Over the Border in 2019

Marcos Montoiro (UNCCD) and Manuel Banha introduce Ara Malikian

With it’s dedication to cross-cultural diversity Bonn’ ‘Over the Border’ organizer Manuel Banha certainly found the perfect musician to attend this week’s press-conference for 2019’s Festival.  Ara Malikian is a Lebanese-born Spanish violinist of Armenian descent.  Not someone you’ve heard of?  That won’t be for much longer I suspect.  The gentle looking man with dark curly hair and beard has already got an appearance at London’s Barbican Theatre on his CV.  Next March that CV is set to be updated with The Royal Albert Hall itself.  Malikian is just one of the many performers coming this way in the 2019 Festval from 21 March to 7th April next year.

Now in its fourth year, Bonn’s ‘Over the Border’ Festival looks to be as diverse as the Cultures from which it thrives.  As organizer, Manuel Banha noted at the beginning of this year’s Press Conference, the residents of  Bonn, with its many International visitors and employees. are well versed in Cultural diversity on a day to day basis.  Where better then to celebrate this diversity?


The press conference presence of violin virtuoso Ara Malikian reinforced both the diversity and the importance that music can present in promoting the very positive aspects of living side by side with people of other nations and beliefs.  It also underlined that this is not a simple process.  Malikian’s message is that solutions are there through music.  His own tale illustrated the difficulties:  “I would travel with my lebanese passport, and while it was not familiar to them, they would see it differently from more familar ones.  I would arrive in, say, Dresden, and at the airport, they would ask ‘What have you in your violin case?  a Kalashnikov?!’.  I must have heard that joke 500,000 times.  I laugh each time, but it’s a judgement that people make because of where I come from.  It’s very sad”.


Malikian’s performance will actually be, not in Bonn, but at a new venue in Cologne-Mulheim the Carlswerk Viktoria.  There was, says Banha, no suitable location in Bonn for the show.  Bonn though will have plenty to offer during next year’s Festival. While Ara  Malikian attracts audiences in their thousands in Spain and Great Britain, he is still a relative newcomer here in Germany.  Star of the Festival for many here, therefore, is likely to be Reggae star Gentleman, who will be bringing his band The Evolution to the Telekom Forum.  Quadro Nuevo delivered a memorable Over The Border concert a couple of years ago.  Amongst other highlights already booked are Essen Jazz-Punk band Botticelli Baby (interestingly labelling their genre on Facebook as ‘Junk’!).  Bayern Folkband Impala Ray, Belgian singer-songwriter Joe Laureys, French hip-hoppers Sidi Wacho…   and that’s just the tip of a musical iceberg as more bands are still being booked.


With the support of the UN (this year’s press conference was actually in the UNCDD building) and the Bonn International School, there is a clear aim to attract a bigger English-speaking audience than in previous years.  To this end, there should be details on the OVER THE BORDER WEBSITE in English soon, but hopefully, I’ve whetted your appetite already to support Bonn as the multi-cultural City it thankfully is – and enjoy some top-class music along the way too!

21 March to 7th April- make a note in your diaries:  ‘Go to Over The Border Festival’.  Here’s an example of what’s coming your way in 2019…

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