Umva! (Listen!)

Kanyoni Ladislas as a family man (medium resolution)

photo A.N. Lierman

Some of you might know about my grandfather Kanyoni Ladislas, one of the oldest people that ever lived on this planet. He just turned 113 (!) and is said to be one of the last traditional medicines 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 and to hunt all sorts of wildlife.

Ever since I met my grandfather he has continued to inspire me, leading to various artistic sonic creations, including Umva! my newest performative installation for 6 moving musicians. And I am over the moon that it’s about to premiere in my hometown, at Concertgebouw Brugge (BE) this Wednesday March 8th.

1 Umva! foto's kleine resolutie (c) 08.02.2023 Anne van Zantwijk

photo Anne van Zantwijk


3 DS Magazine pagina artikel cropped 06.03.2023As Jasper Croonen quotes me in De Standaard Magazine March 4th 2023:

(… ) a brand new synthesis work in which all Lierman’s facets come together. It starts with the title: ‘umva’ means ‘listen’ in Kinyarwanda. It is the provisional end of the search for Lierman’s own voice, an expression of her multi-layered artistic identity. A creation between sound and performance art, averse to musical traditions. Lierman works with binaural audio that gives you a 360° experience and uses elements from her beloved radio art. Viola player Maya Felixbrodt, duduk player Raphaela Danksagmuller, Burkinabé multi-instrumentalist Kaito Winse, foley-percussionist Gaetan La Mela and dancer Soa Ratsifandrihana move around on stage.

(…) “It’s kind of like going back to being myself as a six-year-old. I may have been born in Rwanda, but I have lived all my life with my adoptive parents in Bruges. The Rwanda I knew was that from the AfricaMuseum back then: the stuffed elephant, the gigantic canoe… I want to tap into that childlike wonder again, but this time use it to give Africa a fair chance. Thát exactly seems to me the power of audio. It might perhaps liberate us from the stigmatizing image we have of the continent.”

Lately I have discovered another impressive part of my grandfather’s life: him, in his younger years, as a master of cows, leading large herds all around my ancestral region. How that gave him – together with his already exceptional work as a doctor and as a hunter – an even more unique position in Rwanda’s society. My grandfather’s epic biography helped me better understand the beauty of the inyambo cow and the refined complexity of Rwanda’s underexposed ancient esoteric cow cultus.


4 photo KMMA - Inv. Photo EM - MRAC 5824 (Nyanza J.N.M.) IMG_20230306_102316991_HDR copy cropped 06.03.2023

photo KMMA

Umva! tries to give the audience a glimpse of the world of my grandfather, starting about 100 years ago. We move at his current pace, trying to understand what it means to be living for a hundred and thirteen years on this planet. And I am very proud to bring this layered story on stage in a multi sensorial and immersive way, together with five amazingly talented performers.

As Huib Ramaer quotes me in New Music Now, March 3rd 2023.

(…) She has cast her performers and musicians as if it were a film production. ‘I deliberately chose people who would like to be challenged in a process of research into questions such as: where is the borderline between African and European? Between movement and sound? Between performance and installation?’

5 Umva! foto's kleine resolutie (c) 08.02.2023 Anne van Zantwijk 2

photo Anne van Zantwijk

If you want to know more about the making of Umva!
DS Magazine, March 2023
Radio 1 (VRT) Culture Club, Feb 2022 (Dutch spoken)

I look forward to seeing you on one of the following confirmed concerts
08.03.2023 Concertgebouw Brugge (BE) – world premiere
02.06.2023 Brakke Grond, Amsterdam
10.09.2023 Gaudeamus Muziekweek, Utrecht
24.10.2023 de Doelen, Rotterdam
07.11.2023 November Music Festival, Den Bosch
10.11.2023 Korzo Theater, Den Haag
⇒ Tickets and updates of new international tour dates via Silbersee or HERMESensemble

A big shout and heartfelt salute to the incredible line up who helped creating Umva!

Concept, Direction, Composition Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman | Final Director Keren Levi | Musical Dramaturgy Yannis Kyriakides | Text Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman partly inspired by The Glorious Cow by Scholastique Mukasonga (ed. Gallimard) | Performers Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman, Gaetan La Mela, Kaito Winse, Maya Felixbrodt, Raphaela Danksagmüller, Soa Ratsifandrihana, | Scenography Jeroen Smith | Light design Jeroen Smith and Niels Kingma | Production and audio engineering Stefan Bos | Creative producer Dominique Slegers, Jimmy-Pierre de Graaf | Choreography Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman, Kaito Winse, Maya Felixbrodt, Soa Ratsifandrihana | co-producers Concertgebouw Brugge, HERMESensemble, Het Laatste Bedrijf, Silbersee | With thanks to Boris Bischoff, Denis Wouters, Gallop Taxshelter, Municipality of Rotterdam, Gil Gomes Leal, Inne Goris, Katía Truijen, Vlaams Cultuurhuis de Brakke Grond, Wim Becker. This production was made possible with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Federal Government.

Special thanks also to Deutschland Radio (Marcus Gammel), Folco de Jong and Eelkje Christine Bosch, Sjaak Douma, GC De Kriekelaar (Leen Rossignol and Rosalie Kalanga Beya), Liermans family and friends in Rwanda, New Grounds Rotterdam (Connor Whyte) | Robert Taylor, Mia Imani Harrisson, Enata Vandenbussche, Carine Plancke, Christian Nyampeta, Sara Moonen, Luc Mishalle, Peter Van Rompaey, Greet Brauwers, Marie-France Collard, Seb Bassleer, Jennifer Torrence







• Back to Bruges,…

5 CGB_DSCF1983_C_sightways

Honored that Concertgebouw Brugge appointed me as their seizoenscomponist 2021 – 2022 ! So, I’ll get to showcase existing and brand new work in a variety of settings and contexts right at the cultural heart of my beloved hometown Bruges. Performing with the finest musicians and ensembles such as Romina Lischka, Goeyvaerts Trio, Organo, HERMESensemble and Silbsersee a.o….

More info here !


photo © Sightways/Concertgebouw Brugge

• Kunstenfestival Watou

Simone Atangana Bekono 2 Kunstenfestival Watou 2020 will kick off early July displaying its corona proof open air exhibition of contemporary art combined with poetry, located in the marvelous landscape of Heuvelland, a region in West-Vlaanderen.

If you plan a visit I encourage you to walk and listen to the epistolary poem Vonken: in my opinion an incredibly mighty and now already classic written by Simone Atangana Bekono. A refreshing literary voice on topics of identity, racism, globalism and (post)-colonialism.

I had the honor to interprete Vonken for this occasion. Sound design is by Annick Lesage. Kunstenfestival Watou 2020 is curated by Chantal Pattyn, Benedicte Goesaert and Peter VerhelstPhoto by Gaby Jongenelen