Bubu Teklamariam, Endriss Hansen, Selamnesh Zemene, Misale Leggese, Kaethe Hostetter
— The ensemble features Endriss Hansen, Bubu Teklamariam, Kaethe Hostetter, Misale Leggese, and Selamnesh Zemene —
Flushing Town Hall will welcome Ethiopian band QWANQWA for a performance like no other as they make their debut United States tour with QWANQWA: Ethiopian Supergroup on October 29th. With their roots in traditional East African music, this experimental group is on a mission to further cross-cultural dialogue.
Founded in 2012 by the group’s violinist Kaethe Hostetter, QWANQWA is a group of extremely talented musicians “from the baddest ensembles of Addis Ababa,” Ethiopia’s capital. Their genre of music is intersectional, combining elements of rock, psychedelic, and regional beats from Addis Ababa. The supergroup features Endris Hassen (masinko), Bubu Teklamariam (bass krar), Kaethe Hostetter (violin), Misale Leggese (kebero), and Selamnesh Zemene (vocalist).
“This is one of our most anticipated events of the year,” says Flushing Town Hall Executive & Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek. “We are honored to be a stop on QWANQWA’s U.S. debut tour and have our audience experience the great music that QWANQWA has been sharing with the world for a decade—for the first time live from Queens!”
About the Artists
Misale Legesse (Kebero & Percussion)
Misale Legesse was born in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. As a child, he fell in love with music, especially the rhythmic sounds of percussion, and started playing in his neighborhood – using pails and empty cardboard boxes as his instruments – imitating the music videos and live performances he saw on TV.
Misale joined the Children and Youth Theater at 17 as part of their in-house band where he quickly emerged as a standout talent. He would go on to become the drummer at Ras Theater, a venerable center of culture established by Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie in 1935 and the youngest member of the theater’s house orchestra.
Misale’s artistry and openness to innovation made him a highly sought-after musician in Addis Ababa. His immense musical talents took him beyond Ethiopian borders and led him to work with musical acts such as The Ex, Ken Vandermark, and Paal Nilsson-Love.
Anteneh (Bubu) Teklemariam Barago (Bass Krar)
Anteneh Teklemariam Barago was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in the Ferensai Sefer neighborhood that also housed the French Embassy. Nicknamed Bubu, he fell in love at an early age with the sound of the krar, an ancient Ethiopian lyre. At age 16, he began taking music lessons at a local NGO as part of the Family Planning Association of Ferensa. Soon after, he joined the Kistani Band Gurage Mehaber.
A composer as well as a musician, he has written music and lyrics for both himself and other musicians. Heavily influenced by spiritual concerns, many of the albums he chooses to play on have a spiritual or a socially conscious message, whether it be dealing with environmental issues or Ethiopian identity.
As a sought-after studio musician, he has also risen to a position of esteem in the extensive world of Orthodox Koptic Christian music. He has worked on albums with noted Ethiopian traditional musician and social activist Seleshi Demessie and EthioColor, a collective of which he is a founding member.
Selamnesh Zemene Taye (Vocalist)
Vocalist Selamnesh Zemene Taye was born in a small town in the Gonder region in northern Ethiopia. She was born into the bloodline of the Azmari, known as the keepers of a special musical tradition. They are traveling musicians, who use wit, improvisation, and puns in their lyrics, and are known as masters of sem ena worq – literally, wax and gold. This form allows them to speak truth to power in a socially acceptable way while also functioning as deliverers of news.
Selamnesh, true to the bloodline, started singing in her childhood. Already a professional singer at age 13, she married shortly thereafter and moved briefly with her husband to the town of Mekelle. After a short stay there, they relocated to Addis Ababa, where she has been ever since, growing her family and musical career.
She began by singing in small Azmari bets (restaurants) before joining the house ensemble at Fendika in 2000 at first as a backup singer with occasional solos. Over the years, she became a central figure in the ensemble, especially after her colleague, dancer Melaku Belay, purchased the space in 2011 and began developing it as an internationally-renowned cultural venue.
Selamnesh released her first solo album, Salayye al-welem, in 1997 and her second album, Koraw, in 2008. Both albums drew on the traditional Ethiopian folk music of the highlands. Selamnesh has also collaborated with a host of international artists from Deebo Band to Baroque Nomads. She also was featured as a lead vocalist in the Nile Project, a multi-national collaboration involving musicians from all of the Nile River countries, leading them into their 6-month US tour.
Selamnesh continues to perform and tour locally and internationally, while also being a mother of four children.
Endres Hassen “Endris” (Masinqo)
Endris Hassen Ahmed began playing masinqo, a traditional Ethiopian one-stringed bowed instrument, at a young age. Born and raised in the important musical city of Wello, Endris was around surrounded by the different sounds and rhythms from birth.
After moving to Addis Ababa as a teenager, he quickly became the most sought-after masinqo player in the country’s capital. Endris has been recording and performing for more than twenty years and is featured on over two thousand domestically produced albums, distributed on all channels of Ethiopian media. He is a frequent guest performer with traditional, jazz, and experimental ensembles in Ethiopia and across the world.
Endris served as chief masinqo player at Hager Fikir, a government-sponsored traditional music and theater company established by Haile Sellasie in 1935, holding the position of Permanent Cultural Musician for 13 years. Endris is a founding member of several important groups and is committed to keeping the rich tradition of Ethiopian music and dance alive and fresh.
A choice experimental collaborator, Endris has collaborated frequently with legendary Ethiopian singer Mulatu Astatke, Han Bennink, Paal Nilssen-Love, Ken Vandermark, DJ Magabo, the Hip Hop Project Stereognosis, The Ex, Opera Frontier, and more. He has toured internationally for over two decades.
Kaethe Hostetter (Violin)
Kaethe is an American violinist, composer, and bandleader, who has been deeply invested in exploring, preserving, and expanding Ethiopian traditional sounds for over 15 years. A founding member of the critically-acclaimed Debo Band, Kaethe recorded many albums and toured the world, including a life-changing tour of East Africa in 2009. Soon after, she relocated to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, immersing herself in the country’s deep musical culture. During her eleven years there, she founded a music school and started a new band, QWANQWA, which brought together some of the most accomplished players in Addis Ababa’s music scene.
In-person tickets are $12 for Flushing Town Hall members, senior citizens, and students and $18 for non-members. Those who are unable to attend in person can view the livestream for $5 at https://www.youtube.com/flushingtownhall/live. Donations are encouraged.
For the venue’s full schedule of 2022 Fall events, visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/events
Although as of March 7, 2022, New York City has relaxed its COVID policies for indoor arts and entertainment events, Flushing Town Hall will maintain its prior policy for the safety of its audiences, artists, and staff. This policy will remain in effect until further notice: Flushing Town Hall requires all visitors, performers, and staff to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 with matching identification. Additionally, masks will be required at all times. For more details on Flushing Town Hall’s Covid-safety measures and vaccine requirements, please visit: https://www.flushingtownhall.org/covid-safety.
Support Global Arts with a Gift Today!
All gifts of $50 or more give you exclusive Flushing Town Hall Circle of Friends membership benefits including a Smithsonian membership, ticket discounts, and more! Donations in any amount are appreciated to support the artists and the nonprofit cultural organization as they continue to provide programming and entertainment across New York and the world.
Flushing Town Hall is a not for profit organization and receives major support in 2022 from the National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; New York State Assembly Member Ron Kim; The City of New York, Mayor Eric Adams; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Commissioner Laurie Cumbo; Queens Borough President Donovan Richards; The New York City Council, Speaker Adrienne E. Adams and New York City Council Members Sandra Ung, Tiffany Caban, Shekar Krishnan, Linda Lee, Vickie Paladino, Lynn Schulman, and Jessica Won; Howard Gilman Foundation, Booth Ferris Foundation, Guru Krupa Foundation, Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation.
To view current donor lists, please visit www.flushingtownhall.org/donor-listings
About Flushing Town Hall
Flushing Town Hall (FTH), a Smithsonian affiliate, presents multi-disciplinary global arts that engage and educate the global communities of Queens and New York City in order to foster mutual appreciation. As advocates of arts equity since 1979, we support local, immigrant, national, and international artists, developing partnerships and collaborations that enhance our efforts. As a member of New York City’s Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), we serve to restore, manage and program the historic 1862 landmark on behalf of the City of New York. FTH celebrates the history of Queens as the home of Jazz, by presenting the finest in Jazz performance. We are committed to arts education and hands-on learning, for the arts-curious, arts enthusiasts, and professional artists. We serve one of the most diverse communities in the world and strive to uphold the legacy of inclusiveness that has defined our community since the Flushing Remonstrance of 1657.
Flushing Town Hall is a proud member of the Cultural Institutions Group (CIG), a collective of 34 nonprofit museums, performing arts centers, historical societies, zoos, and botanical gardens across all five boroughs with a distinct private-public partnership with the City of New York and a commitment to serving all New Yorkers.
Flushing Town Hall acknowledges that we are on the traditional land of the Matinecock People, one of the original tribes of New York, and the first people of Flushing, Queens. The Matinecock continue to live and work on this land to this day. Flushing Town Hall honors their elders who have stewarded this land throughout generations.