SonicExchange (english)

SonicExchange began in 2012 as a 100-day residency at the Fotomotel, a creative space in the Schillerviertel in Kassel.  Beyond a series of concerts, there are always aspects of exchange and unusual musical encounters. The international artistic network that Ursel Schlicht built during many years in New York enables her to organise high level concerts and workshops with new combinations of musicians, of featured guests, open artistic space.  The music features a multitude of aesthetics from folklore from a variety of countries and cultures, jazz, improvisation, composition. 

Projects in 2023

  1. Jazz meets Tabla:  Trio with Shams Hashemi, Rolf Denecke, Ursel Schlicht. Concerts and recordings with special guest Tomas Ulrich on cello.
  2. Hommage and documentation of the work of Dr. Salamat Schiftah, scientist, musician and ambassador of Afghan culture. Research, film concept and a concert in his memory with author and filmmaker Natalie Kreisz.
  3. Solo-Improvisations of Ursel Schlicht inspired by documenta fifteen.
  4. Video 9/11 New York 2001 - Erinnerungen (Remembering 9/11 New York 2001). Production of SonicExchange 2021.  Performance on September 11, 2023. 

All four projects are linked: 

Experiencing September 11, 2001 in New York led to creating and producing an intercultural project with musicians from Afghanistan, the US and Germany.  This took place during documenta 11 in Kassel and has continued in the form of a variety of other projects.  Dr. Salamat Schiftah and cellist Tomas Ulrich were both part of this first project in 2002. 

Since then, Schiftah participated in other projects in documenta years (2007, 2012, 2017, 2022).   

In 2017, Schiftah and Schlicht played music from Afghanistan with tabla virtuoso Shams Hashemi Mahmoud.  Ursel Schlicht later founded a trio with Shams Hashemi and Rolf Denecke, playing primarily her music written for tabla, piano and bass.  In 2022, she recorded solo improvisations, inspired by the documenta fifteen. 

For the 20th anniversary of 9/11, Natalie Kreisz and Ursel Schlicht created a video with video footage Kreisz had taken on that day in New York. Schlicht created sound in 2021, while seeing the footage for the first time.

1. Jazz Meets Tabla

Concerts and recording, with special Guest Tomas Ulrich (New York, cello)


This trio of Ursel Schlicht, Shams Hashemi and Rolf Denecke has developed a program with music by Ursel Schlicht.  As special guest they want to work with cellisten Tomas Ulrich (New York). Ulrich is one of the best improvisors on cello, performs major classical works on cello, and has a lot of experience with intercultural projects.  He came to Kassel the first time for the first intercultural meeting in the summer of im 2002 at Kulturhaus Dock 4. 

The trio aims to show a positive facet of Afghanistan and will play at the International Refugee Day (June 20), during the week of civil engagement (September) and at Human Rights Day. 

2. Documentation and Hommage to Dr. Salamat Schiftah

Dr. Salamat Schiftah - Scientist, Musician and Ambassador of Afghan Culture. 


Throughout his life, Salamat Schiftah was particularly committed to international understanding. He tirelessly campaigned for the preservation and further development of Afghan culture in Germany. Already in 2002 he took part in Ursel Schlicht's seven-day project "Ex Tempore" in the Kulturhaus Dock 4. 

In response to the events after the September 11 attacks in New York, Ursel Schlicht organized an exchange of musicians from Afghanistan, the USA and Germany. A concert was played every evening with the contents worked out on the day. Schiftah joined as an Afghan musician and poet and brought with him his vast knowledge of Afghan culture. Since then, numerous other joint concerts and projects have emerged. Unfortunately, Salamat Schiftah passed away after a short, serious illness on January 8, 2023. A memorial concert dedicated to Salamat Shiftah is in preparation for autumn 2023 and will show excerpts from the archive material. 

The trailer can be seen here.

3. Solo-Improvisationen inspired by documenta fifteen

As an improvisor, Ursel Schlicht has transformed impressions on the piano into sounds in the summer of 2022. A solo CD is in preparation.

4. Video+Music: 9/11 New York 2001 – Memories

Performance on 11. September 2023


The video 9/11 New York 2001 – memories (SonicExchange 2021) was premiered in 2021 and shown again in 2022 on the National Day of the Open Monument at Kulturbunker Kassel, framed by live concert sounds by Schlicht on piano, Robert Dick on contrabass flute, Detlef Landeck on trombone.


Combining a subtle sonic landscape with the video stimulated the audience to intensive discussions. The examination of forms of commemoration of socio-political events continues in 2023.


The video will be shown, again in combination with music. This time the intercultural encounter with the music and culture of Afghanistan – a result from Ursel Schlicht processing of the attack on the World Trade Center, will be a part of the evening. This event will also honor the work of Salamat Schiftah. 

The summer of 2002, is documented on DVD, released at Mulatta Records, New York 2013. 



“Jeder Mensch bringt eine eigene Stimme mit in die Welt.

Niemand klingt so wie ein anderer. 

Man muss lernen, dieses Ureigene besonders zu pflegen.

Dann kann man auf dieser Basis mit anderen spielen. 

Man muss sich dann nicht auf eine gemeinsame Stilistik einigen.

Der eigene Stil ist dann wie ein Dialekt einer gemeinsamen Sprache”

(Karl Berger, Gründer des Creative Music Studio, 2016) 



Infos zu den Workshops und Konzerten mit dem SonicExchange QUINTET >>> hier

Impression from previous years (selection):


Klingendes Café Matthäus, Kassel-Niederzwehren:

Musik grenzenlos in Niederzwehren: Download Flyer deutsch/english *** Download Flyer arabic

Jane Rigler: Deep Listening SoundWalk and concert

Inspired by Pauline Oliveros´  Deep Listening Concept,  Rigler led a Guided Soundwalk near Café Fürstenwald,

where she and Ursel Schlicht then shared sounds, giving a performance inspired by the shared sonic experience with all. 

"A liminal time of night, full of anticipation and resonance."  >>> Jane's Blog

Concert and workshop with Maninn Lidur at Grundschule Königstor, Kassel:

Gelungene Begegnung mit Kindern aus der Landesfeuerwehrschule an der Grundschule Königstor in Kassel

>>> Bericht / Download


“This summer, the modern is on offer not only in the visual arts;

the fact that avant-garde music draws a comparatively smaller audience does not diminish its importance. Exciting experiences are created by the SonicExchange project, in which the jazz pianist and improviser Ursel Schlicht draws an international gathering of musicians to Kassel during Documenta.” (Georg Pepl, HNA, 2012)


DVD Sonic Exchange on Mulatta Records

Every five years, the city of Kassel transforms into a vibrant center for avant-art, during the documenta exhibition.

SonicExchange was my fourth project inspired by this context. For 2012, I envisioned a continuous thread of sonic interchanges at Fenster zum Hof aka Fotomotel Wolf 53, a new hub for artistic interactions.

I worked daily in the on-site studio, composing and improvising on the piano, joined by guest artists and visitors.

Without a set agenda, this meant open improvisation, a realization of a specific artistic thought, and included trips to the exciting artistic events all throughout the city as a springboard for further inspiration.  SonicExchange differed from previous Ex Tempore projects as the focus was on the process of intellectual and artistic interchanges rather than on rehearsed and composed performance. Guests included musicians and artists from other fields, i.e. spoken word, visual arts, dance, new media.

As part of the Kassel Stadtprogramm, SonicExchange lasted during the 100 days of dOCUMENTA (13).