Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’
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Today’s Classical News Round-Up

Belgian builds musical bridge across the Bosphorus

Belgian musician Tristan Driessens found his inspiration and his calling east of the Bosphorus, becoming one of the West’s few masters of the oud and of Ottoman classical music.

In an interview with AFP News, Driessens tells of how he is helping to build a musical bridge for others, working with refugees arriving from the east to help preserve and develop their musical culture in European exile.

Driessens became artistic director of Refugees for Refugees, a group that brings together refugees who have fled to Belgium from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and as far as Tibet to play concerts and record new music together in Brussels.

A record, named “Amerli” after an Iraqi town besieged by the Islamic State jihadist group, was released in May 2016 by the world music educational association Muziekpublique.

Among the group are Dolma Renqingi, a Tibetan singer, Asad Qizilbash, a Pakistani who plays the sarod, another form of lute, Afghan troubador Aman Yusufi and “musicians who have such important experiences, as refugees and as human beings, in the realm of music”.


Classical pianist Hunter Noack reimagines the concert hall in the spectacular outdoors

In the cliffs and tall trees of northern Oregon, a place of spectacular beauty, the unexpected floats through the air – the elegant melody of classical music.

“My mom and I were just saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just have a piano and go anywhere?'” Hunter Noack said. So that’s what he did, traveling across the Pacific Northwest and introducing classical music to new audiences in some wild places.

He tows his nine-foot Steinway piano all over the state with a pickup truck and a flatbed trailer. With the help of a few friends, the flatbed becomes a stage.

Noack grew up hiking, fishing and hunting in Oregon. He left to follow his dreams – classical music training in the States and overseas. But he decided to come back to where he came from, leaving behind the grand concert halls for the grand outdoors and taking what he loves back to the place he calls home.

Noack said there are more distractions when playing outdoors, but he pointed to the upsides: “I love to just be able to close my eyes or between pieces, take a breath in, fresh air – I think it affects how I play”.


In this reimagined concert hall, Noack hopes to remove the normal barriers to classical music. There are free tickets, casual clothes, and the opposite of formal seating – like perching on a rock overlooking the stage. A third of his audience has never attended a classical music concert. But even those who have likely haven’t done it like this: wearing wireless headphones to encourage wandering.

“With the music in your headphones, the music becomes a soundtrack to your experience in the landscape,” Noack said. He’s winning over the classical skeptics.

“I said to my friend if she would have invited me to a classical music concert, I would have said ‘nahh’ but this was tremendous,” audience member Meg O’Brien said.

(via CBS) 


Marek Janowski Neuer Chefdirigent 

Die Dresdner Philharmonie bekommt zur Saison 2019/20 den Chef ihrer Wahl: Marek Janowski hat in Dresden seinen Vertrag als Chefdirigent unterschrieben. Damit gewinne die Philharmonie einen der führenden deutschen Dirigenten für das Repertoire des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts, freut sich das Orchester. Marek Janowski löst Michael Sanderling ab.

Janowski wird das Orchester drei Spielzeiten leiten und dabei das Profil prägen und weiterentwickeln, so die Dresdner Philharmonie. Im Herbst vergangenen Jahres hatte der Orchestervorstand die Intendantin des Orchesters Frauke Roth sowie die Kulturbürgermeister Annekatrin Klepsch beauftragt, mit dem Wunschkandidaten Janowski zu verhandeln.

Janowski hat die Dresdner Philharmonie bereits von 2001 bis 2003 geleitet. Seine erste Amtszeit hatte er 2003 aus Ärger über das Hin und Her bei der Planung eines neuen Konzertsaals für Dresden vorzeitig beendet.

80-year-old Marek Janowski has signed his contract as Principal Conductor of the Dresden Philharmonic, after being voted in by the orchestra for the 2019/20 season.

He returns to the orchestra after having already conducted them from 2001 to 2003 and has now come back from his retirement to lead the Philharmonic for three seasons. 

(via BR-Klassik)

(Written on September 20, 2018 )

Following a wonderful party at Fort Worth Zoo yesterday evening (including appearances from flamingos, baby racoons, and a skunk), first on the menu this morning was a fascinating symposium on Cultural Diplomacy.  After Stuart Isacoff’s introduction to arts diplomacy between America and Russia from the end of  World War Two up until the fall of the Berlin Wall, we heard from panellists Marc Thayer, Sarah Tanguy, and Patrick Castillo.

Images: Fort Worth Zoo

First we heard from Marc Thayer, former deputy director of American Voices, which takes musicians abroad to countries including Iraq and Afghanistan, to teach and perform music to locals.  Marc emphasised the good relations this forms with local musicians, leaving a favourable and lasting impression of American culture. Rather than just taking American music to these communities, they build on the practices already in place, using the music of the countries they visit together with American music.

Founded in 1953 and formalised by President Kennedy, Arts in Embassies takes American artists to participate abroad, engaging over 20,000 people to date in 189 countries.  Professional curators, such as Sarah Tanguy, create around 60 exhibitions per year, and since the turn of the century over 58 permanent collections have been installed in diplomatic facilities all over the world.

Patrick Castillo, a composer, performer, writer, and educator, has taken part at The Festival de Música Contemporánea de La Habana three times.  Having started as the only American participant, the most recent festival saw ten members of the American Composers Forum attend.  Patrick cited lack of equipment in Cuba as a major problem, and said that on subsequent visits, composers and musicians took across suitcases of reeds, strings, pencils, and manuscript paper.

Throughout the discussion it emerged that sadly these schemes are not something that the State Department likes to trumpet, fearing accusations of misspending of public money.  Thus reciprocal schemes giving opportunities for oversees artists to visit the States have not yet taken flight.  All three speakers were also nervous about funding cuts, with the future of their organisations not guaranteed.

Image: Cultural Exchange Symposium, The Cliburn

Concert 1 of the Final Round begins this evening at 7.30pm, and can be viewed on cliburn2017.medici.tv.

(Written on June 7, 2017 )

The Taliban’s acts of cultural vandalism and the war in Afghanistan had a devastating effect on Afghan culture. As well as imprisoning musicians, film makers and artists, they also burned films, CDs books and paintings. Traditional Afghan music, which was once an integral part of Afghan people’s lives, suffered greatly; musical instruments were banned and professional musicians had to flee abroad to make a living.

As young people moved away during the decades of war, they were removed from Afghanistan’s traditional music and instead became familiar with Western styles. Although in some areas of the countryside, traditional music still thrives, in towns and cities, music is unrecognisable from that heard before the Taliban’s rule.

Religious singing, such as ritual chanting was permitted by the Taliban, although instruments were banned. A result of this long- term ban on instruments, people lost interest in traditional instrumental music and it is now hard to find the traditional instruments, which were so popular before the occupation. The “Rubab” is one of a few traditional instruments used nowadays.

Kabul born Homayun Sakhi, one of the greatest performers of the Afghan rubab/ BBC Music Magazine

Kabul born Homayun Sakhi, one of the greatest performers of the Afghan rubab/ BBC Music Magazine

According to enthnomusicologist, John Baily, the Taliban is against any form of entertainment outside the sphere of religion. They claim that Muhammad said that those who listen to music will have molten lead poured into their ears on the day of judgement. Music is recognised as something that can provide transcendental experience, the Taliban therefore see music as a threat to their control of people’s spiritual lives. Non- religious music, is also viewed by the Taliban as an unnecessary distraction from serious matters and it is believed that it leads to immoral behaviour. Not suprisingly, these extreme views and severe constrictions dramatically changed and limited the music scene in Afghanistan.

Since 2001 however, the music scene has developed. Afghan Star, the Afghan equivalent of Pop Idol, is in it’s 11th season this winter and remains incredibly popular. According to judge Tahmina Arsalan, the show helps ease minds in a turbulent, war-torn country and unites people through a love of music. The show has however generated controversy among Afghanistan’s conservative circles, and been dubbed “Satan’s Star” by critics. There are other barriers to a professional music career in Afghanistan; there are no record companies or royalty structures, making it difficult for singers to earn a living. Furthermore, the show receives daily threats from the Taliban.

Afghan Star, season 11

Afghan Star, season 11

Musical education is still frowned upon in some areas, however since the fall of the Taliban, opportunities to study music are increasing. Former presenter at Classc FM, Emma Ayres, now teaches the cello at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM). According to the mission statement, “graduates will have the skills, creative vision, and confidence to contribute to the artistic, social, and cultural life of Afghanistan, and to the rebuilding and revival of Afghan music traditions.” The government supported Revival of Afghan Music Project not only seeks to revive Afghan music, it also aims to rebuild a traumatised and shattered country, through the healing powers of music. Despite threats, since 2001, the music industry and education in both classical western music and traditional Afghan music have developed; long may it continue!

Girls at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music/ ABC

Girls at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music/ ABC

Sources:

http://bit.ly/1YgzkeZ

http://bit.ly/1TPEqby

http://bit.ly/1ITXaGn

http://ab.co/1SXH5Ux

(Written on December 16, 2015 )