The theme of this year's festival is "Freedom" which was inspired by the current situation on the traditional music scene and by what is happening in the world in general. The organisers want to draw attention to the musicians who approach traditional music in a creative way while showing respect towards the ancestors and their heritage.
In addition to these, the topic of freedom is approached through the musicians who are from parts of the world which find themselves in a complicated political situation where free self-expression is not as natural as it is for us.
According to the programme manager Tarmo Noormaa, the performers who were announced first represent these directions which were set as goals when the theme was chosen. "This time around, we chose the performers based on the principles of creative and interpretive freedom or looked for artists who protect the right for freedom with their music. I, for example, was enchanted by the story of Warsaw Village Band which was formed as a counterreaction to the narrow-mindedness of purists on the Polish traditional music scene because the band members think that restricting creativity is equal to the loss of human dignity," explains Noormaa.
"Creative freedom and a creative approach to traditional music is also excellently exemplified by the American fiddler Casey Driessen," continues Noormaa. "Pushing and feeling the boundaries of fiddle playing is something only a few chosen musicians can do. At his concerts, the 34-year-old virtuoso proves that the possibilities of a pedalboard and a five-string fiddle are endless," says the programme manager with confidence.
The headliner of the dance world music programme in the Airplane Factory, which runs on two nights, is the duo Acid Arab from Paris. "DJ programmes are a growing trend at folk music festivals and we are honoured to be able to present two absolute leaders of this genre as part of our first ever full-scale night club programme!" says Noormaa with pride. "Acid Arab is a very popular DJ-tandem who is a welcome guest at both dance and folk music festivals," says Noormaa for whom it is the ninth year to be in charge of the programme of Viljandi Folk Music Festival.
In addition to the groups mentioned above, the first performers which were announced also included Frigg from Finland whose music is based on original music but imbued in traditional music and Lo Còr De La Plana from France who masterfully combine polyphonic male voices and percussion instruments. Additional information about the performers is available here.
XXIII Viljandi Folk Music Festival takes place on June 23-26, 2015. The four-day programme includes around 100 concerts, workshops, a film programme, fairy tale chamber, exhibitions and many other events which have become a part of Viljandi Folk Music Festival. Festival passes are available at Piletilevi, for 68€ and there are still some youngster's passes available for 32€.