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HUBERT VON GOISERN & MOHAMED MOUNIR

Miscellaneous: 2003

Styrian accordion meets Arabic lute

Hessischer Rundfunk 31st March 2003 | Photos: HR

Hauptsache Kultur!: The mountain rocker Hubert von Goisern and the Egyptian pop star Mohamed Mounir

Hubert von Goisern and Mohamed MounirThe Egyptian popstar Mohamed Mounir and the Austrian alpine rocker Hubert von Goisern - an unusual pair of musicians. Their story is also unusual: with the mediation of the Goethe Institute, the pair met a year ago in Egyptian Assiut, a former fundamentalist stronghold, and just three hours before a joint concert. The professionals pulled themselves together and began to improvise. The musicians quickly found a mutual rhythm, the Styrian accordion harmonised with the Arabic oud lute.

The alpine rocker Hubert von Goisern often gets stimulus in other cultures. As an idealist he dreams the dream that music connects the people. In Assiut the dream seemed to come true. The concert was an amazing success.

Yesterday in Frankfurt. The war rages in the distance and yet is present everywhere here. Hubert waits for his friend Mohamed. But today he is getting up late. "Egyptian body clock. Chance for a walk around the Römerberg (Frankfurt's Town Hall square). A postcard of destroyed Frankfurt. German newspapers. And Arabic for the singer. It is now 13.00, the night owl Mohamed is now awake. Since the bombing of Baghdad has begun, the two have talked about the war again and again. Hubert shows Mohamed the postcard: "I found this picture of Frankfurt, it is from the end of the war. The people here experienced what destruction means. So therefore they are against the war too."

Hubert von GoisernHubert and Mohamed do not see themselves as political ambassadors. Their message is music. That is why they do not want to be considered as naïve: "It is much more naïve," says Hubert, "that one believes in bringing about peace through war, and that is probably clear to everyone. I think that playing music, as we will in the summer, for two weeks, on tour together, standing on stage together, singing in front of thousands of people. That is a feeling of being together. Not just for us, but also for the people who also experience it. It is a great celebration of an avowal of friendship."

In Assiut there was an avowal of friendship not least between the Styrian accordion and the Arabic lute. In Frankfurt: pictures of the war in German and Arabic newspapers. In both countries dismay at the violence. And fury at the USA. Above all in Egypt the abhorrence of the Iraqi dictator seems to step ever more into the background. "In Egypt," says Mohamed, "there is a lot of sympathy for what is happening in Iraq. It is shown through daily demonstrations, through loud protests. But I would like to also say something about it. I think that this war is completely unfair. Because on the one side there is enormous power and on the other side nothing at all. But I hope that we, the people who do not want this war, are in the majority. That is why we must win through at the end, I hope."

Mohamed MounirThe dialogue of cultures at least worked in Assiut, and 17,000 cheered. "I believe," says Hubert, "that it won't hurt us just because we get involved in another melody, in another kind of rhythm. It is only enriching. We put ourselves next to each other and show that it works. Every hour that I spend with Mohamed, I learn a bit more about him and also from him."

And Mohamed: "There are very many thing, which we should still learn. We must understand what happens around us, be open. But we must fight ignorance and dictatorial regimes."

Fight with words and music - these days an almost touching notion. In June and July the two musicians are going on tour in Germany together and are also playing at Hessentag in Bad Arolsen among other places.

Broadcast on Hauptsache Kultur!, HR, 27.3.03