Roma und Sinti Philharmoniker with Iva Bittová and Roby Lakatos

Roma und Sinti Philharmoniker © Björn Hadem

The Morgenland Festival Osnabrück is pleased to present the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic, an extraordinary transnational orchestra, which impresses with its passionate playing and technical professionality. The concert, which takes place on Monday, 8th November at 8pm in the OS-Halle, also features two exceptional soloists. The singer and violinist Iva Bittová, who gave an extraordinarily impressive solo performance at the opening concert of this year’s festival, will play a world premiere. Commissioned by the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück the prize-winning Canadian composer André Ristic arranged for her the piece “Ne nehledej” for voice, violin and orchestra. In addition the audience will also be able to hear the talented violinist Roby Lakatos. Lakatos worked with Vadim Repin and Stéphane Grappelli and his playing was admired by Sir Yehudi Menuhin, who often stopped off in Brussels to hear him play. In 2004 Lakos appeared with the London Symphony Orchestra in the “Genius of the Violin” Festival alongside Maxim Vengerov.

The Roma and Sinti Philharmonic was founded in 2002 in Frankfurt am Main by the conductor Riccardo M Sahiti. Under his leadership the professional musicians merge together with each project into an ensemble. They come from symphony and opera orchestras all over Europe – e.g. the MDR Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna State Opera, the Opera Zürich, the Opera Frankfurt and the Opera Budapest – and regularly play together as the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic with a common conviction: They believe in the people-uniting power of music. They take their audience on a journey to discover the rich influence of Roma and Sinti culture on classical music. The Roma and Sinti Philharmonic has already performed at venues such as the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, the Berlin Cathedral, the Alte Oper Frankfurt and the Frankfurt Paulskirche, in the Frauenkirche Dresden, the Nieuwe Kerk Amsterdam, the Rudolfinum Prague and the Palace of the Arts Budapest.

According to Festival Director Michael Dreyer the postponement of the concert until the autumn due to Corona, has proved to be advantageous: “We are pleased to have been able to engage two internationally acclaimed soloists to perform together with the Roma and Sinti Philharmonic. Iva Bittová is one of the most interesting musicians at the interface between classic, folk music and jazz. Roby Lakatos is an absolutely outstanding musician who combines a brilliant technique with improvisational creativity and compositional vitality. We hope that we can say goodbye to the Corona period with exuberant energy!”

The film director Peter Nestler and his camera team will accompany the concert making a documentary for ZDF/3sat.

Tickets are available online at www.eventim.de as well as from the usual ticket offices. Ticket prices: 26€; reduced: 19€; NDR Kultur Karte: 23€. Tickets will also be available at the box office on the evening of the concert, but we would prefer tickets to be purchased in advance. Ticket-holders must adhere to the 2G regulations. Admission from 7pm.

With the friendly support of: City of Osnabrück, Stiftung Niedersachsen, Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung, Stiftung der Sparkasse Osnabrück, Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenschaft und Kultur, NDR Musikförderung in Niedersachsen, Landschaftsverband Osnabrücker Land e.V., Sievert SE, Gesellschaft der Freunde. Morgenland Festival Osnabrück e.V., Vienna House Osnabrück, Musikland Niedersachsen



CORONA Guidelines Morgenland Festival

October 8 2021

The concert on 8th November will take place under the current 2G regulations. Only persons who can provide proof of vaccination or recovery will be allowed access. Participants must obey the following rules of conduct:

  • Entry to the concert will only be allowed for persons wearing a surgical or FFP2 mask
  • After the proof of recovery or vaccination has been checked the mask may be removed once inside the building
  • Please have your documents of proof and identity ready when entering the building
  • It is not necessary to keep your distance inside the building
  • The gastronomy inside the concert hall is open


Morgenland Festival Osnabrück 2021

Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić © Marko Ercegović
Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić © Marko Ercegović

Dear Music Friends!

For over a year now the corona pandemic has had us in its grip. And the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück has also had to adapt in many ways: For the summer of 2020 we developed a sort of Morgenland TV, thus making a large part of our programme digitally available. More than 60,000 viewers have watched our channel so far. That was a really exciting experience, for the musicians as well as for the members of the team. At short notice, we then had to cancel the live edition, which was planned for December, as well as two special concerts, which were to take place at the Elbphilharmonie in April this year.

When I was planning the 2021 programme in the autumn of last year I was optimistic and had hoped that we would all be able to live and work without quarantine restrictions this summer. However, the current situation looks slightly different: Under the regulations now in place the transfer of the artists from abroad would have required about 500 days and nights of quarantine and at least 200 PCR tests. This was neither financially possible, nor would it have been fun for any of the participants.
So, in the shortest time possible, we have come up with a new programme. This year’s Festival week will feature exclusively musicians and artists who, at the moment, are living in Germany. Almost all the concerts will take place open-air in the inner courtyard of the Schloss in Osnabrück.

It was quite a special challenge, but also great joy, to develop what will hopefully be the first and last “Corona Live Edition”. Obstacles and restrictions can sometimes even be inspiring. It was the much-acclaimed family spirit of the Festival that helped us out. Over the years we have built up a vast network of friends. Thus, you can experience the Neue Hofkapelle Osnabrück in concert with Wu Wei playing his mouth-blown organ, the Osnabrück Symphony Orchestra with Dima Orsho, the Galilee Strings with Mevan Younes, Mohannad Nasser and Saleem Ashkar, the fantastic voices of Iva Bittovà, Simin Tander and Rahib Lahoud, the first appearance of the Morgenland Youngsters and so much more.

The program is online now!

See you there, soon!

Stay safe and well

Michael Dreyer


P.S. whenever you are missing Morgenland, visit our YouTube Channel



Morgenland Festival Osnabrück 2020

Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić © Marko Ercegović
Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić © Marko Ercegović

“The Balkans is one body with several hearts. An unfathomable world. Still, if you decide to immerse yourself in this universe, the right path goes through those hearts brimming with unbelievably diverse music.”

 - Maja Vasiljevic, Artistic adviser of Balkans Beyond Brass -


Dear Friends of the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück,

Due to the Corona pandemic it was not possible to stage a live version of the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück 2020. However, some of the planned concerts were recorded and were made digitally available in June, reaching an audience of over 50,000 people. The Live Edition, which was set to take place in December, also had to be cancelled at the last moment due to the pandemic. Only one concert, the “Hommage à Dinu Lipatti” with Markus Schäfer and Mihai Ungureanu, was recorded and filmed without an audience in the Radio Bremen concert hall. Excerpts will soon be available on our YouTube channel.

After celebrating the 15th Festival Edition in 2019 with many wonderful artists, all of whom have been closely associated with the Festival over the years, we turned our attention in 2020 to the Balkans. Once again, Morgenland presented a musical view of the East, without any of the usual clichés. It would seem that “Orient” and “Balkans” suffer the same fate.

Just like the Near East, the Balkans is characterised by multi-faceted ethnical and cultural influences and proves itself to be the somewhat mysterious face of Europe. Influenced by the Byzantine Empire and an over 400 year membership of the Ottoman Empire, as well as by the music of the Sephardim and the Roma, the Balkans is a veritable crossroads of music from the East and the West. Thus, the Festival programme of BALKANS BEYOND BRASS led us on an adventurous journey of discovery to seldom-heard musical gems: from Orthodox chants to Bulgarian wedding music, from the music of the Roma and Sephardim from Moldavia to the ancient songs of Serbia.

The MORGENLAND ONLINE EDITION took place from 18th to 27th June 2020 on our YouTube Channel. Our musicians recorded their music in their home countries and sent about 85GB of audio and video material. This was then edited to form the six episodes of the Morgenland Online Edition.

These contributions from Sarajevo, Belgrade, Thrace, Budapest and Thessaloniki are still available on the Festival’s YouTube channel. You can hear music by Divna Ljubojević & Melódi, as well as Bojana Nikolić & Serbian Voices from Belgrade, Amira Medunjanin, Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić from Sarajevo, Savina Yannatou fromThessaloniki and many more!

Thank you for being there. I hope we will meet again in 2021, this time in the analogue world. The Festival will take place in Osnabrück from 9th-17th July 2021.

Greetings, Michael Dreyer
Festival Director



Morgenland Festival commissions compositions

© Andy Spyra
© Andy Spyra

Osnabrück, 22nd December 2020 – The “Society of Friends of the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück” has commissioned seven compositions by musicians from various countries. This has been made possible by private members’ donations and further funding by the non-profit organisation, as well as via the support of the Stiftung Niedersachsen, the Tourist Office of the City and Region of Osnabrück, terre des hommes and the Sparkasse Osnabrück. The compositions are to be premiered by the Morgenland All Star Band during the 2022 Morgenland Festival. The artists, who all have close connections with the Festival, have each received a commission valued at €2000: Jalgasbek Iles (Kazakhstan), Dima Orsho (Syria/USA), Merima Ključo (Bosnia-Herzegovina), Moslem Rahal (Syria/Spain), Yasamin Shahhosseini (Iran), Salman Gambarov (Azerbaijan) and Ibrahim Keivo (Syria/Germany).

Because to its sponsors, and as one of only a handful of festivals, the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück was able to pay all its musicians in full during the Corona-stricken year 2020. Last summer their musical contributions were broadcast in an Online Edition of the Festival. Now the Friends of the Festival have gone one step further and, according to its chairman Prof. Dr. Karlheinz Altendorf, they are pursuing three important goals: “For many musicians commissions are the only source of income at the moment. However, musicians from those regions which are presented at the Festival seldom receive such commissions. Together with other generous sponsors, our Society supports selected musicians from these areas at this difficult time. Their compositions will, however, also enrich us – the Osnabrück audience – and, more importantly, will also extend the repertoire of composed ‘oriental music’, which is, at the moment, rather small.


Balkans Beyond Brass

Savina Yannatou © Maarit Kytoharju
Savina Yannatou © Maarit Kytoharju


by Maja Vasiljević

The Balkans are one body with several hearts. An unfathomable world. Still, if you decide to immerse yourself in this universe, the right path goes through those hearts brimming with unbelievably diverse music.

The Balkans are neither in the East nor in the West.  Geopolitically, they are no man's land. A territory scarred in many ways. One of those scars is due to their sempiternal role as a crossway. It is playing this role that the Balkans have come to be ways of passage for some and a place of friendly home for others. These lands, coveted and disputed throughout history by the empires of East and West, have been and still are at once a bridge and a frontier. And yet, their depth, their character, the many talents of their people, are almost completely neglected or just simply cloaked in pre-conceptions.

The Balkans are also an imaginary land. In each individual mind, that name triggers a different resonance, rings in a singularly distinct fashion. Some see it as the home of their childhood, others (almost everyone) cannot forget the shocking images of a land soaked in blood of brothers, and there are quite a few who simply shut them out, give them the silent treatment, as they consider the Balkans a mere appendix to Europe and a quite cumbersome one at that.

But when music takes center stage, all grievances fade as by magic: Balkan people forget how the world sees them. The very moment they hear a familiar melody, remember a poem or sense the rhythm from any of the many Balkan regions, almost all invariably begin to sway and pulsate like one, sometimes even in spite of themselves. The shoulders shake, tears linger, arms fly up into the air like wings of an elegant bird. Some clap to the rhythm, others reminisce or sing along, each going unconsciously back to the first time that song nested deep in the heart. Before the words were spoken before they were even intelligible. Before the deeds were done. Music fills the void, reassures, brings memories back from when these lands were all a happy promise, to the world and to ourselves.

Who better then, than the musicians coming from all these different lands, who breathe in and out in time with the distinct Balkan heartbeat, who instantly grasp the complex rhythms of the Balkan’s throbbing hearts; who better than them to make us regain the hope and participate in a renewed promise!

"The Balkans" - What´s in this name? Where does it come from, anyway? Why are there always quite a few who passionately and stubbornly disown the name itself, as if it were a bad omen. Can anyone really say where the region begins and where it ends? There have been endless debates about the boundaries delimiting these lands. However, the sounds of the languages, the images from the films, the aroma and tastes of the food, make all borders evanesce. And isn´t music the best food for soul? So, there! When words and deeds are overpowered by music, souls are overwhelmed with the same warm familiar feeling, the origin loses the specific weight it apparently has and common cultural background comes powerfully to the fore. You see, it is closer to the truth to think the Balkans in sentimental coordinates, than using names and claiming frontiers. Instead of delimiting the frontiers, they should be blurred into inexistence. This is what music achieves almost effortlessly in a flash. And this is what Morgenland Festival has been doing for 16 years now, everywhere and anywhere it directed its spotlight.

Musicians from the Balkans who struggled to make their voices heard in the 90s were, in a way, crying out in the desert. Their sentimental identities were torn apart, shattered. The creation was pushed into the background, their musicianship suddenly orphaned of a large audience. And to top it all off, there came the thunderous delirium of brass which inundated and sequestered the name of Balkan music. Brass orchestras have always been a part of Balkan heritage and they have their rightful place, their artistic value and their beauty. But the sheer number, the overwhelming presence, the repetition, it all produced an unexpected effect. Suddenly, brass was the synonym for Balkan music and it ended right there. Well, that was really unfortunate and quite untrue. Perhaps it was an outlet for the bottled-up feelings produced by the horrors of the civil war in the Post-Communist Yugoslavia. Everything was delirious around those who belonged by birth to the states that clashed, the unspeakable horrors were happening almost overnight in their once safe, beautiful, peaceful lands, and so many embraced brass music as a way of screaming and shaking in mock madness without falling apart.

This year what Morgenland Festival intends is to try and free the music lover from the misconceptions regarding the music coming from South-East Europe (incidentally, South-East Europe is a geopolitical term taken up anew, after a prolonged period of disuse, as if coined on purpose in order avoid using the B word.) Well, the 2020 Morgenland Festival actually uses three B words: we have called our 16th Edition, Balkans Beyond Brass. We intend to will free all of our minds from stereotypes that burden the names we love, the roots we cherish.

We do know of course that in Bulgaria rises the imponent mountain range that lends the Balkans their name. Yet, there is also another story, a more poetic one, about the name´s provenance. A large part of the Balkans had been under the Ottoman rule for some 500 years. The cultural traces are everywhere (although almost everyone goes out of their way to deny and erase them), in the languages, in the microtonal melodic ornaments, in the food, in the architecture (where preserved), in the religion... Well, it so happens that bal in Turkish means honey and kan is the word for blood! The meaning of BAL-KAN would ,therefore, be the land of honey and blood.

During both the online edition and the live one, we will offer our audience a beautiful, exciting and surprising variety of music and musicians from the Balkans far beyond brass.

Among the singularly unique marvels this heritage is composed of, are the musical treasures guarded forever in the lush forests, in breathtakingly beautiful mediaeval churches, richly frescoed monasteries, tiny villages, among solitary shepherds on mountain tops, in imperial palaces, enchanted islands, even on the battlefields and especially on borderlands. So this year you will be able to bask in the Lautari wizardry from Romania, the staggering kaval prowess from Bulgaria, the spellbinding, meandering tunes of the Byzantine cherubs from Old Serbia, the Sephardic tunes exuding nostalgia from Thessaloniki, the gripping sounds of renewed music for  accordion from Sarajevo, the enthrallingly powerful a capella singing from Serbian most dearly held treasure chests, and much, much more.

Maramures, Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia (North, East, South and whichever), Kosovo, Thrace, Khalkidhiki, Bizantium and Contantinople. Sarajevo, Mostar, Thessaloniki, Tuzla, Belgrade and Ohrid. The Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean and Black Sea. Even Barcelona! Once more the Morgenland Festival has gone deep, far and wide to bring you a privileged first glimpse of the music of the Balkans.

We will probably never reach a consensus on the terrestrial boundaries of the Balkans, but we can unite all its hearts in one. A huge, iridescent, fascinating heart that beats through music. Thus, the 16th Edition of Morgenland Festival Osnabrück takes a step towards unraveling the mystery and solving the Balkan’s riddle.  We do so in our usual way, by celebrating music with you and bringing outstanding musicians together…

Isn´t it astonishing that such a rich and diverse culture still remains an unexplored terrain: terra ignota, despite being, so to speak, just around the corner from Western Europe? The Balkans are right there, just a little further east of Trieste. Well here is a thought: maybe, just maybe, we have been deafened for too long by the Balkan Brass. Therefore, let´s all marvel together at the astoundingly rich music heritage this region has treasured for centuries:

The 16th Morgenland Edition brings you the uncharted Balkans: we give you Balkans Beyond Brass!

Maja Vasiljević was born in Belgrade. In 1991 she moved to Spain. She writes, directs and presents the Rumbo al Este (Eastbound) radio program on Radio Clásica, RNE, Spanish National Radio, and is the artistic adviser of the Balkans Beyond Brass program at Morgenland Festival Osnabrueck.


Morgenland Festival Osnabrück 2020

Bogdan Văcărescu © Sarah Emma Smith
Bogdan Văcărescu © Sarah Emma Smith


“The Balkans are one body with several hearts. An unfathomable world. Still, if you decide to immerse yourself in this universe, the right path goes through those hearts brimming with unbelievably diverse music.”
-Maja Vasiljevic, Artistic adviser of Balkans Beyond Brass-


Dear Friends of the Morgenland Festival Osnabrück,

in these unusual times, which demand an intensive degree of consideration and solidarity from us all, I am especially pleased to be able to present this year’s programme. Due to the current situation we have decided to offer two versions: In June we will present an online edition and in December, assuming it will then be possible, there will be a live edition. Both formats will be titled BALKANS BEYOND BRASS.

After celebrating the 15th anniversary of the Festival last year with many wonderful artists who are closely linked to the Festival, this year we are laying our focus on a new region. Once again Morgenland will set its musical sights towards the east, leaving aside all clichés. The “Orient” and “Balkans” seem to share the same fate when it comes to clichés.

Similarly to the Middle East, the Balkans is characterized by multiple ethnic and cultural influences and can be regarded as a mysterious face of Europe. Influenced by the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman Empire, by the music of the Sephardim and the Roma the Balkans is a crossroads of western and eastern musical influences. Thus, the programme of the Festival BALKANS BEYOND BRASS takes us on an adventurous journey of discovery to musical treasures never previously heard: from orthodox chants to Bulgarian wedding music, from the music of the Roma and Sephardim from Moldavia to ancient songs from Serbia.

The MORGENLAND ONLINE EDITION took place on our YouTube Channel during the original period of the Festival from 18th to 27th June. Our musicians played in their own countries and enthral you with concerts and background information from Sarajevo, Belgrade, Thrace, Budapest and Thessaloniki. You can look forward to meeting Divna Ljubojević & Melódi as well as Bojana Nikolić & Serbian Voices from Belgrade, Amira Medunjanin, Merima Ključo & Jelena Milušić from Sarajevo, Savina Yannatou from Thessaloniki and many more!

Come with us to discover a hitherto unknown Balkans, and discover BALKANS BEYOND BRASS – ‘online’ from 18th June to 27th and ‘live’ from 3rd to 6th December 2020 at various concert venues in Osnabrück.

We look forward to seeing you!

Michael Dreyer
festival director