In September, Warsaw will be visited by the legendary drummer Tony Allen, the founder of blufunku Keziah Jones and the activist Sona Jobarteh, among others.
This year, the Cross Culture Festival celebrates its fifteenth birthday. The first edition took place back in 2005. What has changed over the years? What will this year’s edition look like? We will find out as soon as in September as the 15th edition of the biggest music holiday will take place on 18–22 September!
World music leads us to distant lands and makes us feel at home there. We come back from such a journey with experiences and memories that stay with us forever. For the last year and a half, we've all been looking for our place in the new reality since traveling has become more difficult than ever before. Regardless of the prevailing situation, music is always with us and inspires to rise above divisions. The 17. edition of the Cross-Culture Festival, albeit shortened to one day, will be packed with artistic events: workshops for children, discussion panels and concerts. This year, we will meet for the first time in a new location. Festival events will take place at the Dramatyczny Theater.
A musical feast with a positive message
This year's edition will feature Oum, the ambassador of Moroccan culture, combining the influences of hassani, jazz, gospel, soul, afrobeat and Sufi music in her songs. By her singing she is trying to convince her listeners that we are more the same than different despite cultural differences. The other artist to perform is Moh! Kouyaté, an artist who combines the traditional genre of Mandingo, afro beat and funky, tells about happiness, the drama of life, exile, everyday uncertainties, struggle and hope. His work carries a message for all of us, especially important in these extraordinary times: "If you continue to fight without losing your enthusiasm and faith in a sunny tomorrow, you will ultimately achieve your goals."
Oum considers herself a Moroccan, African and woman of the world. In her work, she focuses on searching for universal music, which is at the same time a reflection of a troubled world and a balm to soothe pain and give unwavering hope. Hailing from Casablanca, Oum El Ghaït Ben Essahraoui quickly drew the attention of the media, identifying her with Nayda, a movement of young Moroccans cantered around urban rhythms. Her albums Lik'Oum (2009) and Sweerty (2012), which were only released in Morocco, made her a star in her country. It was then that she came up with the unordinary idea. She began writing her songs in Darija, the dialect of the Moroccan variety of Arabic used in everyday life. This gave her the opportunity to add new musicality to the texts, as well as new combinations of meanings – some kind of poetry of assonance. In 2013, she released her first international album, Soul of Morocco. Two years later, the album Zarabi, recorded at the gates of the Sahara desert, further deepened the aesthetic direction that Oum took, while at the same time engaging in a discussion about the need to protect nature and traditional micro-communities. Her third album, Daba, from 2019, focuses on leading themes expressed in sparse and deprived of colouring poetry, in line with the general interests of its author: humanism, feminism, spirituality and the importance of reconnecting with nature.
Moh! Kouyaté is a citizen of the world, a Parisian at heart, who shares his own vision of a new Africa. Always elegant, with a charming appearance, he embodies the unique style of playing the guitar inspired by the Mandingo tradition, blues, jazz and rock, and extraordinary talent. Moh! Kouyaté had been a musician long before the release of his first album Loundo. His relatives in Guinea were deeply involved in Conakra's music scene. Learning music has always been sacred to the Kouyaté family, descendants of the 13th century griot dynasty. Moh! instinctively followed the masters of Guinean music: members of the Bembeya Jazz band, as well as Ousmane Kouyaté, the leading guitarist of Salif Keita. In just a few years, Moh! has earned a reputation as one of the most talented and promising guitarists in Guinea. He was inspired by the techniques of the great masters: Django Reinhardt, Santana, BB King, Ben Harper, Jimi Hendrix. By night, Moh! illuminated the stages of the capital of Guinea with performances together with his band Conakry Cocktail. In 2005, Moh! toured the USA for three months, and in 2007 he settled in France and discovered Parisian musicians from the afro-jazz scene. In 2015, he began working on his first album, Loundo, compiling of his artistic experiences.
In 2017, his second Fé Toki album was released, being a combination of music inspired by the African continent and music from around the world. The art of the continent, being the inspiration for his works, is connected with the whole world. His music is a gift that carries universal content.
Accompanying events for children and adults
“The program of the Cross-Culture Festival will also traditionally include offers for the youngest lovers of world music. During the percussion workshops, they will be able to meet the master of the daff - a Kurdish artist, Arad Emamgholi. Then, the presentation of Persian dance in a form adopted for children will be conducted by Apsara Afsanesara”, enumerates prof. dr hab. Maria Pomianowska, artistic director of the Festival, professor of musical arts, multi-instrumentalist, singer, composer and teacher.
Kulturalna, in turn, will host a discussion panel entitled "Warsaw of many cultures" with the participation of Aldona Machnowska-Góra, the Deputy Mayor of the Capital City of Warsaw, which will be led by dr hab. Mirosław Pęczak, culture expert and journalist, head of the Department of Interdisciplinary Research on Culture at the Faculty of Education of the University of Warsaw. The panel will be devoted to the issue of multiculturalism as a social experience of today's Warsaw. For many years, the capital has been attracting newcomers from countries and regions geographically and culturally close to Poland (Ukraine, Belarus), as well as very distant ones (Vietnam, China, Chechnya, African and Arab countries). Questions arise as to whether, and to what extent, the largest city in Poland is open to others and what the division into local citizens and foreigners means today. Dr. Marta Pietrusińska, prof. dr hab. Waldemar Kuligowski, Witek Hebanowski and Maciej Szajkowski are agoing to participate in the discussion panel as well.
More information at www.festival.warszawa.pl
Admission to evening concerts allowed for children above 6 years of age. Registration is required for workshops for children.
Organizer: Stołeczna Estrada
Media patrons: Polityka, Zwierciadło, TOK FM
The festival is financed by the City of Warsaw.