Canto Migrando – feat. Philharmonisches Jazzorchester


The spectrum of this album ranges from the strains of gipsy music to Klezmer and jazz, from Central European classical music to Tango Nuevo, from Oriental melodies to dynamic Arabic rhythms. The Europeans, Africans, Jews and Arabs join here to celebrate the tidings of peaceful international co-existence with enthralling music. 

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The spectrum ranges from the strains of gipsy music to Klezmer and jazz, Central European classical to Tango Nuevo, Oriental melodies to dynamic Arabic rhythms. Europeans and Africans, Jews and Arabs join here to celebrate the tidings of peaceful international co-existence with enthralling music. The suite “Canto Migrando” composed by Munich jazz violinist Hannes Beckmann emerged from a cultural melting pot – Landwehrstrasse in Munich, where the composer has long had his home.

Instrumental soloists from seven countries and three continents, orchestra and choir, young people and adults, all coming together for a World Music project.

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The area around Landwehrstrasse near Munich Main Station – where I have lived since 1973 – has changed decisively in the past twelve years to become an Oriental quarter. For quite a while there has been a Greek restaurant on the ground floor of my building where Arabs would frequently meet to celebrate – and hold percussion jams. The rhythms made their way into my flat. Throughout my life as a musician, rhythm had been a concern of mine, and these “grooves” caught my attention. In 2001 I began making note sketches for an Oriental-oriented composition, and from the start there was no doubt in my mind that it would have to include string instruments and daraboukas, a form of hand drum very common in the eastern part of the world. In the winter semester of 2001 I took up my teaching position at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Academy of Music and Theatre) in Munich, where my jazz and improvisation project for string instruments got under way in earnest. Before ten months had passed, I had already managed to train a small string ensemble to the point where – with regard to special intonation and rhythmic phrasing – the participants differed distinctly from most members of the major, world-renowned string orchestras with which I had worked until then: they played the music I had composed in a manner as authentic as it was swinging.

To them I introduced the rhythm section of my jazz quartet (Micha Blam from Belgrade/Tel Aviv, Imre Köszegi from Budapest, Edgar Wilson from Mozambique). Our first rehearsal at the academy was joined by three Tunisian darabouka players from the Greek place on Landwehr, who were already telling me during our first coffee break that they could recommend better musicians than themselves. Two such musicians came to the next rehearsal and told me, in turn, that there was an excellent Tunisian percussionist living in Munich and it was him I would need.

Thus it happened that I made the acquaintance of Karem Mahmoud. The first time he played with us, we were so convinced by his masterful performance that he became one of  “Canto Migrando’s” mainstays, and has remained that to this day. My contact with Seref Dalyanoglou, an oudh (Arabic lute) virtuoso of Turkish descent, was likewise mediated by other musicians. Seref joined the formation a short time later and, like Karem, became a very important partner.

As time went on, I expanded the ensemble into a large orchestra, worked on recruiting the best possible brass players, wrote parts for orchestra percussion (kettledrums, etc.), added a choir and, by the time the large version was premiered at the Hochschule für Musik und Theatre in Munich (conducted by my friend and colleague Ulrich Nicolai), it was a group of sixty musicians who enchanted the audience. Every one of them contributed the best he/she had to offer, and particularly the well-versed jazz musicians shared their experience with me by giving me valuable pointers. The younger musicians kept learning more and more, the music kept getting better and better, and we have maintained a high standard to the very present.

Ultimately I was asked by the Ministry of Education to come up with a concept for involving teenagers from schools with high immigrant populations. I agreed, on the condition that we would present on stage only those young participants who – on the basis of preparation in demanding workshops –lived up to the professional standards of the formation within the framework of their parts in the music-making. That requirement has been met consistently to this day.

Not least of all, one of the most well-known German rappers – Cajus from the group “Blumentopf” (with which a different cooperation project had meanwhile developed) – became involved when I asked him for a text.

The final version has now been completed – a live recording carried out by the Bayerischer Rundfunk (Bavarian Broadcasting). The result is accordingly not a studio recording – it lives and breathes.”

Written by: Hannes Beckmann

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