Tobias Stürmer is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, sound artist, producer, ethnomusicologist and music educator. He studied a three year Jazz Diploma (1990 till 93) at Mannes College of Music, New York, focussing on Guitar and Drum Kit. He spent 2 years part-time at the Manhattan Drummers Collective, where he studied with Kim Plainfield, Bob Weiner, Frank Malabe and Bobby Senabria focussing on Latin Jazz and Afro Cuban Styles for Percussion and Drum Kit. In 1993 he took one year of private conga study with John Amira, New York.
In 1994 he moved to Senegal for one year. He lived 6 months in a remote village in the rural Casamance region, researching and participating in traditional Djola music making and festivities in local village communities. Later he taught a 3-week Jazz workshop at the Senegalese National Orchestra in Dakar.
In 1995, Tobias moved to Venezuela where he lived, studied and performed for 3 years. He designed a rhythm, body and coordination seminar for actors, dancers and musicians, which he taught in Venezuela at various national theatre companies. He researched Afro-Venezuelan rhythms in the Paria area and studied with drummer Andres Brisceño. For 6 months he was musical director of the Venezuelan Band Piecas de India performed with local Salsa bands.
In 1999, Tobias moved to London to study a Masters in Ethnomusicology at SOAS, London University and he graduated in 2000 with merit. In these studies he focussed on the healing properties of African music in traditional communities in West Africa. He also researched different approaches to learning music depending on cultural contexts. Next to his academic study he toured and performed with the West African dance companies Badejo Arts (contemporary Nigerian dance) and Frititi (traditional Ghanaian dance).
In 2001 he composed, recorded and produced his first solo album Brixton Beach with his own band Émigré, blending Jazz and West African rhythms. He performed regularly on the London Jazz, Latin Jazz and African music scene, playing with Roberto Pla, the Chomenleys, the Bollywood Brassband, Baka Beyond and currently the Brixton based Hi Life Band Yaaba Funk. He also is involved in the 5-Rhythms scene in London and Cologne.
Tobias has always been very involved in London’s community music making and he worked as a music workshop facilitator for the Centre for Young Musicians (CYM), City Literary Institute, Live Music Now!, Sewa Education, Songlines International Choir, and the Laban Center of Dance and Movement.
In 2001 he assisted in the setting up of Sewa Beats and was the organisation’s artistic director for 2 years, designing and facilitating workshop models for teambuilding, leadership skill development, creativity, change management and communication. He led and coached teams of workshop facilitators and conceptualised as well as composed performance much repertoire. He also facilitated workshops with Drum Café (both in the UK as well as in Germany) and worked 3 years with the German organisation Rhythm Coaching. He has published various books on music education with A&C Blacks Publishing.
In 2004, Tobias teamed up with the US charity Empowerment Works and conducted a series of musician support projects in Uganda and Senegal, where his initiative supports musicians through non –profit CD productions.
Tobias is also a sound artist and the inventor of Porcelain Music: contemporary sound art played on porcelain instruments, which has been used by a number of international contemporary choreographers.
Jaijai, what a wonderful mission you've undertaken to create such a place for artistic minds to meet and share their hearts. A place to renew faded determinations, and revive lessened momentums. A place to display our wares and reconfirm to one another that we actually are on the right track.
I commend you, Jaijai, for caring so much that you created this castle of the heart for all of us. I want to share my praise for all of the new friends as well as old friends that I've met and will meet here in our castle. Here we can garnish the where-with-all, the strength, the conviction, and the selflessness through our symbiosis, to share our gift to the world with an unbiased agenda.
My mentor, Daisaku Ikeda says of art: "A beautiful flower delights and refreshes the hearts of all people equally, no matter what soil it grows in. That is the power of beauty. The same is true of great art. It is this spirit that the German poet Heinrich Heine sang of when he wrote that once the peapod bursts open, the sugar peas inside are for everyone to enjoy."
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