Winter/Spring 2009/2010

Well I didn’t have the good fortune to escape this winter! It was intense, with temperatures around -12°C being the norm. So much snow all over, unbelievable for us in Cologne, but somehow spectacular!
Musically, a quiet period. The recession, slowly but surely caught up with us musicians. Did we hope to escape? But 2010 is already looking promising but, who knows?
I have a new CD ‘On Stage’ with Sigi Schwab out on the market and we will be performing quite a few live gigs this year. I’ve also been invited to be part of the team involved in a project called ‘Heimat-re-invented’ for Mukutathe Werkstatt and MusikTriennale in Cologne.
End of March I leave for India on a 2-week tour with Renga (10 musicians from LPO) and KCP4. We will perform in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
Meanwhile, the Barock opera ‘Alessandro’ is still on at regular intervals at the Nationaltheater Mannheim, and each of the performances has been a sell-out!!

2010

This year was full of surprises! For the first time in my freelance career as a musician I made myself available for a couple of long-term teaching projects. This involved working with school kids aged 11-13. I was part of a team of guest teachers to work with children in two schools in Zollstock and Porz, in Cologne. The motto was ‘Heimat-Re-invented’ and it was co-sponsored by the Musik Triennale Köln, with a public perfromance on the 11th of May. Well, the group of kids I was involved with from the school in Porz received the NRW cultural prize! My work in this area continued in the school at Porz together with two wonderful dancers Benadetta and Andre Jolles. We worked with the kids starting in October up until December, with a performance on the 21st of December. Concert-wise 2010 was a busy year. The Barock Opera ‘Alessandro’ continued to play to sold-out audiences at the Nationaltheater Mannheim. Then there was the tour in April with KCP4/Renga (LPO musicians) to India. And, of course a bunch of gigs spread over the year with my regular projects like Mandala, East West Wind, Raga West, KCP4, etc. During the first week of July I was invited to present a lecture demonstration at the IRSA (International Rhythm Studies Association) in Dublin. In August I travelled to Taiwan once again, this time to the city of Tainan, to conduct workshops during the ‘Youth Creativity Week’. This was followed by performances with Pipa virtuoso Yu Feng and indigenous singer Inka Ming. After a flying visit to India, spanning 5 cities in 6 days, to setup the BujazzO tour of India in November 2011, I travelled to Poznan for a World Percussion Meeting where met many interesting young percussionists. End of September I was invited to play with the WDR Big Band and Wolfgang Niedecken. The project was titled ‘Deutschland Lieder’, songs about Germany, written by Wolfgang and arranged by Mike Herting. Following the studio production there was a grand open-air performance on the 3rd of October at the Brandenburger Tor, in front of some 30,000 people to mark 20 years of ‘Deutsche Einheit.’ The very next day I flew to Dakar along with Mike Herting to perform two concerts there, one at the German Ambassador’s residence, and one at the Goethe Institute. It was my first trip to West Africa and the feeling was just great:) Winding up activities for the year I was in the studio recording with the wonderful musicians from the group Fisfüz. I will be performing live with them during the spring of 2011. Look forward to seeing all my friends and relatives during the course of this year:-)

Summer/Autumn 09

I spent almost the whole of June in Chennai. I had almost forgotten what a real summer feels like: 42°C and no relief except for the incredible variety of mangoes on the market….finger-licking good!

In July I recorded some tracks with the group Pilgrim. Later in the month I performed at the Palmengarten Jazz Festival in Frankfurt with East West Wind. In August I was invited to teach Kanjira at the Tamburi Mundi Meeting in Freiburg and got to meet, hang and jam with some of the finest frame drum players like Glen Velez, Scott Robinson, Murat Coskun, etc.
In October I went on a 10-day duo tour with Stepanida Borisova, driving through Poland, Slovenia, Austria and Germany. This was followed by a short Kadim tour in Switzerland.
Then in November I was back in Sofia to play with the second edition of Balkan Horses. Lots of pieces in 11/8!!
Probably my last trip outside of Germany for this year was to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where I was once again part of the incredible Global Perfussion Ensemble. It was great to be on an Island enjoying sunshine and temperatures of around 22°C before gearing up for the long winter-haul!

Spring 2009

Made it through another winter, ‘aber was für einen!’ Really cold (-12°C) when I returned early January from Chennai.
Just a few hours before that I was happily walking down Besant Nagar beach in shorts and T-Shirt!
Some of my first gigs for the year were at the Nationaltheater Mannheim with repeat performances of ‘Alessandro’, the Barock Opera which has run so successfully that its going to be continued in early 2010 too.
Soon after, I recorded the second album of Vitold Rek’s East West Wind. This time the trio became a quartet with with the addition of Israeli singer Michal Cohen.
In March I was invited by Mike Herting as guest professor to take part in the BuJazzO meets India project. It was 10 days of pretty intensive work with some of the most talented young musicians from Germany. The ‘Arbeitsphase’ followed by a concert was so successful, that a tour of India in 2010 is now being realised!
Right after this I had two performances with Sigi Schwab’s Ramayana, a suite in five movements written for a sextet, featuring musicians from the Percussion Project and Ensemble Amanti della Musica.

Another highlight this spring was my trip to London beginning of April to perform with 10 musicians from the London Philharmonic Orchestra, called Renga, along with my colleagues Mike Herting, Ramamani and T.A.S. Mani. Funnily enough this project too has been proposed for a tour of India! As they say, when it rains it pours!!

Winter 2008/09

I just returned from India about a week ago to minus temperatures and snow chaos in Europe! My flight from Chennai to Paris was delayed, and after I finally arrived in Düsseldorf, I found out that my suitcase went missing! It was delivered a week later. By then I was already in Mannheim rehearsing at the Nationaltheater for further performances of the Barock Opera ‘Alessandro’ (with touches of Bollywood)!
The trip to South India was very rewarding, what with performing two concerts at the Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore featuring international musicians; being in the midst of the Chennai Music Festival and having a chance to catch concerts by U.Shrinivas, Ravi Kiran, Palanivel, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman and many others; taking part in a panel discussion at Brhaddwani; being invited for an interview by the Southern Spice Music TV; spending quality time with my family in Chennai and Bangalore, eating fantastic food and enjoying the terrific weather. All these experiences made my trip really worthwhile! Now I look forward to an early spring with fervent hopes that the financial world will see the futility of greed and that Obama will succeed in spite of politics!