Sundance 2021 Composer Spotlight: Kaethe Hostetter
Film: Faya Dayi
Kaethe Hostetter is an American violinist who was based in Addis Ababa for 11 years. Originally stumbling upon Ethiopian music by way of experimental and free jazz scenes, she teamed up with Danny Mekonnen to form the group Debo Band, which went on to tour internationally, eventually culminating in a life changing tour in East Africa in 2009 which included performing in Addis Ababa. This trip was Kaethe’s introduction to the rich variety of the instruments, scales and rhythms found in Ethiopia. This was an undiscovered frontier for her instrument, and Kaethe relocated to Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, in 2009, compelled to explore deeper, and began learning from masinko players, and dive deep into the culture, and eventually honing her sound in numerous exploratory and professional projects.
As part of her immersion in Ethiopian music and culture, Kaethe brought together some of the most accomplished players in Addis Ababa’s music scene, and founded QWANQWA in 2012. She has performed internationally with QWANQWA, and also maintained other interests, performing with Fred Frith, Butch Morris, Ava Mendoza, Henry Kaiser, and others.