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f96 “O


n Friday, June 13th, 2008, the first night in the festival’s history, it turned out that the num- ber of people who knew a thing or two about ethnic music and who would love to hear the best it can offer was sufficient to create an


unforgettable atmosphere during the shows. That day, Värttinä were followed by Chemirani Ensemble. I knew it would be an interesting performance, but the ‘family music-making’ of the Ira- nian artists simply blew me away. From that moment on I knew what kind of festival we would be making. I realised that the artists appearing at Ethno Port can and should be as good as the virtuosos of the most eminent concert halls in the world.”


In 2009 EPP booked Samiland’s Mari Boine, the Czech-Ameri- can duo of violinist-vocalist Iva Bittová and former Bang On A Can pianist Lisa Moore, the Romanian Roma ensemble Taraf de Haï- douks, the Armenian double-reeded duduk instrumentalist Djivan Gasparyan and the UK’s Transglobal Underground. (By Maszews- ki’s own admission, this last act was to woo younger audiences.) The musical palette was set up. The Polish Radio journalist Kuba Borysiak might have been writing the festival manifesto when he wrote in the tenth edition’s programme in 2017: “World music is a ‘music of the rest of the world’, music in a context, music in a new context and out of context. It is also traditional music, folk and, much to the horror of some, folksy music. The term is broad, extremely flexible, covering probably the widest genre spectrum music has to offer.”


Festival programming has included a diverse range of Polish acts through to world music mainstays such as Vishwa Mohan Bhatt’s Desert Slide project, Ukraine’s DakhaBrakha, and Egypt’s oud virtuoso Tarek Abdallah & riq player Adel Shams El-Din. The 2010 festival included the “special project” trio of Andrew Cron- shaw, Svetlana Spajic and Tigran Aleksanyan. 2013 brought together the Polish-Ukrainian trio of Dagadana with the Ameri- can rhythmist Frank Parker. In 2017 there was the one-off collab- oration of veteran Hindustani slide guitarist Debashish Bhat- tacharya and the up-and-coming Polish violinist Kacper Malisz. This last collaboration, like many song snapshots or entire per- formances down the years, is available to watch on YouTube (search for @ Ethno Port Poznan Festival). The 2017 tranche of live film footage includes Iva Bittová & Cikori with Antonin Fajt and the kora maestro Ballaké Sissoko in the Castle Courtyard, the trio of López, Petrakis and Chemirani in the Grand Hall, and Mari Boine on the Stage On The Green. A dip into 2018 would include the Occitan trio Sirventès, the Greek guitarist Dimitris Mystakidis and the South Korean ensemble Baraji. Imaginative billings like these define why mainland European festivals are peerless.


There are three main stages at Ethno Port. The intimate, indoors-outdoors experience of the Castle Courtyard wins for me, thanks to experiencing acts on its low stage like Debashish Bhat- tacharya, Iva Bittová & Cikori, the Polish-Pakistani combination of Karolina Cicha & Shafqat Ali Khan, and the Marseille-based Lo Còr de la Plana.


For the historically and culturally minded, the festival’s ethos perfectly fits a city that is a bastion of outward-looking and opti- mistic open-mindedness – to lance upfront the boil of Poland’s negative and nationalistic associations – in a country many per- ceive as becoming increasingly straitlaced, wing-clipped and con- servative. EPP’s ethos, drive and musical complexion are, according to people in the know, unmatched in contemporary Poland. Like many music festivals or town festivals in general across Europe, it has become part of the city itself rather than something that takes place in some fenced-off enclosure in grounds some distance from the place it’s named after.


All puns intended, EPP has found its place in the heart of the


city. It takes place right in the middle of the city, yet is only about 5 km (little more than three miles) from the city’s airport. During the festival, bimby (‘trams’ in the local dialect, far less of a mouthful than the tramway derivative tramwaj) glide by as usual with curi- ous passengers staring out of the 28 tram at the Stage On The Green. Another 100, 200, 300 meters away people are forming


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