Latvia's folk festival takes on a global look

  • 2007-10-24
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon
RIGA - Various locations around Riga and Ogre are busily gearing up for the eighth annual Porta music festival, due to take place in early November. This year the festival will go above and beyond the previous festivals, however, as it branches out from simple concerts and seeks to transform itself into a forum to explore other European and world cultures.
"This year we have some new ideas," Gita Lancere, director of international relations for the festival, told The Baltic Times. "We will have some films to go with the concerts 's documentaries about the different traditions. I think it will be very interesting, because you cannot see these films on TV or in the cinema, they are for a very special audience," she said.

Lancere said her rough estimate was that about 1,500 people would be drawn to the new events. She also noted that the most interesting thing about the festival is the international collaboration which makes it possible for Latvian audiences to explore other cultures amidst a barrage of internationally acclaimed artists.
"We have a very good collaboration with Georgia, and there will be a presentation before the main concert. They are bringing some of their [Georgian] wine with them, and it is a really very interesting group. They will take some singers and dancers from Georgia also, [it is] very exciting," Lancere said.
She went on to explain that this year's festival will also have a very close relationship with the Italian Embassy. A new Italian ambassador is taking office, and he is helping to support the concert as a way to become acquainted with the sort of cultural cooperation Latvia engages in.

Some of the bands scheduled to play at the festival include the wildly popular Latvian erotic metal band Dzelzs Vilks (Iron Wolf) and the Georgian folk-jazz band The Shin (The Road Home) on the first day. The second day will feature the legendary Scandinavian folk ensemble Trio Groupa, and Nakaira, a Sicilian band with clear Celtic, Balkan and Greek influences in its tunes.
The third and fourth days of the festival will largely focus on the films and other cultural aspects of the event. In addition to a few repeat performances by Trio Groupa, the Polish band Motion Symphony will take the stage alongside the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra.
The films, which will be shown free of charge, are drawn from the World Music Expo film tour. They focus on the music cultures of the Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia.

The feature film, entitled "As Old as My Tongue," tells the amazing life story of Bi Kidude, a native of Zanzibar who has rubbed shoulders with Sultans, Presidents and Kings. Now 93 years old, Kidude still spends her time out on the town drinking, smoking and flirting with boys.
Other films at the festival include a documentary about the origins of Portuguese blues music, a film that highlights the hauntingly beautiful music of Sufi Muslims and a movie that delves into the varied musical traditions of Vietnam.

The festival is scheduled to run from Nov. 7 - 10, with most of the shows to be held at Riga's Liela Gilde (Great Guild). Some events will also be held at the Music Academy, Andrejsala's Pulkvedis and the Ogre Cultural Center.

Porta Music Festival
Nov. 7 - 10