Portrait Emahoy
Les 12 et 13 avril

Maya Dunietz & strings ensemble play Emahoy Tsege Mariam Guebru

On 12 and 13 April, a ten-instrument ensemble led by pianist and composer Maya Dunietz will be performing in the Auditorium of the Bourse de Commerce works by the legendary Ethiopian composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam Guebru (1923-2023), whose spiritual music has been rediscovered in the last twenty years. To celebrate Emahoy’s musical legacy, Maya Dunietz presents original compositions arranged for strings for the occasion, in tribute to Emahoy’s wish to expand the interpretation of her compositions to instruments other than piano. This concert is presented in collaboration with the French record label Latency. 


1.    Presentiment

2.    Jerusalem

3.    Golgotha

4.    The Homeless Wanderer

5.    If Somebody Deserts You

6.    The Gardens of Gathsemanie

7.    The Last Tears of a Deceased

8.    Evening Breeze

9.    Ballad of the Spirits 

10.    Spring Ode 

11.    Waltz From Anna Karenina

12.    Lasciami Cantare

Born into an aristocratic family in 1923 in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, Emahoy Tsege Mariam Guebru was exiled from the age of 6, sent to Europe to study, where she began her musical education studying violin and piano. Back in Ethiopia, after a second exile on the island of Asinara during the Second Italo-Ethiopian War, she obtained a musical scholarship from the Royal Academy in London. Unfortunate circumstances prevented her from pursuing this quest and Emahoy remained in Ethiopia. Annihilated, she retired to a monastery at the age of 19, where she was ordained as a nun. She decided to continue studying music, writing compositions for violin, piano and organ and, after twenty years, published her first recordings, blending European influences and classical structures with her Ethiopian tradition, with a unique freedom of form, in a tempo that obeys no strict rules, slowing down and speeding up as chance dictates. Long unknown, her ethereal, melancholy musical work, delicately fusing classical piano, ragtime, gospel and Ethiopian folk music, was revealed in 2006 by the Ethiopiques record collection. Composer Maya Dunietz then discovered her and, fascinated by her timeless pieces, decided to look for her. She traced her to the Ethiopian Monastery in Jerusalem, where Emahoy had been living since the 1980s. They forged such a close bond that Emahoy entrusted her with her scores - a veritable work of musical archaeology for Dunietz, who patiently and meticulously worked on deciphering them for months, proposing in 2013 a first publication of her piano pieces and beginning a series of concerts in which she performs her work. Emahoy passed away in March 2023, having practiced music for the rest of her life on her piano.

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Maya Dunietz
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Maya Dunietz is a composer, performer, and sound artist who investigates the interconnections between music, visual art, performance, technological research, and philosophy. She regularly performs both composed works and free improvisation concerts. Dunietz has given piano recitals at acclaimed venues and festivals including Philharmonie de Paris, Kings Place, Le Guess Who?, Tectonics, Iceland biennial. She has collaborated with numerous artists including Chiwoniso Maraire, Roscoe Mitchell, Ghedalia Tazartes, John Tilbury, and John Zorn. Her pieces have been commissioned by renowned ensembles such as Meitar Ensemble, New Ensemble, Kaleidoskop Solisten Ensemble, and choirs like Bat Kol, Dom Essen.

Latency is an independent record label and curatorial platform established in 2013 by Sidney Gerard and Souleymane Said. The label delves into a vast musical spectrum in dialogue with art and performance. Over the past decade, Latency has curated concerts at various international events and venues such as Villa Medici in Rome, Paris Pantheon, Berlin Atonal, Marian Goodman Gallery and Pioneer Works in New York.  

Credits  Music : Emahoy Tsege Mariam Guebru Direction, piano, strings arrangements : Maya Dunietz Violins : Manuel Doutrelant, Catherine Jacquet, Geneviève Laurenceau, Sébastien Surel Violas : Vincent Debruyne, Cécile Grassi Cellos : Olga Driga, Guillaume Martigné,  Double bass : Nicolas Crosse   

This concert will be presented at Palazzio Grassi on April 18 2024.

With thanks to the Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation for their collaboration and support. The Emahoy Tsege Mariam Music Foundation provides music education to children in underserved communities through music scholarships, camps, and other programs, both in Africa and in the Washington area. Find out more on https://www.emahoymusicfoundation.org/