The grand opening of the 24th edition of the World Music Expo, WOMEX took place yesterday evening, October 24th, at Auditorio Alfredo Kraus in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Canary Islands, Spain. The event demonstrated the historical and strategic position of the Canary Islands as a hub for the exchange of cultures.
With more than 1,200 guests in attendance, and four outstanding performances by AKA Trio (Senegal, Italy & Brazil), new wave flamenco project Aurora, Brazilian alt-indie songwriter LaBaq and acclaimed mestizo group from the island of Tenerife, Caracoles, the evening ended on high note with all the artists coming together on stage for one final performance.
Tránsitos Atlánticos was curated by Germán López, the timple (small Canary Islands guitar) star of the Canary Islands, who was the artistic director for this year.
On bringing WOMEX to Las Palmas de Gran Canaria this year, Alex Walter, director of WOMEX expressed: “It truly is a unique destination when looking at the travel history of WOMEX, as we’ve never been so far in the European south and at the same time so close to Africa. The aim of WOMEX always was and is to offer a platform where cultural operators can meet and promote their working fields and present inspiring ideas.”
The Canary Islands – with their particular geographical position on the Atlantic Ocean route from Europe to the New World, and just a few kilometers away from the African continent – have a long story in the exchange of cultures.
Antonio Morales, president of the Cabildo of Gran Canaria (island government), was greeted with applause. He communicated: “In these serious times, where different governments and world organizations are proposing to close borders, reduce rights, treat people like goods, here in Gran Canaria, we must send a clear message of respect for human rights and solidarity with those who suffer war or poverty. We must raise our voices against racist, xenophobic or class-based discrimination that forgets the supreme value of life and equality among all people.”
Also present among the dignitaries were, Mr. Isaac Castellano, Regional Minister of Tourism and Culture of the Canarias Government. He stated: “WOMEX brings together the most influential opinion writers on roots music. WOMEX brings together all aspects of the music industry, from management and bookings to the release of recordings and publishing. But the most important thing is that WOMEX is an international meeting woven from the materials of cultural diversity.”
Mr. Augusto Hidalgo, mayor of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria said: “For a few days, and thanks to WOMEX, we, the people of the Canary Islands, will be happy, feeling among each other that broad embrace of solidarity between very distant and different people united by the universal language that is music. With the celebration of WOMEX, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is renewing its commitment to culture.”
headline photo: WOMEX 2018 – Photo by Yannis Psathas