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10 07

Like a colourful dream. Wrap-up of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2017 Festival

The recent, 19th edition of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2017 Festival confirmed once again that it is one of top world music festivals in Poland and in this part of Europe, not only because of the choice of performers and a long history of the event. The philosophy of the Festival is equally important. Its formula has been consciously perfected for years. It is a story about fascinating roads and crossroads of music. Its concept, organisation and artistic standards show a great care for detail.
The EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival has been organised by enthusiasts of this music genre and the relevant way of thinking. It is not a market-oriented product, but the festival with a mission, if only to show the audience the beauty of traditional music from all over the world. If in the present  times of unrest, worry and mistrust, we try to break barrier, to open up to each other’s cultures (or in general to open up to other people), it seems even more important. In this context, additional activities such as workshops, enabling the participants to immerse themselves in various traditions (including their own), are an impressive icing on the cake.

This year’s festival edition ran in parallel with the 41st session of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, which was held in Krakow at that time. So, on the one had we had a theoretical reflection on the cultural heritage of humanity while on the other – at the Festival – some practical examples of artistic endeavours aimed to keep the tradition alive. Many instruments, vocal techniques, music styles and performing methods were connected with the aspects of world cultural heritage at focus of the UNESCO, some of them on the Intangible Cultural Heritage List. But music as such was the most important.
The festival of premieres

Open-air concerts on Wolnica Square were addressed to the widest audience. Performances in atmospheric, closed spaces of the Church of St Catherine of Alexandria, Strefa club, the Galicia Jewish Museum and Alchemia club left a lasting impression. This year, EtnoKraków/Crossroads was a festival of premieres; we had the opportunity to hear some artists and to watch projects for the first time in Poland. A few concerts were connected with the premieres of records by Polish artists – some released in the last weeks (Karolina Cicha & Bart Pałyga, Sutari), some a little earlier (Ola Bilińska, Anna Broda), and some to be released soon (Kapela Maliszów).  
Flagship projects

Certainly, the most important events were joint concerts of Polish artists and guest stars from abroad. They confirmed the high class of our national artists as well-matched partners in creating passionate stories, able to set the tone for such captivating experiments and meetings. This was the case when Trebunie-Tutki met on the stage with the Georgian Urmuli Quintet, Maria Pomianowska and Aleksandra Kauf played splendidly together with Kayhan Kalhor and Ali Bahrami Fard, and, last but not least, when Joanna Słowińska invited Outi Pulkkinen to perform with her.

Speaking of Polish artists, the performance of each and every one of them showcased the ambitious Polish music scene. Jorgos and Antonis Skolias were equally great as the above-mentioned artists. Sutari trio, Kapela Maliszów, Karolina Cicha & Bart Pałyga, Ola Bilińska & Berjozkele, Ania Broda and Dikanda gave marvellous concerts. If one of the goals of the Festival was to present and promote Polish music, the goal was certainly fulfilled.
Good emotions

Our guest artists from abroad raised the audience’s expectations. Also in their case, the concerts were successful, sometimes a great success. The Festival audience gave the following artists a  great reception: Debashish Bhattacharya from India, Kayhan Kalhor from Iran, the Armenian Gurdjieff Ensemble, Gulaza, drawing inspiration from various Israeli and Yemenite rituals and a traditions, the Scandinavian Torgeir Vassvik & Ural Pop group, the trans-European ”shaman” trio  Pulkkinen - Räss – Sadowska, created by the artists from Finland, Switzerland and Ukraine. The audience also liked the young Slovak Katarína Máliková and the stars that appeared on the greatest stage of the Festival: Elida Almeida from Cape Verde, Iranian Homayoon and Debalina Bhowmick & Folks Of Bengal from India. The latter two ensembles proposed quite demanding projects, but they were equally enthusiastically received.

It is known that world / ethno / folk music brings people together, carries a positive message and good emotions. And, last but not least, it is diversified and colourful.