A week of musical enlightenment

11 July 2016

World and folk music – music grounded in tradition – still has many important and beautiful things to tell us. It is still a music genre that’s developing in a very interesting way. The EtnoKraków / Crossroads 2016 festival, which ended on Sunday evening, confirmed its status as one of the most important events on the national folk and world music scene. This was done through incredible concerts by many artists, including Buika, A Filetta, Twelfth Day, Joanna Słowińska, InFidelis and the Sefardix trio.

 

What creates such an opinion? Both the high artistic level of the performances as well as a coherent, well thought-out programme of concerts and workshops – a programme that is attractive both to experts – connoisseurs of ethno music, as well as the wide audiences. Finally, there are the organisational issues, such as the location of individual concerts and appropriate adaptation of the festival stages to the music presented. These are the facts that allow the event to achieve the highest rating.

Performances by foreign artists – often premiering in Poland – were a great attraction for the audience: from unquestioned stars of the world scene to lesser known artists. Performers, who offered a new and original way of looking at the world. This was also true in the case of Polish artists, whose work often unfairly remains unknown to audiences. This is why the EtnoKraków / Crossroads 2016 festival was a significant opportunity to encounter music that is not obvious, often revelatory and inspiring.

The most spectacular event of this year's festival was the concert by Buika – the unquestioned international star of world music, who combines flamenco with elements of African music and many other styles. On the large, open-air stage, other internationally-known bands performed, to the delight of the audience: the volcano of energy – Italians from the Kalàscima formation, Jojo Abot and band, and, garnering perhaps the warmest welcome, Mokoomba from Zimbabwe.

A great impression was also made by many performers of the foreign ethno scene, who performed at St Catherine’s Church. An excellent concert, full of nuance, subtlety and spiritual elation, was given by the classics of European music from the prominent Corsican group A Filetta. No less thrilling was the performance by the young Scots women from the duo Twelfth Day. The festival audience also greatly enjoyed the Castilian group El Naán as well as the formation Iberi, members of which masterfully presented the Georgian tradition.

Club concerts, as different in the geographical references as in the aesthetic choices of the creators and the atmospheres they built, were also excellent: from the ethereal, sophisticated Gulaza and the dynamic and energetic Trad.Attack! to the ambiguous formula of the international quartet Sans.

The festival was a rich and diverse presentation of the Polish music scene – folk, ethnic, that which is inspired by folk, rural and traditional art. A spectacular, open-air and international event was the concert of the Polish-Ukrainian formation DagaDana on Wolnica Square. Many emotions were aroused by the warmly received premiere concert, Polesie, by Joanna Słowińska and band, led from the musical and arrangement side by her son, Stanisław. The quartet of Maciej Fortuna gave a bravura performance of music from this year's album, Zośka. An important example of spellbinding music that grew out of a jazz perception of music matter was the beautiful concert of the trio Sefardix – Bartłomiej and Marcin Oleś and Jorgos Skolias.

One of the classic of Polish folk, Jacek Hałas, played a club concert. The duet InFidelis, one of the most original young groups on the Polish music scene, once again made an unforgettable impression. Audiences also had a chance to hear Kujawska Atlantyda of Justyna Piernik, Zdzisław Piernik, and the guests they invited. Finally there was also a performance by the winner of the grand prix of this year's New Tradition Festival – Gęsty Kożuch Kurzu. The festival concluded with a final Sunday concert by the Warszawski Sekstet Sentymentalny at Strefa club at Św. Tomasza 31. Charming tangos, sentimental waltzes and energetic polkas from the repertoires of Adam Aston, Wiera Gran and Mieczysław Fogg could be heard in a great performance by Gabriela Mościcka and her band, as well as the contemporary lyrical compositions of Adam Strug, inspired by the aura of the interwar period. There was no shortage of festival dancers of all ages on the dance floor, much like during the previous evening.

The festival has confirmed the old truth that there is strength in diversity and that openness to other styles, musical languages and separate cultures enriches the musical landscape, the imagination of musicians and the consciousness of the listeners.

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