At the height of summer, on July 15, the annual international ethnomusic festival of Valmiermuiža will take place in the Valmiermuiža park, the main stars of which this time will be the artists "Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino" (CGS), who are particularly popular in the global music industry and who always bring the Italian sun with them.

Two years from now, the band and its many fans will celebrate CGS's 50th anniversary, but that doesn't mean a slow slide towards more peaceful traditional music. The composition of the ensemble, which has become a brand of the Salento region found in the heel of Italy's geographical boot, has already changed several times, always adapting to the trends of current ethnic music, as evidenced by the group's latest recordings and concerts. It was not for nothing that five years ago CGS received one of the most prestigious global music awards - the award of the British magazine "Songlines" as the best group in the world!

The group of seven musicians and one dancer has been led for more than 15 years by singer, violinist and percussionist Mauro Durante, whose family are the founders and maintainers of CGS from generation to generation. The group's main goal is to preserve and revive the music and dance tradition of pizzica (pizzica) in southern Italy, which is a form of the popular tarantella. This set can put you in a trance, but the trance offered by CGS is explosive, passionate and time-travelling. Accordingly, a tarantella master class will also take place at the festival.

Interestingly, "Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino" translates to "Salento Greek Songbook", indicating the group's Greek roots in the native region of Apulia and its use of the Grecaniko or Griko dialect, which is related to modern Greek. Regular cooperation with other luminaries of global music (Ballake Sissoko, Ibrahim Maalouf, Piers Faccini), contemporary music composers (Ludovico Einaudi) and freethinkers from the popular music environment (Stewart Copeland from "The Police") is also important for the musical development of the group's musicians.

"CGS teaches how to turn local music into a global brand", wrote the British newspaper "The Guardian", while the concert review "The New York Times" emphasized that "CGS was a whirlwind".

The musical program of the festival will take place on two stages, alternating performances by domestic and foreign artists from Italy, Norway and Ukraine.

"Torgeir Vassvik Band" will represent Scandinavian culture at this festival. Torgeir Vasviks, who celebrated his 60th anniversary last autumn, is a tireless Sami musician from the very north of Norway - the Gamvik region. His shamanic vocals and percussion ritual were created under the influence of the polar climate and northern landscapes. Torgeir combines Sami yoik singing with resonant throat singing and offers his program to listeners all over the world - from Iceland to Siberia, from France to Japan. He is a multi-artist, as well as an active defender of nature protection and the rights of indigenous people.

Ukraine will be represented at the Valmiermuiž ethnomusic festival by the band "Joryj Kłoc" - a folk rock group from Lviv, which has found a new sound for traditional Ukrainian instruments. "Joryj Kłoc" is celebrating its 15th anniversary this year, at the same time, of course, actively standing up against the bloody war in its homeland.

The band's name comes from the secret slang used in the closed fraternities of wheel lyre and kobza players: "joryj" means "respectable", "honorable", and "kłoc" means "macho", "strongman" or "elder". In modern parlance, "Joryj Kłoc" can be interpreted as "Honorable Man", "Cool Guys" or simply "V.I.P.". The band's sound is just as "VIP" unique - drums, lyre, electric guitar and viola intertwine in rocking turbo-folk, which is even called "Cossack break-beat" in the south-east of Ukraine.

The best-known local band at the festival this year will be "Jauno Jāņu Orķestris" - a young folk group full of primal energy, which was formed ten years ago by the charismatic leader of the rock band "Dzelzs vilks" Juris Kaukulis. In the performance of him and his friends, Latvian songs are brought to life in original, electro-acoustic music, in which influences from both pop and rock music, as well as folk and electronic music can be heard.

Various artists will represent the genre of contemporary Latvian folk music - introducing both meditation and fun dance rhythms. Just like last year, after the live music program, the ethnic DJ duo - Dīvs Reiznieks and Kaspars Zaviļeiskis will also perform at night, offering a colorful program of various global music. By the way, last year they introduced both "Canzoniere Grecanico Salentino" and "Joryj Kłoc" to the festival audience, which will already perform in Valmiermuiž this year, so let's expect new surprises!

On July 15, the festival grounds will be open from 13.00 and a rich cultural and entertainment program will be available for both adults and children. The theme of the festival this year is "opposites attract", highlighting the desirable in art and cuisine, as well as architecture, the surrounding landscape and human relations.

The lighting of the fire sculpture, which has already become a festival tradition, will take place with the darkness - this time the Spanish artist Jordi NN will be joined by an international creative team: Aleksejs Smolovs, a teacher at the Riga Circus School and the only artist of the Wheel of Cheese in Latvia, Lizete Volka, an expert in the art of air circles and fire, from Estonia and Latvian ethnomusic the well-known double bassist Stanislavs Yudins, together offering visitors a magical, musical modern circus performance.

At the festival, you will also be able to enjoy poetry performed by the famous Finnish poet Heli Lāksonena and Latvian poet Gundars Godiņš, see a performance by the Etienne theater "Nerten", the latest Latvian cinema in cooperation with the LKA National Film School, an open-air art exhibition, as well as participate in sustainable and traditional workshops, buy handicrafts in the market, but to regain strength in peaceful and restless pubs and open-air cafes.

In the stable of Valmiermuiža, located near the festival area, you will also have the opportunity to set up your own tent where you can spend the night. Children under the age of 16 will enter the festival free of charge. Valmiermuiža brewery can be thanked for that and delicious beer.

Tickets can be purchased at bilesuserviss.lv. More information on the festival Facebook profile "etnovalmiermuiza" or on the website etnovalmiermuiza.lv.

The Valmiermuiža ethnomusic festival is organized by the Valmiermuiža cultural association and the Cultural Management Center "Lauska". Supported by the State Cultural Capital Fund, Valmiera County Municipality, Valmiermuiža Brewery, "Gardu Muti" Zelteri, ZAAO and others. 


Sabīne Vandāna, head of the Valmiermuiža cultural society, sabine@valmiermuiza.lv, 26488399

May 16, 2023