Siwan - Hafla

Jon Balke

EN / DE
Siwan, the transcultural, trans-idiomatic musical collective led by Norwegian keyboardist/composer Jon Balke, continues along its special path, with new music inspired by the creative spirit of Al-Andalus. The ensemble weaves lines of communication between musicians from multiple traditions and locations. Among the texts set by Balke on Siwan’s third album  and persuasively sung by Algerian vocalist Mona Boutchebak are verses by Ummayad princess Wallada bint al-Mustakfi (1010-1091) and contemporaries including Ibn Zaydun (1003-1071)  and Ibn Sara As-Santarini (1043-1123).  Hafla was recorded in May and June 2021 at Village Recording Studios, in Copenhagen.   
Siwan, das transidiomatische Musikkollektiv unter der Leitung des norwegischen Pianisten/Komponisten Jon Balke, setzt seinen besonderen Weg mit neuer Musik fort, die vom kreativen Geist Al-Andalus‘ inspiriert ist. Das Ensemble webt Kommunikationslinien zwischen Musikern aus verschiedenen Traditionen und Gegenden. Zu den von Balke vertonten und von der algerischen Sängerin Mona Boutchebak gefühlvoll vorgetragenen Texten gehören Verse der Ummayad-Prinzessin Wallada bint al-Mustakfi (1010-1091) und von Zeitgenossen wie Ibn Zaydun (1003-1071) und Ibn Sara As-Santarini (1043-1123).  Hafla wurde im Mai und Juni 2021 in den Village Recording Studios in Kopenhagen aufgenommen.   
Featured Artists Recorded

May-June 2021, The Village Recording, Copenhagen

Original Release Date

22.04.2022

  • 1Tarraquab
    (Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Jon Balke)
    05:47
  • 2Enamorado de Júpiter
    (Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Jon Balke)
    03:03
  • 3Mirada Furtiva
    (Ibn Zaidun, Mona Boutchebak)
    03:07
  • 4La Estrella Fugaz
    (Ibn Sara As-Santarini, Jon Balke)
    04:07
  • 5Arrihu Aqwadu Ma Yakunu Li-Annaha
    (Ibn Sa'id al-Maghribi, Jon Balke)
    02:36
  • 6Diálogo en la Noche
    (Ibn Zaidun, Jon Balke)
    05:15
  • 7Línea oscura
    (Jon Balke)
    03:42
  • 8Saeta
    (Jon Balke)
    02:41
  • 9Uquállibu
    (Abu Bakr al-Turtushi, Jon Balke)
    04:38
  • 10Wadadtu
    (Ibn Hazm, Jon Balke)
    04:38
  • 11Visita
    (Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Jon Balke)
    03:13
  • 12Is There No Way
    (Ibn Hazm, Jon Balke)
    02:33
The first outing for Jon Balke’s collective Siwan, a 2009 album of the same name, saw a wide range of texts set for the Moroccan singer Amina Alaoui and a baroque ensemble. Its soundscape, with Jon Hassell’s trumpet wobbling behind a scree of percussion on the prison love song ‘Itimad’, was mystical without being slavishly authentic to its Al-Andalusian inspiration. With Hassell passing away last year and Alaoui returning to her solo career, the current incarnation of the group sees its Norwegian leader still on the keyboards, with singing and kwitra — a form of North African oud — from Algeria’s Mona Boutchebak. The lead instruments are now Derya Turkan’s kemence (a bowed Turkish lute) and Bjarte Eike’s baroque violin.  ‘Hafla’ centres on the words of an 11th-century Umayyad princess of Cordoba, Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, and of her lover Ibn Zaydun, Al-Andalus’s greatest poet […] Not all the songs are drawn from this central relationship — there are poems by other Al-Andalusian writers and some sparkling instrumentals, notably the driving ‘Saeta’. The album ends with ‘Is There No Way’ by Ibn Hazm, who notably defended Wallada against her religious detractors. Hazm meditates on opening his heart with a knife to slip his lover inside and closing the cut again, ‘till the end of time’.
David Honigmann, Financial Times
 
Norwegian pianist Jon Balke has worked in many different formats; one of the most rewarding has been his band Siwan. ‘Hafla’ is the third album to feature the outfit, and as before Balke’s compositions combine a beautifully imaginative blend of musical influences, including European baroque music, North African, Middle Eastern and Persian music, and polyrhythmic percussion. The 15-strong international outfit includes Algerian singer Mona Boutchebak – the songs in the suite are settings of poems by Wallada bint al-Mustakfi and Ibn Zaydun, lovers in 11th-century al-Andalus – but what really distinguishes this album are the rich, sensuous, sumptuously detailed and constantly shifting orchestral colours.
Geoff Andrew, Notes & Observations
 
Norwegian ECM lifer Balke relentlessly explores musical connections, from his decade-long West African band E’Olen to his third album since 2007 with Siwan, his European, Arabic, Iranian and Turkish collective, based in the medieval poetic world of al-Andalus, the Islamic-colonised southern Iberian peninsula; a reversal of later polarities, and indication of the narrow, perhaps invented gap between North Africa and Southern Europe. ‘Hafla’s songs adapt the poetry of liberated 11th century princess Wallada bint al-Mustakfi and her Andalusian laureate lover Ibn Zaydun. Algerian Mona Bouthebak sings in Arabic and Spanish with confiding intimacy, floating over the soft, glistening soundscape of ‘Diálogo en la Noche’, and nearing muted fado in her contained emotion. Per Buhre’s baroque string section, Barroksolistene, become staccato and percussive here and elsewhere, as if futilely shoving  at stubborn walls. […] Balke’s own keyboards modestly, but tellingly contribute to his compositions […] This is very ECM in its sense of space and restraint, the absences and air around its considerable interweaving of centuries-deep musical strands.      
Nick Hasted, Jazzwise
 
Following up the releases of ‘Siwan’ in 2009 and ‘Nahnou Houm’ in 2017, ‘Hafla’ marks his third outing with this international collective, which hybridizes baroque, Andalusian and improvised music with dazzling originality.
Filipe Freitas, Jazztrail
 
Nun ist mit ‘Hafla’ die dritte Veröffentlichung dieses begnadeten Kollektivs, das einige kleine Umbesetzungen aufweist, erschienen. In seiner herausfordernden Konsequenz und sinnlichen Wirkung knüpft ‘Hafla’ aber nahtlos an die beiden Vorläufer an. Es sind auch hier nicht allein die verschiedenen kulturellen Aspekte, die den alleinigen Reiz der Aufnahmen ausmachen. Es gibt zudem eine starke Verbindungsachse zwischen Vergangenem und Gegenwärtigem, zwischen, streng komponierten Sequenzen und freien Intervallen, zwischen geschlossenem Ensemblespiel und solistischen Herausforderungen. Man glaubt sich in einem musikalischen Niemandsland zu befinden, das jedoch vertraut und organisch klingt. Es greifen Melodien und Rhythmen, Gesänge und Instrumentalmusik, erratische Harmonien, Kunstlieder und Straßenkolorit wie von selbst ineinander. Hier umkreisen uns Klanglandschaften von ebenso karger wie sinnlich aufreizender Ästhetik. Und über allem der sirenische Gesang Mona Boutchebaks. Welchen Anspruch Jon Balke an sich und dieses Projekt stellt, macht deutlich, dass er Texte von Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, der freidenkenden ummayadischen Prinzessin von Cordoba aus dem 11. Jahrhundert und Liebhaber von Ibn Zaydun, dem großen Dichter von al-Andalus vertont. Das liest sich wie aus fernen Welten und längst vergangenen Zeiten – und ist doch so nah.
Jörg Konrad, Kultkomplott
 
Das langjährige, immer wieder umbesetzte Projekt fügt an Herkunft, Melodik und Instrumentierung unterschiedliches zusammen. Leichthändig verschmilzt Balke ein Multi-Kulti-Ensemble aus türkischer Blechtrommel und gestrichener Kastenhalslaute, aus Piano, Keyboards, Violine, Bratsche und spanisch-südeuropäisch inspirierten Vocals (Mona Boutchebak) mit dem achtköpfigen Ensemble Barokksolistene. Der akustische Bass dieser Formation agiert dabei mitunter wie ein traditioneller Timekeeper im Jazzkontext, verbindet arabische und westliche Facetten der streckenweise elegischen Musik und bringt sie subtil zum Swingen. Balke vermeidet die Konfrontation, setzt stattdessen auf Integration und schafft so das Unmögliche, die kreative Koexistenz der Kulturen ohne Dominanz.
Heribert Ickerott, Jazzpodium
 
Wichtigste künstlerische Ansprechpartnerin und Quelle der Inspiration ist für Balke wieder die algerische Sängerin Mona Boutchebak, die schon beim zweiten Album diese Rolle von der marokkanischen Sängerin Amina Alaoui übernommen hatte. Dieses Mal entführen uns die von Boutchebak auf Arabisch, Spanisch, einmal auch auf Englisch gesungenen Verse der Ummayad-Prinzessin Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, ihres Geliebten Ibn Zaydun, von Ibn Sara As-Santarini und anderen Poeten in das Andalusien des 11. Jahrhunderts. Sie handeln von Liebe, Sehnsucht, Verrat und Eifersucht, von Zuversicht und Verzweiflung, sind melancholisch, dramatisch, geheimnisvoll, manchmal auch ziemlich unverblümt. Jon Balke setzt auf höchst kreative Weise die sprachliche Ausdrucksstärke und den verblüffenden Bilderreichtum dieser Gedichte in ebenso farbenreiche, expressive und unterschiedlichste Stimmungen widerspiegelnde Musik um. Dabei spannt er elegant eine Brücke zwischen Orient und Okzident, lässt den Schlagzeuger Helge Norbakken und die von Bjarte Eike geführten acht Barokksolistene aus Norwegen auf den Türken Derya Turkan an der Kastenhalslaute Kemençe, den persischen Tombak-Trommler Pedram Khavar Zamini und Sängerin Mona Boutchebak, die auch die algerische Oud Kwitra spielt, treffen. Mit seinen einfallsreichen, durch emotionsgeladene Streicher-Passagen und rhythmische Feuerwerke gekrönten Arrangements gelingt es ihm, die Stärken und Raffinessen der unterschiedlichen musikalischen Traditionen stimmig zusammenzuführen und in ihrer Wirkung zu potenzieren.
Peter Füssl, Kultur
 
Es ist die dritte Unternehmung  des norwegischen Komponisten und Keyboarders, mit seiner sich stetig wandelnden Formation Siwan,  al-andalusische Gedichte mit Traditionen des Barock und moderner Improvisation zu verknüpfen.  […] Zu den Eigenheiten von ‘Hafla’ zählt, in mehrfacher Hinsicht, der Umgang mit der Zeit. Zum einen wirken viele der gut tausend Jahre alten  Gedichte, ohne Schnickschnack übertragen in modernes Englisch, freigeistig, modern, und zeitlos. Die Songs von ‘Hafla’ haben zudem durchweg die Länge von Pop-Singles: als wäre es eine ungeschriebene Regel, verzichten Jon Balke und seine Mitstreiter auf jede Art exaltierter Ausschweifung, die mehr als verlockend wäre, wenn man etwa an Jon Balkes Bewunderung der  fabulierfreudigen Bands von Oum Khalthoum denkt. Vom Umfang her ist ‘Siwan’ ein 15-köpfiges Orchester: neben den versammelten Barockspezialisten sind da noch zwei Trommler, ein türkischer Kastenhalslautenspieler,  und die algerische Sängerin Mona Boutchebak. Aus dem munteren Hin und Her von Texten und Klangproben zwischen Balke und Boutchebak, ihrem  Eintauchen in  englische, spanische Übersetzungen und die  arabischen Originale,  entwickeln sich all diese Lieder, die schliesslich im Studio, mit allen Restriktionen von Corona, ihre finale  Form annehmen. Und was für eine immense Ruhe und Klarheit diese Lieder verströmen – nichts scheint natürlicher und naheliegender als dieser im Grunde hochexperimentelle Mix aus nordafrikanischen Tonskalen, jazznahen Improvisationen, und Barockmusik-erprobten Streichinstrumenten!
Michael Engelbrecht, Deutschlandfunk
 
Diese kulturelle Vielfalt klingt magisch. Vom ersten Ton des Openers ‘Tarraquab’ an ist dieser Zauber da. Es ist der Mix aus feurigen Rhythmen, einprägsamen Melodien und immer wieder überraschenden Streicher-Passagen, der die unterschiedlichen musikalischen Traditionen stimmig zusammenführt. Der alte musikalische Elemente mit neuem Leben füllt. Besonders deutlich zeigt sich das im temperamentvollen ‘Enamorado de Júpiter’. Aber auch die Ballade ‘Mirada Furtiva’, das geheimnisvolle ‘Uquálibu’ oder das theatralische ‘Is There No Way’ stechen heraus. Alles in allem zeigt ‘Hafla’, wie viel Kraft, Schönheit und Zauber in der Kombination verschiedener Einflüsse liegen kann. Mit alten Mitteln zeigt Jon Balke, wie Zukunft klingen kann. Vielversprechende Aussichten sind das.
Sebastian Meißner, Sounds and Books
 
Nella ricerca sonora di Siwan, il collettivo musicale transculturale e trans-idiomatico guidato dal tastierista e compositore norvegese, si ritrovano leggenda e poesia della Spagna medievale musulmana, mitico luogo di armoniosa tolleranza religiosa e di autentico dialogo fra culture […] ‘Hafla’ celebra il concetto di convivenza e cooperazione, sostenendo i risvolti positivi della diversità culturale, mentre guarda indietro nella storia e in avanti verso nuovi modelli di lavoro condiviso. Il suonatore di kemençe, Derya Turkan, si confronta con il gruppo barocco Barokksolistene, il suono delle tradizioni degli archi mediorientali e occidentali che converge o contrasta. Altrettanto avvincente è la percussione creativa, il ritmo idiosincratico di Helge Norbakken che si insinua in profondità nel tessuto della musica, e il croccante tombak di Pedram Khavar Zamini, che attinge ed estende la tradizione classica persiana, offre un commento continuo. […] Perché il mito non è la semplice e nostalgica evocazione poetica di un paradiso perduto, ma diventa punto di partenza per ricercare la bellezza.
Giuseppe Attardi, Pickline
 
Musiker aus aller Welt: aus der Türkei Derya Turkan und seine persische Stachelgeige Kamantcheh, der iranische Tombak-Meister Pedram Khavar Zamini, ein Drummer und die achtköpfige Streicher-Formation Barokksolistene aus Norwegen. Jazz-Komponist und Keyboarder Jon Balke hat diese Verbindungslinien zwischen Musikerinnen und Musikern aus der Türkei, Skandinavien und Algerien und ihren Instrumenten behutsam miteinander verknüpft. Die Musik lebt von dieser glücklichen, erstaunlich organischen und inspirierenden Ko-Existenz verschiedener Kulturen, uralter Musiktraditionen und neuer Kompositionen. Und ist ein beeindruckendes Modell des feinen, respektvollen Aufeinanderhörens in subtilen Dialogen. […] ‘Hafla’ – ‘Fest’ heißt dieses Album zwischen Jazz und Global Music, das die Begegnung mit Musikern aus aller Welt in vielen Facetten feiert: als behutsame Annäherung an die uralten Gedichte aus dem Al Andalus im 11. Jahrhundert, als Zusammentreffen der Klänge des Mittleren Ostens mit der Streicher-Tradition des Westens. Das Ergebnis ist ein einzigartiger Klangteppich: filigran und dicht, suggestiv und packend.
Susanne Schmerda, Bayerischer Rundfunk
 
With this latest release, ‘Hafla’, the Norwegian keyboards player, composer and arranger, Jon Balke has produced a marvellous trilogy of albums that bridge the musical gap between musical cultures around the globe. A true trans-idiomatic, genre defying group of likeminded musicians who under Balke's vision and guidance have produced music of rare beauty. Taking his inspiration from the creative spirit of Al-Andalus, and drawing on texts and verses from Ummayad princess Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Ibn Zaydun and Ibn Sara As-Santarini that date back more than a thousand years, Balke has managed to incorporate Western string section, traditional instruments from Iran and Turkey, and the ancient texts beautifully sung by Mona Boutchebak into an ensemble music that transcends time. […] Once again, Jon Balke has brought a diverse collection of musicians together to create some truly original and unique music that just seems to go from strength to strength. With a tour imminent, let us hope that is feasible to keep this incredible ensemble together, working on and developing this music further.
Nick Lea, Jazz Views
 
Balke & Co relient la poésie arabo-andalouse du XI siècle à la musique  d’aujourd’hui, avec des musiciens et des instruments du monde entier […] C’est très beau, cette fusion, c’est touchant, délicat et si l’on se plonge dans le livret, on peut aussi apprécier la poésie des textes, tous traduits en anglais.
Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir
 
Une réussite en forme de conversations attentives entre les cultures.
Boris Senff, Tribune de Genève
 
In keeping with ECM Records’ long history of showcasing music that amalgamates music from very different traditions, Siwan brings together elements  from both Western and Islamic musical traditions. The main inspiration for the project is Al-Andalus, the name given to the Muslim-ruled states of the Iberian Pensinsula from the 8th to the 15th centuries. These Islamic states represent a golden age of mediaeval religious tolerance in Europe in which flourished a hybrid of Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. And it is this wealth of music and poetry that has inspired Balke in his three Siwan albums: ‘Siwan’, ‘Nahnou Houm’ and now ‘Hafla’. […] The appeal of Siwan for listeners is not just the innovative mix of Western and Arabic instruments, but also the beauty of the voice in most of the songs, originally sung by the remarkable Moroccan singer Amina Aloui and, in the band’s latest incarnation, by Algerian singer Mona Boutchebak. […] The use of string harmonies gives the music a sonorous orchestra feel often evocative of contemporary Arabic classical music. […] All the songs, with the exception of two instrumentals, ‘Linea Oscura’ and ‘Saeta’, are settings of poems written by poets from Al-Andalus and sung in either Arabic or Spanish. […]  There is much to enjoy on ‘Hafla’ making it an album that deserves repeated play. There is also poignancy and a strong feeling of connection and relevance to our times, not least in the cover photograph showing  a boy free-running about the ruined quarters of a town…that could easily be Beirut or Aleppo.
Graham Spry, London Jazz News,
 
Man taucht ein in das Anadalusien des 11. Jahrhunderts, mit wunderschönen Songs und manchmal an die großen ägyptischen Orchester erinnernd, in expressive, den Orient und Okzident verbindende Stimmungen.
Christian Bakonyi, Concerto
 
Balke begins with a setting of words from Wallada bint al-Mustakfi – the 11th century Umayyad Princess of Córdoba – later giving the same treatment to those of Ibn Zaydun, the great Arab-Andalus poet. This (and other material in Spanish and English) is complemented by wonderful playing from the solo instrumentalists, and backed by Barokksolistene weaving an intriguing blend of Oum Kalthoum-esque orchestral string with jazz harmonies and rhythmic bass.
Tom Newell, Songlines
 
Among other things, ‘siwan’ means ‘balance’ and the music of Siwan balances and blends a now poised, now flowing range of intimately turned song and yearning utterance with an intricate yet openly spaced rhythmic and melodic interplay of stringed instruments, keyboards and percussion, drawing on Andalusian, North African and European poetics (the last featuring baroque elements, especially). […] ‘Hafla’ is the third Siwan album. It builds on and develops the qualities of both the eponymous debut disc of 2009 – which featured, a.o., the Granada-domiciled Moroccan vocalist Amina Alaoui and ‘fourth world’ trumpeter Jon Hassell – and ‘Hahnou Houm’ from 2017, with, a.o. Algerian vocalist Mona Boutchebak, kemence master Derya Turkan, Norwegian percussionist Helge Norbakken and his compatriot, the baroque violinist Bjarte Eike, leader of the Barokksolistene. All appear on ‘Hafla’ – a superb album which, like the previous Siwan releases, will richly repay close attention from anyone with open ears and mind.
Michael Tucker, Jazz Journal
Hafla is the third album from Norwegian keyboardist-composer-arranger Jon Balke’s Siwan, launched in 2007 as a meeting point for musicians of strikingly different backgrounds and experiences.  Siwan celebrates the concept of coexistence and cooperation, making the case for the positive attributes of cultural diversity, as it looks back into history and forwards towards new models for shared work.  The legends and the poetry of al-Andalus continue to inspire Balke and company, but this is contemporary music shaped by players who choose to listen, respond and adapt.
 
Jon Balke brings many musical aspects together in his writing for a unique ensemble that includes an Algerian lead singer, a kemençe player from Turkey, an Iranian master of the tombak, an innovative Norwegian drummer and an energetic string section of baroque specialists. The interweaving of their creative contributions - in a delicate play of textures, melodies and rhythms - underlines and envelops verses penned many centuries ago.
 
Repertoire on Hafla begins with Balke’s setting of lyrics by Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, the free-thinking 11th century Ummayad princess of Cordoba and the lover of Ibn Zaydun, the great poet of al-Andalus.
 
“The story of their relationship is legendary”, Balke notes. “And Wallada also wrote some great, short and precise poems. This time, we were looking for poetry descriptive of life as it was lived in that period. Somebody made the observation that the phenomenon of co-existence begins in the neighbourhood when someone needs help. It begins in the queue to buy bread. On that kind of basic level.  It’s a good perspective, I think.”
 
Composing for Siwan frequently begins with the selection of words to be sung, he explains, as he exchanges ideas with Mona Boutchebak.  “Often it’s many processes taking place. I might suggest some poems – perhaps starting from Spanish translations of the words - and then, while walking in Nature, sing or whistle a melody into a recording device.  In my home studio I’ll develop that a bit and send it to Mona who’ll look into the translations and send me back a version sung in Arabic. Checking formal Arabic against dialect versions, and other details. Meanwhile I’ll start arranging for strings and imagining how the percussion players might work with material.”
 
With the musicians coming from diverse traditions, Balke has to be resourceful in his presentation of new pieces. “I’ve had to find ways to write new music for musicians who don’t normally read scores. For the Barokksolistene everything is written down. For the others usually I record demo versions of the material, with me playing percussion as well as keyboards and sometimes cello, so that everybody has at least a sketch of the songs.”
 
Already in the Magnetic North Orchestra,  the ensemble that was Siwan’s precursor, Balke had drawn inspiration from the sound colours and dynamics of the great Arab orchestras (and in particular the music of Egypt’s Oum Kalthoum) and sought to devise and develop a contemporary equivalent.  On Diverted Travels (2004), his collaboration with Bjarte Eike, a baroque violinist also fascinated by the overturning of boundaries, took Balke a step closer to the pulsating chamber music of his imagination. Since then, Eike and his cast of Barroksolistene have been frequent collaborators. Inside present-day Siwan one of the recurrent pleasures is hearing the ways in which kemençe player Derya Turkan engages with the baroque group, the sound of middle eastern and western string traditions converging or contrasted. “Derya is quite free in his role. He’s deeply rooted in the Ottoman school but also has a great ear for music of the west and has the ability to adapt and improvise as the music modulates through different keys.”
 
Equally absorbing is the creative percussion. Helge Norbakken’s idiosyncratic drumming insinuates itself deep into the textural fabric of the music, and the crisp tombak of Pedram Khavar Zamini which draws upon and extends Persian classical tradition, offers running commentary.
 
Zamini, Norbakken and Eike have all  been part of Siwan from the outset,  but there have been some line-up changes over the years and the first edition - with Amina Alaoui, Jon Hassell and Kheir Eddine M'Kachiche - set a high bar for musical drama, winning awards including the Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik.  By the time of 2017’s Nahnou Houm album, Siwan had transitioned from conceptual project to real band, as Balke rallied his instrumental forces around singer Mona Boutchebak.
 
“Mona’s a very creative artist,” Balke emphasizes, “although rather shy about her capacities as a composer and music maker, having grown up singing other people’s songs.”   For Hafla,   Boutchebak set Ibn Zayud’s  poem  “Mirada Furtiva” as an elegant ballad: it’s one of the album’s subtle highlights. Boutchebak sings it to the accompaniment of her kwitra, the Algerian oud, and Balke wraps a gently murmuring soundscape around it, like the whispers of the night.
 
The 2021 recording sessions – at Copenhagen’s Village Recording – called for intuitive solutions, being twice postponed by Corona restrictions and then subject to limitations on the number of musicians permitted to be in the studio at a given time.  It was finally recorded in shifts – a session with most of the soloists and Mona, and a second session with Derya Turkan and the string players.  Travel bans kept Pedram Khavar Zamini from participating directly: instead he added his tombak detailing to the work when all other elements were in place.  Listening and adapting in the Siwan tradition.
 
Now, however, the whole ensemble is keen to take to the road. Concerts are currently being finalized, and at several venues Balke plans to augment the musical performance with a visual presentation, “with video art based upon Islamic geometry.”
More details about the ensemble and Jon Balke can be found at www.siwan.no and www.magnetic.no