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07 07

Instrumental virtuosity and the power of female expression

The creative ways of presenting traditional Slovak music by Katarina Malikova’s ensemble, the inspiring and soothing sound of Caucasian instruments played by Gurdjieff Ensemble and the moving virtuoso journey to the sources of Persian music guided by Kayhan Kalhor, accompanied by Ali Bahrami Fard and Maria Pomianowska, filled St Catherine’s Church on the second day of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival with special atmosphere. Strefa club turned into a sanctuary of female expression when two unique trios: Pulkkinen/Räss/Sadovska and Sutari appeared on stage.
The new faces of the Slovak ethno/world scene 
The composer and vocalist Katarina Malikova with her ensemble presented an unconventional and refreshing approach to folk music of the Slovak part of the Carpathians. The young artists performed traditional Slovak tunes and the leader’s own compositions, based on various sources of inspiration, combining classical music and jazz, folk music and refined pop music accents. The cohesive whole was created owing to aesthetics Malikova invented for her art. Nostalgia and a world of dreams were balanced by the youthful spontaneity and bravado. In addition to classical instruments, the audience had a chance to listen to traditional Slovak aerophonic instruments on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Mastery: music and philosophy 
The Armenian Gurdjieff Ensemble perfectly matched the sacred space of St Catherine’s Church. Some pieces were performed with the dominant role of soloists, enhancing the specificity of individual instruments typical of Armenia and other Southern Caucasus countries. The programme included Armenian and Middle Eastern songs of various styles – from folk songs to sacred music pieces. The ensemble refers to artistic and philosophical ideas of the Armenian mystic Georgi Gurdjieff, performing his compositions and Komitas Vardapet’s pieces. Owing to that the concert evoked the atmosphere of concentration and spirituals elation. It was a great artistic experience for all listeners.
Mastery: between Iran and Poland 
Many fans of the great talent of Kayhan Kalhor, the ambassador of Iranian music, could not wait for his concert. The meeting of the kamancheh virtuoso with the santur virtuoso Ali Bahram Fard, the acclaimed Polish multi-instrumentalist and reconstructor of forgotten instruments Maria Pomianowska and another outstanding artist playing the knee fiddle - Aleksandra Kauf, ended with a standing ovation and the audience’s great enthusiasm. The Iranian duo presented Persian music with artistry of the highest order. Polish instrumentalists accompanying our guests from the Middle East, added variety to the performance with great intuition and finesse, subtly adding some Polish accents. The concert was symbolic as a meeting of artists coming from distant parts of the world, continuing traditions, playing similar instruments, and praiseworthy for their similarly high artistic standards. 
Omne trinum perfectum 
On the second day of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival the club stage hosted two brilliant woman trios. The power and the charisma of three outstanding artists from Finland, Sweden and Ukraine,   Pulkkinen/Räss/Sadovska – enchanted the audience which was gathered in Strefa club at 31 św. Tomasza Street. Three different musical and performing traditions of different parts of Europe might seem difficult to combine, but they perfectly merged together in one, captivating voice, full of sensitivity, ardour and deep emotions. Fundamentally traditional runic and ritual songs sounded very modern and appealing. The white voice, yodel and improvisation – the artists proved that the common singing can transport the audience into a completely different dimension of folk music perception.

The last concert of yesterday’s night was given by the Sutari group, known to the Polish  ethno/world music scene for their inventiveness, their special approach to tradition and illustrative music. The artists presented pieces from their recent album Osty released only a few weeks ago, the second album in the trio’s discography. “The kitchen avant-garde”, as the members of Sutari used to term their artistic endeavours, met with the warm response from the audience gathered in Strefa club.