Berlin – Weimar – Dresden – Leipzig – a German History Excursion

This summer, I created an Indiana University Overseas Course entitled “Global Music Industry” in partnership with the Franz Liszt University of Music in Weimar where we explored the cultural and musical landscape as well as the historic significance of the area from Berlin to Leipzig. The goal of the course is to learn about the inner workings of the German Music Industry as well as experience a cultural immersion and compare the experiences to the American Music Industry and cultural economy.  Here is my journal from this year’s course with pictures and impressions as well as impressions from our Jazz Exchange event in Cologne prior to the class. I had an amazing time during my five weeks overseas, hope you’ll enjoy the thoughts and pictures as well and come along for the journey.

  It started on my birthday, a full day in airplanes and airports – luckily we already had a celebration prior during the annual Gemini Party with many dear friends.

And even more lucky – my Mom had organized a family birthday party the day after when we arrived at my home for a short visit. Her cakes are the all-time best ever and getting a strawberry cake and my family for my birthday was the best! 

 Our next stop was the Hemingway Lounge in Karlsruhe for a concert with our friend, saxophonist Peter Lehel and by coincidence Sheroes member Reut Regev and her husband Igal Foni were able to join us as they just finished a tour. It was a magical evening and the press agreed with a glowing review focusing especially on the creative interactions. I love Reut’s powerful and creative approach to playing her trombone and hope we can do many more projects together. 

 Then we continued to Cologne, the sister city of Indianapolis, to present a concert of music by Cole Porter and Hoagy Carmichael arranged for the very special frontline of Manuel Fischer-Dieskau on cello and Oliver Nelson Jr. on flute. I had spent many hours last Fall arranging the pieces and writing out parts – it’s like being pregnant and imagining the new being – and when the music finally gets its performance it’s similar to giving birth, just much less painful. Anyway, Manuel and Oliver made the melodies soar and drummer Josh Roberts, who came along from New York, with Andre Nendza and Peter Kienle built a solid and swinging foundation. The sold-out audience was on their feet and many testimonials confirmed that this was the best program we have put together for them thus far. The Sister City Committees and the NW Amerika Haus have been amazing partners, hopefully for many more years to come. Here is a link to the video summary of the night – enjoy!

  Next stop, Berlin, where we started out with a concert at the beautiful B-flat Jazz Club at Alexanderplatz. We introduced some of the music from the new Time Flies recording with my whistling and singing features. The recording is set to be officially released by end of August – more info at I returned the next week for their jam session night, great fun to get to play with some of the Berlin masters.

 Our students arrived and we worked from a tight itinerary of lectures, guest speakers, visits to companies and archives, sightseeing, and cultural experiences. We stayed in Berlin for one week and saw Sacre at the Berlin Staatsoper. This also happened to be the hottest week since a century and we had to seek shelter inside – one of the best ones being the Archive of Youth Cultures, an amazing documentation of the youth revolution and expression from the last fifty years.

The tour of the Reichstag also left deep impressions about the political history and years of division of Berlin. For our next rendition we definitely have to spend more time in this city that has so much to offer in terms of history, culture, and so much more. 

The following week was filled with classes and excursions in Weimar, the old Prussian capital where also the first democratic constitution was created in 1918 as centuries of monarchy ended. Of course, power was abused soon thereafter when Hitler systematically eliminated all features of a democracy and proceeded to attack the surrounding countries with the goal to conquer Europe and beyond. The results of his madness were apparent in the concentration camp Buchenwald, a horrendous document of brutal slavery and murder. Every day bus loads of school children come to learn about the terrible crimes with the hope of avoiding any repetition of this segment of history. 

    Before that and at present times, Weimar and surroundings though are the cradles of culture with the works of Schiller and Goethe, Liszt, Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Bach, and so many more. We were able to visit the Wartburg where Luther translated the Bible, Eisenach where Bach was born, Erfurt, Dresden, Leipzig. Below are a few more pics.  Thanks for coming with us on this journey!