Trickster Orchestra Cymin Samawatie
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- 1Shir hamaalot05:05
- 2Hast Hussle II07:09
- 3Hafen Vor Tounsibuurg07:20
- 7Kords Kontinuum09:52
- 9Por se ssedaa07:19
Info for Trickster Orchestra
Singer Cymin Samawatie and percussionist Ketan Bhatti from the Berlin-based group Cyminology apply their poetic musical language on a larger scale with the Trickster Orchestra. Under Cymin and Ketan's artistic direction, the orchestra interprets their characteristic blend of transcultural modern music. Cymin draws inspiration from traditional verses, spanning psalms to texts by Sufi poets Rumi and Hafiz, this time around performing lyrics not only in Farsi but also in Hebrew, Turkish and Arabic. With the growth of instrumentation comes an expansion of dynamics, textures and colours.
The Trickster Orchestra represents Cymin Samawatie’s and Ketan Bhatti’s first shared collaboration outside of Cyminology, their Berlin-based group, whose three ECM recordings (As Ney, Saburi and Phoenix) each respectively gained praise for their cross-cultural approach. This program sees Cymin and Ketan expanding their musical reach with the Trickster Orchestra. “When working with this orchestra,” says Cymin, “Ketan and I step outside of our musical comfort zone and reinvent ourselves – try out new paths that we still have to discover.”
Founded by Cymin and Ketan in 2013, the Trickster Orchestra was born out of a collaboration as part of the education program of the Berlin Philharmonic. It soon turned into a permanent outlet for the singer’s and drummer’s multi-faceted music and more experimental compositional forms – also drawing on influences from contemporary classical music. Cymin explains that “what really distinguishes this orchestra from other projects and what makes it so special, is the fact that it’s made up of very strong and individual personalities, who have each achieved great things on their own. For this project, they step outside of their individual musical bubbles and join forces to create a new, collective musical world.” Among the musicians in the orchestra are, for example: koto virtuoso Naoko Kikuchi drawing on the classical and contemporary heritage of her instrument and expanding its range; Susanne Fröhlich with her mastery of the recorder family, bridging European old and new music; Berlin Philharmonic violist Martin Stegner, who appeared on Cyminology’s last album Phoenix; clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi, who recorded with the Naqsh Duo for ECM, and award-winning virtuoso Wu Wei, who plays the traditional Chinese reed sheng – they all are part of the equation, but merely represent a fraction of the talent at hand.
The album’s instrumentation – reaching from the Arabic flute nay through the zither-like oriental kanun to electronic manipulations – substantially widens Cymin’s and Ketan’s expressive spectrum and the textural depth of their arrangements. Ketan points out that the question of “How do we create a collective musical language” takes center stage when working in such a diverse environment. “We have such a variety of musical systems and conventions gathered under one roof – from people who read notes versus those who don’t to the simple matter of instruments being differently tuned. In an attempt to work together, we automatically conspire in an act of imitation, or to be more precise, we enter into a mimetic process. While trying to understand and translate each other’s respective traditions, we create something new.”
Gaining momentum since performing at the Jazzfest Berlin in 2015, the orchestra continues to initiate its own projects, such as Modara – the orchestra’s own festival for classical contemporary music that celebrates cultural transformation. A concept born from the readings of 13th century poet Jalaluddin Rumi, Modara refers to a place of intense encounter and dissolution of the self into something completely new. Or in Rumi’s own words: “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is Modara. I’ll meet you there.”
An idea that speaks strongly to Cymin, Modara is also the title she gave one of the album’s compositions. Reciting Rumi’s words in Farsi, Cymin conveys a peaceful message: “Beyond religion (Islam) or infidelity, there is a desert plain. / For us, there is a passion in the midst of that expanse.” Other texts found on the album include verses that are immediately inspired by the Quran as well as readings from the Hebrew Bible and a poem by contemporary Turkish poet Efe Duyan, whose writing deals with current social and political topics. Cymin explains that integrating an expanded repertoire of languages represents a deliberate move on her part: “As a direct contrast to my work with Cyminology – where the Persian lyrics play a central role – for Trickster Orchestra, it was important to me that the lyrics reflect the orchestra’s trans-traditional lineup.”
“Por se ssedaa,” which already featured on Cyminology’s ECM debut As Ney, reappears in a new guise, energized by the substantial orchestral scope and untethered by the instruments’ breadth. The title and lyrics are based on verses by 14th century Persian poet Hafiz, whose most important work “Divan” famously inspired Goethe to create the poetry cycle West-Östlicher Divan. Contemplating a path, on which love, passion, and music intersect, Hafiz’ words echo through Cymin’s grounded yet flexibl
Cymin Samawatie, vocals
Ketan Bhatti, drums, percussion
studied classical music at the Hanover University of Music and Drama with a focus on piano and percussion, and jazz singing at the Berlin University of the Arts. With her quartet Cyminology, whose last three recordings were released on the Munich label ECM, she combines chamber jazz with Persian poetry by Rumi, Hafiz, Khayyam and Forough Farrokhzaad, among others. Cymin Samawatie has composed works for projects including the Osnabrück Morgenland Festival, Female voice of Iran Orchestra, Divan Berlin Istanbul, Neuköllner Oper, Komische Oper, Elbphilharmonie and for Polymorfilms Brussels.
Her artistic work has been honored with the German World Music Award RUTH 2018, the German creole World Music Award and numerous other awards.
Cymin Samawatie was a scholarship holder at the Tarabya Cultural Academy in 2018 and 2020.
was founded in 2013 by Cymin Samawatie and Ketan Bhatti, first named Divan der Kontinente. The orchestra was born out of a collaboration of Cymin Samawatie and members of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, which prompted her to create an ensemble for musical experiments uniting members of Berlin’s free and independent music scene and institutionalized ensembles.
In 2015, Trickster Orchestra received international attention after its performance at Jazzfest Berlin, described by festival director Richard Williams as one of the most exciting orchestras from the German capital. After concerts in Europe and Western Asia, the orchestra initiated its own projects, including Modara – Festival for Contemporary Music and Divan Berlin-İstanbul – TransPositions between Poetry and Music.
Composer and percussionist Ketan Bhatti is a border crosser between different genre and cultural worlds. His work ranges from contemporary chamber music, experimental music and dance theater to electronic, hip-hop based productions. Since 2003 he has worked regularly with his brother Vivan Bhatti for theatre productions of directors like Nuran David Calis at the Deutsches Theater Berlin and Schauspiel Köln, among others. Ketan and Vivan Bhatti's music theatre pieces are based on collaborations with authors such as Feridun Zaimoglu or Roland Schimmelpfennig and have been premiered e.g. at the Neuköllner Oper , the Tischlerei of the Deutsche Oper Berlin or the Staatsoper Hannover. Ketan Bhatti can look back on numerous publications and international concerts, as well as scholarships and awards from the German Music Council, the Berlin Senate and the Goethe Institute. For his concerto for jazz and new electronic music performed with Simon Stockhausen, Ketan Bhatti was awarded the Karl Hofer Prize 2008. From January to June 2017, Ketan