Banda Internationale – In Search of Traditions

The Dresden-based band Banda Comunale is dusting down German folk music together with newcomer musicians

von Banda Internationale

Filmstill: Michael Sommermeyer
Filmstill: Michael Sommermeyer

Saxon’s regional capital Dresden has been the hub of a sustained debate about asylum rights, racism and integration over the past eight months. For the local band Banda Comunale, it was obvious that they had to take part in these discussions.

With their catchy and infectious brass band music, taking its influences from as far afield as eastern Europe, South America and north Africa, the band has played untiringly at demonstrations, welcome festivals, solidarity concerts and recently directly in reception centres. The common language of music has fostered many unusual encounters.


BI Albertinum. Foto: Oliver Killig
BI Albertinum. Foto: Oliver Killig

These experiences prompted the eleven band members to go one step further. Over about a year, Banda Comunale are planning to look for musicians among the new arrivals in Dresden and set up a new formation with them: Banda Internationale.

They want to rehearse together and get to know each other, discover the music of the various countries their new band members come from, arrange new pieces and in the end record a CD that tells many stories but has one theme: Heimat – home. A subject with rather old-fashioned undertones in Germany, especially when it comes to music. Volksmusik and Heimat – traditional German music and the concept of a homeland – tend to be considered the preserve of conservative and right-wing positions.

But how does losing or giving up one’s own homeland change our view of these issues? What role do old-fashioned traditions and nostalgic memories play in a foreign country, in unfamiliar surroundings and facing an uncertain future? And what potential does a change of perspective harbour – can an old tune associated by some with beer tents and red-faced great-uncles become another person’s exciting new discovery?

The charity backing the project is the Cellex Foundation, with numerous other institutions and groups signalling support. They include the Netzwerk Dresden für Alle, the Staatsschauspiel Dresden theatre, Dresden – Place to be! e.V. and the German Red Cross.

The project will also be accompanied by a professional film team from Hechtfilm UG, documenting the entire process from the first meetings to the rehearsals and concerts, all the way to the studio recordings.

The project plans to close by going on tour at the end of 2016, featuring the documentary, discussions with the protagonists and concerts by Banda Internationale.