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06 07

Building bridges - EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2017, day #1

Wednesday (5th July) was the first day of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2017 Festival. Listeners were enchanted by music – associated with relevant cultures, geography and styles, and invariably high artistic standard of every concert. The Festival began with a concert in the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, starring the Georgian Urmuli Quintet with Trebunie-Tutki group. Then the Indian virtuoso of the slide guitar – Debashish Bhattacharya took over the stage. The last concert in Krakow’s Kazimierz was given by Gulaza group. Artists we had the opportunity to listen in the second part of the evening in Strefa Club (Norwegian-Finnish group Ural Pop with its leader Torgeir Vassvik, as well as Jorgos and Antonis Skolias) offered us an equally great experience.
The spirit of the mountains
”The building of bridges between cultures, traditions and between people began on Wednesday night” – said the Festival Director Jan Słowiński at the inauguration. World music is a genre of special value. The music is friendly to the listener and able to enchant a fairly wide and diversified audience – those who are exposed to it for the first time and refined connoisseurs. The music is simple but ravishing. Wednesday concerts were the best proof of it, showing the stylistic variety of that music. In a way, the joint project prepared by the highlander band Trebunie-Tutki and the Georgian Urmuli Quintet is the very essence of world music. Two ensembles from two distant cultures (also in geographic terms), each of them seemingly playing its own, traditional scores. But Trebunie-Tutki and Urmuli spin a common tale, inspired by the ”Spirit of the Mountains”, which is also the title of their fantastic last year’s record. Referring to beautiful traditions of both cultures they created a charming whole. 

Poetry and slide guitar

The concert by the Indian slide guitar virtuoso Debashish Bhattacharya was a meeting with completely different but no less captivating genre. The Indian master stresses that the spiritual aspect is equally important for him as a purely musical, artistic expression. Bhattacharya designed and patented three guitar models: chaturangui, gandharvi and anandi. He is a virtuoso, so the audience is captivated by the technical aspect, but it is equally impressed by his message of peace and friendship. In Krakow he played on the 24-string chaturangui guitar and a small ukulele slide. His music was composed to poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, and to his own lyrics which he also sang.  

From Israel, from Yemen

The Gulaza group is back to the Festival again, after their first concert last year. The ensemble’s atmospheric, subtle and emotional music resounded in a sacred space. Gulaza has very special music on its repertoire – the songs of Yemenite women. The songs have been passed from generation to generation, from mother to daughter, secretly and never officially performed. Today they have gained their exposure on stage, as a tribute to this unusual tradition and attempt at adding something new to this tradition (very successful, by the way).

The songs were interpreted by the soloist with the accompaniment of several instruments: quanbus (Yemenite lute) and sahn suhasi – a copper tray, the cello that sounds very fresh in this context, and a rich set of percussion instruments.

Shamans from the North
The second part of the evening in Strefa club was started by Torgeir Vassvik, the leader of the Norwegian-Finnish ensemble Ural Pop. This original artistic vision combines characteristic traditions of the Sami/Lapp people’s song –joik – and the sound typical of Finnish tradition. The group’s music is based on rhythm, with ritual drums accompanying vocals. It is a musical experiment, and the resulting artistic expression is praiseworthy. It is yet another proof that music inspired by the past can be reach us here and now. It shows that the sound of tradition is not far from the avant-garde. No matter how we call it, it is an adorable music.

Sunny afternoon

After the Scandinavians, music led us towards the warm coasts of Southern Europe, the Mediterranean and the environs of Greece. The outstanding vocalist, well-known to the Polish rock, jazz and folk stages, Jorgos Skolias and his son Antonis, playing percussion instruments referred to that music. Last year they released a fantastic record, Kolos, enchanting with its natural expression and skilfully merging elements of improvisation, world music, Greek and jazz inspirations and sophisticated vocals, all of that based on the source rhythm. We could also hear that on Wednesday night in Strefa Club in Św. Tomasza Street.