• special thanks to Matéo Osorio Lobato (photo) starring as the sweet voice over of my sound sculpture
.. meanwhile slowly descended from my journey on sub alpine altitudes in Rwanda. It was a soft and gentle landing into the Lowlands.
Currently developing a brand new sonic sculpture and a new composition for a set of large African drums, field recordings and children choir! I’m so excited that both are commissioned by Slagwerk Den Haag – one of my all time favorite music ensembles – and that both are to be premiered, early 2017, at this magnificent Richard Meier building (the City Hall of The Hague) as a part of City of Sounds.
Slagwerk Den Haag is spreading the love for sound by organizing many workshops and some fab contest for kids, all around the idea of listening and collecting sounds in the city of The Hague – Go and check out http://cityofsounds.nl
if u want to see more pics of the Richard Meier building, click on this one above
This is my grandfather, a light-hearted, powerful and wise soul. Current age estimated between 106 and 112 years old. Just some days ago I went to visit him at his home in rural Rwanda.
He is said to be one of the last traditional medicine men in northern Rwanda. People sometimes travel up to 100 km, often barefoot, to get cured by him. In his younger years he would go for epic walks into the subalpine forests of the Virunga mountains: to collect herbs and minerals for his medical practice, to hunt all sorts of wild life and also for beekeeping and honey collecting. He has lived all his live at the foot of volcano Mt. Karisimbi, my own birthplace, just at the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo. In my grandfather’s mind that border didn’t really exist. He used to go freely wherever the journey’s leading to.
I consider my grandfather a miracle of our contemporary times: he is the only person I know off who’s experienced all the major (often atrocious) events and transformations a Rwandan person could possibly experience in the 20th and early 21st century. He was around when the pre colonial kingdom of Rwanda was still in function, has seen the early transitions towards colonization by the Germans, quickly followed by the Belgians who drastically overturned every aspect of Rwandan society. There was the violence and turmoil of the Rwandan Revolution in the 50’s and the independency throughout the ’60’s, 70’s and 80’s. There was the 1994 Genocide and the post-war massacres – amongst the worst in his village and region. And yet – in spite of this all – he still is driven by an endless positivity and unconditional love towards his fellowman and environment. His great sense of humor is unstoppable and his erupting laughters and whirling naughty giggles are contagious.
We met last in 2011, and I went to visit him again mid August and last saturday, for some in-depth talks. Especially his revelations about his life as a hunter and traditional doctor were for me – having grown up in the totally different environment of Bruges in Belgium- mind blowing.
An African proverb says “When an African man dies, a library burns to the ground”. So of course I have ‘taped’ every little word and sigh of my grandfather’s parchment-like, ultra fragile and soft voice. And the videos and binaural audio tapes that I have gathered are amongst the most ‘precious treasures’ of my personal AFRICA ON TAPE archive – so I hope the recordings can serve one day as a source for oral history of the Virunga Mountains. And yes, time is against me, but I’ll do everything I can to get another chance to visit my grandfather some time soon to listen ‘nd tape more stories from the past.
Bondy and Nickita, I feel very blessed that you were accompanying me on those very special excursions to Mt. Karisimbi. Thank you also to my precious family in Rwanda for the amazing time we shared together. And to my friends that encouraged me, despite all my doubts and fears to take the flight back home, back to my ancestral territory: BIG THANK YOU !
The past week has felt like a personal big bang… and now my musical world is slowly but surely expanding beyond my own imagination. Last weekend Renan Zeladan Cisneros send me his newest song cycle: a very touching triptych with texts by Gerard Reve, Pedro Lemebel and Yukio Mishima. I do the solo vocal part. Grateful that I’ll be accompanied by Ivan Pavlov on grand piano.
Locked myself twice into a recording studio for vocal recordings in preparation for fascinating new compositions. One by Andrius Arutiunian‘s for tape and ensemble. The other one by Nikos Kokolakis for voice, tape and percussion based on texts by Borges. Very curious to get to hear these !
Meanwhile I also had my first rehearsals for The Cruel Mother based on an anglo saxo horror folksong, re written by Sasha Thiele. My partner in crime in this is Salomé Gasselin (FR): getting goose bumps with each strike on her viola da gamba.
On top of that I yesterday also received a new vocal duet by Quang Ngo Hong. It’s inspired by Vietnamese traditional music with a certain jodel technique, fully written in Hmong, a Vietnamese minority language. Quang and me will sing it together and he’ll teach it to me in person: word by word, note by note, sound by sound.
I have commissioned an even larger number of composers to write new vocal pieces, so I am expecting more of these ‘big bang‘ weeks. Premieres of all these vocal pieces will be scheduled from April on and beyond.
Thrilled to announce that I was awarded the Lucas Musicians & Composers Fellowship at Montalvo Arts Center in Saratoga, California. So I’m going back to my beloved West Coast in the near future. I feel tremendously honored to have been selected amongst a huge selection of composers and performers from around the world.
The november 2015 edition of Gonzo (circus) magazine will feature an article about my work. Anyone who purchases the magazine will get a free Mind The Gap cd featuring a fine selection of the newest experimental music.
This Mind The Gap edition includes also my composition “Where Are You ?” for prepared piano, temple gongs, slit drums and analogue electronic sounds. The tape part of “Where Are You ?” is based on field recordings from my trip to Rwanda in 2011. I manipulated them via a reel to reel tape recorder and a Walkman cassette player. The instrumental score is a musical translation and interpretation of a text about the Rwandan Genocide from April 1994.
Special thanks to Benjamin Van Vliet
Just back home from touring the USA , but already moving on to a new exhibition project in Dar Es Salaam, which will feature new photography and video work by Nicholas Calvin, Tanzanian visual artist. I will reinterpret Nicholas Calvin’s visuals and create several new sound installations from it. To premiere my very first sound installations in Tanzania means a lot to me: all the inspiration I got from several travels in East Africa over more than a decade, now will finally find its way back to East Africa
click on the picture above to see more of Nicholas Calvin’s collection
• EXPO INFO:
Nicholas Calvin (TZ) & Aurélie Lierman (BE/RW)
new video and sound installations + photo exhibition
daily 15.09.2015 – 30.09.2015
Alliance Française Dar Es Salaam
Dar Es Salaam (TZ)
curator Anoek De Smet
My tour along the West Coast of the US is completed. Had live improv and new music gigs at Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco & Oakland – where I had the chance to discover the wonderful communities of experimental artists – what a great and productive crowd. Special thanks to Motoko Honda, Carmina Escobar, Theresa Wong, Aram Shelton, Mark Clifford, Lorin Benedict, Bob Marsh for the inspiring and heartwarming artistic collaborations on and off stage. Well, I am in love with the West Coast, so plans are made to come back asap and make more music, much more !
photo © Peter Kaars
if you click on the photo above, you’ll get to see more pics of my USA tour
THANK YOU Alex Ross for picking up my first USA tour on your blog The Rest Is Noise and for all your support towards other independent new music artists.
Invited by Thomas Baumgartner from L’Atelier du son for a chat about my work as a radio artist. Focussing on Anosmia, a reflection on the Rwandan Genocide, and Sampling the Man of Memory, a sound installation created for the current expo Patterns for (Re)cognition at Kunsthalle Basel (CH)
23h00 – 00h00 CET
France Culture – Paris (FR)
audio DH is a compilation album featuring a selection of 250 creators related in some way or another to the blossoming sound art scene of The Hague. Also check out www.audiodh.nl for the 16 hours of experimental music and sound art by those 250 artists (free streaming and download !). My sonic contribution to audio DH is Etc. tra la la a collaboration with Motoko Honda.