A string quintet at the 2016 Sound Understanding concert

Sound Understanding is DAAD and the DAAD Alumni Association’s annual concert showcasing the young, talented DAAD music fellows from Germany who have spent the past year studying at music schools in the US and Canada. The music fellows are selected in a national competition among the best students of Germany’s renowned music colleges.

The 2020 and 2021 Sound Understanding Concerts have been cancelled due to the pandemic. Please check back for updates on future concerts.

As we unfortunately had to cancel our 19th Sound Understanding concert at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, we would like to at least virtually introduce our current music grant holders who were supposed to perform at the concert. Sadly, most of them will be returning home after this semester is over and hence will not be able to participate in next year’s concert at Carnegie Hall. By sharing their short biographies, pictures and their music with you, we hope to give you a at least a glimpse of them and their work. We hope you’ll enjoy it and of course, please feel free to share it with anyone who might enjoy it as well.

View the photo gallery of the 2019/2020 DAAD Music Fellows on the sidebar to the right, and click below to read their bios and listen to some samples of their work.

The 2019/2020 DAAD Music Fellows

Lukas Akintaya, drums

Lukas Akintaya was born in 1991 in Lüneburg, Germany. He is a drummer with German and Nigerian roots who started his musical career at age seven. From 2011 through 2013, Mr. Akintaya studied drums with Wolfgang Ekholt at the Hochschule für Künste (HfK) in Bremen before switching to the Jazz-Institut Berlin (Universität der Künste/HfM Hans Eisler) where he studied with John Hollenbeck, Jim Black, Greg Cohen, and Jörg-Achim Keller. In 2017, he graduated with honors and continued his studies with Dré Pallemerts and Riccardo del Fra at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Music et du Danse de Paris (CNSMDP). Since 2018, Mr. Akintaya is a recipient of a DAAD grant for a Master’s program in Jazz – Instrumental Performance at New York University (NYU). Along with being a sideman in high demand, he pursues his own projects like the trio HOLON, which has been awarded the Burghausen Young Jazz Award in 2015. Mr. Akintaya is also a grantee of the Yehudi Menuin Live Music Now Foundation and winner of several competitions for young Jazz musicians.

Please click here to listen to a sample of Mr. Akintaya’s music.

Johannes Hamm, drums

Drummer Johannes Hamm was born in 1994 and grew up in Greifswald, a small town in Northeast Germany. He started playing drums at the age of eight and joined his first punk band when he was eleven. Besides playing in local punk groups, Mr. Hamm was also playing in the music school orchestra in Greifswald. Early on, he developed an eclectic style of playing, drawing from many different influences. At age fifteen, Mr. Hamm also participated in „Jugend musiziert“ a classical performance competition for guitar winning second price on the federal level but he stopped practicing guitar afterwards to focus on drumming. Gravitating towards Jazz music, Mr. Hamm spend a year of high school in Imperial, Missouri where he played in marching bands as well as in concert bands and in jazz bands. It was after that exchange year, that he started to learn about jazz drumming more extensively. In 2013, he got accepted into the Jazz performance program at the Mannheim University of Music and Performing Arts. Mr. Hamm studied abroad with legendary Jazz drummers Jeff Ballard and Jorge Rossy in Basel, Switzerland and in 2018, he went to Salvador da Bahia in Brazil for a semester. After graduating in Mannheim, he now studies jazz performance at New York University with a DAAD graduate scholarship.

Please click here and here to listen to Mr. Hamm perform.

Eliane Menzel, violin

Violinist Eliane Menzel was born in 1999 and started playing the violin at the age of three. From 2008 through 2017, she was a pre-student of Professor Katrin Scholz at the University of Arts Bremen. Besides several first prices at the national competition „Jugend musiziert“ between 2007 and 2016, Ms. Menzel was awarded special prizes for „outstanding musical achievements“. In 2011 and 2012, she taught herself cello, clarinet and horn and received one year of oboe lessons from her father after which she was laureate with the oboe at „Jugend musiziert“. Ms. Menzel participated in master classes of Thomas Brandis, Rachel Podger, Igor Ozim, Silvia Marcovici, Rainer Sonne, Andrés Cárdenes, and Hagai Shaham as well as at summer festivals such as the Castleman Quartet Program 2018, the Heifetz International Music Institute 2019, and the Young Artists Program” in 2017, 2018 and 2019 where she was allowed to work with Pinchas Zukerman, Patinka Kopec, and Grigori Kalinovsky. Together with her father, the oboist Prof. Fabian Menzel, Eliane Menzel regularly gives chamber concerts, presenting music from baroque to modern style, including compositions written for Eliane and Fabian Menzel. As a soloist Eliane Menzel has performed with orchestras such as the Oldenburger Schlossorchester, Kammersinfonie Oldenburg, MainKammerOrchester Frankfurt, the Ensemble Bremen-Frankfurt and the Oldenburg State Orchestra, as well as at the HfKPodium für junge Talente. From 2011 to 2018, Ms. Menzel has been a member of the German Youth String Orchestra Deutsche Streicherphilharmonie, with which she has performed throughout Germany and Europe and at important music festivals. Since 2014, she has served as concertmaster on tours, CD productions and broadcasts.In 2016, Ms. Menzel won 1st prize at the VIII. International competition Szymon Goldberg Meißen as well as a special prizes for the modern piece and a performance at the festival Schubertiade Schnackenburg. Subsequently Radio Bremen produced a portrait which was transmitted on television in May 2016. After being participant at the Young Artists Program 2017, Eliane had lessons with Ms. Kopec since September 2017. In Fall 2018 she started her bachelor studies with Pinchas Zukerman and Ms. Kopec at the Manhattan School of Music with support of the DAAD. Since 2015 she is supported by the Gertrud- und Hellmut Barthel Stiftung.

Please click here to listen to Ms. Menzel perform.

Sabeth Pérez, voice

Singer Sabeth Pérez was born in 1992 in Heidelberg, Germany. Having grown up with traditional Argentinian music as well as Jazz, she started singing instrumental lines as part of a big ensemble in ensembles such as the WDR and hr Bigband, later taking on the role of a soloist. She writes and arranges music for different ensembles and performs internationally as sideman and band leader. Ms. Pérez has already won prestigious awards, among them the Jazzpreis Saarbrücken (2015), Junger Deutscher Jazzpreis (2016), Münchner Jazzpreis 2016, and Jazzpreis Burghausen (2018). She has been awarded a DAAD scholarship to study at the Manhattan School of Music.

Yochai Noah Sadeh, guitar

Yochai Noah Sadeh was born in 1986 in Ramat Gan, Israel, and is a guitar player and composer currently based in New York. In 2017, he has graduated with a Bachelor´s degree with honors in Jazz Studies at the University of Music and Theater in Leipzig. He was awarded with the Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Scholarship for excellence during his Bachelor studies. While being an active member of the Leipzig Jazz scene, Mr. Sadeh collaborated with different local and international music projects such as “The Other Mother,“ R&B Singer Kgomotso Tstasi (aka KG), “Furiosa,“ “Orientation,“ Ivan Dalia, “The Jah Of York collective,“ “Crossings Trio,“ “Pigeon Toad,” and “Secret Funk conspiracy”. As a studio guitarist, he participated in the recordings of the German singer and actor Manfred Krug in his last studio album “Auserwählt”, together with Uschi Brüning, Tom Gotze and Andreas Bicking, among others. Mr. Sadeh has played in various music festivals around Germany and Europe, such as “Karneval der Kulturen” (Berlin), Moritzbastei Jazznachwuchsfestival (Leipzig), as well as outside of Europe: „Music Beyond Boundaries“ World Music Festival in Ethiopia (funded by the German and the Italian Embassies in Addis Ababa). He attended workshops with Richie Beirach, Werner Neumann, Pepe Berns, Peter Bernstein, Christian Kögel, Yaniv Kerem, Johannes Enders, Tuck Andres, Benny Cohen, Lage Lund, David Liebmann, the Bad Plus, Vincent Herring, Michael Wollny, Johannes Lauer, Mark Turner, Alan Ferber, Ari Hoenig, and Adam Rogers. In September 2018, Mr. Sadeh was awarded a prestigious DAAD scholarship to pursue a Master’s degree at the NYU Steinhardt in New York, where he studies with Peter Bernstein, Alan Ferber, Ari Hoenig and Adam Rogers. He was awarded with the „A.C. Jobim” Prize, and the „Soloing Artist” Prize at the Jazz- StuVo Contest in 2012. Mr. Sadeh shares his life story with his listeners through his compositions and unique improvisation style, which are influenced by life experiences and travels in Europe, the Middle East, South America and Africa.

Maxine Troglauer, trombone

Trombonist Maxine Troglauer started taking trombone lessons with Joachim Tobschall at the Wiesbadener Musik- und Kunstschule at age six. At the age of 13, she founded a young trombone quartet and switched to the bass trombone. Ever since then she has dedicated herself to the literature of this instrument. In March 2017, she was awarded a scholarship in the „Deutscher Musikwettbewerb“ and was a member of the „Bundesauswahl Konzerte junger Kunstler (BAKJK)“ during 2018/2019 season. In 2014, she began studying with Christhard Gössling at the „Hanns Eisler Musikhochschule“ in Berlin. After 3 semesters she moved to Hannover to continue her studies with Jonas Bylund and completed her Bachelor degree there in July 2019. With a grant of the DAAD, Ms. Troglauer pursues her Master‘s Degree with bass trombonist David Taylor at the Manhattan School of Music. She is now part of the esteemed Contemporary Performance Program which is dedicated to preparing musicians to thrive as artists working on the forefront of contemporary classical music. Ms. Troglauer has extensive orchestral playing experience such as the „Landesjugendsinfonieorchester Hessen“ (2010-2012) and the „Bundesjugendorchester“ (National Youth Orchestra of Germany) from 2012 through 2014. In the past years, she has been playing as a temporary musician at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Staatstheater Wiesbaden and the Stadttheater Bremen. For the season 2018/ 2019 she was given a temporary contract as bass trombonist in the „Staatsoper Hannover“ (State Opera of Hannover). Since 2016, Ms. Troglauer pursus her enthusiasm for jazz music with playing in diverse big bands, such as the „Landesjugendjazzorchester Brandenburg“ under the direction of Jiggs Whigham and the „Bundesjazzorchester“ (National Jazz Orchestra). These bands led her to festivals such as the famous Rochester Jazz Festival, Ottawa Jazz Festival and the Jazztage Leipzig. In New York she has had the oppurtunity to work with artists such as the George Gee Swing Orchestra and trumpeter John Faddis.

Ticket Reservations

Click here to reserve your tickets or contact Amra Dumisic (alumni@daad.org). Tickets are free of charge, but a suggested donation of $20 would be appreciated. You can make a donation here.

Sponsorship Opportunities

Attractive sponsorship packages will help you associate your brand with an enjoyable cultural evening highlighting the next generation of German musicians, and meet leaders of the German-American business community. Previous sponsors and attendees included, among others, the Robert Bosch Corporation, Deutsche Bank, DHL, Lufthansa, Mercedes-Benz USA, Schering/Berlex Laboratories, and others.

Details on sponsorship opportunities are available here:

Download: Sponsorship Form 2020 (pdf, 61.24 KB)

The DAAD Alumni Association is a 501(c)(3) organization, and all contributions are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by the law.

Other Ways to Support this Event

The DAAD Alumni Association continues to welcome support from generous DAAD alumni, friends and partners.

If you would like to make a donation to the DAAD Alumni Association, please click here.

If you are interested in advertising at the event, please find details and advertisement rates here:

Download: Additional Opportunities 2020 (pdf, 94.75 KB)

Sound Understanding Sponsors 2018

The DAAD Alumni Association of the US and DAAD would like to gratefully acknowledge all of the sponsors of this year’s event and all of our members and donors across the country. Their support will help us to ensure that the important work of international academic and cultural exchange between the US and Germany continues to address the needs of the modern transatlantic relationship.

Bronze Sponsors (USD 1,000) – Brian Mitchell, Manfred Phillip, Helene Zimmer-Loew

Supporters (USD 500) -Sigrid Berka, Brian Boyer, Erich Haratsch, Jonathan Lyon, Rosmarie Morewedge, Mark Rectanus,

We’d also like to thank: Erika Berroth, Barbara Berthold, and Friederike Eigler