EtnoKraków / Crossroads 2019

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  • Tuesday, July 2, 2019 - Sunday, July 7, 2019

Song and Dance People

What a joy it is to travel around the world… And what a joy when the world comes to visit us! Familiar and exotic sounds make themselves at home in Kraków during the annual celebration of ethnic music.

“Diversity, entertainment and dance are just some of the things we associate with this festival which has been captivating thousands of fans of ethno music for the last 21 years,” says Jacek Majchrowski, Mayor of the City of Kraków. And although it’s true we could list plenty more associations, it is the blend of diverse sounds, dances and smiles which makes EtnoKraków/Crossroads such a popular event with visitors. Between 2 and 7 July, the capital of Małopolska is filled with joy and colour thanks to guests from dozens of countries from three continents. “This year’s festival is a celebration of ethno music, a strong representation of the ethnojazz scene, dance rhythms from all corners of the globe, dialogue about music and meetings beyond divisions,” promises Jan Słowiński, director of the festival.

Early days

The festival kicks off on 2 July with the ballet spectacle Amber Tree intertwining elements of dance, live music, visualisations and body painting. Agnieszka Glińska and Art Color Ballet take us on a journey in the footsteps of ancient tribes traversing Europe to discover the roots of our culture and spiritual and material values. But the spectacle at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre is mainly a universal story of struggles, hopes and the human need for love. At the end of the performance, we head to the dancefloor: each day of the festival closes with Dance Nights at Strefa and Alchemia. During the first evening, we’ll chill out to blues rhythms provided by the Swing Experience and Nika Aremikh Quartet. On the following nights, we will also enjoy ethno-electro, balfolk and “Between the Vistula and the Danube”, with music courtesy of Lassatil Abballari (Italy), Kfjatek, Red Sun Rising, RSS B0YS, Raraszek and Pokrzyk (Poland), Muzička & Dragúni (Slovakia), Szépszerével (Hungary) and Martin-Vojta-Mikulas and Mr. Folxlide (Czechia).


This year’s EtnoKraków returns to the Museum of Municipal Engineering: on 3 July, the institution hosts the Inspirations stage. The evening at Św. Wawrzyńca Street opens with a performance by the Hungarian violinist Félix Lajkó and his trio. The musician is a maestro of violin improvisation and a virtuoso of Hungarian zither. He boldly experiments with genres (he describes his style as dark folk or sentimental metal) and performs Hungarian, Balkan, Romani and Klezmer music with a punk expressiveness.

The Croatian composer and flautist Tamara Obrovac also reaches for inspiration to many sources. Her music is mainly influenced with traditions and dialects from the Istria coast. In Kraków, Obrovac leads the Transhistria Ensemble bringing together musicians from Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. The group presents a Mediterranean flavour of jazz: refined, disciplined and sophisticated as well as being light, playful and spontaneous.

“I will continue creating for as long as I continue searching for something I can’t quite name,” says Tomasz Kukurba, veteran leader of Kroke who has been increasingly taking artistic experiments beyond the group. The evening at the museum culminates with a concert presenting the collaboration between this viola virtuoso and distinctive vocalist with the up-and-coming violinist Stanisław Słowiński. Their performance reaches for traditions of jazz, rock and world music.

Inspirations also take us to Alchemia. On 5 July, Mariza Nawrocka and musicians from the Royal String Quartet: cellist Michał Pepol and violist Paweł Czarny present Yiddish songs steeped in minimalist electronica. The following day, Joachim Mencel’s quintet presents material from their album Artisena – a fusion of Polish folk and modern jazz.

Return to the sources

The Museum of Municipal Engineering also hosts the In Crudo stage (4 July). The name recalls a primeval, raw state, as expressed by the Svetlana Spajić Group whose leader is an unquestionable authority in Balkan vocal traditions. The Serbian singer has worked hard to get where she is: she has travelled tirelessly across the region learning and collecting songs from local singers. She shares her knowledge and passion with the younger generation and presents her music with her all-women ensemble from Belgrade. It’s the perfect opportunity to hear ancient Serbian singing styles of potresalica and kantalica.

We will also explore traditional music of the Bergitka Roma. Also known as the Carpathian Roma, they mainly live in southern Poland. Teresa Mirga from the village of Czarna Góra maintains the traditions and adds her own touches by intertwining poetry and religious motifs into her music. She performs at the museum with her ensemble Kałe Bała (Black Hair). As well as original compositions, we will hear ancient songs of the Bergitka Roma known as purane gila and traditional Romani music from Slovakia and the Balkan Peninsula.

The last concert of the evening stresses the motto of this year’s festival “Meetings Beyond Divisions”. The group Virtualnaya Derevnya (Virtual Village) exists in cyberspace somewhere between Kyiv and Moscow. The musicians work on their compositions online and polish their performances when they meet in person a few times a year. As well as collaborating in this unconventional way, the group also stands out with an unusual repertoire, traditional costumes, playing rare instruments and their exuberant stage performances.

Dance on the wind

The second part of the festival takes place in the open air: the stage at Powiśle Street radiates dance energy throughout Kraków. On 5 July, Bartłomiej Koszarek and Bukowianie from Bukowina Tatrzańska sound the signal for the fun to begin with their music from the Polish Highlands. The ensemble Czeremszyna joins forces with the Belarusian bard Todar and the group Horyna singing music from the Polesie region in Ukraine. They are followed by the ensemble Muzička from Bratislava presenting Slovak folk traditions, supported by dancers from the group Dragúni. We move continents with Bel Air de Forró, introducing us to popular music from north-eastern Brazil. On Friday night, forget about lullabies: the stage by the Vistula is taken over by the exuberant Hungarian ensemble Meszecsinka.

We go on another trip exploring ancient beliefs on 6 July accompanied by the Belgian duo Loogaroo, taking their name from a shapeshifting, bloodsucking hag from the Caribbean. But fear not – our guests from the Benelux only bring unexpected melodies and throbbing rhythms. Raraszek may usually be a fire demon, but this time it is a Cracovian band exploring dance music from Małopolska. We will be hypnotised by Pokrzyk and their tales from eastern Poland and Belarus. The charismatic vocalist Aziza Brahim gives voice to refugees from Western Sahara; the programme also features pioneering folk-hop vocals from Finland’s Tuuletar, authors of Alku from Game of Thrones. This year’s festival closes with joyful smiles delivered by the British gospel choir Manchester Inspirational Voices.

Without limits

But EtnoKraków/Crossroads is about more than just fun. If you have the endurance, there is an extensive workshop programme (Serbian, Ukrainian and Russian songs, and Polish, Italian, traditional and balfolk dances) held at the festival club Strefa, by the outdoor stages at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre and Galeria Kazimierz shopping centre, at the Ethnographic Museum and ŻyWa Pracownia. There will also be a kids’ zone during concerts at the Museum of Municipal Engineering, and the group Swada has prepared Fairytale Lullabies as part of the “Meetings Beyond Divisions” motto. (Bartosz Suchecki, ”Karnet”)



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