27 September 2021

Opening event of the Syrian Cassette Archives initiative at the Akademie der Künste

Live music, cassette/vinyl DJ sets and discussion on 9 October 2021, Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg

On 9 October 2021, the Akademie der Künste presents the Syrian Cassette Archives initiative, a documentary music project in the framework of the Akademie’s main programme this year, “Arbeit am Gedächtnis – Transforming Archives”. The evening celebrates the launch of this initiative that aims to preserve, share and research analogue music tapes from Syria’s rich “cassette era” (1980–2010). Featuring live music by Syrian composer and producer Rizan Sa’id, singer Mamoun Hamada, Omid Silêma on the bouzouq (long-necked lute) and Anas Moubayed on darbouka and tabla, a VJ set by Ahmad El Mad, cassette and vinyl DJ sets by Mark Gergis & Yamen Mekdad, complemented by a discussion with the team of the Syrian Cassette Archives. The ethnomusicologist and archivist Farah Zahra will moderate the event. 

The Syrian Cassette Archives showcases musical documents from a culturally diverse pre-war Syria, makes them accessible to the public and puts the music into contemporary dialogue with Syrian musicians and the places they currently live. The basis of this dialogue is a collection of over 500 cassettes and digital productions that the audio archivist Mark Gergis acquired on his travels through Syria between 1997 and 2000. The collection contains music by Syrian Arabs, Assyrians, Kurds and Armenians; it encompasses the entire spectrum of Syrian music that was published during the “cassette era” (1980-2010), ranging from regional folklore to pop and classical styles, studio albums, live wedding concerts, classical music, to patriotic songs and children’s music.
In close cooperation with Syrian communities in Germany, Great Britain, Lebanon, Jordan and Sweden, as well as partners in Syria, the interactive online database www.syriancassetearchives.org will make the results of this project accessible for the future. The database will include a mapping of the collection’s musical artefacts, music history research and text materials, as well as interviews and music samples.

Mark Gergis is a London-based composer, performer, producer and audio and video archivist. Since 2003, both in cooperation with Sublime Frequencies and with his own record label Sham Palace, he has been releasing his research work on archived world music, film material and field recordings made on his travels, including to the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

The Syrian Cassette Archives is a project by Mark Gergis in collaboration with Heike Albrecht and Yamen Mekdad. It is supported by Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture – AFAC and Gwärtler Foundation.

The event is a co-production with the Akademie der Künste in the framework of its main programme “Arbeit am Gedächtnis – Transforming Archives” (May – November 2021). Further information: www.adk.de/gedaechtnis


Event information
Syrian Cassette Archives
Saturday, 9 Oct, 6 pm
Akademie der Künste, Hanseatenweg 10, 10557 Berlin
Live music, cassette and vinyl DJ sets, discussion (in English)
Ticket reservations: Tel. 030 200 57-2000, ticket@adk.de
Online tickets: www.adk.de/tickets

Press tickets: Reservations at presse@adk.de or Tel. 030 20057-1514

Enquiries: Heike Albrecht, Syrian Cassette Archives, Tel. 0178 74 64 223