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World sounds

Samir Odeh-Tamimi implements special moments in music. His guideline: sketches of the legendary composer Jani Christou

Samir Odeh-Tamimi lives and works in Berlin as a composer. He creates chamber music and orchestral pieces as well as works for the musical theatre stage. He is one of six contemporary composers who are scoring the 'Project Sketches' from the estate of Greek avant-gardist Jani Christou. 50 years after Christou's death these concepts form the basis for a boundary-pushing, visionary musical theatre project at the Tischlerei.
The Project ... once to be realised

I come from a small Arab village near Tel Aviv. After I ultimately landed in Bremen after many stations and trips all throughout Europe to study composition, I did not want to compose traditional Arabic music. I also didn't want to write like Beethoven or Brahms, I wanted to create something my own. When I first heard Jani Christou's music in a seminar, it instantly spoke to me.

Jani Christou is a Greek composer who was already taking big steps toward new music while others were still concerned with serialism. Sadly he died in a car crash in 1970. What I find fascinating about Christou is that his music itself is theatre. He was one of the first composers who drew graphic notes in the scores.

If he wanted a violin to go from here to there, he drew the exact steps. He often drew the entire orchestra, the way it speaks, laughs and cries. This inspiration was immensely important for my young development as a composer. Christou's music is a cosmopolitan music that wants to speak to everyone. I like that, because all of us are made up of many identities.

That is also why it is so fortunate that more than one hundred 'Project Sketches' by Jani Christou are now accessible. There are sound sketches that describe highly existential conditions of human existence. A 'Project Sketch' that I selected for the Deutsche Oper Berlin is about the chirping of cicadas. The sound starts off very quietly, then grows louder and louder – so loud that nobody can stand it anymore. Then stop. Absolute silence. It may be crazy, but no crazier than driving on the Autobahn. Just an intensity that we are all familiar with.