The SOAS alumnus who organises music festivals in London and Berlin

Interfaith Music Festival organiser Anja Fahlenkamp

She would not be the founder of a multi-city, multi-faith music festival running in Berlin and London if SOAS had not been there to encourage and support her from the start.

Meet SOAS alumnus Anja Fahlenkamp.

“I started organising the Interfaith Music Festival for the first time in 2011, when I was a BA Politics student at SOAS, the Students’ Union’s Anti-racism officer (as well as pregnant with my daughter Anita). The idea was to do something nice to celebrate our diversity and encourage interfaith dialogue, because I felt that this dialogue wasn’t happening on campus. So I just walked into the Events Office and told the lovely Payal Gaglani about my idea to do an interfaith music festival, and she offered to book me the BGLT and AV staff for a day. I sent out an email to all students asking who’d like to perform their faith music, and loads of people offered to perform.

The festival happened for the first time in April 2012, and to our surprise it didn’t just attract SOAS students but in fact many people from various London faith communities who were proud to see their community representatives showcase their music traditions. The next day the Events Office asked if I wanted to do another festival the following year, and then again the following year by which time I had already finished my degree at SOAS and moved back to my home city of Berlin. Every year, I would invite additional musicians from outside the university as well to have more and more different faiths musically represented, and the festival grew to become an annual hub for London’s many religious communities to come together in a non-political context to just be together under the umbrella of music and grow their intercommunity ties.

After the 2015 festival, SOAS told me they couldn’t host the festival for free anymore, but since I have always kept the festival entrance free of charge I had no money to pay for venue or AV. So lucky for us the British Museum showed great interest in becoming our new host venue and have been so since 2016, with the 6th annual London Interfaith Music Festival, now entitled “Faiths In Tune”, happening on 21 May 2017 for the second year at the British Museum. Also, we expanded the festival to Berlin, Germany, were I managed to obtain major funds from the Berlin Lottery Foundation and held the 1st “Berliner Festival der Religionen” last year, and a 2nd one is currently being planned for 15/16 July 2017. I am also planning to organise a festival in New York hopefully next year, and additional locations in the future. I registered a social enterprise in Berlin in 2014 as well to manage funds, and became an Ariane de Rothschild Fellow in the same year. And that’s pretty much the story of Faiths In Tune.

We are currently still accepting performance offers, from the public and from SOAS students, for the festival at the British Museum. Performance offers can be submitted through our website at http://www.faithsintune.org/get_involved.

I was also awarded a Director’s Prize by former SOAS Director Paul Webley (RIP), see here.

I am very proud to say that I am a SOAS alumna and will always want to stay in touch with SOAS and its students.”

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