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the first year I saw an original cassette. Earlier I’d only seen pirate recordings. There were no outside concerts here. We never saw The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and so on and so on. The most impor- tant event in our rock history was the one and only concert by the Rolling Stones in 1967 [in Warsaw that April]. Ethno Port from that viewpoint is something like a mission. From a local point of view, which I represent, it is a tool of revitalisation – both of the people and the city.” He is not delivering a press release. His candour is refreshing, especially since central government in Warsaw is pulling funds. Ethno Port is important in ways maybe much of its population do not realise.


He continues, “The first five editions of the festival were held


by the river. It was a completely devastated area that only came alive during the festival.” Mania adds, “It was an old river channel that was filled during the ’70s.”


This reclaimed wasteland provided a site during the festival’s earliest years. “During the preparations for the first Ethno Port in 2008,” explains Maszewski, “I had no idea what a fascinating jour- ney I was embarking on. We found a beautiful, though somewhat neglected space on the river near the very heart of the city, and it was there that we decided to arrange a meeting of artists playing ethnic music with the audience.” (Treat ‘beautiful’ as poetic licence.)


Bozena Szota adds that that first festival also had music in the old market square, not the most practical of venues in 2008. The festival’s concerts – as distinct from the Jarmark’s music – took place 10 minutes away on the Warta’s river bank. Wherever they are, town squares are centres for trading, commerce and bustle. They further function as a tourist magnet. Bang on noon, sight- seers gaze upwards as two mechanical billy goats butt horns in the square’s clock tower. Eventually the primary locus/focus of the fes- tival shifted to, and settled on the Zamek – the Imperial Castle, although castle specialists apparently prefer the word palace.


Constructed at the time Poznań was part of Prussia, the Resi- denzschloss Posen – the ‘residential palace’ or ‘castle’, the present-


day Zamek – was built to remind the population of the power of the Prussian emperor Wilhelm II (hence the German name for Pos- nan, Posen, in the palace title).


W


ojciech Mania, who doubles as a walking ency- clopaedia of Polish history and culture, drew attention to the Zamek looking out on wide boulevards. They were designed to show off Prussian ceremonial and imperial might, and to


intimidate the populace. Even after Germany’s defeat in 1918, the region’s fate was far from settled. German paramilitary Freikorps units played the region like a chess piece and kept it in con- tention. Far too fast came the Nazi era and occupation. During this period the Zamek was grandly reappointed and made fit for a Gauleiter – the Nazi regional governor. One marble-lined room of impressive proportions – the so-called Fireplace Chamber – was to be Hitler’s personal office in anticiµpation of his state visit (that never came). In 1945 the last-ditch battle for the city took a month before the Germans were routed. Posen had, after all, long been a region of Prussia and by its end nine-tenths of the Old Town was rubble. Yet, as if by a miracle, the Zamek itself was spared major damage, although minor damage in the form of pock-marked walls stands testimony to the fighting. Conducted tours are available and recommended. If the visitor knows a bit about Polish history and anything about the last century’s two totalitarian regimes, the Soviet-era bas-relief frieze of the city’s history, made in the Socialist Realist style, in the first floor’s Col- umn Hallway, is a must-see. All in all, the Zamek is a remarkable setting for a festival.


As the festival has matured, other components have slotted into place. ‘Little Ethno’ is a series of events, activities and work- shops for children. Film screenings dot the programme, though not necessarily on musical matters. One remaining element needs to be mentioned: the generous sprinkle of Polish music. The festi- val is a showcase of Polish talent, few of whom seem likely ever to play festivals or concerts in Britain or Ireland, because simply that’s


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