Kanyoni Ladislas, grandfather of Aurélie Nyirabikali Lierman, is a legend. He just turned 113 years (!). During his long life as a hunter and a traditional doctor, he saw colonisation, the independence struggle, genocides and post-war conflicts transform Rwanda into the fragile country it is today. She visited him last in 2021, in the Virunga, where she also discovered another impressive part of his 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 (pre colonial) society. Her grandfather’s epic biography helped her better understand the beauty of the inyambo cow and the refined complexity of Rwanda’s underexposed ancient esoteric cow cultus.
Which inspired Lierman to create Umva! for Silbersee & HERMESensemble. In this work she further breaks down the boundaries between radio art and storytelling. Via headphones she immerses the audience in a hybrid sound world with instrumental and vocal music, sound effects, Afrique concrète and abstract electronics. Unfolding a layered choreographic score for sound and movement.
Form: performative installation for six moving musicians
Instrumentation: narrator, singing and speaking choir, shell chimes, thièma, calabash, metal shakers, ihembe, slit drum, (bowed)flexatones, aquaharp, cuica, hand clapping, amayugi, bullroarer, talking drum, handdrum, viola, Fulani flute, fujara, duduk, kaval, digital tape, binaural dummy & silent disco headphones
08.03.2023 Concertgebouw Brugge (BE) – world premiere
02.06.2023 Brakke Grond, Amsterdam – Dutch premiere
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
Culture Club #1 Radio 1 – VRT, Feb 2022 – BE
Culture Club #2 Radio 1 – VRT, Feb 2022 – BE
Concertgebouw Magazine, Aug 2021 – BE
Concertgebouw Progammebook, Feb 2023 – BE
De Standaard Weekblad, March 2023 – BE
New Music Now, March 2023 – NL
As Jasper Croonen quotes Lierman in De Standaard 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.”
As Huib Ramaer quotes Lierman 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?”
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) | Text Editor Eelkje Christine Bosch | 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
photos Anne van Zantwijk