Innenhof der Universität
Innenhof der Universität

Don’t call me gypsy!

Public dress rehearsal for the concert by the university choir with background talk

On Sunday, 17 May 2015, the University of Konstanz choir, conducted by musical director Peter Bauer, will be performing in a special event exploring the theme of “gypsies”: the performance takes place in the Audimax of the University of Konstanz and will kick off at 14:30 with a public dress rehearsal for a concert by the university choir. This concert, which features various soloists, is scheduled for the following Monday, 18 Mai 2015 at 20:15, also in the Audimax. At 16:00 on 17 May, following the dress rehearsal, the literary scholar Dr. Norina Procopan will host a talk with Nedjo Osman, a Roma poet, actor and director, in lecture hall A 703. The question she will be asking relates directly to the theme of the event: What is life like for Roma in Germany? The event is funded by the Center of Excellence “Cultural Foundations of Social Integration”.

“You know my name?”, is the title of the poem that Nedjo Osman will recite both in the dress rehearsal and in the concert on Monday, followed by Johannes Brahms’s Gypsy Songs (op. 103) and Leoš Janàček’s song cycle “Tagebuch eines Verschollenen” (“Diary of one who disappeared“). Adding to the story that the music has to tell will be the words of the Roma poet, who, in the aforementioned poem, demands: “Don’t call me gypsy!”

The performance is followed by a background talk led by Norina Procopan, who teaches at the Alexander-von-Humboldt Gymnasium in Konstanz. In it, Osman will explain his reasons for rejecting the term “gypsy”. How do Roma deal with the fact that the term “gypsy” elicits either negative prejudice or romantic idealisation? How do they come to terms with their history of migration and persecution? What does he think of political and public calls for the Roma to integrate into society?

Osman was born in Skopje, Macedonia, and, after finishing his studies, worked as a highly successful actor with the academy of film and theatre in Novi Sad (now Serbia) until the outbreak of the Yugoslav Wars. By then a member of the Pralipe Theatre ensemble, he emigrated to Germany and continued his work at the theatre in Mühlheim an der Ruhr. Since 1995, he has been joint artistic director with Nada Kokotović of the TKO Theatre in Cologne. Since 2000, he has led and presented broadcasts in the Romanes language for Radio Multikulti in Berlin and since 2002 for the Deutsche Welle (DW) in Bonn.