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„It’s good to share emotions with people!“

ABUNUYA by Aeham Ahmad & André Buttler – BEST OF

Here is the whole concert:
ABUNUYA by Aeham Ahmad & André Buttler | World Premiere 2022

The Syrian pianist Aeham Ahmad and the Junge Vielharmonie are rehearsing for the world premiere of Abunuya
by Stefan Pieper

The Team is currently rehearsing at full speed for the world premiere of „Abunuya“, a full-length work by the Syrian-Palestinian pianist Aeham Ahmad and the composer André Buttler with the Junge Vielharmonie of the Marl Music School. Even the first listening impressions when visiting the rehearsals make it clear: a lot is different here than at a “normal” symphony concert.

© Varun

The cast includes instruments from the Ottoman-Arabic region and you can hear the young musicians having fun with the often exotic tones and the driving rhythm. When Aeham Ahmad starts playing the grand piano or raises his sensitive singing voice, it becomes clear: a musician is deeply involved here. In an interview with the MZ, he says what this cooperation means to him: „I’m so happy that a whole orchestra is now playing my music. It is very good to play music on stage with many people from this city and to share emotions.”

© Stefan Pieper

Aeham Ahmad and André Buttler embarked on a joint creative process a year ago. Aeham Ahmad played the music on the piano that means the most to him and often also reflects difficult living conditions. This has given rise to many instrumental themes for the Abunuya score. In the middle of the Syrian war he wrote the song „About the Waterman“. It is about the most elementary need of the civilian population in war when there is a lack of drinking water. In an interview with the MZ, he explained his deep connection to the song „Die Gedanken simnd frei“: „The powerful melody embodies so much inner strength. Even in one in captivity, thoughts are still at liberty!”


© Stefan Pieper

André Buttler has „translated“ Aeham Ahmad’s musical ideas into the tonal language of a large orchestra using modern compositional methods. This shows the experience of this young, international film composer, whose scores and arrangements enrich many television productions and computer games. It is always a new challenge for him when Aeham Ahmad freely improvises his virtuoso solo parts in “Abunuya”: “The piano part is not written out like in a classical piano concerto. Aeham can take liberties. The orchestra must be prepared for this.“

Hardly any “music between the worlds” can be created more consistently. This is exactly what the Christian-Islamic-Jewish Working Group Marl, District of Recklinghausen (CIJAG) wanted when they commissioned the two musicians to write this composition for the 22nd Abraham Festival. André Buttler reiterates this concern: “We bring something from the western world together with the Middle Eastern, Ottoman tradition. But there should be something in common and it shouldn’t sound like one is adapting something from the other. That was our starting point and that’s what we want to show our audience on November 19th.“

Premiere of the work ABUNUYA, a composition of Aeham Ahmad and André Buttler.

MZ 21.11.22

An intensely divided vibration

The premiere of ABUNUYA overwhelmed more than 700 people in the Marl Theater by Stefan Pieper

© Stefan Pieper


Suddenly everything that had been conceived, developed and worked out in one year was reality. More than 700 people in the Marler Theater celebrated the charismatic pianist Aeham Ahmad and the highly motivated Young Harmony Orchestra under the direction of the composer André Buttler with a long standing final ovation. Compliments also for how CIJAG and the city of Marl have pulled together in their commitment to culture!

After a somewhat hectic dress rehearsal, a day later everything suddenly ran smoothly. The excitement before the concert probably gave a lot of positive adrenaline, because nothing motivates like the live situation. It is not for nothing that orchestra performances are part of music school lessons from the very beginning.

© Stefan Pieper

The new work Abunuya is permeated by many musical experiences of the film composer André Buttler, as well as by Aeham Ahmad’s musical ideas from the Syrian-Ottoman music culture – and so you can rely on great musical cinema in the TM: The many mood changes between serious and pathetic, between swinging driving and lyrical, between oriental and western classic must have been a huge challenge. Not everything is perfect at the premiere, but the constant, emotionally intense moments of overwhelming more than make up for this. Soloist Aeham Ahmad is deep in his cause. His imaginative solos develop a brilliance that makes many of his colleagues look old.

He has so much deeply felt to say in “his” music. He comes particularly close to the 700 people in front of him when he performs at his best as an artful singer. Which finally leads to the whole audience, visibly moved, “joining in” the singing.

The orchestra of the music school as a listening partner

© Stefan Pieper

Meanwhile, André Buttler at the conductor’s podium can rely on the orchestra’s sensitive interaction. Delicate string carpets give space for Aeham Ahmad, the fabulous ney flautist Beyza Köse and the Syrian oud player Sami Mustafa. A chorale-like reinterpretation gives Beethoven’s „Ode to Joy“ a thoughtful undertone. The song „Glückauf der Steiger geht“ drags itself forward for minutes in a rhythm somewhere between bolero and funeral march – a tongue-in-cheek swan song to the industrial structural change in the Ruhr area?



© Stefan Pieper


The song “Die Gedanken sind frei” unfolds the most enlightening power, now condensed into a symphonic dramaturgy with a grandiose final fortissimo. André Buttler’s calculations have paid off in order to create a variety of emotional points of contact for many people with this composition. How immediately these were understood and what an intense emotional vibration was shared in front of and behind the stage in the TM was something nobody could have dreamed of before.




Some other voices for the premiere in the Marl Theater:

„I would like to thank you again for the invitation. The evening was simply breathtaking. Aheam Ahamd’s music was absolutely moving and I shed a tear or two and laughed a lot. A rollercoaster of emotions, if you will. The first piece in particular was very moving for me, somehow brought a lot up after a personally pretty bad year 2022, amazing what music can do. The interpretation of the Steigerlied later in the evening was just brilliant, as was the great orchestra with so many young talented people.“

„What a great event that was yesterday. This is the third time you have had Aeham with you and each time it has been an increase. It can hardly be surpassed what André Buttler and Aeham Ahmad have put together musically. But the organization team of CIJAG/Junge CIJAG also did a great job. For me it was the most moving concert I have ever experienced with Aeham and I have attended many concerts with him. I myself and many people around me have shed some tears. The orchestra, conducted by André Buttler, was fantastic and the interaction with Aeham worked perfectly. Many thanks to everyone involved for a great concert!“.

Photos: Varun