Thomas Feist – Part One.
Thomas is my cousin – he lives in Leipzig, Germany. Leipzig used to be part of East Germany, and so that right there makes him a pretty interesting person, having experienced so much change so far in his lifetime.
Leipzig is a city with a whole lot of history, including a rich musical history (Bach called it home). So based on all this, it’s no surprise that Thomas is a deep-thinking, politically active musician!
Following is part one of an email interview I did with Thomas. I haven’t seen him in many years, but he’s definitely someone I want to spend more time getting to know. He invited me to spend Christmas with him and his family this year, but I can’t make it this time around. Hopefully next year. Christmas in Germany sounds lovely…(and fattening).
I hope you find Thomas as interesting as I do. (Even though he’s quite good with English, I have made a few edits, for clarity’s sake).
thomas feist – great thinker.
ACE: What is your “day job” and how did you get this job? Do you enjoy it?
TF: My “day job” is the usual daily procedure of a parliamentarian of “Deutscher Bundestag.” As a member of the committee on science, education and technology assessment and the subcommittee on foreign cultural and educational affairs, I take part in committee as well as plenary sessions on topics related to my memberships. This includes bringing up, controlling and evaluating programs by the ministry of education and research and the ministry of foreign affairs, as well as bringing in the governmental budget and controlling it.
In Berlin I have an office with a chief secretary and research officer who work for me. That’s half of my time (22 weeks I have to be in Berlin), and half of my work. The other half of my time I spend in my hometown, Leipzig; it’s also my constituency. There I have two offices, chief secretary, and secretary press officer, and sometimes some volunteers work for me. Here I take care of all issues related to my constituency, including my special interests in education, research and foreign affairs. It’s a bit hard to explain what I´m doing here, cause they are lots of different tasks and issues. Regularly I update my political Facebook profile to show what I´m doing: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dr-Thomas-Feist/110922777487
I got my job in the last election in 2009 as the directly elected parliamentarian of my constituency. As a member of CDU (Christian Democrats) I was presented to the voters..and that’s the lucky ending of the story. I love my job, cause I can do a lot of things for my hometown as well as to better politics in my country. It’s a 70-hour-per-week job, but if you love what you´re doing, it is ok.
ACE: You have a degree in music, is that correct? Do you still play music?
TF: Yes, that’s absolutely correct. I had the chance to study without getting a college degree. I didn’t get one because of political oppression in the former GDR (East Germany). I studied here in Leipzig musicology, social sciences and theology. After getting my Masters I decided to upgrade it to PhD (getting MA and PhD while working a full-time job). My PhD was about “Music as a cultural issue” and it´s published by Peter Lang Verlag.
I’ve played music since the age of 7. Right, first I was sent by my parents to piano lessons – if I wanted to go or not. Luckily I started with this knowledge to help me play my own music at the age of 17. First it was songs, later songs in performing frames (like music theater) followed by “kraut rock” before I started with jazz in the late 80s. It was a mixture I called “modern world ‘n’ jazz.” I played together with two close friends, who played drums and saxophone.
Since I was 24, I’ve played with the same friends, which is unusual in music. In the early 90s we started to play improvised music, which means that we started to play without knowing what to play. It is like walking on thin rope without a net – the dangerous moment, that you could fall and lose the game is in my opinion exactly what music needs, in order to be good – even great, from time to time. How is it possible to do so? Because we know each other very well, have a deep and – while playing – spiritual connection. Check out the music: http://www.klangprojekt.de We´re jamming (it’s a kind of rehearsal, but is just like the way that we play improvisation, except without an audience…) We play every week if we can find time for it.
From time to time we also play swing music – it is not as easy as it seems to be, but funny.
klangprojekt – thomas on the left.
Stay tuned for Part Two!