Towards A New Divan: A Celebration of East and West through music and poetry

Towards A New Divan: A Celebration of East and West through music and poetry
2 min read
20 June, 2018
A night of poetry and music - inspired by an artistic exchange between German author Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Persian poet Hafez - will take place on Wednesday evening.
Tafahum will perform at the event [Gingko]
A concert to mark the launch of Gingko's momentous New Divan project, which will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's West-Eastern Divan, will be held at London's Wilton's Music Hall on Wednesday evening.

Twenty-four leading poets from "East" and "West" have been commissioned for the project, in a lyrical conversation inspired by the culture of "the Other", Gingko said.

Wednesday's event will see London-based contemporary fusion group Tafahum and Gingkobring an evening of music and poetry, in collaboration with Amal, a Said Foundation Project.

Tafahum - including musicians from Syria, Canada, Japan and the UK - will perform reworkings of classical pieces and a new composition inspired by Syrian poet Adonis' contribution to the project - Letter to Goethe.

"This is a thrilling and important project to be a part of and we are particularly excited to be collaborating with Gingko on it," said British composer and co-founder of Tafahum, Benjamin Ellin.

"It shows the beauty and collaboration of ideas and arts from across the cultures and how they can weave together and, ultimately, unite people."

A New Divan is based on a centuries' old dialogue between east and west, beginning with Persian poet Hafez and continuing through to Goethe and his publication of the West-Eastern Divan in 1819.

This was a collection of poems, inspired by Hafez - compiled over decades - and aimed at contributing to the artistic exchange between East and West - a conversation that will continue with A New Divan.

"I'm very excited to release on the night of the concert Adonis' brilliant poem Letter to Goethe, both in the Arabic original as well as Khaled Mattawa's English translation," said Barbara Schwepcke, CEO of Gingko.

"It will be a taster for A New Divan, a life-enhancing conversation in poetry, which Gingko will publish in 2019 to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Goethe's West-Eastern Divan."

Professor Mena Mark Hanna, Gingko trustee and Dean of the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, will introduce A New Divan on Wednesday.

The project's editor Bill Swainson will also name the 22 English-language poets taking part in A New Divan and announce upcoming events and performances connected to the project.

Next summer, the Hay and Shubbak festivals will host participating poets, followed by a festival of poetry and music at the Barenboim-Said Akademie next autumn.

A New Divan will be held at Wilton's Music Hall, Wednesday at 7:30pm. Tickets are available here​