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05 07

The magic of the human voice. A great inauguration at Muzeum of Municipal Engineering

The 20th anniversary edition of the EthnoKrakow/Crossroads Festival began with a great event. The Wednesday concert at the Museum of Municipal Engineering featured outstanding artists of international fame: Alim Qasimov and Fargana Qasimova from Azerbaijan, Alireza Ghorbani from Iran and the Teofilović Brothers from Serbia.
Wednesday, the first day of this year’s festival, was a great opportunity for the guests to contemplate the beauty of the human voice, revel in the beauty of extremely sophisticated parts and technical skills of the vocalists, as well as emotional, spiritual, and sometimes metaphysical impressions of their art.

The voice – especially when used by artists with such an extraordinary talent, sensitivity and musicality, like those we listened to on Wednesday – becomes a very powerful instrument. It carries a story, it serves as a direct confession, but sometimes also a challenge for the audience. However, despite the sometimes-complex formula proposed by the performers, their work always aroused an ovation among the listeners. 


This is also because the artists carry a story that is deeply rooted in musical tradition, but at the same time it is their autonomous, personal, sincere expression. That is why the human voice – a most elementary, and at the same time very sophisticated, instrument, aroused such intense emotions in the audience. Because, despite the fact that “in crudo” music, seemingly old-fashioned and out of date, reaching deep into the past, is the source of their art, it turned out to be fascinating and surprisingly current here and now. The concert was also how the Museum of Municipal Engineering returned as one of the festival’s venue after several years. The space of the museum perfectly resonated with this beautiful music. On Wednesday, the festival events also took place in the Strefa Club, in what seems to be a natural environment for such an event.

The charm of Persian tradition

The first performer of the day, who appeared on the festival stage at the Museum, was the legendary Iranian singer Alireza Ghorbani. He is one of the most outstanding artists, one of the icons of music in Iran, as well as the whole Middle East. Ghorbani directly draws on the greatest achievements of the Persian vocal tradition, and this was confirmed by his performance on Wednesday. The artist refers directly to old sources in the techniques he uses, as well as in his vocal interpretations and instrumentations; however, he also engages in a lively dialogue with the contemporary culture. Together with three instrumentalists playing traditional instruments (kemençe, tar long-necked lute, percussion instruments) he created a beautiful, fascinating sound, revolving around his wonderful voice.

Serbian harmony

This enthralling evening, devoted to the art of beautiful singing, was continued by the Teofilović Brothers from Serbia. This unique band was formed by twins: Ratko and Radiša Teofilović. Their captivating music, filled with charming finesse and vocal virtuosity, refers not only to the musical traditions of Serbia, but also to the entire Balkans. They also perform songs from other places, such as Macedonia and Kosovo. Their hallmark, enthusiastically acclaimed by the festival audience, is the original formula of Balkan two-voice a capella singing, which was never used on stage before. And when hearing them, one must admit that the brothers sound like one organism. It should also be noted that during the performance of the more dynamic part of their repertoire, one of the brothers played the chalice drum, which did not disturb their vocal harmony in any way – it only added new colours to it.

Masterful mugham

The crowning event of Wednesday's events at the Museum of Municipal Engineering was an exciting concert by the legendary Azerbaijani singer, Alim Qasimov who is now considered to be one of the greatest singers in the world, and his daughter Fargana Qasimova.

Alim Qasimov is indisputably a special figure, one of the most outstanding, most moving vocalists of our time. His speciality is mugham, a sophisticated form of traditional Azerbaijani music. For years, he has been accompanied by his equally fascinating daughter on stage.

The phenomenal, ecstatic, moving singing of Alim Qasimov describes the entire spectrum of human emotions and feelings. The artist is completely immersed in the music he performs and captivates the audience with his extraordinary voice. Fargana, on the other hand, is not just his companion on stage, since her singing is just as impressive as her father’s. Certainly, at least for part of the audience, the concert was almost a mystical experience.


La Mancha dances

The day ended with a dance night at the Strefa Club at Św. Tomasza 31, led by Viguela, an excellent Spanish band. The musicians appeared at the club in the early afternoon, where they led a Spanish dance workshop. The skills acquired during the workshop quickly proven very useful to the participants. At the end of the day, the artists summed up their presence at the festival with a dance party, deeply rooted in the musical tradition of Castilla-La Mancha, the southern part of the Iberian Plateau, in the heart of Spain.

It was slightly paradoxical, but at the same time an excellent and unpretentious summary of the day ruled by the spirited human voice, although it has to be said that the members of Viguela also sang very well.