21. edition – 4.-14. May 2023

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Salam Orient has found its new festival period in spring – initially due to the pandemic and fixed from this year on. From 4 to 14 May 2023, an exciting and varied programme will take place at various venues in Vienna. For the first time, Salam Orient has invited a guest curator to work together on the music programm: Vienna-based oud virtuoso Orwa Saleh . This inspiring collaboration has resulted in a multifaceted music programme – with classical-traditional ensembles such as Ghalia Benali & Constantinople with their project „In the footsteps of Rumi“ or Renaud Garcia-Fons‘ „The Breath of Strings“ and rock or electronic music with Yemen Blues and El Morabba3.

With the invited artists, Salam Orient offers also a socially critical platform. The premiere "Voices of Iran" stands under the sign of the "Woman, Life, Freedom" protest movement. Also, Özlem Bulut will use her album presentation to highlight the catastrophic situation in Turkey after the earthquake. The art space philomena+ has curated a fine arts exhibition for Salam Orient with the participatory art project "Markt-Marie" which focuses on the currently burning questions around the topic of money. In addition, Orwa Saleh organises for the first time a long-awaited festival homebase at Spektakel Wien, which offers an open, cozy and fun place with jam sessions, DJ line and delicious food.

Music programme 2023

With Renaud Garcia-Fons´newest project „The Breath of Strings”, which he presents with a magnificent 8-piece ensemble (e.g. Derya Türkan at the Kemençe), Salam Orient opens its 21st festival edition on May 4, 2023 with a masterpiece by the virtuoso on the double bass. For several years, Salam Orient has been trying to invite the wonderful project "In the footsteps of Rumi" and this year the time has finally come: the powerful-voiced Tunisian-Belgian artist Ghalia Benali together with the first-class ensemble Constantinople under the musical direction of the Iranian artist Kiya Tabassian is tracing the footsteps of the great poet and mystic Rumi.

With the concert eveningVoices of Iran , Salam Orient celebrates a world premiere and unites the singers Golnar Shahyar, Tara Mehrad and Aïda Nosrat to a project specially conceived for Salam Orient, which is dedicated to the Iranian protest movement "Woman, Life, Freedom". The artists had to leave their homeland in order to be able to pursue their musical careers in their spirit and now give their voice to the rights of women in Iran from here. The Vienna-based Kurdish-Turkish artist Özlem Bulut presents their long-awaited third album "Ayna" as part of Salam Orient, which has gained even more political relevance since the earthquake with its catastrophic consequences.

The Jordanian-Palestinian band is also politically relevant El Morabba3, one of the most important bands in the Arab rock scene. With their new approach, socially engaged lyrics and unique sound, they have gained great popularity among Arab audiences. And the band Yemen Blues is long overdue at Salam Orient. Worldwide, the band around the charismatic artist inspires Ravid Kahalani with their mix of Yemeni music, funk, blues and jazz. Now they are finally performing in Vienna after a very long time.

Festival History

2002 , Norbert Ehrlich founded Salam Orient and is dedicated to the art and culture of the Middle East and the Arab regions worldwide. The geographical framework has always been very broad: art & culture from Andalusia, the Maghreb, West and East Africa to the Middle East and Asia are the focus. From traditional to contemporary music as well as literature, art and dance have been presented at the 2-week festival in Vienna.

After 15 successful, intensive and beautiful years, Norbert Ehrlich has placed the festival management in new hands in 2017: Katrin Pröll has taken over the festival and together with Martina Laab, who supports the festival as co-curator and advisor, further develops the program. The diverse music program ranges from classic-traditional ensembles to bands from the rock, alternative and electronic genres. A new part of the program since 2020 is fine arts, which is being created in cooperation with the art space philomena+. There are also literature events and various dialogue formats such as artist and audience talks, presentations and workshops. In 2023 there will be a festival homebase for the first time, organized and curated by Orwa Saleh.

Cultural policy tasks

Salam Orient widmet sich seit 20 Jahren der Musik, Kunst und Kultur aus dem Mittleren und Nahen Osten sowie dem arabischen Raum. Mit der Sichtbarmachung von klassisch-traditioneller als auch zeitgenössischer moderner Musik, Kunst und Kultur wird ein aktuelles und zeitgemäßes Bild der jeweiligen Schwerpunktregionen vermittelt. Salam Orient sieht seine Aufgabe in der Kulturversorgung Wiens in ihrer gesamten Vielfalt. Darüber hinaus bietet Salam Orient den geladenen Künstler*innen eine sozial- und gesellschaftskritische Plattform, die politische Diskurse vorantreiben soll.