Nia Wa Ja Shu

Mike von der Nahmer

, Tatiana Wechsler, Anita Prestidge

About Mike von der Nahmer

I am a composer in the process of converting and have contributed several pieces to the Artist’s Beit Midrash for Town and Village Synagogue in New York including Multitudes and Tightrope which was written with Tatiana Wechsler. But my story begins much earlier. My father was very involved in the Jewish community in Munich, even wanting to convert, and when I was young, I would hear the same rant every single morning: “I hate Germans, they should have all been gassed. They are worth nothing.” I once asked him, “But father, I am German too, should I also die?”. He replied: “No son, you’re an old Korean reincarnation and your mother is the reincarnation of Persian princess”. There isn’t much you can do about that as a young child but it informed a very important question I had to answer. Would I internalize hatred, ignore what I didn’t want to hear or listen to other people’s stories and learn what the story means to them? I chose the latter and focused my life’s work to take the question further helping people find a way to tell a new transformational story with music and words.

About Nia Wa Ja Shu

Nia Wa Ja Shu is a large choral piece with orchestra written for the Camerloher Gymnasium in connection to the Fridays for Future movement. The staging follows the story of paper while the words and music explore the emotional arc of the activist. The four movements or seasons contain seven emotions. Movement one begins with Tatiana’s words of a made up language echoing her mother’s native tongue of Swahili and the universal feeling of idealism and disillusionment. Needing to regroup and recenter as we do in the time of Schmita, the second movement introduces Anita’s mythical love story of NiaWa and JaShu. A delicate hope and joy emerge to carry us through the conflict of movement three. Finally gaining strength and passion movement four urges us to “Be the Hero” and “Make the World New”. Intended for youth we believe this piece is an international call to take stock and take action. It is not action for action’s sake, an unbalanced action against, but an action informed by an intention cultivated by both tradition and love for the world.