EtnoKraków / Crossroads 2018

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  • Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - Saturday, July 7, 2018

Currents and Flows

One hundred artists from ten countries and four continents – the tenth anniversary festival celebrating world music is looking impressive!

The EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2018 festival (4-7 July) is one of the most important events presenting traditional, ethno, folk and roots music. “I fully believe that the soaring artistic levels of this year’s festival will resound far and wide,” says Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków.

“There will be great names and artists who are popular and admired the world over. We will also see fascinating musicians who are less well known in Poland – I hope this will be the perfect opportunity for Kraków’s audiences to discover them for themselves,” promises Izabela Helbin, director of the Krakow Festival Office.

The Romana Bobrowska Studio at Radio Kraków hosts a festival prelude on 1 July. The Finnish vocal group Tuuletar, named after the “Goddess of the Wind” from Finnish mythology, combine ancient Kalevala poetry with contemporary beatboxing and gorgeous harmonies to create their very own brand of vocal folk-hop. The concert also features a performance by the Goan sitar virtuoso Yograi Naik.

Mystical singing

From the very start the festival reminds us that the human voice is the most beautiful instrument. “Concerts held at the Municipal Engineering Museum on 4 July are a great celebration of voices, and we will hear some of the most charismatic vocalists working today,” promises Jan Słowiński, founder and director of the festival. Alireza Ghorbani, one of the icons of Iranian music, draws on the greatest achievements of Persian vocal traditions. His vast repertoire includes the fascinating, complex Radif and Tasnif singing techniques of which he has become a virtuoso.

The twin brothers Ratko and Radiš Teofilović enchant with their stunning harmonies and interpretations of traditional Balkan music. Their trademark are distinctive, original a cappella arrangements for two voices.

Alim Qasimov has worked alongside many Western musicians, such as Jeff Buckley, the Kronos Quartet and the Polish ensemble Voo Voo. He is a true legend of mugham – traditional sung poetry from Azerbaijan. He regularly performs with his daughter Fargana Qasimova, who also joins him in Kraków.

Adam Strug, winner of many prestigious awards and long-term leader of the Monodia Polska ensemble, presents a fascinating repertoire of songs from the Kurpie region. “The Kurpie region is known for its vast forests, and traditional songs were once used as calls among foragers for berries. But that’s not all: there are also love songs, murder ballads, cautionary tales and lewd stories. Musicologists stress the extensive range of musical themes, but what attracted me to Kurpie sounds was the beautiful lyricism and indefatigable realism,” says Strug.

Trance dance

The festival takes an unexpected turn next, taking us into the world of electronic rhythms, synthesiser keyboards and drum machine beats. The star of this festival section is Omar Souleyman – world-famous Syrian artist who started out as a wedding singer. His music is an intriguing experiment, captivating with its Middle Eastern motifs and electronic, hypnotic trance sounds.

Alchemia welcomes the Poznań ensemble Lua Preta (Portuguese for black moon), intertwining electronica with Angolan music to create rhythms inspired by African folklore and beliefs. The club also hosts MLDVA (Funklore & Herbaciarz) and Cracovian DJs Eta Hox and Kfjatek.

Elemental music

Charged with positive club energy, we’ll spend the following festival days meeting artists who enjoy popularity the world over. On Friday night, we will see the maestro of balafon and composer from Burkina Faso Mamadou Diabate. He is a griot or jeli – a bard of the Sambala people, transmitting their oral tradition through poems and songs.

We will also hear Szkira – the ensemble bringing together Amsterdam Klezmer Band from the Netherlands with Söndörgő from Hungary. The former have earned international acclaim for their dazzling fusion of klezmer, Balkan and Gypsy music traditions with contemporary avant-garde. The latter captivate with their energetic performances using only acoustic string instruments – they are fast and furious, fingers flying with a fiery panache.

Traditions of brass bands from the Balkan region are recalled by the Marko Markovic Brass Band from Serbia. The frontman is the son of the undisputed king of trumpet Boban Markovic (guest of EtnoKraków in 2003); he has collaborated with artists including Emir Kusturica, Goran Bregović and Esma Redžepova and played the leading role in Dušan Milić’s musical Guča! Trumpet Duel based on motifs from Romeo and Juliet.

The performance by Chilean artists Chico Trujillo is sure to provide musical dynamite – they are regarded as the world’s finest ambassadors of South-American cumbia, which they skilfully combine with other genres. The concert will be the perfect soundtrack for a Latino dance evening!

Last but not least, folk ensemble Night, inspired by places, residents and culture, aims to bring back forgotten or nearly extinct traditional Nepalese instrument to public performance.

From Poland’s backyard

If you’re hungry for Polish music, the last day of the festival presents a delicious selection of home-grown artists!

Muzykanci, one of the most important ensembles in the history of Polish folk, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. Adam Strug makes another appearance, bringing his project Leśny bożek to the outdoor stage at Wolnica Square. We will also see up-and-coming Cracovian groups Pokrzyk and Kapela Raraszek. Earlier, the Stage of Freedom at the Municipal Engineering Museum hosts leading representatives of jazz and improv music led by Grzech Piotrowski.

As well as concerts, there are plenty of accompanying events: Spanish, Brazilian and Polish dance evenings, workshops on Polish, Ukrainian and Roma songs in the spirit of balfolk and ethnoelectro, and a lecture by Prof. Andrzej Bieńkowski on Jewish music traditions.

The festival closes with the spectacle Do dna, directed by Ewa Kaim and featuring graduates from the Academy of Theatre Arts in Kraków. Inspired by Polish traditional songs, the performance took the last theatre season by storm.

***

“We hope that our programme registers artistic vibrations, even those most minute, frequently ignored yet of key importance in the formation of musical landscapes. Let us get carried with the currents and flows of music,” concludes Jan Słowiński. All that’s left to do now is to draw deep from these sources of music tradition!

(Justyna Skalska, miesięcznik „Karnet”)

 

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  • www.etnokrakow.pl
  • 209317849843694
  • Tickets and passes for the festival concerts will be made available on Wednesday (25.04) starting as 12 p.m., via www.eventim.pl as well as via InfoKraków information points: św. Jana 2, Szpitalna 25, Józefa 7, at the Wyspiański Pavilion (Wszystkich Świętych 2), at the Cloth Hall (Rynek Główny 1/3), at the Tourist Services Centre (Powiśle 11) at at the ICE Kraków Congress Centre (Marii Konopnickiej 17).
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