Mschatta Lounge

The 6-part concert series "Mschatta Lounge" opened the museum as a platform for cross-over productions and musical inspiration from the midst of changing societies. The idea was to combine music with works of art to create expressions of global interdependence that would be multi-sensitively perceptible. Six bands were invited to the "Mschatta Lounge" in 2019, each of which interpreted an object from the exhibition in their own musical language. The compositions can be found as "Mschatta Tracks" on the audio guides and on this website under the respective musicians.

The interfaces of social diversity are made visible throughout The Museum for Islamic Art. Many objects were created through cross-cultural exchange, typically through the migration of artists, ideas and objects. Music also migrated across epochs and all political, ethnic, religious and linguistic boundaries, and continues to develop through dynamic exchange to this day.

Many classical and modern musical instruments have their ancestors in the Middle East, whether guitar, oboe or violin. The museum contains numerous illustrations of these instruments from many different centuries and regions. Without cultural exchange, today's music could not have been created. The works of art in the museum are, just like the Mschatta tracks, expressions of common interwoven stories. Contemporary music evokes this exchange in a catchy way.

Dima Orsho combines classical music, jazz and the music of the Middle East. She has honed this style on stages from Washington DC to Damascus and Taipei.

The singer, pianist and clarinettist also composes music for film and television. She has worked with many other musicians, for example since 2003 she has permanently been in Trio Hewar. Additionally Dima has contributed to projects such as the album Sing Me Home by Yo-Yo-Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, which won the Grammy for best world music album in 2017.

In the “Mschatta Lounge” Dima Orsho performed with accordion virtuoso Manfred Leuchter, Basilius Alawad cellist from the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra and outstanding drummer Bodek Janke. Under the title "Of Lullabies, Identity, and the Ties that Bind" they unite several musical traditions of Syria and Mesopotamia. Dima sings in a variety of languages: Aramaic and Arabic dialects from different Syrian regions.

For the Aleppo Room, Dima wrote a new piece that expresses her emotional connection to this space as an ancient, rare and breath-taking Syrian artifact.

Dima Orsho & Friends - "Aleppo Room", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Aleppo Room (7:58 min.):

"I have always been amazed by the passionate, impressive colours and breath-taking details of such artifacts, which always created a direct connection to the souls - of people who once lived and are now gone. It evokes in me the feeling that I am just another twist in this eternal, infinite cycle; I stare with innocent wonder at the same walls that experienced countless stories, human stories, our stories. I had the wonderful good fortune to spend a few months in Aleppo between 2000 and 2002. One of Aleppo's masterpieces I saw then was Beit Wakil, where I met my own Aleppo room; until I happened to enter it again, on a happy day in Berlin that year. Walking through the Aleppo Room brought me back to that magical embrace. I felt as if I had climbed into the embracing lullaby of a mother, which soothes your soul. But much more than that, I also felt the loss of remembering what once was, but is no more. This loss will be forever in my thoughts, my songs, my compositions." (quoting Dima Orsho)

Bukahara cannot be pigeonholed, cannot be assigned to a genre: pop music, folk, world music, gypsy jazz, Arabic-Balkan, swing, reggae... all these influences and much more have been united in his music since 2009. The concept is to break through musical boundaries with a view to express the different cultural roots and identities within the band. Their third album "Phantasma" was released in 2017.

To achieve this goal, the band uses violin, double bass, acoustic guitar, various percussion and trombone. They succeed in maintaining a balancing act between lightness and enthusiastic devotion. A violin is bound to create harmony, a trombone tries its hand as a tuba and then, all of a sudden, the singing guitarist sits behind the drums!

Bukahara is composed of: the singer, guitarist and drummer Soufian Zoghlami, bassist and percussionist Ahmed Eid, on the violin and mandola Daniel Avi Schneider and the trombonist, sousaphonist and drummer Max von Einem.

For the Museum for Islamic Art the band composed a track for the Astrolabe.

Bukahara - "Makda", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Astrolabe (6:54 min.):

"The Astrolabe aroused our interest at first sight. It seems mysterious and sophisticated, like a magic instrument. The fact that it is based on ancient knowledge from other cultures and was used to orientate ourselves by means of the stars when travelling inspires us to a story, fitting to a time when the world seemed even bigger than today". (quote Bukahara)


The Berlin quartet Cyminology combines Persian lyric poetry and chamber music, contemporary music: east and west, old and new in a touching synthesis. The subtle, yet dynamic and gently pulsating music of the group (founded in 2002) arises from the sound of the Persian language.

In their compositions the timbres of impressionism merge with the liveliness of contemporary jazz. They combine new compositional structures with chamber music, free improvisation and minimalism with Persian lyrics by Rumi, Hafis and Khayyam. Cyminology create a space in which post-migrant European culture expresses itself in music and poetry.

Singer Cymin Samawatie was accompanied by marimba and vibraphone player Taiko Saito, double bass player Ralf Schwarz and drummer Ketan Bhatti.

For the Museum for Islamic Art the band composed a track for the Mshatta Fassade.

Cyminology - "Echoes Stereo Bounce", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Mshatta Facade (6:01 min.):

"The facade of Qasr al-Mshatta is richly decorated: plants, ornaments, animals and geometric patterns are linked in the work. The builders have combined elements of late antique, Coptic, Syrian and Sasanid art, Persian-Iraqi and early Byzantine building techniques, and in the synthesis they have recast the traditions of the ancient Orient. A work of new style, early Islamic art, was created. The pictorial work of the façade and the techniques of its creation are the inspiration for a composition: the timbres of Impressionism and European chamber music merge with Persian musical traditions and the liveliness of contemporary jazz. Rhythms and sound emerge from the language of Arabic poetry, improvisation becomes a means of new creation. East and west, old and new are, as in the 8th century, seamlessly linked to form a new musical language". (quote Cyminology)


The group MASAA interweave deeply felt Arabic verses with contemporary jazz and enter into a lyrical liaison. Since 2012 the quartet has won many prizes, such as the German Record Critics' Prize for their most recent album "outspoken" (2017). From the very beginning, the band has made it a priority to present their work to the outside world: MASAA have successfully toured several African countries and Lahoud's homeland Lebanon; in summer 2015 their teamwork with Israeli singer Yael Deckelbaum began. With this cooperation, MASAA is sending a message of support for the peace process between Jewish and Arab culture.

Together singer Lahoud, Marcus Rust on trumpet, Demian Kappenstein on drums and, since the beginning of this year, Reentko Dirks on double-neck guitar they form the group MASAA, which translates from Arabic as "evening".

For the Museum for Islamic Art the band composed a track for the Alhambra dome.

MASAA - "Averroes", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Alhambra Dome (3:23 min.):

"The meeting of Arab and European culture in Spain has a long history of about 800 years. Art, literature, philosophy and architecture flourished in an atmosphere of religious tolerance. What a great reminder of the common ground between Europe and the Arab world! Today, the meeting of the hearts of these two creative identities can create great new things. How can it actually be any different? I even think that this should be our common artistic task. Especially today." (quote MASAA)

Traditional Anatolian songs paired with electronic sounds? Absolutely! Petra Nachtmanova, İpek İpekçioğlu and Ceyhun Kaya have thought about it. In their innovative collaboration Kamatürji: Bağlama-player and singer Petra Nachtmanova, DJ İpek, the Berlin "master of ceremonies of transcultural international understanding", and clarinettist Ceyhun Kaya have dared to create exactly this different and exciting mix with great sensitivity, in order to unite their different musical styles and backgrounds.

The Polish-Czech-born musician sings well-known songs of the blind Turkish Bağlama-player, singer and poet Âşık Veysel, mainly in Turkish, accompanied by her playing on the long-necked lute.

For the Museum for Islamic Art the band composed a track to the Cairen decorative panels.

Karmatürji - "Zevk-ü Sefah", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Cairen decorative panels (5:04 min.):

"For thousands of years mankind all over the world has been fighting his way through the conditions set by nature and realizing his dreams. He frames himself with beauty and always finds new means to intoxicate himself and celebrate himself. The difference between Berlin 2019 and Cairo a thousand years ago is less than we think." (quote Karmatürji)

Milad Khawam is a trumpeter, duduk player and composer from Damascus-Syria and lives in Berlin. Milad studied classical Arabic and European music in Damascus. Since 2010 he has performed solo trumpet with many orchestras between Europe and the Middle East. Since he moved to Berlin at the end of 2015, Milad has played as a soloist with many groups at various festivals in Germany, such as the Morgenlandfest 2016, the X-Jazz-Fest Berlin 2018 or the Fusion-Fest 2018.

He has performed concerts in many different cities as a soloist with various ensembles, including the Jazzaar Global Ensemble in Switzerland 2019, where he was on stage together with Billy Cobham on drums.

At the Museum for Islamic Art Milad performed a new special piece of music inspired by the Middle East, the Abbasid period and the "Aquamanile" in the form of an eagle from the museum. The music is performed on the trumpet in harmony with the traditional Arabic instrument Qanun. It is arranged in classical western formats and accompanied by Hasan Alnour on the Qanun, Wesam Krema on the Keys, Ahmed Eid on double bass, Salam Alhassan on percussion and Arne Müller on drums.

For the Museum for Islamic Art the band composed a track for the Adler-Aquamanile.

Milad Khawam - "Aquamanile", Mschatta Lounge Track to the Eagle Aquamanile (4:22 min.):

"When I saw the Aquamanile, it brought back some very special memories of my childhood. I lived in a typical old Damascene house in the heart of the old town, surrounded on all sides by beauty. Nearby were the Umayyad Mosque, the Azem Palace, the Saint Ananias House and other beautiful archaeological sites. The flashbacks were overwhelming, as if my soul  travelled there and remembered to wander through the old narrow streets of Damascus... seeing the beautiful antique shops, full of treasures made of copper, wood, glass... and the very special memory of an old decorated water jar in our house, which was so special to my parents. As far as I know, it was inherited for generations by my father's family. Suddenly, when I saw this beautiful aquamanile, I realized the incredible amount of beauty that I was surrounded by every day and every moment without even realizing it." (quote Milad Khawam)


Project management: Martina Kopp, Prof. Dr. Stefan Weber, Cornelia Weber, Philipp Zobel
Cooperation partners: Museum for Islamic Art, Piranha Arts
Project funding: Capital Cultural Fund (HKF), Friends of the Museum for Islamic Art in the Pergamon Museum e. V. (FMIK e. V.), Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Media (BKM)
Media partner: Zitty
Duration: 2019