Here are stages for our ideas

Katharina Burges
Katharina Burges was two years old when she moved with her family to Brandenburg an der Havel. Her mother was assistant director at the theatre in Brandenburg an der Havel. A few years after the fall of the Berlin wall, she left the city – for the sake of music. And returned 15 years later – for the sake of music.
Katharina Burges im Gespräch über das Leben Brandenburg

Lesezeit: 4 Min.

Katharina, at a recent performance, you said on stage that in addition to your studies, it was the desire to experience “wild” things, that prompted you to leave your hometown. Your first stop was Franken, in Bavaria. What were you looking for?

I was looking for life: intensity, madness, emotions – which I actually found there. I studied at the Music Academy in Bad Königshofen – a place with less than 7000 residents. The first three days were awkward. But then I said goodbye to my past and made myself focus on the essential thing: making music. Because that’s what I wanted to do, anywhere. Besides, we were very few students – every one of us came from other places. That made it easy to bond in an incredibly short time. And when at the first event every student, every professor and lecturer partied wildly together, I knew: I found my home! It was a great time.


You were away for 15 years. After Bad Königshofen, you also lived in Dresden and Bremen. In 2009 you returned to Brandenburg an der Havel. Why?

Because I wanted to feel at home again. I didn’t really feel comfortable in Dresden or Bremen. As a self-employed person, I was able to choose where I was going – and I wanted to go to a place where I knew myself. I didn’t want to experience anything new at that moment, but rather to come to terms with myself. So, I came back to the city of Brandenburg – to my homeland.

Dominsel mit Altbauen und Neubauten in Brandenburg an der Havel
Katharina Burges an der Dominsel sitzend
Katharina Burges Auftritt in Brandenburg an der Havel
Katharina Burges Auftritt in Brandenburg an der Havel
Katharina Burges Auftritt in Brandenburg an der Havel
Leben in Brandenburg umgeben von Wasser
What makes you feel at home?

The landscape, the sounds, and the scents. The huge bodies of water, the weeping willows. All those winged creatures – the sparrows and the cranes, especially the whistling of the wild geese flying by. And the Beetzsee – that smell of reeds and mud (laughs).


That doesn’t sound exactly romantic.

It’s not – but it’s familiar to me. I feel good here. And if I hang up fresh laundry with these scents in and around me and drink a coffee, the world is fine for me.

I feel good here.


What were your plans for your career in Brandenburg an der Havel?

I wanted to make music; play concerts with people I know. And I knew a lot of people who made music and lived here. Unfortunately, I had to deal with a lot of rejection at first. Then I stopped asking others about a collaboration and just started producing everything myself. I started a small studio, wrote songs, recorded and released them on the internet.


In the meantime you are collaborating with a lot of musicians in the region …

At some point the first musicians from Brandenburg an der Havel showed up and wanted to work with me – which made me very happy. Since then, the number of collaborations has increased. I have met many new people here and I feel deeply rooted in the local art scene.


As a musician, you play pretty much every genre – jazz, classical music, gospel, music from the Golden 20s, as well as many of your own compositions. Where does the inspiration for your programs come from?
From myself – sometimes out of rage and anger, but also out of love and longing. I can feel all this here and let it out when Brandenburg sounds and smells surround me – because then I feel whole.


You have sung yourself into the heart of Brandenburg an der Havel with great devotion over the past years. What attracted you to the city?

On the one hand, people here are honestly enthusiastic regarding culture, on the other there is room for events and free space for creativity. You can easily get started here, because there are stages for any idea you might have – Theaterklause, Paulikloster, Gelber Salon, Fonte. That is why I am here.


There are also stages in Berlin.
But you can’t get on them. The art scene in Berlin feels like a block of concrete to me, I would have to force my way in. The smallness of the city of Brandenburg has its advantages – on the one hand, because there is a certain freedom, also a certain anarchy, which in turn has its pros and cons. On the other hand, the art scene is not ruthless – you can’t afford that in such a small town. Here you work with and not against each other – this attitude corresponds very well with my character. It’s what distinguishes Brandenburg an der Havel from other cities. Here I can be me. I didn’t have that feeling in the art scene in Dresden and Bremen.

Here you work with and not against each other here. This attitude distinguishes Brandenburg an der Havel from other cities

What makes the difference

Maybe that Brandenburgers have their feet on the ground, they are prosaic and pragmatic, even the art scene here – compared to Berlin, where the scene is aloof and detached. And the honesty and straightforwardness with which the audience reacts here. I really like that. In Berlin you can get on stage knitting and sell that as art – you could never do that in Brandenburg an der Havel. In my experience people here contemplate their work, their art – they take the time to do so. But it is certainly easier to establish yourself in Berlin.


Do you often go to Berlin?
Not for work. But every now and then I travel to Berlin for input. Sometimes also to Leipzig. I need that sometimes. I visit the theatre to watch a play or a ballet.


Where do you find inspiration in the city of

At Mühlendamm – I like to sit and drink coffee, enjoy the view of the reeds, the swans, the water, the sounds and smells – and the view of the cathedral.


Why is it difficult to be an artist in
Perhaps because no art is expected here, in this proletarian, working-class town. Yet, it is time to overcome this old cliché. Because there are people here who are active in the cultural sector – from which the city benefits greatly. Unfortunately, without supporting the art scene with sufficient means.


What would you wish for?

For example, the Kleinkunstfestival needs support from the city. The festival in which artists of all kinds participate is based on a private initiative and has become an important and exciting event. It would also be very nice if the theatre would work more closely with independent artists from the city. In addition, the city could promote individual artists nationwide and say: Look, they come from here, from the  city of Brandenburg. This would reflect positively on the city, because people would see: Look, there is a small town that promotes its artists; it’s green, it’s quiet and the rents are affordable – that’s where we should move. I am convinced that developments must come from below, from the citizens. But every now and then you also need impulses from above.

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