photo by Marcin Bałaban Dialogues at the highest level EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2020 / Wednesday 19.08 - Friday 21.08 Performers from Morocco, Syria, Mexico, and, of course, from Poland have performed in Krakow in recent days. The concert part of this year's twenty-second edition of the EtnoKraków / Crossroads Festival has been taking place since Wednesday.
The EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival, like almost all this year's events, takes place in a form other than normal. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the originally anticipated date of the event (traditionally, the first days of July) had to be postponed. According to the requirements of the situation, the program has been radically changed - it is difficult to predict in advance what the epidemic situation will look like in the country and abroad, so it is difficult to invite many guests from around the world. The form of this year's festival is more modest, but in its very interesting artistic expression it refers to the beautiful traditions of the festival.
Stronger than fears Rozstaje/Crossroads Association organized a festival in the third week of August. The determination, the willingness to "share" the music or meet around it turned out to be stronger than the fears that accompanied all of us. Especially in such a difficult time - and due to the widespread escalation of people's dislike of each other - culture, and especially music, turns out to be a real chance to connect listeners, to stop, to reflect and in the literal sense of the word: to meet another person. And this meeting can have an effect in common understanding or, for example, an artistic discovery. The pandemic situation also resulted in the paradoxical effect that the online coverage or streaming of concerts has become firstly an option, but then a necessity – and, in a sense, even a norm. Of course, nothing can replace direct participation in a musical event, this experience of community and shared emotions, that can accompany the listener in the club or during open-air concerts. It turned out, however, that at least a substitute of these experiences could be felt during the online broadcasts of festival concerts. Thanks to this, the music from the festival scenes could flow all over the world. Long journeys The essence of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival taking place for the twenty-second time is presenting and discovering music derived from tradition - mainly folk traditions, but sometimes also court and urban traditions, religious and secular traditions. This kind of creativity is very needed by the contemporary listener and so different from the popular music style dominating around. Folk, ethno, world music - however we would call or define the music of the festival - has both awareness of the past and curiosity about its heritage, as well as courage and readiness to learn about the future. That is why it adopts various forms of sound expression. In their musical search artists of this trend and their audience willingly set out on distant "journeys" and listen carefully not only to what sounds like an echo of their own tradition, but also to what other sensitive "travelers" carry with them from various corners of the world.
Challenges and dialogue
This attitude comes not only from such obvious features as tolerance, openness, respect, but also from curiosity, readiness to get to know representatives of other cultures, other methods of thinking about the world - realizing this idea in an original way in terms of music and aesthetics. Nobody has any doubts that this form of meeting, conversation and finally learning and dialogue - is enriching for everyone: both for performers who face new challenges (also by comparing their imaginations and sensitivity with artists from other countries) and for the audience, who often finds new areas of artistic fascinations, thanks to these festival concerts. Virtual Gallery The first important element of this year's festival was the online vernissage of the exhibition and the announcement (on last Tuesday) in the Virtual Gallery on the festival's Facebook page of the results of the International Poster Competition of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival: Dialogue - Openness - Tolerance. The submitted works were judged by an international jury of twelve. The first prize was awarded to Polish artist Elżbieta Chojna, the second - to Orhun Turker from Turkey, and the third - to Nicos Terzis from Sweden. In Virtual Gallery you can still see not only the works of the winners and other awarded works, but also... the works of the jurors regarding the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival. It's definitely worth watching!
From India to Andalusia Since Wednesday evening we could (finally) listen to the music during this year's festival. The first concert took place at the Strefa club at Św. Tomasza Street. The magnetic band Indialucia has played, which is today - you can probably use the word - the legendary project of Michał Czachowski, who in a unique and unrepeatable way combines, together with his musical partners, the tradition of flamenco and Indian music. Indialucia is a group that has been fascinating listeners in many countries around the world for over a dozen years. Czachowski, the guitar virtuoso, appeared on stage with three instrumentalists, who accompanied him on the sitar, tabla and cajon. The artist himself points out that his artistic concept is not eccentric, because people migrating from India has reached Spain centuries ago. On Wednesday evening both in the club and through the internet broadcast, as well as on the waves of Radio Krakow, we listened to ravishing music that goes beyond borders, well-worn patterns and creates a stunning whole. It combines technical mastery with great imagination. The brilliant instrumental parts were complemented by very interesting compositions and captivating melodies.
From the Sahara to Poland On Thursday festival program has started with the afternoon workshops at the ŻyWa Pracownia [Living Workshop]. One could learn there how to weave trays from a wicker from Vistula. In the evening at the Strefa club, the ruler was again the music - multicolored, non-obvious, engaging the audience. This concert was an example of great openness and extremely fruitful dialogue. It is also a proof of how valuable projects with guests from other countries can be created by domestic representatives of the folk/ethnic scene. For the festival audience - at the club and in front of computer monitors - there were performances by: the Moroccan artist Mustapha El Boudani and the well-known Polish performer Anna Witczak. He, who is known from the band Górale na Saharze, has sung and played guitar and percussion instruments. She, who is known primarily from the band Dikanda, is an extremely expressive and dynamic artist and has sung and played the accordion and drum. Their joint project is an excellent example of artistic freedom and openness - together they create their vision of world music, in which the elements of Polish, African and many other cultures intertwine in unpretentious songs, full of charm and joy. From Central America to the Middle East The hero of the next day of the festival was an artist from Syria, Wassim Ibrahim. At noon he conducted oriental music workshops at the Strefa club, combining, among others, singing, rhythm and improvisation skills. In the evening Wassim Ibrahim reappeared on the stage of the Strefa club, this time to give a concert with Tomas Celis Sanchez from Mexico. The consonance of the oud lute and percussion instruments, inspirations drawn from the musical traditions of the Middle East, filtered by the sensitivity of the artists, turned out to be surprisingly coherent and also truly captivating. We listened to music that is a bit poetic, a bit spiritual, and at the same time very direct and unpretentious. We could listen to archaic pieces from Syria, Egypt, Lebanon. The artists played a lot of instrumental pieces, but Ibrahim also sang, among others in Aramaic and Arabic. The first three "club" days of the festival confirmed that the audience has a great need for contact with music, and the artists - to present it to the audience. Especially that during these three evenings we listened to the music really great. Still ahead of us are outdoor concerts, which will take place on Saturday evening in Forty Kleparz. [Tomasz Janas]