relevante para decir hoy. En Argentina el tango es ambos; lo nuevo y lo viejo coexisten. Pensamos al tango como una expresión contemporánea. Buscamos crear algo vivo, que no sea una pieza de museo y que se preciba una expresión artística popular que vive en el presente”.


Acerca del tango

El tango es una danza y una música originada en Buenos Aires, Argentina y Montevideo, Uruguay, a fines del 1800. Ambos países se han disputado el lugar de nacimiento del género pero esta disputa fue resuelta en 2008. Al año siguiente, aplicaron en colaboración a la UNESCO para que el tango sea considerado Patrimonio de la Humanidad.

Los músicos noruegos de tango se han ganado un merecido reconocimiento internacional. Entre los más famosos se encuentran Per Arne Glorvigen y Sverre Indris Joner de la orquesta Tango for 3 y Electrocutango.

Otros ensambles de tango noruego son los quintetos Tango Concertino (disuelto en 2010) y el Quitneto Nidaros. También la Orquesta Típica Tangueros del Norte. Todos estos grupos fueron fundados por el bandoneonista Kåre Jostein Simonsen.


It is summer in Buenos Aires, blue sky and 30º, and we are a week into our first tour in Argentina! So far, we have performed in Salón Canning, finishing the night with a spectacular performance alongside the dance couple Johanna Copes and Leonardo Sardella. The week followed by a beautiful evening at Chau Ché Clú milonga and an appearance as guest artists at Nidia´s concert series in Borges 1975.

On April 6th we have the pleasure to be playing in Usina del Arte alongside Juan Villarreal and special guests Shirlene Oliveira, Chino Laborde and Tumbalatá candombe ensemble. Last but not least, we will spend a week touring Patagonia playing in Bolsón, Bariloche, Esquel, Maitén and Epuyén.

Keep updated about our tour schedule through our Facebook page. Looking forward to see you!

Read the original article in Norwegian.

In March they are playing in Buenos Aires. Saturday, June 9, El Muro comes to Bøvær and Kråkeslottfestivalen, in an all-encompassing show with instrumentalists of international class, tango dancers in the top elite, and last but not least the Argentinian star vocalist Juan Villarreal.

“It’s truly world-class what we see here today.”

The judges of Norway’s Got Talent were ecstatic about the tango dancers Steinar Refsdal and Cyrena Drusine. At Kråkeslottfestivalen 2018, the two join forces with the Norwegian-Argentinian tango ensemble El Muro to a blazing show of Latin American passion.

El Muro is as exotic as a Norwegian-Argentinian tango ensemble based in Berlin. For this summers tour they have brought with them Argentine singer Juan Villareal from Buenos Aires. Here we not only get served the music, but also the lyrics; – the strong emotions, the drama, the tenderness, the unresolved love, the longing. Which then is interpreted by Steinar and Cyrena through the dance, so close to the audience that one has to take extra care not to be hit as a spike heel sweeps on by.

Kråkeslottet (The Crow Castle) has a tradition for dance – and tango in particular. One of the musicians in El Muro, trønderpia Åsbjørg Ryeng on the bandoneon, has participated in the tango project Glød, which had its premiere at Kråkeslottet. We can now already reveal that on The Night of The Dance on Saturday, where we all can let ourselves loose, there will be amazing music and it will be Latin. Including tango. We are not revealing anything more now. But just check your wardrobe to see if you can live up to the music – and the dance … The ticket sale starts Thursday 15 March at 6:00 p.m.

El Muro
Åsbjørg Ryeng – bandoneón
Juan Pablo de Lucca – piano
Karl Espegard – violin
Sebastian Noya – double bass
Juan Villarreal – voice