Viljandi Folk Music Festival is celebrating its 25th jubilee this summer. We are marking this impressive occasion with the jolliest party of the last quarter of the century which concentrates on the theme “New and old”.
The theme “New and old” talks about the great contrasts and changes which propel us forward. “New and old” means competition and overtaking, which captivates the audiences and stimulates the performers. Music which is both old and familiar while also offering something new and interesting, mysterious and motivating is immensely enjoyable.
Viljandi Folk Music Festival together with Viljandi Culture Academy and Estonian Folklore Archives have helped to revive traditional music in Estonia. In addition to authenticity, people started to value improvisation and learning from other people. This is how the term “Estonian traditional music” was coined. The goal to make traditional music an inseparable part of the contemporary cultural space, which was set 25 years ago, has been achieved.
Traditional music is alive and kicking and changing together with us in time and space. New traditions are being created by following the example of something old and original and adding a fair amount of personal touch to it. Traditional musicians learn from feisty experts and old recordings – this is how their music springs to life in the contemporary context. They play traditional melodies on new and unusual instruments which have not been used before to play traditional music, for example playing dabket on a synth, reele on a piano or labajalg on a hang drum.
A good party is a colourful symbiosis of the new and the old – inspiring music, spontaneity, soul-stirring emotions, old and new friends. It is uplifting to feel the energy of old instrument players and the enthusiasm of young musicians, see different generations have fun together and notice contrasting worldviews enjoying the hustle and bustle of the festival amicably side by side. The most natural hotbeds for traditional music are family bands and master-apprentice setups which are popular in numerous cultures. Different generations complement each other and this is the way it is supposed to be.
The jubilee festival will be jumpstarted by scorching hot bands and charming wizards who create pure magic with their instruments. Everything old is new again!