The theme of XXIII Viljandi Folk Music Festival is "FREEDOM"

Similarly to previous years, this year's festival theme is inspired by the current situation of the folk music scene and the events taking place in the world.

Every day, original songs are composed which are not directly based on traditional music but which still play around adventurously with the style elements of traditional music while being inspired by the vast world of sounds around us. You cannot go wrong with leaning on traditions and knowing your roots but you also have to notice what is going on around you at the very moment and know how to learn from it. Throughout times, people have valued singers and instrument players who have created songs and tunes which reflect on the present moment and touch people deeply by immortalising these events.

When the folk music festival started 22 years ago, genuine folk music had to be mainly recreated based on archival tapes. The so-called folk revival aka folk music revolution took place and many youngsters got more interested in the heritage of their ancestors. Folk music became a means of expression for young people. At the moment, another revolution is taking place because another generation of musicians has grown up. These musicians acquired their skills in their early youth which is why traditional music is a very natural environment for them. Composing original songs which use traditional elements and are played with traditional instruments is just a natural next step for them. The use of different instruments and navigating between different modern genres of music reflects the contemporary situation where the traditional way of life is disappearing and folk music is looking for its place in the urban environment where diversity bears an impact on sensitive creative professionals.

The current situation in the world makes us value the underlying pillars humanity. We need identity to feel special. Identity connects us to our language, land and people, which in turn creates the feeling of security which is necessary for inspiration. Our greatest wealth is the talent of our people and creative freedom which needs to be protected and developed attentively. The feeling of freedom is the greatest prerequisite for the emergence of creativity which in turn recreates identity and makes people more caring and confident - makes them better people.

During the next festival, we want to represent different facets of freedom and show what lies beneath this beautiful although ambiguous word. We recognise that freedom is not to be taken for granted and it can disappear in a second. We know that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. We want to remind people of these things and ask whether freedom is possible in this world where we are living and how we could use it to everyone's benefit. The answers to these questions will be sought at next year's festival.

Take it easy and we'll see you at XXIII Viljandi Folk Music Festival on July 23-26!