Albanian integrates çifteli at the Hamburg Philharmonic

Albanian integrates çifteli at the Hamburg Philharmonic

TIRANA, May 29- Hava Bekteshi who works as an economist at Neustadt near Hamburg, Germany, has migrated from Macedonia to Germany with her parents when she was 14 years old. Albanian autochthonous music and our most famous instrument the çifteli,

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“Onufri” Museum to implement audio guides

“Onufri” Museum to implement audio guides

TIRANA, May 29- The National Iconic Museum “Onufri” in Berat introduced the digital audio guide system on April 23. The Ministry of Culture announced that the audio guide system introduces a new digital model in Albania in order to encourage

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Culture Ministry freezes translation and composition funds

Culture Ministry freezes translation and composition funds

TIRANA, May 26- In its book policy the Ministry of Culture has opened a fund for literary creativity and translation for several years. But this year is accompanied by delays in the call for which the ministry needs to make

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“It is forbidden not to touch!”

“It is forbidden not to touch!”

TIRANA, May 25- The National History Museum and the Institute for blind children “Ramazan Kabashi” organized a collaborative activity titled “It is forbidden not to touch,” with the aim of promoting the rights of children with sight disabilities, as well

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Albania of 1928-31 from the eyes of two Italian diplomats

Albania of 1928-31 from the eyes of two Italian diplomats

TIRANA, May 23- The Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD) within the quarters of the Prime Minister’s office is displaying a special exhibition of 86 photos from the personal archive of diplomats Pietro and Larissa Quaroni about an Albania during

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Qerimaj’s “Arch of Triumph”

Qerimaj’s “Arch of Triumph”

TIRANA, May 23- The “Arch of Triumph of Qerimaj” is a concert that was held in Tirana’s Amphitheater yesterday, and it was a cultural event that brought together nine artists from the renowned Qerimaj family, to whom French musicians that

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International Puppet Fest returns in Tirana

International Puppet Fest returns in Tirana

TIRANA, May 23- The second edition of the International Puppet Festival returns to the Metropol Theater scene on May 25 to June 1. Troops with a long tradition in this theater genre such as China, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Israel,

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Driant Zeneli represents Albanian at Venice Biennale

Driant Zeneli represents Albanian at Venice Biennale

TIRANA, May 14- Under the presence of Albanian and foreign artists and under the attention of international media, the Albanian pavilion was opened at the Venice Biennale on Friday. In this 58th edition, Albania was represented by artist Driant Zeneli

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Exhibition for things left behind by children taken from war

Exhibition for things left behind by children taken from war

TIRANA, May 16- How is to see an empty cradle? What about a vest hanging on a wooden pendant? Two sweaters that almost wander in a memory space? How is it to see a pair of almost brand new sneakers,

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Thomas Simaku performs at 2019 World Music Days

Thomas Simaku performs at 2019 World Music Days

TIRANA, May 12- The piece La Leggiadra Luna by Albanian composer Thomas Simaku was performed at the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) – World Music Days in Tallinn on 4 May 2019. Composed for mixed choir a cappella, this

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 29- Hava Bekteshi who works as an economist at Neustadt near Hamburg, Germany, has migrated from Macedonia to Germany with her parents when she was 14 years old. Albanian autochthonous music and our most famous instrument the çifteli, has always been an integral part of the free time at the home where Bekteshi grew up. In this way this instrument became for her a means of expressing her feelings, longing and sorrow since her early childhood.

Over time, her çifteli crossed the walls of her home and her family, and she started playing the instrument and introducing it in the schools she attended, in various orchestras, amongst other artists, and wherever else the Albanian economist could find the opportunity to make this part of the Albanian tradition known.

“I have participated in various festivals, in collaboration with musicians of different genres, where I've always included the çifteli. Then I have developed projects with German students, projects in theatres, like the German Theatre ‘Deutsches Schauspielhaus,’ but also outside Germany in cities such as Venice, Lyon, etc.,” said Bekteshi.

But Bekteshi considers her appearance at the concert performed with the famous Hamburg Philharmonic (Elbphilarmonie) as the coronation of her efforts in this regard. This was carried on May 25, under the project “Stadtlied” (City Song) that took place in Hamburg. At Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, she played with her çifteli the renowned “Tingellon teli i Çiftelise” (The çifteli string dings). This is the first time that our most famous instrument is seen and heard at a concert of such sizes. 

“It was something so incredible and I am very grateful that I was able to stay in this giant stage together with so many other professional artists,” said Bekteshi.

She has been chosen as one of the protagonists of this grand concert, for which major German media have reported and written on. They also conducted a portrait on the young Albanian. This concert was preceded by a long and intense preparation through various rehearsals and workshops. There were over 100 participants of different genders, ages, professions and origins. The purpose of this project was to introduce Hamburg as a cosmopolitan and diversified city, where a large number of communities of different descents live and interact.

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 29- The National Iconic Museum “Onufri” in Berat introduced the digital audio guide system on April 23. The Ministry of Culture announced that the audio guide system introduces a new digital model in Albania in order to encourage similar innovative initiatives in other museums, touristic and cultural sites, enriching the tourist experience in Albania. 

The tourists have the opportunity to discover the museum and its masterpieces in four different languages, Albanian, Italian, English and German. The guide covers the stories of 40 rare works, narrated within an hour and a half. The tourists will have the opportunity to explore, learn, and establish a personal relationship with the works and the museum. “Onufri” will thus be the first museum in Albania that offers such a service to its visitors, according to European standards. It is expected that the performance of the museum will increase, which will be reflected in the number of visitors, but also their evaluation for the service provided. The implementation of the Digital Audio-guide System at the National Iconic Museum “Onufri” is made with the intervention of IntoAlbania (Innovative Tourism in Albania), a project funded by USAID and Sweden in cooperation with the Ministry of Culture and the museum “Onufri.” A cooperation agreement was signed for the project in September 2017 with the aim of promoting the Albanian cultural heritage. French company “Orpheo” which is specialized in digitalization and services offered in museums all over the world, is the technological partner. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 26- In its book policy the Ministry of Culture has opened a fund for literary creativity and translation for several years. But this year is accompanied by delays in the call for which the ministry needs to make on these funds. A year ago the fund for translating Albanian literature into a foreign language, the ministry call for applications was March 1. But so far in this year, the ministry has made no open proclamations neither for the fund nor for literary composition.  

Found under these circumstances, the writers said that it is not fair that the Ministry of Culture does not report on policies that are being developed to support creativity and translation. Writer Pandeli Koçi said that it is unknown so far with what program will the Ministry of Culture support authors this year. He said that if the call for funding will not open then there will be no programs for various artistic and literary projects. This would affect both the translation and the authors in their creativity processes. He wonders how will the ministry promote the artistic-cultural activities, and why it hasn’t state the reasons for terminating the program if it has decided so, or why there have been no calls for funds this far. 

“What other means will the ministry use to encourage this activity that is vital to Albanian culture? The ministry needs to clarify why there is no funding is available so far, and the secondly, what it plans to fund this practice,” said Koçi. 

Even for another author Vasil Premçi the Ministry of Culture has shown a lack of transparency. He said the writers are excluded from the ministry. Premçi said that issues with splitting the funds have always occurred, because they weren’t distributed with a fair estimate, but rather how the ministry has desired.

Writer Xhahid Bushati on the other hand said he has the impression that the Ministry of Culture is showing more attention to tourism.He said that previously funds for creative writing composition and translation would be called on March, however it seems to him that the Ministry is focusing too much on cultural tourism. This has led the attention to divert from the problematics Albanian literature is facing and children's literature in particular. He said this has damaged Albanian literature because it does not give impulse, thus getting to low readership. 

Regarding this problem, official sources at the Ministry of Culture suggest that book projects are still under review and delays are related to some changes in the ministry's structures. The Ministry of Culture has said it will soon come out with an official announcement about this matter. However, these funds are seen as a help to the authors or the translators, although different authors or publishers have claimed that there should be more transparency and fairer estimates of the applications being made.
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 25- The National History Museum and the Institute for blind children “Ramazan Kabashi” organized a collaborative activity titled “It is forbidden not to touch,” with the aim of promoting the rights of children with sight disabilities, as well as supporting people with disabilities to have access to all walks of life, both in cultural centers and other public centers. In the second edition of event “It is forbidden not to touch” another group of children with visual problems got to touch various objects at the National History Museum. 

This activity consists of planned visits to the NHM pavilions by disabled students. The students of the “Ramazan Kabashi” Institute, equipped with gloves given by the staff of the museum, were able to touch the predetermined objects, original objects exhibited in the museum pavilions. The contact with these objects was accomplished with the help of the museum employees, who led the children along the wards, and during palpating the objects gave the description and relevant history for each object. Pre-designed objects to be tackled were secured and fixed to the right height to avoid potential damages. 

The National Historical Museum further writes that it is a welcoming, warm, inclusive, accessible and positive Institution for people with disabilities who would like to visit and work on it. 

“Children with sight disabilities came to experience the world by their hands. At the same time, the ability to touch and feel the original objects is a new way to teach the ancient Albanian civilization,” the museum wrote. 

There are about 5000 objects in the museum's premises, which belong to a relatively long period of time, beginning in the 4th century BC and until the second half of the 20th century. The museum is conceived so that the presentation is made through eight pavilions, such as antiquity, medieval, national revival, independence, icons, etc. Albania's material and immaterial cultural heritage is promoted through the stands of the museum, which provides adequate space for displaying collections.

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 23- The Center for Openness and Dialogue (COD) within the quarters of the Prime Minister’s office is displaying a special exhibition of 86 photos from the personal archive of diplomats Pietro and Larissa Quaroni about an Albania during 1928-1931, and its elitary rich families and politicians of the time. The photos were made by the Quaroni couple during their diplomatic mission at the Italian Embassy in Albania in this period of four years and most of them are exhibited for the first time for the public. The photographs of different sizes and are accompanied by two documentaries of the same period, one of them is from the “Luce” archive which is temporarily given for this exhibition, and shows the moment when Foreign Minister Dino Grandi visited Albania. For the first time it is possible to see in its entirety the rich archive of over 780 photographs, digitized for this occasion, and gifted to Albania by their granddaughter Cristina Quaroni. 

In this exhibition the visitor is given the opportunity to discover the Albanian events, people, everyday life, landscapes and traditions, as seen and lived by the Quaroni couple in an historical and social context, which presents a lot of interest: astonishing and authentic scenery, a realistic look not particularly common on political figures and characters who dominated the Albanian scene during the 1920s and 1930s. The diplomatic couple themselves have posed with traditional Albanian costumes, which are also exposed in this exhibition. After the Quaronis come to Albania, they start to get acquainted with the country's elite, they participate in dinners and receptions, and pull the threads of the time’s politics. We remind that Italy of this time is very close to Albania. Among all their daily engagements they also shot about hundreds of photographs of politicians, beys, and large Albanian families. 

During an info-session held at COD which was moderated by renowned journalist Blendi Fevziu, he mentioned that some of the important characters of the time displayed in these photographs rarely appear in our archives, such as the photo of one of the most beautiful women of Albania of those years, Sara Blloshmi, or personalities like Iliaz Vrioni and Eqerem Bej Vlora. Historian Nevila Nika also said on the perspectives these photographs offer in many disciplines, such as “architects can see how Tirana was in 1928, the sociologist or the anthropologist can see the clothing worn then and the social activities, those who study political science can see the politicians of those times.” She added that these pictures offer an important historical context because Albanian photography and its elements has suffered many losses in files and documents due to the various wars our country went through.

[caption id="attachment_141890" align="aligncenter" width="504"]60158720_871725509834259_9166835724480151552_n The Quaroni couple[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_141898" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Cristina Quaroni (left) talking to Alberto Cutillo (right), Italian Ambassador to Albania Cristina Quaroni (left) talking to Alberto Cutillo (right), Italian Ambassador to Albania[/caption]

60681711_875741929432617_2018076085803024384_n

[caption id="attachment_141893" align="aligncenter" width="900"]Prince Leka Prince Leka[/caption]

60788151_875741916099285_3898864495472148480_n

61027659_875822902757853_7416063778816524288_o

[caption id="attachment_141896" align="aligncenter" width="717"]Diplomat Rauf Fico (left_, and former prime minister Koço Kotta (right) Diplomat Rauf Fico (left), and former prime minister Koço Kotta (right)[/caption]

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                    [post_title] => Albania of 1928-31 from the eyes of two Italian diplomats
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 23- The “Arch of Triumph of Qerimaj” is a concert that was held in Tirana's Amphitheater yesterday, and it was a cultural event that brought together nine artists from the renowned Qerimaj family, to whom French musicians that have performed the “Gladiator” film’s soundtrack joined. It was a festive concert that brought together three generations of the Qerimaj family on the occasion of the 85th anniversary of birth to musical dynasty’s father, Ethem Qerimaj.

Renowned composer and Ethem’s son, Fatos Qerimaj, said on Tuesday that they will introduce instrumentalists to the Albanian public. The 85th anniversary of his father was paid special attention to, so it would make him [Ethem] happy with an evening on his triumphant career. That is why, Fatos said, the title “Arch of Triumph” was given to the concert an abstraction of his artistic career.

“We have a Tirana suite, one from the North and one from the South. The concert will include all Albanian territories,” added composer Qerimaj, while he noted that special guests at this concert will be the French instrumentalists who have been part of the realization of the “Gladiator” soundtrack.

Renowned French instrumentalist Levon Minassian, who has cooperated with Charles Aznavour, Helene Segara, Peter Gabriel, Tony Levin, Armand Amar and Sting, said he was very happy to be at this concert in Tirana. He plays the duduk, an instrument that has been part of many soundtracks he has performed in, and noted that it was very important that the instrument was even more evident in the gladiator film. The Qerimaj family and the French instrumentalists performed their best repertoire of traditional, Balkan, and European music. 

 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 23- The second edition of the International Puppet Festival returns to the Metropol Theater scene on May 25 to June 1. Troops with a long tradition in this theater genre such as China, Spain, Italy, Mexico, Poland, Israel, and England, will entertaining both children and all age groups. Albania is represented with two shows “Where the mountain meet the moon” written by Grace Lin, and the musical show “Goodwill” by Elona Hyseni. 

This second edition is organised by Tirana’s Metropol Theater in cooperation with Klau's Film Association. Armela Demaj who is Artistic Director at Metropol Theater said that a second edition which includes international troops is brought for the public follow last year’s success, where the shows were organized in two different locations within the Metropol Theater and at the Skanderbeg Square. One of the festival organizers explained how the selection of works was done and the plays chosen to be performed are so different from one-another, both from the content and techniques. Director Klajdi Ymeri said this confrontation serves not only to the public but also to the artists. 

Some of the representative performances during the festival are “Where the mountain meets the moon,” “Twisting the tail” from Israel, “Catching the puppets” from Mexico, “Ugly duckling” from Poland, “Spring Beauties” from China, “Bravo, Bravissimo!” from Italy, “Time Game” by Spanish writer David Zuazola, “The mirror” from England etc.. The troops will stage two performances each, one during the morning at the Metropol Theater and the other every evening at Skanderbeg Square. 
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 14- Under the presence of Albanian and foreign artists and under the attention of international media, the Albanian pavilion was opened at the Venice Biennale on Friday. In this 58th edition, Albania was represented by artist Driant Zeneli with his video installation “Maybe the Cosmos is not so extraordinary,” curated by Alicia Knock. 

The ceremony was opened by Minister of Culture Elva Margariti, who said that Albania is presented in this artistic cosmos with a work that is born in Bulqiza and exceeds the local boundaries to convey a much more universal message. She thanked all those who were present and in support of the beauty that Albanian art creates and represents in a parade of world art. She expressed her gratitude for the representation by Driant, a young, energetic talent with a longstanding and dedication to his art, which according to Margariti is representing us well in this event, as noticed by the many foreign media writings.

“We join this biennial with a fracture of dimensions, bringing small stories from small towns and turning them to contemporary art and in the dimension of beauty. We are aware that his art also brings a controversy over which I would like to invite reflection and discussion,” said Margariti.

Curator Alicia Knock said that Zeneli's work shows how dreams can become a reality. She said that Driant's work speaks of a specific reality of Albania, of Bulqiza, of chrome, which travels from the heart of the mountain to the cosmos, describing a geopolitical, economic, and industrial journey in Zeneli's work.

“This cosmos is not only built by me, but many people have worked for one year to accomplish this work, starting with the five heroes who are the protagonists in the piece. My work is dedicated to all those who believe in dreams and seek to push their limits every day,” said artist Driant Zeneli.

The opening ceremony was attended by artists Anri Sala, Adrian Paci, Edi Muka, Alban Muja, Anila Rubiku and others. Curator Edi Muka praised the metaphor used by Zeneli to connect the overground with the subterranean. Artist Anri Sala focused on how Zeneli selected the topic with the general theme of the biennial, with the concerns and problems that this edition deals with, as well as trying to find other alternatives. Artist Adrian Paci calls the concept of Driant Zeneli's work a finding, linking reality with fantasy, the underworld of Albania with the cosmos. Kosovo's representative at the Venice Biennale, Alban Muja, praised not only the concept of the work, but also the installation of the pavilion. “You Live In Interesting Times” is the title of the 58th edition of the Venice Biennale and refers to an ancient Chinese curse that evokes times of uncertainty, crises and chaos. The interesting times as we are living. This edition is curated by Ralph Rugoff, under the chairmanship of Paolo Baratta. According to Rugoff, “maybe art, indirectly, can turn into a guide to how we can live and think.” In this edition located at the “Giardini e Arsenale”  90 countries participated, while 21 collateral events take place around Venice.

Driant Zeneli was born in Shkoder in 1983, and lives between Milan and Tirana. In 2011 he was one of the artists who represented Albania at the 54th International Art Exhibition – Venice Biennale. In 2008 he won the Onufri International Contemporary Art Prize, Tirana; the Young European Artist Award Trieste Contemporanea in 2009, and the MOROSO Prize, Italy, in 2017. He was the artistic director of Mediterranea 18, the Young Artists Biennale from Europe and Mediterranean, taking place for the first time in 2017 between Tirana and Durres. He has exhibited at Passerelle, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Brest, (2018); Mostyn Gallery, Wales, UK (2017); MuCEM, Marseille, (2016); Academie de France à Roma, (2016); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); MSFAU Tophane-i Aime, Istanbul, (2016); Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani, Milan (2015; 2010); IV Bienal del Fin del Mundo, Chile (2015); Viafarini, Milan (2014); GAM, Museum of Modern and Contemporaryart Turin (2013); White House Biennial, Athens (2013); KCCC, Klaipeda, Lithuania (2013); ZKM, Karlsruhe (2012); MUSAC, Castilla León. Spain,(2012); TICA, Tirana (2012); Prague Biennale 5, Prague (2011); 98 weeks Project Space, Beirut (2011); Trongate 103, Glasgow (2011); National Gallery of Kosove, Prishtine (2010); Museo d’Arte Contemporanea Villa Croce, Genoa (2009); National Gallery of Tirana, (2008).

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                    [post_title] => Driant Zeneli represents Albanian at Venice Biennale
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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 16- How is to see an empty cradle? What about a vest hanging on a wooden pendant? Two sweaters that almost wander in a memory space? How is it to see a pair of almost brand new sneakers, because the one who wears them is no longer there, because they did not let him wear them until torn? What about a sweater inside a mosque, stopped in a moment of eternity? How is it looking at many tearful eyes, the mothers of children who never grew up? 

20 years later, the colors of their drawings have faded. The paper of their books, as well. 20 years later, just the image of their portraits hurts all the same. Parents still mourn, but no longer have to feel that this is a dream. They almost never find the power to believe this is just a dream. It's ironic to see a child's list of grades below a clean glass. The child is here no longer, but the list remains. How does human life die faster than a piece of paper that proves that in the ether we feel today, once breathed a daughter or a son.

“Once upon a time” is the natural beginning of every fable. In this case, it is the beginning of a war confession. Under the naive eyesight of our children, a world that does not belong to reality, like fairy tales, is opened to us. Blerta Hoçia launches the curatorial text of an exhibition that remembers Kosovo children who never grew up as a fairytale. They would be in their 30s today, but they were killed somewhere, their lives were taken somewhere else, turning their fairy tale into a tragedy. The things they left behind create the slumber of a life torn from the sprout, and their weight in the air passes every pain of pain.

“They were soldiers dressed in the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army), but they are children, I do not know what the child did that they killed it ... I wish the bullets would have taken me instead of my children, to have been with them instead of seeing their photos here today,” says Mejremja (for ‘Life’ in Kosovo), the mother of one of the children shot, while she sees photographs at the exhibition that reminded 1,133 children killed in the Kosovo war between 1998 and 2000.

“A glass room inside the space contains all the weight of the objects. To remind us that this exhibition can be seen from the children's point of view, these objects are suspended in the tale as dormant inside the box. A seemingly sleepiness of these objects left in the darkness of unconsciousness that arouses personal and collective memory from the need to constantly forget,” curator Hochia noted. 

The windshield creates the same sensation as the memories, they are there but you can not touch them. Like the love for those who are no longer, you feel it, but you can not embrace it. Like the longing for ones you no longer have, they are somewhere in your heart, you are talking, scream the pain and love, but in the suspense of the memorial room you receive no answer. The items and outfits here cease to be objects and clothing. They turn into personal stories that accompany the presence of the children themselves. This presence of another dimension, blended with bullets and fairy tales that break suddenly like the glass containing them, carrying all the implied symbolism.

This exhibition comes as an invitation for confrontation and reflection, for dialogue and recovery, to start building a collective memory through these objects and others that will be added in the future. The objects belonging to children remind us of everyday life, monotonous life, the little precious things that we do not always notice. Some of them tell us about a silent game that still continues.

“Perhaps a game that accompanied coexistence with the war and continues to be reflected in all the remaining items that convey the gentle eyes of the children, which heal and release a ray of hope by making their memory eternal,” said exhibition curator Blerta Hocia.

She cares to point out that more than an exhibition, this is a memorial dedicated to children killed and disappeared in the war. Why are memorials made and the ruins of the consequences of serious human rights violations preserved? The answer is clear, they are not just to remind and honor the victims and the survivors, but also to seek the truth. In seeking this truth, the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo is fully committed, and for the creation of this memorial it was discussed with the parents and the relatives of the victims, thus this exhibition expresses their wish to reminisce them through the few things left from an interrupted childhood.

The exhibition was brought by the Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo and supported by NED, Municipality of Prishtina, Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports. It was opened on May 13, 2019 at the Kosovo Documentation Center. The Humanitarian Law Center Kosovo (HLCK) since 1997 deals with documenting victims of war crimes and other serious violations of human rights. All HLCK activities are in the field of Transitional Justice and contribute to achieving justice for victims, establishing accurate narratives on the war, supporting victims in realizing their right to reparations and educating young people on Transitional Justice . Finally, the HLCK also contributes to the memorialization of the war victims.

Items are all stored by family members, and for many of them, they are the only remaining items they have from their children. With the collection of items and contacts with family members has dealt the Kosovo Humanitarian Law Center. Hocia said it was very difficult for her preparing the exhibition. She added that the theme is very sensitive and painful, but nevertheless she tried this exhibition to convey empathy, and to reflect on the past and make it easier to confront it. Hocia who has a long experience with exhibitions, said she has learned a lot about the war and that period during her research ,and realized that much of that information in Albania has not come either at that time or now. 

“It is important to see this as a first step in building a collective memory or a memory museum,” she said.

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                    [post_content] => TIRANA, May 12- The piece La Leggiadra Luna by Albanian composer Thomas Simaku was performed at the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM) – World Music Days in Tallinn on 4 May 2019. Composed for mixed choir a cappella, this work is a setting of Sappho’s poem translated from ancient Greek into modern Italian by the Nobel Prize-winning Sicilian poet Salvatore Quasimodo, and has previously received its world premiere by the 24 vocal ensemble at the University of York.

Simaku’s works have been selected by international juries in ten editions of this festival, which has been described as the “Music Olympics.” Founded in 1922, the ISCM Festival is the oldest forum of new music in the world, which takes place every year in a different country. Simaku’s piece in the 2019 edition of ISCM was performed by the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble the Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir, conducted by Kaspars Putniņš. The concert was broadcasted live on national radio, and transferred across Europe through the European Broadcasting Union. Thomas Simaku was one of three British composers representing the UK at this prestigious festival this year.

In his review of the concert Timmy Fisher wrote that “the most memorable moment of the evening, however, came at the climax of Thomas Simaku’s La Leggiadra Luna (The Beautiful Moon), in which a thundering eight-note chord reverberated around the St Nicholas’ rafters for what felt like an eternity.” 

Simaku was born in Kavaje in 1958 and grew up surrounded by music. He was sent to the music school of Durres when he was 14 years old to study oboe, accordion, harmony & counterpoint. After the music school in Durrës, Simaku enrolled in the State Conservatory of Music in the capital Tirana, studying composition under Tonin Harapi. Then he moved to England in 1991, when he was 33 years old, forced to start his career path all over again. As postgraduate studies he enrolled at York University for a PhD in composition, where he studied with David Blake. Blake introduced him to the Second Viennese School, where Simaku immersed himself into the music banned in Albania. Bartok, Stravinsky, Berio, Boulez, Birtwistle, Xenakis, Lutoslawski et al., have all had their input during his study years at York. But it was with the music of Ligeti and Kurtag that Simaku felt he discovered something very special, which was more than an inspiration to him.

Simaku faced many challenges while trying to settle in UK, both in learning a new language, but also having to miss his father’s funeral because he couldn’t leave the country. Nevertheless, he was the Leonard Bernstein Fellow in Composition at Tanglewood Music Centre, USA studying with Bernard Rands, and a fellow at the Composers’ Workshop, California State University with Brian Ferneyhough. Simaku’s music has been reaching audiences across Europe, the USA and further afield for more than two decades, and it has been awarded a host of accolades for its expressive qualities and its unique blend of intensity and modernism.

His latest piece was written for six musicians of Klangforum Wien. His latest String Quartet (No 5), commissioned by the HCMF and first performed in 2015, was written specifically for Quatuor Diotima, will be recorded later in 2019 for a new CD with the Swedish label BIS Records to be released in 2020. He has also composed The Scream for String orchestra based on the iconic painting by Edvard Munch, which received its world premiere in 2017 performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.

“I could say that an important characteristic of my musical language is putting together elements from disparate musical cultures. Often, complex chordal structures or multi-layered textural formats are reduced to just one single note which becomes a kind of ‘atomistic compression’ with a magnetic quality, as it were, around which various colouristic elements orbit freely,” said Simaku regarding his musical language. 

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                    [post_title] => Thomas Simaku performs at 2019 World Music Days
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            [post_content] => TIRANA, May 29- Hava Bekteshi who works as an economist at Neustadt near Hamburg, Germany, has migrated from Macedonia to Germany with her parents when she was 14 years old. Albanian autochthonous music and our most famous instrument the çifteli, has always been an integral part of the free time at the home where Bekteshi grew up. In this way this instrument became for her a means of expressing her feelings, longing and sorrow since her early childhood.

Over time, her çifteli crossed the walls of her home and her family, and she started playing the instrument and introducing it in the schools she attended, in various orchestras, amongst other artists, and wherever else the Albanian economist could find the opportunity to make this part of the Albanian tradition known.

“I have participated in various festivals, in collaboration with musicians of different genres, where I've always included the çifteli. Then I have developed projects with German students, projects in theatres, like the German Theatre ‘Deutsches Schauspielhaus,’ but also outside Germany in cities such as Venice, Lyon, etc.,” said Bekteshi.

But Bekteshi considers her appearance at the concert performed with the famous Hamburg Philharmonic (Elbphilarmonie) as the coronation of her efforts in this regard. This was carried on May 25, under the project “Stadtlied” (City Song) that took place in Hamburg. At Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, she played with her çifteli the renowned “Tingellon teli i Çiftelise” (The çifteli string dings). This is the first time that our most famous instrument is seen and heard at a concert of such sizes. 

“It was something so incredible and I am very grateful that I was able to stay in this giant stage together with so many other professional artists,” said Bekteshi.

She has been chosen as one of the protagonists of this grand concert, for which major German media have reported and written on. They also conducted a portrait on the young Albanian. This concert was preceded by a long and intense preparation through various rehearsals and workshops. There were over 100 participants of different genders, ages, professions and origins. The purpose of this project was to introduce Hamburg as a cosmopolitan and diversified city, where a large number of communities of different descents live and interact.

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