"[WOMEX] brings together professionals from the worlds of folk, roots, ethnic and traditional music and also includes concerts, conferences and documentary films. It contributes to networking as an effective means of promoting music and culture of all kinds across frontiers.” - UNESCO Global Alliance for Cultural Diversity
This week marks the 23rd Annual Edition of the World Music Expo, or WOMEX, which will be held in Katowice, Poland from October 25th – 29th. The festival will bring together 2,500 music industry professionals and artists from over 90 countries.
WOMEX features networking meetings, lectures, and panels during the morning followed by concerts across seven stages in the evening. The event promotes traditional, folk, and classical music from all cultures, encouraging a variety of musicians and bands to showcase their work.
One of these groups is Night, a new-school folk band from Kathmandu that uses traditional or endangered Nepalese instruments to create a unique sound. This is the first time a Nepalese group has been featured at WOMEX. Inspired by the linguistic, ethnic, and geographic diversity present in Nepal, Night frequently composes songs in various Nepalese languages and dialects.
Also appearing is the Slovakian group, Banda, performing “Picking up elements of blues, jazz, Balkan, Celtic and Latin music.” Their first album, Banda Jedna, made it to the Top 10 World Music Charts Europe in 2011.
The duo Bitori and Chando redefine Cape Verdean funaná, a style evolved from African slave music in rural communities. Chando Graciosa, a younger singer, will work with Bitori, a long-time Cape Verdean musician, to present old sounds to a new generation.
Another duo, Vasilis Kostas & Layth Sidiq, provide a blend of Middle Eastern classical sounds. Kostas is a Greek laouto player, and Sidiq is an Iraqi/Jordanian violinist.
Individual artists include Finnish singer Maija Kauhaneni whose traditional style music explores contemporary topics in women’s lives such as domestic violence and child brides. She released her first album The Whirl of Rage in March.
Victoria Hanna is an Israeli voice artist who integrates ancient Hebrew religious texts into her work. She has studied vocal performance in Japan and multiple South Asian countries as well as performed with other experimental vocal artists.