The 23th annual celebration of international folk music saw more than forty artists perform last weekend in Viljandi.
Under the theme of “Freedom”, visitors of all ages flocked to the town to celebrate the festival which was organized by the people for the people.
Alongside the gorgeous sights of the castle and lake where the main activities were held were dancing, singing, and musicians playing instruments from all over the world.
Frigg, two Finnish guys with their fiddles, opened the festival with their crazy sounds on Thursday. And it was a hard day to choose what to see with Rüüt or Duo Malva/Kirsipu from Estonia and Veseli Vujky (Ukraine) or Levack/Stewart/Irving (Scotland) all performing as well.
Closing the festival on the first day was the Polish Warsaw Village Band and their mystic music with reggae rhythms which were played to relax the participants before going to sleep. The weekend had just started, and saving some energy for the rest of the days was the key.
One of the highlights of Friday were Cassey Driessen, a solo fiddle player from the United States who is a one-man band. Using a recording pedal effect, he was able to do the percussions, the bass, the riffs and the melodies of his compositions.
There was also musical talent from Africa by the hand of Alhousseini Anivolla. His unique guitar technique from Libya called ichumar and the talented and personal violin chords performed by Marja Nuut, took the festival to another dimension.
Lo Cor de la Plana, the French band opened the gigs on Saturday with an explosive combination of percussions and voices. Their aim was to get all the public together dancing with their Mediterranean beats and tunes.
German Díaz could have been the most peculiar instrument player of the whole event. He played his hurdy-gurdy, a stringed instrument that produces sound by a crank-turned, rosined wheel rubbing against the strings. He brought some unknown folk music from Spain, combining Northern chords with sad feelings that turned into theatrical melodies.
Three perfect headline acts in a row performed on Saturday night: Curly Strings, Svjata Vatra and Trad.Attack! As moments of pure festival brilliance go, Curly Strings are right up there. One of the most highly anticipated bands of the weekend, they are already well-known all over the Baltics and played at Positivus Festival in Latvia the weekend before.
They were then followed by Svjatra Vatra (Estonia/Ukraine) who performed before Trad Attack. It was a blast of energy during the evening to keep the flow for the next party.
Old school traditional instruments met electronic music when Lennukitehas performed fusing bagpipes and harmonicas with a Dj. Bases and rhythm combined in perfect harmony to make all the late night people dance until the new sunrise.
The conclusion of this festival is that this is an event more about a lifestyle – a way of thinking and a philosophy. There was a diverse sea of faces wherever you looked, with a hurricane of sounds wherever you went and drops of flavor for all tastes. An island universe of uniqueness where every individual of the community had their own preferences and ideas about what ‘folk’ means to them.
The best thing about Viljandi pärimusmuusika is all you have to do when you are there is just wander and before long, you will find your thing.
Editor: H. Wright