PERSONAL STORY

Monika Cyrani has lived and breathed music since she was a child. From an early age, she dreamt of having her own piano, a seemingly impossible luxury for a family of modest means behind the Iron Curtain in Prague. Every year she repeated the wish at birthdays and at Christmas, and only to be told she had better stop wasting her time and wish for something attainable. One day her father happened to meet a man who had inherited an old piano. Miraculously, young Monika's dream was to come true. Several strong men carried the heavy prize up the many flights of stairs to the Cyrani apartment, for the reward of a meat dinner, another rare commodity in East bloc Prague. Monika started teaching herself to play, practising for hours until she could reproduce some of her melodies.

The second miracle occurred a few years later. After having applied for many years, the family were granted a permit to leave Czechoslovakia and go to Yugoslavia on vacation together. This was another dream come true, as only separate members of the family were granted visas, to prevent the whole family from being outside the country and trying to escape. They drove to Yugoslavia in their old car, and explored different ways of getting into the west. Monika's uncle was in Italy, perhaps he could get a boat and come to get them and they could sail across the Adriatic to Italy at night. This was too risky, due to coastal patrols, the uncle decided. The family even considered floating across the sea on an air mattress. Their passports had been altered for entry into Italy, so Monika's parents could not go home without facing prison sentences. Perhaps they could walk over the mountains into Italy by Trieste. No, Monika's little brother was too small to walk, and they would all be in danger of being shot. The family heard that the Yugoslavian government could issue them a transit visa to drive back to Czechoslovakia via Italy, a much shorter journey than through Hungary as they had come. They scraped together the money and got the visa. A short distance before the border, they stopped at a roadside rest area and met a half a dozen other Czech families who had had the same idea. The others were, however, not on their way to the border, but on their way back. The Yugoslav officials were refusing to honor the visas. Although there once again seemed to be no chance, the Cyranis did not give up. As they approached the border, they saw the guards changing shifts. They were the first car inspected by the new guards. The children were terrified when they saw the big rifles the guards were holding. Monika's father started to drive through, only stopping when they shouted "Halt!" He told the guards the brakes didn't work very well. The soldiers had never seen such an unusual car before, and made jokes about the East bloc Mercedes. The parents explained they were glad to take the fastest route back home to Prague and get the tired children to bed as soon as possible. They were waved on. For the third time, faith had triumphed and a miracle had occurred. Freedom and a refugee camp waited.

Having left behind the treasured piano and all other property, friends, their own language and culture, Monika brightened the dreary reality by singing for the other refugees, although she herself suffered the same loss and uncertainty.

When the Cyranis were released from the camp and moved to Munich, teenage Monika became well known for her performances of her own songs at the musical high school. She was a soloist in the band, which won many prizes in national competitions.

After completing school, Monika won one competition after the other, from Talent 98 and Talent 99 "Discover Tomorrow's Stars", to awards for Best Singer 1999, as well as a prize for song composition, at the 17th German National Rock and Pop Festival, followed by the award for Best Singer/ Songwriter 2000 at the18th German National Rock and Pop Festival. She performed as prize winner at many gala events and in TV appearances.

From Fall 2001 to Spring 2002, Monika served as executive musical director of her successful Message of Love concert series, named after one of her compositions.

To experience a live concert with Monika is to experience joy in being alive. Members of the German audience, first arriving serious and quiet, leave beaming and excited. Groups of people who were strangers before the concert have been known to sing concert highlights together at the station while waiting for their train home. When Monika sings, hearts open. The concert is a shared, interactive experience, the singer, musicians and audience communicating in the universal language.

"To me, singing means an on-going challenge to be genuine and honest with myself and with others. That is the only way I can touch my audience and involve them in the feelings and experiences I want to express in my songs"

Monika Cyrani's unique character lies in her undauntable spirit, the power of her voice and creative musical expression, and in her dedication to her art. Her passion is reflected in many of her biographical musical compositions, such as "Music Is My Life" or "A Gift From Heaven", two songs she is currently preparing for her new CD. A prolific songwriter who is gifted with continual inspiration, Monika sometimes writes a song a day. As soon as she sits down at the keyboard and looks at the keys, a melody often surfaces in her mind. The song wanting to be born usually comes in one of the three languages she writes in, English, German, or Czech. She hears them in her head, as though she were listening to music from another world, and brings them to life here and now as accurately as she can capture them. She feels some songs are messengers bearing a vision of harmony, light, and joy. Others tell of the torment of trying to attain this vision in our imperfect and often materialistic world. But all express Monika's indominable faith and unwavering determination to remain true to herself and to her gift.

"I feel my songs have come to me through divine inspiration, bringing me faith and hope. Music means more to me than writing and singing a nice song. Music is a power that puts me in touch with my own power, the source of love and beauty inside of each of us. Music teaches me that there is much more than we can see, that we are all connected, that the same spirit lives in our hearts and souls."