Kick-off Jazzfest Berlin: Musho // Alexander Hawkins

British keyboardist and composer Alexander Hawkins presents two sides of his multi-faceted practice. In Musho he performs interpretations of songs from Ethiopia, Sweden, and Armenia with vocalist Sofia Jernberg, while the second set presents a new commission with an international sextet.

Portrait of Alexander Hawkins looking neutrally into the camera

Alexander Hawkins

© Francesca Patella

Past Dates

The British pianist, composer, and bandleader Alexander Hawkins has allowed his deep curiosity and engagement with jazz and classical music history to lead down ever-winding paths, happily taking every detour that comes his way. He participated in the 2020 edition of Jazzfest Berlin remotely due to the pandemic, but he finally appears in person as part of the event’s second consecutive partnership with the Pierre Boulez Saal. Fittingly, Hawkins will share two very different projects with the listeners in Berlin. He has been working with the sublime Swedish vocalist Sofia Jernberg, who played Jazzfest Berlin in 2010 and 2014, since their first meeting at the 2016 October Meeting in Amsterdam, where the singer’s Ethiopian heritage and the keyboardist’s long-term collaboration with Ethiopian composer and vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke made an exploration of traditional tunes from the region. Performing under the name Musho, the collaboration has developed over time and they have added songs from Sweden and Armenia to their repertoire, bringing a powerful intimacy and specialized musical language to their bold reinterpretations. For the second set of the festival kick-off, Hawkins debuts a project commissioned by Pierre Boulez Saal, bringing together a remarkable international line-up of musicians he has worked with in different contexts, all of whom have also performed as part of previous Jazzfest Berlin editions and are also part of this year’s festival: Jernberg, cellist Tomeka Reid, flutist Nicole Mitchell, drummer Gerry Hemingway, and turntablist Matthew Wright. Hawkins possesses an innate ability to locate the essence of his creative partners, channeling that spirit into his compositional process, and this spectacular line-up portends something truly remarkable.


(GB, SE)

Alexander Hawkins piano, composition
Sofia Jernberg vocals

World premiere

Alexander Hawkins

(GB, SE, US)
Commissioned by Pierre Boulez Saal in cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin

Alexander Hawkins piano, composition
Sofia Jernberg vocals
Nicole Mitchell flute
Tomeka Reid cello
Gerry Hemingway drums
Matthew Wright turntable, live sampling, sound design

Pierre Boulez Saal in cooperation with Berliner Festspiele / Jazzfest Berlin