Maria Jonas

Maria Jonas

Maria Jonas

The singer Maria Jonas is one of Cologne’s most creative and versatile personalities, and frequently to be heard as a performer of early and improvised music. Maria Jonas is always searching for a lively interaction with all kinds of art music and can be experienced as a soloist as well as in her ensembles “Ars Choralis Coeln” (women’s Gregorian choir), “Ala Aurea” (ensemble for medieval music), and “Sanstierce” (duo for modal improvisation). For this reason, the term “trobairitz” describes her work better than the usual designation “singer.” The trobairitz were the female counterparts of the troubadours in the eleventh to thirteenth centuries in southern France. The word comes from the Occitan word “trobar”: to find, to invent.

Maria initially studied oboe in Cologne, and was then directress of a music school in Venezuela for a number of years. Back in Europe, she devoted herself to her vocal training with Jessica Cash in London and the study of early music with Monserrat Figueras in Barcelona and René Jacobs at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. She held a lectureship for historical singing at the Leipzig College of Music, and has taught since 1999 at Essen’s Folkwang University (Master’s Program in Medieval Music). Engagements as guest lecturer have taken her to colleges in Belgrad, Rostock, Zurich, and Tilburg.

Concert tours, including with the European Baroque Orchestra under the direction of Roy Goodman and the English Baroque Soloists under John Eliot Gardiner, have led her throughout Europe. In the field of musical theater, she has fulfilled guest engagements at the Teatro Regio di Parma, the Teatro Comunale di Ferrara, the Teatro Real de Madrid, the Teatro Camoes Lisboa, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, the Royal Albert Hall, Bochum’s Schauspielhaus, and the Ludwigsburg Festival, among others. In the title role of the opera The White Raven by Philip Glass and Robert Wilson, and under the baton of Dennis Russell Davies, she appeared in Lisbon, Madrid, and at Carnegie Hall, and was also to be seen in this role at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival.

As a creative spirit, Maria Jonas is increasingly also consulted for the development of event concepts. Thus, in 2008, she assumed the artistic direction of the intercultural sound workshop “KOLUMBA sings,” at which musical experiments can evolve into forms suitable for concert performance. Guests at this annual event have included Pauline Oliveros (USA), Amelia Cuni (Berlin), Laura Newton (Tübingen), Jalda Rebling (Berlin), Nora Thiele (Berlin), and Vladimir Ivanoff (Munich).

The main focus of Maria’s work is on her own projects that she develops with her ensembles, and with which she is a welcome guest all over the world. She also makes significant contributions to the Cologne initiative ZAMUS (Center for Early Music).
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Bassem Hawar

Bassem Hawar studied Iraqi and Oriental Music with a major in djoze at the Baghdad Conservatory. He went on to earn a degree in violin and musicology at the University of Baghdad and then spent several years teaching djoze, violin and music theory at the Conservatory and the Baghdad Music School. Hawar performed under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture in various ensembles including Al Bayariq, Al Nahar al jadid, Babel the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra. He also co-founded the group Melodic with his brother, oud player Saad Mahmood Jawad.

Bassem Hawar makes his own instruments and has revolutionized the design and construction of the djoze, an ancient musical instrument dating back to Sumerian times. Formerly confined mainly to use in traditional Iraqi maqam music, Hawar’s innovations render the djoze capable of playing all forms of Arabic and European music. His design is now used in Iraq to make the instrument known as “Bassem’s djoze”.

Since moving to Germany in 2000, Bassem Hawar has established a successful career as a freelance musician. His first project in Europe was playing with the Dutch jazz group Yuri Honing Trio.

Bassem Hawar is a founding member of the groups, Ahoar, Lagash and Sidare, which have given numerous concerts throughout Europe and in several Asian countries. In 2006 Ahoar took first place at the statewide music competition Creole NRW and went on to win “Germany’s global music contest” gain at the national level the following year. Bassem Hawar plays in many different groups encompassing a wide range of musical genres, from classical Iraqi maqam (Duo Melodic, Mesopotamiens) to European medieval music (Sanstierce, La Beltatz) to Flamenco (Trio Ziryab), contemporary classical music and experimental jazz (Crossover Bagdad Köln).