Sonic Pluriverse Festival


Concerts, DJs, Listening Sessions, Workshops, Lectures

Summer 2023

All Dates

Opening Weekend: 2.–4.6.

Concert dates:  Sa 10.6. / Fr 7.7. / Fr 21.7. / Tu 25.7. / Sa 29.7.
Main concerts 20–22:00, on the roof terrace (in case of inclement weather, in the auditorium), with supporting acts and DJs Tickets...

Congorama is a sonic inquiry and musical journey, which takes as its axis three places in the world called ‘Congo’. These three geographically distant locations contain a richness of resources, unparalleled musical and cultural wealth, as well as profound similarities due to transatlantic encounters stemming from their violent colonial pasts and its resonances in the present.

This transatlantic journey goes from the Congo River through the Caribbean basin to the US. The Congo River is the second longest river in Africa, flowing over 4,700 km. It zigzags from the continent’s heart through the Congolese rainforest straight to the Atlantic Ocean, holding many stories of kingdoms, chiefdoms, trade routes, migration, enslavement, colonialism, independence, cultural diversity, creativity, and resistance. The journey leads to a remote floating village in the north of Venezuela, Congo Mirador, the place with the most lightning in the world. There are times when 120 lightning bolts flash across the sky every minute and the spirit of Afro Venezuelan drums beat with them. Further north, at Congo Square in New Orleans, there is an open space that was a meeting place to gather and to develop musical collaborations between enslaved and free people. It is a place of great historical weight for Afro-American history as a site of the arduous struggles for freedom of expression and of being by people of colour in the midst of a slave system. It was only in 2011 that this name was made official and the square was recognized as the birthplace of the cultural music of New Orleans, where African dance and drumming celebrations played a substantial role in the development of jazz. 

Congorama acts as an umbrella for unfolding research, live music performances, DJ sets, a summer open-air series, listening sessions, workshops, lectures, and a music festival. HKW audiences are invited to access traditional, ancestral knowledge, experience rhythm, music, and other sonic practices, and enjoy innovative experiences with a focus on the communal character of how sound connects diverse universes.

It is conceived as an annual programme and begins during the opening weekend 2–4 June. The three-day musical journey starts on Friday, 2 June with the Congolese rumba, whose roots are connected to West and Central African sonic imaginaries, and are also affiliated with son Cubano and jazz. This musical genre, played by many bands in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is very important for the history and development of music worldwide, and has been recognized by UNESCO as World Intangible Cultural Heritage due its pan-African values and contribution to African memory. Also stemming from Congolese rumba, soukous is a high energy, faster tempo, and highly danceable genre, which conserves elements of rock, gospel, and soul in the history of its development. Techno-soukous, a variant of soukous, is showcased by legendary musician Awilo Longomba and his band.

On Saturday, 3 June, in focus is West African music, a kaleidoscope of many genres using percussion, polyrhythms, traditional instruments, and modern sounds with resonance in different parts of the Americas in the form of boogie, makossa, funk, samba, zouk, and more. Malian star Oumou Sangaré presents a unique show which blends Wassoulou tradition with modern instrumentation from a feminist and socially-engaged perspective.

On Sunday, 4 June, the continuity of the Caribbean and the Americas, where strong legacies of Congolese music, but also Nigerian highlife and plenty of other rhythms of Africa remain in the music of the palenques and quilombos, are explored. Outlining a solid connection to the Afro-Colombian legacy, the final concert of the opening weekend showcases Estrellas del Caribe, a group heading from San Basilio de Palenque, the first free town in the Americas, performing in Berlin for the very first time. Their sound derives from the oral tradition of the first enslaved people that were brought to the country, connected in the 1970s, when the group was founded, with beats popularized through sound systems known as picós.

With contributions by:

Blick BassyChrisMan (Nyege Nyege)Blick BassySanni EstFatoumata DiawaraKaterinha & NjeriLa PerlaAwilo LongombaMakumba (Dengue Dengue Dengue)Edna Martinez MazaherMSJYOumou SangaréSLIC UnitSNOFlorence AdooniMohammad Reza MortazaviJembaa GrooveGhostpoetNação ZumbiCoco EmO.N.AFemdelicBatila & the DreamBusEtuk Ubong & The Etuk PhilosophyCami Layé OkúnLa MarimbaPat Thomas and Kuwashi Area Band