photo by Marcin Bałaban
The music has beaten the rain EtnoKraków/Crossroads 2020 / Saturday, August 22 / edition summary The coronavirus pandemic changed the course of this year's festival, but did not cause its cancellation. For the last four days in Krakow we have been listening to great folk and ethnic music from all over the world. It ended with an open-air concert - very successful - despite the rainfall. The EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival ended on Saturday evening. It was postponed from the traditional July date to the end of August. This time around, the program featured far fewer concerts than usual, but nevertheless we have heard a lot of great music during the festival. It is important that, regardless of the simplified formula, all the characteristic features of this traditional celebration of folk, ethnic and world music in Krakow have appeared. There were Polish and foreign musicians next to each other and sometimes together on stage. There were references to tradition and skillful attempts to give it a contemporary dimension. There were songs by respected composers of old times and contemporary compositions. Above all, it was a celebration of joy, tolerance and artistic dialogue. Without limits We have had performers close to traditional conventions, what has been described for years in terms of the "in crudo" stage at the festival. On the other hand, we have had original interpretations, improvisations, visions, which were only inspired by traditional music and took their forms of expression from the clash, entanglement and creative connection with contemporary, modern styles. All of this was and still is possible thanks to the delightfully capacious formula of the EtnoKraków/Crossroads Festival, in which the issue of respect for old masters and previous generations is an evident and obvious starting point for understanding contemporary creativity. Nonetheless, this formula does not limit those artists who want to deal with modern language, sensitivity and tastes of nowadays ambitious and demanding audience. Milestone festival Undoubtedly, it was a milestone edition of the festival for some reasons. It was the first time that it was held with such a limited audience participation, but at the same time, thanks to internet and radio broadcasts, it reached many listeners outside Krakow. For the first time it was depending so much on electronic transmission tools - streaming, live transmission, retransmission, etc. Also for the first time in years it was held outside of Kazimierz. And for the first time there was paid admission for all of the concerts - and it turned out that the audience understood and accepted this circumstance. It definitely worked and it was worth the effort and the risk. There were a lot of important and interesting experiences and each of the concerts turned out to be a successful artistic event - both those in the club and in the open air; both those with performers who have been cooperating with each other for years, and those with an element of improvisation. It can be assumed that it will be an unforgettable edition of the festival, not only due to the limitations resulting from the pandemic. It was summed up by everything that happened during the last day of this year's edition. In the club and outdoors Saturday started with Persian songs workshops, conducted at noon at the Strefa club by Dariush Rasouli, a great artist, whom we were also going to listen to on the big concert stage later that day. The club concerts, which often bring more intimate music that require concentration and attention, are complemented by outdoor concerts every year at the Rozstaje/Crossroads Festival. On the one hand, it is a chance to discover ambitious music for a wider group of listeners, and on the other, a chance for artists to play for a slightly wider audience, thirsty for a more relaxed atmosphere and good music. Brazilian forró Forty Kleparz turned out to be a new location for outdoor concerts at the Rozstaje/Crossroads Festival this year. This place has worked very well as a space for world music. The first to appear on the stage were Brazilian musicians from the Derico Alves Forró Band, already known in Krakow. The leader, Derico Alves, playing the accordion and singing, in the company of two other instrumentalists, who were keeping the pulsating rhythm (on the zabumba drum and the triangle), presented music full of internal fire - dynamic and spontaneous, and at the same time filled with a bit of melancholy, a good lot of charm and tons of wonderful melodies. As the name of the band already indicates, its members refer to one of the most beautiful Brazilian genres - forró. The audience swayed along with the sounds coming from the stage.
Polish-Balkan party In line with the good festival tradition of interweaving international themes with Polish sounds, next ones were the members of the Sokół Orchestra. To make it even more colorful, their music abounds in themes "inspired by the traditions of other cultures". There are many Balkan echoes here, with dynamic, vibrating sounds of brass instruments and a strong setting in the rhythm; with spontaneity and the ability to involve the audience in having fun together. In addition, strong vocal parts and professional performance made it impossible for the audience to resist such an offer. Persian contemplation After this dynamic, dance-filled, sometimes even popular-sounding performance of the Sokół Orchestra, there was a radical change of mood. There was a slowdown awaiting us, a different distribution of accents, a kind of contemplation and sophisticated chords. The Iranian group Hamdam Trio appeared on the stage, led by the aforementioned Dariush Rasouli, playing the ney flute. He was accompanied by Mohsen Hosseini on tar lute and Arad Emamgholi on daf and dayereh drums. In the performance of the trio, we listened to subtle, captivating and sophisticated music, rooted in Persian tradition. Their repertoire refers to the works of Rumi - a Sufi mystic, poet and theologian. Interestingly, this music sounded great in these seemingly difficult outdoor conditions. The audience received it enthusiastically, although the expected encore was prevented by the approaching storm. Weather conditions also delayed the performance of the next artists and heavy rain accompanied their performance. At the end, however, the rainfall stopped, and it can be said that the music has won. Masters from Krakow This next performers were the Krakow trio: Kroke - one of the most important groups on the Polish and European folk scene, appreciated far beyond the borders of Poland. Its members played at the end of that day, which was also the end of the festival. They are not only one of the noblest symbols of musical Krakow and not only the evidence of still clearly audible inspiration from the Jewish tradition, connected with the openness to other inspirations. But they are also a proof of originality, permanent inspiration, playing in a sophisticated way in terms of form and technique, but at the same time spiritually, intelligently and truly visionarily; one in which both connoisseurs and a relatively wide audience will find something for themselves. The repertoire of the evening included original "hits" written by members of the band, such as "Usual Happiness" or "Time", the original arrangement of "Piosenka" by Jan Kanty Pawluśkiewicz from the repertoire of Marek Grechuta and the great traditional hit "Ajde Jano".
It was an extremely accurate choice to summarize this year's Rozstaje/Crossroads Festival, bringing the message of dialogue, tolerance, openness and curiosity about the world and other people. Despite the weather circumstances, a large group of listeners persevered until the end of the concert. It was a short but great festival! [Tomasz Janas]