How can we commemorate extinguished life while preparing ourselves for future mourning? To mark the 20th year since the invasion of Iraq, the Trickster Orchestra creates a space for lament and mourning with the premiere of its requiem »rain… rain… rain…«. It sets to music modern and contemporary poetry by the esteemed poets Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926–64), whose »Rain Hymn« gives the requiem its title, as well as Anwar Shaul (1904–84) and Sinan Antoon (*1967). The piece pays tribute to the rich tapestry of Baghdad’s multi-religious and multi-ethnic musical history with its classical Chalghi ensembles of santoor, nay and oud, its musical system known as maqam, and its polymaths, who searched for new tones and tunings from the 9th century onward. In particular, the Trickster Orchestra morphs a microtonal tuning system invented by the Abbasid scholar al-Farabi into contemporary soundscapes and new rhythms. With 25 tones of unequal intervals in an octave, this written material from the 10th century multiplies the expressive possibilities of contemporary music.
While the Trickster Orchestra culturally situates the work, it also orchestrates it in trans-traditional instrumentation. In this way, the ensemble, featuring guests such as renowned djoze virtuoso Bassem Hawar, commemorates one of the early human and ecological catastrophes of the 21st century from a transregional and global sonic perspective. The ephemeral notes of musical improvisation become the means for an open, unwritten form of memory, allowing for deep contemplation, shared inquiry, and identification. The piece experiments with sound to engage with unspeakable experiences of ongoing violence. As the orchestra’s members roam freely in the domed hall and video artist Roman Hagenbrock animates the poetry in space, the piece reflects the placelessness of communities caught in constant dissolution. »rain… rain… rain…« opens an emotional and collective space for mourning and reflecting upon the passage of time, the enduring echoes of war on the people of Iraq, and upon subsequent tragedies that shape our global contemporary moment.
Before the concert, the orchestra will show the short films »Journey Inside a City« by Sarah Munaf (*1986) and »Barbershop« by Bassim al-Shaker (*1986), which explore the conditions of life and artistic creation in Iraq and experiences of displacement, diaspora, and fragmented community. Haytham Bahoora (Professor of Modern Arabic Literature at the University of Toronto) will introduce the concert and the libretto.
»rain… rain… rain…« invites us to contemplate the sorrowful history of the young 21st century, its possible futures, and to remember those we have lost.
November 28, 2023
7:30 PM: Film Screening & Concert Introduction
8:00 PM: Concert
Silent Green, Berlin
Free admission – Reservations