Artist of the Month

 
 

Artist of the Month

December 2016 - DANIEL KAHN
November 2016 - HAKIM EL-HACHOUM
October 2016 - NORA AMIN
July 2016
- MUSA OKWONGA
June 2016
- ESTHER BEJARANO
May 2016
- YVONNE MWALE
April 2016
- MOUSSA COULIBALY
March 2016
- AKIRA ANDO
February 2016
- MFA KERA 


Artist of the Month DEZEMBER 2016: Daniel Kahn



     From the 8th to the 11th of December 2016, the Shtetl* Neukölln took place at our venue. This festival was for Yiddish culture, with Berlin musicians performing at Neukölln event locations. One of the highlights was Daniel Kahn.
The singer, composer, actor and director was born and raised in Detroit. Since 2005 he has been living in Berlin. He is regarded as one of the most important innovators for Jewish music.
During our interview, he was at the airport on the way to his next project. He took some time for us to answer a few questions:

 

*"Shtetl" was the name of villages or districts with a high Jewish population in Eastern Europe.


WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN:
Dear Daniel Kahn, at the moment you are making more theatre than music, is that correct?
Daniel Kahn: I do both. I don't see any boundaries between theatre and music. Right now I'm flying to Palermo for the "Teatro Bastardo" festival. I'm going to be making music for theatre there. Also at the Gorki Theater for the piece "Angst essen Seele auf". But I also often play with my band "Painted Birds" and in two other ensembles. I'm going to be playing soon in New York and Dresden at Yiddish festivals.
WDK: The Shtetl Neukölln festival celebrates the 140th birthday of the Jewish poet and songwriter Mordechai Gebirtig. In the media you are often described as one of the artists who carries on the legacy of Gebirtig. In your opinion, what makes Gebirtig so special compared to other artists who experienced the Holocaust?
D.K.: Gebirtig was one of the greatest folk poets of the 20th century. With humour he could integrate the cultural change of his time and the language of workers into his poetry. He was simply a person of the people. At his residence in Krakow there is a plaque that reads: "Here lived Mordechai Gebirtig. Carpenter, poet, singer".
WDK: At the Shtetl Neukölln festival you will be running a workshop from Friday to Saturday. What will you offer?
D.K.: It's a song workshop. We will work with old and new Jewish songs, as a choir and as soloists. We will translate the songs into English and German.


 


Artist of the Month NOVEMBER 2016: Hakim El-Hachoumi



      

"Music is always a reflection of society," according to the curator of the 1st creole Music Film Festival, director and film critic Hakim El-Hachoumi from Casablanca, now residing in Berlin. "It opens doors to political, cultural and social issues and themes in general. Our festival tells the stories behind the music". The first edition of the creole Music Film Festival, under the direction of Hakim El-Hachoumi, is entitled "From Morocco to Afghanistan" and takes place from the 11th to the 13th of November.

After the end of his mathematics studies in Morocco, Hakim El-Hachoumi studied direction in Paris and St. Petersburg. He worked with various theatre productions in Morocco, Paris and Berlin. Today Hakim El-Hachoumi lives in Berlin and works as an independent filmmaker, author and teacher at the Free University of Berlin.

 

Talk with Hakim El-Hachoumi and Nasser Kilada, winner of the 5th creole Berlin Brandenburg

 



Artist of the Month Oktober 2016: Nora amin

On the 13th of October, Nora Amin performs with Jacob Stage and presents her performance reading The Other Body as part of the Arab Film Series "Beyond Spring" at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN.
 

Nora Amin is an Egyptian theatre director, performer, writer and choreographer. Since 2000, she has been the founder and artistic director of the Lamusica Independent Theatre Group for which she has produced 36 theatre, dance and musical works. In 2011, she also founded the Egyptian nation-wide project Theatre of the Oppressed and its network. She is the author of Migrating the Feminine" which concerns the transgressions of female bodies in the public sphere. Below is an exciting one-hour interview on Berlin Community Radio with the impressive artist, discussing Tahrir Square and the presence of women’s bodies in Egyptian public spaces. Definity worth a listen!

In January 2016, Nora Amin wrote the following in a Newspaper article:

“The body of the Arab woman in the public sphere, in the Arab as in the Western world, is always alone: This body is a minefield of connotations, a projection surface for imaginations and prejudices, for accusations and humiliations. The female Arab body can only lose everywhere, infringe on codes and eventually shun itself."

More info about the performance on the 13th of October can be found in the Schedule and on Facebook.

Interview with Nora Amin about Tahrir Square on Berlin Radio Community:

In an interview with the International Research Center "Interweaving Performance Cultures" at the FU Berlin (January 2016), Nora Amin speaks about her path to theatre, performance and her feminist artistic interventions:
 

Video Interview with IRC Fellow Nora Amin from TEXTURES on Vimeo.


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ARTIST OF THE MONTH JUlY 2016: MUSA OKWONGA

On the 16th of July, performance poet Musa Okwonga will be performing at the University of Potsdam during the CARNIVAL OF LITERATURES. The Carnival of Literatures 2016 will feature a wide variety of crime fiction from the Global South.

  

     

Musa Okwonga is a poet, journalist and musician based in Berlin. The son of refugees from Idi Amin's Uganda, he studied law at Oxford University before leaving a career as a solicitor to become a poet. The winner of the 1996 WHSmith Young Writers Competition, he is the author of two books about football, A Cultured Left Foot (Duckworths) and Will You Manage? (Serpent’s Tail): the first of which was nominated for the 2008 William Hill Sports Book of the Year Award.
A journalist and commentator on various issues, he has written opinion pieces and features for several outlets, including The New Statesman, Al Jazeera, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and MONOCLE.

WDK: What is your background?
M.O.: I was born in London, and my parents are from Uganda; they went to Britain as refugees in the 1970s, to escape the rise of Idi Amin's regime.

WDK: You have been invited to perform at a crime fiction festival and I heard that you studied Law. As a Law expert, did you ever think about writing a crime novel?
M.O.: I have been tempted by this genre, yes; I may well write a crime novel one day. I loved studying criminal law at university - it was my strongest subject in my first year there - and the first books I was ever hooked on as a child were Alfred Hitchcock’s series, The Three Investigators. I think he wrote around thirty of them. So yes - one day I would love to write a fast-moving crime story, with plenty of plot twists.

WDK: You are also a football author, and wrote an article on your blog about Gauland's (AfD deputy leader) racist comments on German national player Boateng.
In your opinion, what are the links between football, nationalism and racism? Do you have some comments about the 2016 European Championship?
M.O.:
Unfortunately, the historical links are very clear. Football is a powerful unifying force, but also one which many groups use as an effective means of creating division - just look at the damage that 150 Russian hooligans did in Marseille during Euro 2016. Unfortunately, the passionate tribalism of the sport can lend itself to some pretty frightening behaviour.

WDK: What's it like being a British poet in Germany? Do you also perform in German?
M.O.:
It's great - there are so many fantastic towns where I can perform my work, and I have already read at events in Munich, Heidelberg and Bayreuth. I don't perform in German yet - but give me a few years, and I'll see what I can do.


   


ARTIST OF THE MONTH JUNe 2016: ESTHER BEJARANO

On June 9, Esther Bejarano and the Microphone Mafia will be performing at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN with students from the Walter Gropius School.

Esther Bejarano is one of the last survivors of the Auschwitz Girls Orchestra. She survived the Nazi terror in the camps of Auschwitz and Ravensbruck. After the liberation, she married a Turkish Jew and lived first in Israel / Palestine, then in Hamburg where she found home in the peace movement. She is co-founder and chairperson of the International Auschwitz Comittee and honorary chairman of the Association of Victims of Nazi Persecution (Verein der Verfolgten des Naziregimes).
 

The 90 year old musician sings against racism in the multicultural Cologner rap combo "Microphone Mafia" together with her son Joram Bejerano. Esther Bejarano is an attentive observer of political current affairs and a staunch advocate of the rights of refugees. Given the current emergence of a new right (AFD / Pegida), she warns impressively: "The statement 'Resist the beginnings" is long gone, we are in the thick of it!"

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN: You are accordion player. On June 9, you will be performing as a singer. How come?

Esther Bejarano: I became an accordionist by circumstance. I am actually a trained pianist. I started learning at age 6. But when I was in the concentration camp, playing accordion allowed me to avoid forced labor and hauling heavy rocks. In the concentration camps, I found out that accordionists were sought. So I learned to play accordion. After the war, I moved to Israel, where I learned singing. I’ve been a soprano for 24 years.

W.D.K .: Your son will also be performing in the WDK on June 9. How long have you been making music together?

E.B .: My daughter founded a group in Israel, where we sang songs from the ghetto in many languages. My son was one of the members. Later, in Germany, he played with me, along with the rappers of Microphone Mafia.

W.D.K .: How did you come to collaborate with the hip-hop artists of the Microphone Mafia?

E.B .: I was asked if I would do a CD with them. The idea was to counter the Nazi CDs that were distributed in schools - CDs with racist or anti-Semitic content. We have released two albums with the Microphone Mafia: "Per la Vita" (2009) and La Vita Continua (2013).

W.D.K .: The concert has been organized in collaboration with the Walter Gropius Schule in Neukölln. Do you visit schools often? What is your message and how the students react?

E.B .: I'm constantly in schools where I hold readings from my book “Erinnerungen”. I tell them about my experiences during the Nazi era. My message is clear: You have to be against Nazis. Students react very positively to it: I keep getting thank you letters from them.

W.D.K .: Do you see parallels between anti-Semitism during that time and today's anti-Muslim racism?

E.B .: Of course there are parallels. I have spoken several times publicly about this. First, there are Nazi parties and organizations such as the AFD or Pegida, which according the Constitution should be forbidden. The Constitution states that any successor party of the Nazi party is banned from existing. However, this is not the case. There are more and more new Nazi groups, sports teams and even student organizations. But nobody is doing anything to stop this. This rise of racist groups can be found throughout Europe, which is very dangerous. Another parallel is, for example, the caricature of Muslims in France: At that time the Jews were caricatured in newspapers like “Der Stürmer”.
 


Come to the concert of Esther Bejarano and Microphone Mafia on June 9, and invite your friends on Facebook!

Esther Bejarano and Microphone Mafia on the cabaret show “Anstalt”:
 

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ARTIST OF THE MONTH MAy 2016: YVONNE MWALE

Yvonne Mwale, the young powerful woman from the land of the Victoria Falls, is currently stirring up the world music scene thoroughly with her new album "Ninkale - Let Me Be". A blessed voice, fascinating personality and great composer: Yvonne Mwale succeeds in conquering the hearts of the audience and moving people.

On 20 May, Yvonne Mwale will be performing at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN as part of our WorldWideMusic series. We were very lucky to get the opportunity to interview this wonderful artist - check it out!

Growing up in the territory of Nsenga in Zambia, later in Lusaka, she embodies the music of the African diaspora. Instead of pop and electronic music, the rhythms and songs of her home flow into her compositions as a template, which she as a child so often heard. But Yvonne Mwale goes one step further: She skillfully expands her repertoire with elements of Jazz and Blues - and with great success: an impressive array of world and Jazz music awards indeed confirm Yvonne's undeniable talent.
 

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN: Dear Yvonne, how did you start playing music?

Yvonne Mwale: I started playing music as a child. My parents were musicians, my mother was also a dancer. At that time, I still lived in the eastern part of Zambia. After my parents died, I moved to the capital Lusaka. There, my brother and I performed in the hip hop band "B-Sharp" and began working professionally. At that time, I not only played in clubs, but also at weddings. I was known - among other things - for my ABBA covers. After that, I released my first album "Kalamatila", which was a mix jazz, reggae and traditional music from Eastern Zambia.

WDK: On your last album "Ninkale" there is a lot of soul and blues, but not one reggae song. How so?

Y.M.: For me personally, Reggae is too easy. I wanted to develop musically. I want to create a more spiritual kind of music, where I can play around with my voice.

WDK: What is in your song "Fight like a soldier" from your first album?

Y.M.: In this song I try to give others strength and encourage them to remain strong during difficult times. You have to work for good fortune, in life or in your career. With this hard work mindset, I was able to survive as a street child and make my dreams come true.

Come to Yvonne Mwales concert on May 20 and invite your friends on Facebook!

And in the meantime, check out Yvonne Mwale's 'Fight like a Soldier'!
 

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Artist of the Month: APRIL 2016 - MOUSSA COULIBALY

The Griot* musician Moussa Coulibaly will be playing on 29 April in our Club, along with his band LONITIBA. His compositions are heavily influenced by his birthplace, the "Village Coulibaly", which lies in the west of Burkina Faso on the border of Mali.

Moussa Coulibaly and his band play a variety of West African Instruments: balafon pentatonique, balafon malinque, ngoni, djeli ngoni, djembe, tama, kenkeni, doundoun, marakass, kania, saxophone, bass, dance. They sing in the languages of Dioula and Bwamu.

Video: Interview with Moussa Coulibaly at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN on 14 April 2016
 


Interview mit Moussa Coulibaly (30. März 2016)

 

WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN: On 29 April, you are going to play with your band "Masu rhythms, dance and songs from Burkina Faso". What does the word "Masu" mean?

Moussa Coulibaly: Masu means "house". By this, I mean that we play music from my village. I have played similar music with my family in Burkina Faso. Coulibaly is my name and the name of my village.

WDK: Do you come from a Griot family?

M.C.: Yes, my family have been Griots for generations. It was passed on to me by the men and women of my family, from my grandparents. I did my musical training with them and learned how to sing, play balafon, tama, ngoni and djembe. I also teach my children the same.

WDK: Originally, it was also the objective of the Griot to communicate political ideas? Is this the case with you as well?

M.C.:
Yes, the tradition of the Griot saw them as the go-betweens between the people and leaders as well as journalists or political spokespeople. They were there to sensitize the people about issues as well as inform the politicians of the people's everyday lives. In my music, I sing a lot about love and solidarity. The fact that we can achieve common goals with courage and collaboration.

WDK: With your band Lonitiba you play a wide variety of West African Instruments: balafon pentatonique, balafon malinque, ngoni, djeli ngoni, djembe, tama, kenkeni, doundoun, marakass, kania. What is the difference between balafon pentatonique and balafon malinque?

M.C.: The balafon pentatonique is the traditional large balafon which is played mainly in Burkina Faso, Mali and the Ivory Coast. The balafon malinque is accompanied by western instruments: bass, saxophone and flute. It comes from Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso.

*"The griot tradition has proved remarkably resilient in West Africa, seven centuries after its beginnings during the Malinke Empire which stretched from modern day Senegal to Timbuktu and Gao in Mali and even included parts of Côte d’Ivoire. The griots were advisors to court, story-tellers, musicians and praise-singers drawn from five leading griot families.". John James: Ivory Coast (2012), under http://www.goethe.de/ins/za/prj/wom/osm/en9606618.htm (accessed on 12.04.2016).
 

For more information about the concert on 29 April 2016, please visit our Schedule and Facebook.

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Artist of the Month: MÄRZ 2016 - AKIRA ANDO

The double bass player and composer Akira Ando is the main organizer and curator of the event series Fukushima - The Aftermath, which will be held on 11 March 2016 at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. He has been living in Berlin for 16 years and is deeply ingrained the Berlin Jazz scene.
 

DON’T LET THEIR GREED DESTROY THE WORLD


Did you forget Hiroshima?
Can you forget Nagasaki?
Did you forget Chernobyl?
Are you trying to forget Fukushima?
Can you really do?
Nuke makes Power
Power brings Money
Money makes Greed
Greed brings Death
Don’t let Nuke wreck the earth
Don’t let Power overcome the globe
Don’t let Money deceive those people
Don’t let their Greed destroy the world

Akira Ando
Feb. 2016


 

Interview WITH Akira Ando


WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN: Are you a member of Sayonara Nukes Berlin, the group that organizes the 'Protestival*'?
Akira Ando
: No, I do not officially belong to this group, but this year we will be working together quite closely.

WdK: How did you come to organize “Fukushima - The Aftermath” at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN?
A.A: On March 18, 2011, I had a performance at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. It was a Jazz performance called "Light and Shadow", telling the story of the ancient Japanese legend of Amaterasu (Sun Goddess) and Susanoo (God of the Storm and the Seas). It was a mixture of Jazz and Opera music, ballet and Butoh dance.

This performance, seven days after the Fukushima catastrophe, was a kind of sign. It was important for me that the event "Fukushima - The Aftermath" is held at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN.

I have been living and making music in Berlin for 16 years and know many Jazz musicians, who have also played at WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN. As a result, I've also been able to bring together artists from this community.

WDK: Had you already been politically active before the catastrophe?
A.A: No. I am a musician, and before Fukushima my compositions were not directly influenced by political themes. However, after, I felt an obligation to address this issue actively.

WdK:You are a bassist. As can be seen in your live videos, you often use a combination of music and performance art. Is this typical of your art or for Japanese music?
A.A: My compositions encompass a variety of music genres: Jazz, Free Jazz, Rock, Latin etc. They are also influenced by my Japanese culture. The combination of music and performance art comes from my time in New York. I lived there before I moved to Berlin. There I met Free Jazz musicians, such as the bassist William Parker and the Violinist Billy Bang. Their shows were often accompanied by dance and other performances. That inspired me.

 


 

More information about "Fukushima - The Aftermath" can be found in our schedule and on Facebook.

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Artist of the Month: FebruarY 2016 - MFA KERA


MFA Kera, our Artist of the Month for February, will be performing on 12.02.16 as part of the event series BLACK HISTORY MONTH goes Black Music Renaissance under the direction of band leader, composer, arranger and pianist Kelvin Sholar!

The singer and composer MFA Kera is originally from Madagascar and grew up in Senegal. "Imagine Sarah Vaughan, Grace Jones, Shirley Bassey and Ima Sumac in an African singer, then you've got an idea of her incredible talent. You have to see her live on stage in order to fully appreciate and enjoy her energy and charisma."
 



 

Interview WITH Mfa Kera

WDK: You have performed at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN before. Did you meet any musicians with whom you could imagine working in the future?
MK: I've met many artists through WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN - and am always meeting new musicians. On 12 February, for example, I am not playing Black Music Renaissance with my band "Black Heritage", but rather with musicians with whom I have never performed - the bassist Arcadius Didavi, pianist Kelvin Sholar and JC Doo-Kingue on guitar. You are constantly getting to know new sisters and brothers through music. The WERKSTATT is, for me, a temple of cultures. I love this building. The first time I played at the WERKSTATT DER KULTUREN was in the 1990s. It is a very important place in Berlin for me.

WDK: You have mentioned that the subject of travel is important to you. Can you elaborate?
MK: I am from Madagascar, but I grew up in Senegal. At my concerts and in my music project "Mama Africa", I try to take my audience on a journey through my compositions. I often begin with Gospel, Blues and spiritual music from Madagascar, then I continue on with Funk and "Afro Soul".

WDK: Are you working on a new album with your band “Black Heritage”?
MK: Yes, our album "Humans, Humans" will be released in 2016. Our last album was called "Talking Africa", which featured special guests T M Stevens and Themba Maxwell.

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