Germany’s largest world music event, Rudolstadt Festival, will take place July 4-7, 2019. The opening concert on 4 July will be a tribute concert dedicated to splendid female artists from the worlds of jazz, folk and blues. Sing The Truth is a project by three women who are themselves acclaimed for their extraordinary voices – Lizz Wright, Angelique Kidjo and Cecile McLoren Salvant – with drummer and producer Terri Lyne Carrington acting as musical director.
Three days later, the closing concert will feature alternative country pioneers, the Cowboy Junkies from Canada, who have raised the bar with their slow motion blues and folk sounds.
The massive line-up at this year’s festival includes 300 concerts, workshops and discussions. One of the standout acts is the Herbert Pixner Projekt from South Tyrol. This quartet from the Alps transcends all sorts of musical borders with their mastery of flamenco, tango, gypsy jazz and rock riffs, and is in high demand in the German-speaking world.
Presently, one of the most sought-after Icelandic musicians is Ólafur Arnalds with his sound collages made up of art, music and technology.
A new figurehead of Afro-Brazilian women is Luedji Luna, who frequently serves up her songs addressing social problems with laidback tunes enhanced with elements of both jazz and R&B.
South African singer-songwriter Alice Phoebe Lou, who launched her career by busking in Berlin, will perform poetry with a touch of jazz, summing up the music of South Africa.
Die Höchste Eisenbahn, who will be releasing their third album this summer, also began their successful journey in Berlin by pairing catchy melodies with zeitgeisty humor. Then there’s the unique project Small Island Big Song, whose members come from island nations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans which are literally threatened with extinction by climate change.
Musical contrasts from Iran
To represent Iran, this year’s special guest country, the Rudolstadt Festival has selected nine ensembles and devised a richly contrasting program. It ranges from performances based on centuries-old traditions to music driven by current political protests. “The festival intends to convey that there’s a vibrant cultural scene in Iran striving to find its own way and make itself known internationally,” declared program director Bernhard Hanneken. In Rudolstadt, Iranian artists will also be given a forum to talk about their lives, their circumstances, and their opportunities for artistic expression.
On the opening night, the band Damahi will be performing a pop-oriented fusion of Iranian and world music genres. One of Iran’s most prominent musicians is tar and setar player Hamid Motebassem, who is also a noted composer. At Rudolstadt, he will be presenting compositions such as his orchestral work Pardis accompanied by the Thuringian Symphony Orchestra from Saalfeld-Rudolstadt. What’s more, they’ll be joined by one of Iran’s best-known women‘s voices, Mahdieh Mohammadkhani.
There is another expressive female singer in the Hamnava Ensemble, which hails from Bushehr in southwest Iran on the Persian Gulf. Baran Mozafari is one of the few women endeavoring to take the female vocal styles from the region into the 21st century.
Tar virtuoso Ali Ghamsari from Tehran represents a subtle, innovative variety of classical Persian music. By contrast, Shahin Najafi’s current program is a powerful contemporary blend of jazz, blues, rock and Persian folk songs.
Apart from the performances by the nine Iranian ensembles, there will be discussions with the artists during the festival and a wide-ranging symposium with topics including the status of women in Iran, the social aspect of Iranian music, Persian poetry, record production and marketing.
New partnership: The EBU Folk Festival in Rudolstadt
With the Rudolstadt Festival being held for the 29th time in 2019, this year marks the start of a new partnership with the European Broadcasting Union (EBU). The EBU will be celebrating the 40th anniversary of its own Euroradio Folk Festival by presenting selected musicians in Rudolstadt.
This partnership has been initially set to run for three years, meaning the Euroradio Folk Festival will also provide a forum for various facets of the European scene at the Rudolstadt Festival in 2020 and 2021. Both sides hope for lasting collaboration with Graham Dixon, the EBU’s Head of Radio, even talking of a new chapter in the European Broadcasting Union’s history: “Despite the wide participation and high quality of performance, until now, the EBU Folk Festival has never enjoyed a long-term home. From now, working together with the well-established festival in Rudolstadt provides an opportunity to pool our resources.”
This summer, editorial teams from 16 EBU member states will be taking part together with artists from their respective countries. They represent a wide variety in every respect, ranging from the 23-strong Finnish SibA Folk Big Band to solo accordion performances by Yegor Zabelov from Belarus and Otto Lechner from Austria, both of whom perform in their own distinctive manner. Nineteenth-century dance music will be fronted by Husistein-Musik from Switzerland while at the opposite end of the spectrum, avant-garde Polish group Polmuz will be taking the concept of folk music in an experimental direction.
More at www.rudolstadt-festival.de
headline photo: Colombia’s La 33