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Jul 05, 2021

Museum Geelvinck: Keti Koti and "Beethoven is Black"

On 1 July 2013, Keti Koti was celebrated for the first time in one of Amsterdam’s famous canal mansions, the Geelvinck Hinlopen Huis, at the time still Museum Geelvinck’s venue.

At the time, the Keti Koti Dialogue Table was organized as part of the museum's exhibition ‘Black in the Amsterdam Canal District’. Since then, the topic of trans-Atlantic slavery has remained a constant theme in the museum’s policy. Last autumn, the project ‘Beethoven is Black’ was launched; its international panel session is now available on the museum's website

Keti Koti

Keti Koti means ‘the chain is cut’ in Sranantongo, the creole language of Suriname. It marks the 1st of July, the day when slavery was officially abolished in Suriname and the Dutch Antilles in 1863. Since 2009 this is celebrated in a growing number of Dutch cities too.

Decolonizing classical music

Is classical music a universal cultural value, or a representation of Western imperialism and white supremacy? How do musicians of color view classical music? What experiences musicians of color have, that structurally influenced their education and career?

Online panel session

Moderated by the Surinamese-Dutch television anchor Noraly Beyer, eight musicians of color discussed these themes early June: Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE (UK; initiator of Chineke! Orchestra, the first fully multi-ethnic orchestra in Europe); Patricia Ann Neely (USA; Chair of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Task Force of Early Music America); Brandon Keith Brown (Conductor of the Rundfunk Sinfonieorchester-Berlin); Yi-heng Yang (USA; fortepianist and teacher at Juilliard New York); Luke Welch (Canadian pianist); Ronald Snijders (renowned Surinamese-Dutch flutist and composer), Orville Breeveld (Suri-namese-Dutch guitarist, composer and marketeer of the Royal Concertgebouw); and James Oesi (South-African-Dutch cellist).

Telling experiences and inspiring perspectives provided a particularly lively insight into this topic.

Video podcast ‘Beethoven is Black’

The series of video podcasts (eight parts) has now been released: musicians of color perform, besides Beethoven, works by composers of color. After each concert, the famous Surinamese-Dutch actress Gerda Havertong interviews them. Museum Geelvinck provided each episode with a contextual introduction. The first three episodes have already been published.

For more info: