Zafraan stands for music that reflects all facets of life, society and reality today. In combination with other art forms, Zafraan observes, explores and processes that which surrounds us: people, events, nature and technology, the normalities and absurdities of today. The democratically-organised ensemble constitutes ten fixed members from Spain, France, New Zealand, Australia and Germany. It was founded in Berlin in 2009 and predominantly performs contemporary repertoire that is covered by its core instrumentation of violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, clarinet, saxophone, harp, piano and percussion. The group challenges itself and the audience; they experiment and surprise. In collaboration with conductors such as Titus Engels or Manuel Nawri, artists such as Chiharu Shiota, Aliénor Dauchez and Louise Wagner, and composers such as Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Alexander Schubert, Elena Mendoza, Stefan Keller, Johannes Borowski, Eres Holz and Helmut Oehring, they push at boundaries, provoke, take risks, and create something new. In doing this, Zafraan draws out the narrative power of music, enabling audiences to experience stories that have to be told. The ensemble is comprised of the following members: Liam Mallett (flute), Miguel Pérez Iñesta (clarinet), Martin Posegga (saxophone), Anna Viechtl (harp), Daniel Eichholz (percussion), Clemens Hund-Göschel (piano), Emmanuelle Bernard (violin/viola), Josa Gerhard (viola/violin), Martin Smith (cello) und Beltane Ruiz Molina (double bass).
Interview with Martin Smith, Zafraan Ensemble’s cellist from Down Under.
1: You can’t hum while holding your nose closed.
2: Avocados are toxic for birds.
3: The cracking sound of a whip is actually a sonic boom – this is because the tip of the whip travels faster than the speed of sound. The whip is the first man made device capable of exceeding the sound barrier.
1. What is the biggest inspiration for your music?
The biggest inspiration for me would be composers/artists/ musicians who are effective in staying creative and productive throughout their careers without conceding originality.
2. How and when did you get into making music?
I was introduced to the cello by my mum, herself also a cellist, when I was 7 years old.
3. What are 5 of your favourite albums of all time?
Tom Browne: Funkin‘ for Jamaica
Radu Lupu, Murray Perahia: Schubert Fantasia & Mozart Sonata (for two pianos)
Red Hot Chilli Peppers: One Hot Minute
Jessye Norman, Kurt Masur, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig: Vier letzte Lieder von Richard Strauss
Beastie Boys: Paul’s Boutique
4. What do you associate with Berlin?
Hangovers and live music
5. What’s your favourite place in your town?
6. If there was no music in the world, what would you do instead?
If there was no music, then the world would be a horrible place and I would probably be a pilot.
7. What was the last record/music you bought?
Keith Jarrett: The Köln Concert
8. Who would you most like to collaborate with?
9. What was your best gig (as performer or spectator)?
Alban Berg Quartet’s final concert in Berlin
10. How important is technology to your creative process?
In terms of my creative process, technology plays a rather minor role. In terms of my work process, technology features heavily as I rely on various recording/editing and performance technologies during my performance and promotional preparation.
11. Do you have siblings and how do they feel about your career/art?
I have a sister who is now a psychologist and who is pretty happy with her life choices. She used to play violin, so she is very understanding of the perils of the industry…