Outernational: Isles & Rivers


Along solidifying and dissolving borders, "Isles & Rivers" tells the story of music as an eternal story of migration. And approaches the island as a real utopia.

"How do we come together, how do we combine the most diverse musical influences - from the island of Crete to the Aegean and Iran? Isles & Rivers is a journey from the past to the future, in which the different musical perspectives have grown together to form a collective of their own."
- Elisa Erkelenz, curator of the project and founder of Outernational

The listener of „Isles & Rivers“ is invited to exit and re-enter the river on different banks –sometimes foaming wildly, sometimes quietly. Compositions by the soloists of the ensemble, that grew together for this project like a family, circle around the sea, driven by migrating rhythms and melodies: Sokratis Sinopoulos is one of the greatest lyre virtuosi from Greece, Keyvan and Bijan Chemirani have developed a completely unique playing style for Persian percussion, which flows into their pieces. In his piece "Knowing Nothing", Yannis Kyriakides, who is also on stage as a live electronic musician, dedicates himself to the philosopher Metrodorus from the island of Chios. The cast assembled for the evening will also present another piece by Kyriakides: "the island remained silent". The form of the piece is a song cycle in which the automatically generated melodies are not sung but played by the ensemble. It is based on eight texts about a narrator's first encounter with an island and tells of the Mediterranean as a space of refugee experience. At performances in Berlin, Hamburg, Greece and Luxembourg, the project left an enthusiastic audience in its wake – and the journey continues!


In this new composition, the electronics played by Yannis Kyriakides are based on a rhythmic dissolution of words and voices, providing the framework for a pulsating composition in which the musicians from different traditions enter into an interlocking network of evolving phrases. The piece is inspired by a saying of the little-known pre-Socratic philosopher Metrodoros from the island of Chios: "None of us knows anything, not even whether we know or do not know, nor do we know whether there is ignorance and knowledge, nor in general whether there is something or not". The premiere of this piece took place at the Chios Music Festival 2021.


"The instruments imitate what the voice says, they mirror it - but are completely free in their way of expression. I want them to breathe meaning into the phrases in their own musical language. That's what music can do. The computer voice programmed for English, on the other hand, can only try to speak different languages, which also has a colonial aspect: English appears here as a killer language that destroys all other languages.“

- The composer about his piece

Recorded live @ Radialsystem Berlin.

A project by Outernational. Curated by Elisa Erkelenz

in cooperation with Radialsystem Berlin

Participating artists

More artists

Recording, Mix & Master: Martin Ruch | Control Room Berlin

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