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Angélique Kidjo and Nicolas Stemann Holland Festival 2022 associate artists


PRESS RELEASE - Amsterdam, 27 October 2021

Angélique Kidjo and Nicolas Stemann Holland Festival 2022 associate artists 

The associate artists for the 75th edition of the Holland Festival in 2022 are the French-Beninese singer Angélique Kidjo (1960) and the German theatre director Nicolas Stemann (1968). For the fourth year in a row, the Holland Festival will be working with associate artists who are involved with realising part of the festival programme. 

Emily Ansenk, Holland Festival director: ‘With Kidjo and Stemann, the festival has opted for two associates who, while working in completely different disciplines, both have a broad range of artistic and social interests that transcend genre and national boundaries. We can see this in their many collaborations with a wide range of artists. With their topical work and large network, they offer many invaluable opportunities for deepening and expanding the programme. In close collaboration with them, we are exploring the possibilities for presenting work that is as innovative and relevant as possible live at the coming festival.’ 

New and/or existing work from both artists will play a central role in the programme during the festival. Kidjo is currently working on the musical theatre piece Yemandja – a story of Africa, a co-production of the Holland Festival. Inspired by her ancestors, her family and the resilience of Africa, Kidjo sings and acts herself in this story about the injustices of the slave trade. 

With Stemann, the festival is exploring the possibilities for showing work with text by the Austrian (theatre) writer Elfriede Jelinek, with whom he has had an artistic connection since the beginning of his career, such as the opera Kein Licht, which Stemann made together with composer Philippe Manoury based on a libretto by Jelinek about the human influence on the climate and the resulting disasters. 

Hailing from Benin, the singer Angélique Kidjo (1960, Ouidah) is ‘Africa’s most important diva’ according to Time Magazine, which recently included her in its overview of the 100 most influential people. The BBC featured the four-time Grammy winner on a list of the 50 most iconic figures from the continent, and The Guardian called her one of the 100 most inspiring women in the world. Kidjo is known for her wide-ranging work. She effortlessly mixes West African influences with elements from North American R&B, funk and jazz from Europe and Latin America. Her musical interests range from pop and jazz to French chansons and classical music. After leaving Benin around 1980, she has lived and worked alternatingly in France and the United States. She sings in English, French and Yoruba and works with a variety of artists like the Kronos Quartet, Alicia Keys, Bono, Philip Glass, Ziggy Marley, Youssou N'Dour and Questlove. Her latest album Mother Nature features collaborations with young African stars like Burna Boy and Yemi Alade. 

Angélique Kidjo, commenting on her role as an associate artist: ‘This role is very exciting for me. I have spent my entire career building bridges between different cultures, different styles of music and different generations, showcasing the depth and the beauty of African songs. I feel the Holland Festival is the perfect place to extend that work to various art forms and to bring an African perspective to the table at a time when we are discovering how intertwined our lives are.’ 

Nicolas Stemann (1968, Hamburg) is one of the major directors of contemporary German theatre. He played in various bands before starting his studies in philosophy, after which he studied theatre direction in Hamburg and Vienna. He has a special working relationship with Nobel prize winner Elfriede Jelinek and has staged several texts she wrote. Pieces of his that were previously staged at the Holland Festival include Babel (2007) and Die Schutzbefohlenen (2014). Jelinek wrote the text for both. He has also made daring adaptations of a range of classical texts, with an eye for the many political upheavals of our time. The magazine Theater Heute chose Stemann as director of the year for Faust I + II (2012). His constant motivation is to connect contradictory and irreconcilable movements in the world. He likes to open the theatre to music and other art forms in order to experiment with different disciplines. At present, Stemann is artistic director of the Schauspielhaus Zurich, together with Benjamin von Blomberg. When they took office, they brought along seven house directors to help shape the artistic profile of the house: Alexander Giesche, Suna Gürler, Trajal Harrell, Yana Ross, Christopher Rüping, Leonie Böhm and Wu Tsang. 

Stemann, commenting on his role as associate artist: 'I feel honoured and enormously happy about this great opportunity: presenting my work and a choice of works by theatre artists associated with our theatre in Zurich is something that is very dear to me! I am also curious to see to what extent this collaboration will resonate with important debates in the Netherlands, such as on the fight for a more just climate policy. It’s our duty as artists to reflect on how we can contribute to this burning issue.' 

Annual collaboration
Since 2019, the Holland Festival has collaborated with one or two associate artists each year. In addition to their work, the festival puts the spotlight on themes relevant to them, as well as on related artists. Apart from this programme involving and surrounding the associate artists, the Holland Festival features work from other notable and relevant artists. Previous associate artists were Gisèle Vienne and Ryuichi Sakamoto in 2021, Bill T. Jones in 2020 and Faustin Linyekula and William Kentridge in 2019. 

The 75th edition of the Holland Festival will take place in June 2022.


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