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IrvingBerlin Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery

Remember Berlin

A musical project

In 1893 Irving Berlin crossed the ocean to America on a Red Star Line boat. There he became one of the most influential composers of the 20th century. 130 years later, the Red Star Line Museum wants to provide a platform again and support young musicians in chasing their dreams.

We challenge five young artists, each with their own migration story, to be inspired by the work and life of Irving Berlin. How is Irving Berlin's musical legacy still relevant today and how does their own migration story influence their musical identity?


Remember ...

... is not merely a reference to the title of an Irving Berlin song. It also calls to remember Berlin's inspiring migration story and his musical legacy. But it goes beyond a nostalgic memory. It also calls on the five chosen artists to look for their own musical identity and the importance of their migration background in this. We stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. This applies not only to music, but also to migration.

piano van Irving Berlin foto: Ans Brys


The project

Five young musicians dive into Irving Berlin's oeuvre to find inspiration. They are assigned to work out an original composition, in which they are given complete creative freedom. The result is subordinate to the process.

Opnames Remember Berlin

The process is being filmed and made into a mini biopic for each artist.

The five compositions will be recorded in a live-session video clip in the museum galleries.

On Saturday, March 18, 2023, the musicians presented their song to the general public in the museum's ‘Loods’, all in the presence of Irving Berlin's granddaughter, Caroline Emmet.

This photo report gives an impression of this musical afternoon.

Participants Remember Berlin

Cristina Sapalo tijdens Remember Berlin concert

Cristina Sapalo

Remember Berlin

Cristina describes herself as a singer-songwriter and musician with Angolan roots. She grew up with influences from gospel, Congolese and Angolan music, R&B and funk.

Omid Aghajani tijdens Remember Berlin concert

Omid Aghajani

Remember Berlin

Omid was born in Iran. There he received a classical trumpet training. Via the non-profit organization Zing Zang Zong, he found his way to the Antwerp Conservatory. His main instrument is guitar and he is open to all kinds of musical influences.

Anke Ludwig quartet tijdens het Remember Berlin concert

Anke Ludwig

Remember Berlin

Anke has been playing classical piano since she was 4 years old. She is currently studying Jazz in her 2nd year at the Antwerp Conservatory. There she managed to get her own permanent rhythm section.

Joe Ayoub

Joe Ayoub

Remember Berlin

Joe has Lebanese roots and only became involved in music at a later age. At Zing Zang Zong he turned out to be a natural talent, which gave him the opportunity to start teaching there. Joe has only been musically active for 2 years, but has already participated in several projects of Fameus vzw.

Harmony Wellinghof aka Stripes tijdens het Remember Berlin concert

Harmony Wellinghof aka Stripes

Remember Berlin

Harmony, aka Stripes. Her UK roots are clearly present in her sound and beats. She states that this translates into a unique mix of jazz and trap. Currently she is a solo artist, but in the near future she hopes to put together her own live band.

About Irving Berlin

The success story of Irving Berlin

Among the two million Europeans who traveled to America on the Red Star Line was a five year old boy from Russia. The boy’s name was Israel ‘Izzy’ Beilin. He would grow up to gain world-wide fame as Irving Berlin with songs like 'White Christmas', 'Puttin' on the Ritz' and 'There's No Business Like Show Business'.

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