The Warsaw Voice » Culture » Monthly - August 28, 2015
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World Music in Warsaw
Ethnic music from different corners of the world will ring out in Warsaw during the 11th Cross Culture Festival. The event is being held Sept. 21-27, with “Temples of Music” as its theme.

Showcasing cultural diversity, this year’s Cross Culture Festival will tell the story of people who live and breathe music. The festival will be attended by top acts from Iran, Nigeria, Mauritania, South Korea, Pakistan and Turkey. Some of the most notable guests will include Kayhan Kalhor and Sivan Perwer. Hailing from Iran, Kalhor is a virtuoso of the kamancheh, a traditional Persian string instrument, and has won several Grammy Award nominations. Turkish-born Perwer is regarded as one of the greatest signers in the Middle East.

The main festival venue will be a large tent in front of the Palace of Culture and Science skyscraper. The Cross Culture Festival is organized by the Stołeczna Estrada company, whose director Andrzej Matusiak said, “We have a faithful and steadily growing audience. We feel motivated to work even harder, and this year the festival has been expanded to include new sections and extra concerts.”

Festival performers will take audiences on a trip to places where people revere music, where mystery rites enshrined in ancient traditions combine rhythm, words and dance into one. The festival’s artistic director, Maria Pomianowska, says that the featured musicians see music as a bridge between the physical and spiritual realms. “Our guests will include top instrumentalists and vocalists from Iran, where you can say music as an instrument of civilization was born,” says Pomianowska. “The world’s oldest string instruments originate from Iran. The festival will also be attended by Kurdish performers, who will tell us about themselves as the world’s largest nation without a country, a nation with the mountains as their only friend. Festival audiences will also hear performers from Pakistan, a country that has for decades been oppressed by a holy war against music, dance and poetry.”

Warsaw audiences will be able to enter into an energetic trance thanks to stars of Afrobeat. This will also be the first Cross Culture Festival to feature music acts from Tajikistan, who will introduce listeners to music and dance that Tajik families and tribes have preserved in an unchanged form for centuries.

The special guest of this year’s Cross Culture Festival is Korea, whose musical tradition, according to Pomianowska, differs from that of the rest of the Far East. “It is enchantingly uncompromising, raw and authentic,” says Pomianowska. “Cross Culture will give us many opportunities to learn about unusual instruments, outfits and even dishes from this beautiful country. Contemporary Korean ensembles deliver ancient, magical and highly expressive rituals along with creative and experimental music. As a result, over the past several years they have become some of the most interesting voices in world music. I should also mention that traditional Korean music is based on a rhythmic pattern that bears a striking resemblance to Polish mazurkas. This totally different, exotic soundscape shows that Korea and Poland share a rhythm, and rhythm is the most primordial aspect of humanity.”

Like each year, the festival will feature music workshops conducted by world class musicians.

First held in 2005, the Cross Culture Festival has featured 177 acts from 60 countries in total over the years. It is Poland’s largest event to showcase world music and cultural diversity.

For the festival program and further
information, go to