Zuzana Leharová

(Substitute for Carolin Pook, who was ill at short notice)

Zuzana Leharová is an improvisational musician rooted in various musical genres and styles, with a focus on jazz. The Slovakian-born Austrian violinist, composer and arranger lives in Cologne.

Carolin Pook

Photo by Taisjia Chernishova

As the bandleader of the Zuzana Leharová Quartet or “prominently” as a sidewoman, she is an integral part of the Cologne jazz scene and is involved in various projects, where she is experienced as a versatile and energetic improviser.

Zuzana grew up in Tyrol and after studying classical violin at the conservatory in Innsbruck, she continued her studies at the Conservatorium of Amsterdam and Maastricht, before finally completing her jazz violin studies at the University of Music and Dance in Cologne, where she found in Michael Gustorff, Claudius Valk, as well as Prof. Dieter Manderscheid and Sebastian Gramss, formative teachers and mentors for her further musical career.

Since 2008 Zuzana Leharová appeared, besides her own projects, in numerous formations such as Urbanic Cycles, Multiple Choice Orchestra, John Betsch Society and Tabadoul Orchestra, and worked with artists such as, Angelika Sheridan, Angelika Niescier, Annette Maye, Bastian Stein, Carl Ludwig Hübsch, Carolin Pook, Bodek Janke, Elisabeth Coudoux, Filippa Gojo, Jobic Le Masson, John Betsch, Joscha Oetz, Nils Klein, Nils Tegen, Simon Rummel and Peter Giron.
In addition to working on various studio productions and as a musician for the Rundfunk Tanzorchester Ehrenfeld (ZDF Neo), regular activities at the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus have created a close working relationship with director Robert Wilson.


Carolin Pook

Carolin Pook is a German violinist, composer, improviser, conductor, and percussionist. Her musical creations are often tailored to the musicians and are frequently a combination of improvisation and composition. The press describes her compositional style as postmodern sound architecture of sometimes magical intensity.

Carolin Pook

Photo Carolin Pook by Helmut Berns

Before starting her jazz studies (double major in violin and percussion) at the Musikhochschule Köln in 2000, she had already written a full-length musical and performed in Europe and worldwide, including Bangalore, India. During her jazz studies, her interest in cross-genre contemporary music grew, and after moving to New York in 2006, she focused on composing/arranging and free or conducted improvisation “conduction”. With her ensemble “the Pookestra,” she performs multiple times a year in New York, with each concert being a world premiere.

In 2011, she wrote a 30-minute composition for the Deutsche Radiophilharmonie and the Roy Hargrove quintet. In 2012, she composed for Peter Brötzmann and eight percussionists to commemorate the anniversary of the Wuppertaler Jazzmeeting. In 2016, she was the “Improviser in Residence” in Moers and opened the Moers Festival with “Pezzettino 8,” a creation for eight violinists who use percussion instruments with their feet. In 2017, she composed stage music for the theater production of Wuppertaler Bühnen’s “Don Quichote” and a violin concerto for the EOS Kammerorchester Köln under the direction of Susanne Blumenthal. In 2022, her second violin concerto, “About Time,” was premiered, commissioned by the Schwäbische Jugendsinfonieorchester with Hannah Weirich (Ensemble Musikfabrik) as the soloist.

Carolin Pook is in high demand as an interpreter on the violin, both in contemporary classical music and jazz. Since 2021, she has been serving as the concertmaster of the EOS Kammerorchester Köln.

Bassem Hawar

Bassem Hawar, born in 1972 in Baghdad, Iraq, studied Iraqi and Oriental music with a focus on the Djoze at the conservatory in Baghdad. He also studied violin and musicology at the university.

For several years, he taught Djoze, violin, and music theory at the conservatory and music school in Baghdad. He played in various formations, under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture such as Al Bayariq, Al Nahar al jadid, Babel, and the State Symphony Orchestra. Together with his brother Saad Mahmood, he founded the group Melodic.

Bassem Hawar – Djoze

Photo Bassem Hawar

Bassem Hawar builds his own instruments. He further developed the Djoze so that it can play all forms of Arabic and European music and is not limited to its traditional scope, the Iraqi Maqam. Instruments built according to his design are now known as “Bassem’s Djoze.”

Bassem has been living in Germany since 2000 and has established himself in the free music scene. He is a co-founder of the ensembles Lagash, Ahoar, and Sidare, with which he has performed internationally. Ahoar won the 1st prize at the regional competition Creole NRW in 2006 and the following year at the federal competition of the World Music Prize.

Currently, Bassem plays in numerous groups of various musical genres, ranging from classical Iraqi Maqam (Duo Melodic, Mesopotamiens) to European medieval music (Sanstierce, La Beltatz), Flamenco (Trio Ziryab), new music, and experimental jazz (Crossover Bagdad Köln). In 2018, he founded the Nouruz Ensemble, which further develops contemporary oriental art music. The ensemble was included in the “Musikkulturen” promotion program of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for the 2019/20 season.

Bassem Hawar is a recipient of the WDR Jazz Prize 2020 in the Musikkulturen category.