Intro 2024

Intro “Water & Sound” 2024

In 2024, Water & Sound is dedicated to the water region of the Atlantic Ocean and its music. It is characterized in its abundance by the historical interaction between Africa, Europe and America due to colonialism, the slave trade and migration over the centuries.

Water, the Atlantic Ocean, functions here not only as a unifying element, as a carrier of people, music and culture, but also as a carrier of suffering and violence. Between 1492 and 1820, around two thirds of the people who crossed the Atlantic to America were people from Africa who had been enslaved by the European colonial powers.

Violent migration and the uprooting caused by colonialism play a key role in the development of a transatlantic culture and a diasporic consciousness among many people in America and Europe. The encounters between the different musics of Africa, Europe and America, with the simultaneous development of new attitudes and forms of expression in the face of the effects of colonialism, racism, exclusion and emancipation, have produced an immense cultural wealth, whether in jazz, pop culture or global music.

In his highly acclaimed book “The Black Atlantic” (1993), British sociologist Paul Gilroy shows how African diaspora music not only embodies cultural identity and diversity, but also plays an important role in shaping the modern world. Gilroy’s work has had a significant impact on studies of identity and culture in a globalized world: he described the concept of the “Black Atlantic” metaphorically as a ship moving away from the African continent and back again, docking at the Caribbean, South America, the North American East Coast and Western Europe along the way. What emerged, according to Gilroy, is a pan-African culture characterized by an interplay of resistance and art along the route of the transatlantic slave trade.

Thinking further, the image of the “Black Atlantic” also represents a compass, a tool, a point of view that enables us all to navigate through the common past of Africa, Europe and America and to orient ourselves in the present in order to look to the future together and to cross the Atlantic creatively.

The Water & Sound program is therefore also an invitation to empathy and exchange and a way to understand the modern world in all its complexity.

Water & Sound presents contemporary artists from the Atlantic region who represent the tension between Africa, America and Europe from different perspectives. Among others, singer Mayra Andrade can be heard on the open-air stage together with the Ensemble Atlantique, which combines influences of African and Brazilian Cape Verdean music with elements of Afrobeat and global pop. In the Annahof, the group Bala Desejo from Brazil presents influences from the tropicália of the 60s and the musica popular brasileira of the 70s in a new guise, while Ana Frango Electrico is regarded as the spearhead of Rio’s indie scene. Florence Adooni, one of Ghana’s leading FraFra gospel singers, combines highlife and jazz in a grandiose way with her band. A special festival creation is the encounter of the Portuguese singer Anna Lua Caiano with her avant-garde electronic pop with the ensemble The Waterbirds. The Akutuk Origins project from Cameroon presents traditional water percussion and songs directly in the water of the Kuhsee.

Panels, artist talks and art projects explore the spaces between art and science, as well as the history, ecology, society and ethnomusicology of the Atlantic region.


Girisha Fernando
Artistic Director