Holland Festival: unraveling hidden stories

The 72nd edition of the Holland Festival, the largest international festival of performing arts in the Netherlands, has again sensed the spirit of the age. News & Noise attended two fantastic artworks that are exemplary: The Head & The Load of William Kentridge – about the history of Africans in the First World War, and Los Incontados: un tríptico of Mapa Teatro – about the civil war in Colombia.

The Head & The Load (photo: Stella Oliver)
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“Poets are the true storytellers”- an interview with Mahsa Vahdat

This Summer at the Houtfestival in Haarlem in the Netherlands, I spoke to the Iranian singer Mahsa Vahdat for VPRO Vrije Geluiden. Internationally she is known for her performances with her sister Marjan Vahdat. In Iran they are not allowed to play in public, only for a female audience. That doesn’t stop her from making music and poetry in her home country. Mahsa also encourages and teaches the Persian vocal art to women in Iran. Since 2007 she is one of the ambassadors of Freemuse. In the video-interview below she tells me about the importance of poetry.

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“It’s fine to break the rules” – an interview with DJ Sama

Last month News and Noise was at Babel Med, the world music and jazz forum that took place on March 16 – 18 in Marseilles, and we spoke to Sama Abdulhadi (previously named Skywalker). Sama is the first techno DJ and producer of the Palestinian underground community. In the video interview below she’ll tell us about Berlin Techno and her ambitions.

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“Share the vibration” – an interview with Walid Ben Selim

News and Noise! was invited to a musical event at the Immigration detention center or asylum seekers reception center (AZC for short in Dutch) located at a former military hospital in Utrecht. Moroccan poet, musician and spoken word artist Walid Ben Selim (N3erdstan) gave performances. This event is a collaboration of the organizations Vrolijkheid and Culture Connection.

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Memories of Syria in the heart of Holland

Utrecht is the center of the Netherlands, the headquarters and crossroads of the national railways. Here you see the Dutch from all provinces and all walks of life changing trains at the central train station on the eve of every weekend. Utrecht is a celebration of the diversity of the local people. At the heart of it lays Rasa, a magical venue in a small alley. Once you walk into Rasa, you never know where you’re taken to. Music and dance of all genres from literally all over the world are featured there. A place where people from very different backgrounds and beliefs get a chance to practice their shared humanity. A good exercise for these times, I would say.

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Rokia Traoré’s thoughts on refugees and colonisation

In the beginning of March singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré from Mali came to Amsterdam to do an exclusive concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. She was touring round Europe to present her wonderful new album ‘Né So’. At my work at VPRO Vrije Geluiden (Dutch cross media music channel), I am coordinating a group of young people who are thinking about alternative ways to present music and musicians. One of them, the animator Wisse Beets, wanted to do an interview with Rokia without asking her any questions. Instead, he showed her some drawings she could reflect on, with which he made an animation (see below). Her thoughts on a drawing of a half sinking boat full of people were so profound, I decided to transcribe them for News and Noise!

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