Culture in Poznań



The multi-lingual Ethno Port

Stelios Petrakis from Crete, Ndima from Congo, Maria Mazzotta from southern Italy, and Rusan Filiztek from south-eastern Turkey are just some of the artists featured in this year's edition of Ethno Port. Notably, the festival will also highlight the vibrant music of Poland and Ukraine.

Photo of a young woman and a young man standing on a bank of the river. Behind them a narrow bridge. - grafika artykułu
CelloGayageum, photograph from the press

Anyone who has had the pleasure of attending Ethno Port's concerts can attest to the festival's undeniable charm and unique ambience. While music takes center stage, the event goes beyond mere entertainment, offering a multitude of social, environmental, and educational activities. From meetings to shows, to workshops to presentations, these diverse side events demonstrate keen awareness and engagement with the world on the part of the festival participants, whether on or off stage.

Ethno Port not only brings delightful music and fosters a genuine curiosity for other cultures (some of which may paradoxically not be all that different) but also embodies a fundamental belief in the universality of human rights for all people and champions the power of personal connections and dialogue as beneficial and a means to acquire wisdom. As always, the festival promises fantastic artistic experiences daily, and this year is no exception. Its new stage in Mickiewicz Park, placed near the park fountain with its back towards the Wielki Theatre, is sure to be a sensation.

From Congo via Kurdistan to Hungary

Day One promises a major treat: a performance by the Congolese pygmy band Ndima. Its artists offer a glimpse into the ancient culture of African rainforest people in whose language ndima means forest. Their unique instruments include the mbel bow, played with the mouth (the musician strikes its chord with a stick while using the mouth as a sound box), and the long resonant mondoumein harp-zither. The primary use of these instruments is as hunting weapons. The accompanying primitive drums are made of hollowed tree trunks and branches. Particularly soul-stirring is the polyphonic singing tradition of the Aka pygmy people, inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2003.

A whole different way of delighting audiences is expected of the Kurdish Rusan Filiztek Trio. Led by an exceptional musician based in south-eastern Turkey, who plays saz and oud lutes, the ensemble revives ancient Anatolian and Mesopotamian songs and melodies in collaboration with artists from Turkish, Armenian, and Greek backgrounds. Rusan Flitzek has also shared the stage with the renowned early music interpreter Jordi Savall and received the prestigious Musiques d'Ici Award in 2019, a French national honour celebrating outstanding achievements in world music.

Hungarian artists have always been well received in Poznań. This year, the band Bohemian Betyars will treat the audience to lively and dynamic music that fuses local traditions with the language of rock and even pop. While Bohemian Betyars promise to be great fun, the biggest surprise of the first day may well be the Skovoroda Choir, marking its stage debut. This Polish-Ukrainian teenage band will be joined on stage by such esteemed professionals as Volodymyr Andrushchak, Vsevolod Sadovyj and Maciej Rychły, the leader of Jorgi Quartet and Released Sounds, and the irreplaceable announcer of the Poznań festival.

From Crete via Korea to Venezuela

Personally, one of the highly anticipated highlights of this year's Ethno Port for me is the performance by the distinguished Greek musician Stelios Petrakis and his quartet on the festival's second day. This Cretan lyre and lute virtuoso is not only a phenomenal musician but also a leader on a number of projects. He first appeared in the Poznań festival six years ago as part of a brilliant trio alongside Efren Lopez and Bijan Chemirani. This time, Petrakis takes the helm of his quartet, which released the remarkable album "Spondi" last year, earning it place among the finest musical works on the global stage in the past twelve months.

Saturday will showcase two remarkable Korean ensembles. One of them, the Sinnoi quartet, blends traditional Korean performance styles with elements of electronic and jazz music, resulting in an entirely new quality. Led by the versatile vocalist Bora Kim, who has mastered both Korean folk music and classical vocal forms, the band features the esteemed double bassist Lee Won-Sool. The name "Sinnoi" is a variation on the word "sinawi", referring to the oldest traditional shamanic music. The other Korean band, CelloGayageum, is a duo established seven years ago, which, as its name suggests, features a cellist (Sol Daniel Kim), joined by Dayoung Yoon on Korean gayageum, a type of zither. Together, they ingeniously merge tradition and modernity.

Zene't Panon, hailing from the distant island of Reunion, presents captivating and unique music. Ethno Port has previously featured other Reunion artists, such as Christina Salem, and Danyel Waro, whose every performance leaves a lasting impact. The ensemble's latest album, released last autumn, is hailed by its publishers as "unlike anything else in the musical microcosm of Reunion Island". Based on the lush and humid east coast of the island, the band infuses their interpretation of maloya music with Tamil rhythms and melodies. Additionally, Conjunto Papa Upa, a band based in the Netherlands, explores Venezuelan rhythms, and skillfully blends them with contemporary sounds, promising a vibrant experience in Poznań.

From Puglia to (Ukrainian) Canada

I hold high expectations for Maria Mazzotta's performance on the festival's closing day. This charismatic vocalist, renowned for her work with the outstanding band Canzoniere Grecanico Salenrino (with whom she previously played at Ethno Port a decade ago) and her remarkable duo with Redi Hasa, which draws inspiration from the musical heritage of southern Italy, will present her own trio. Representing the Polish folk scene will be the all-female quartet Kosy, heralded by some to be one of the most outstanding emerging ensembles in the country and as an already accomplished band by others. The artists have earned a distinction during last year's New Tradition festival and released their debut album entitled Siew last year featuring original interpretations of Lower Silesian folk songs.

The eagerly anticipated concert premiere of Common Routes, featuring artists from Iran, France, Belarus, and Poland, promises to deliver an amazing performance. In addition to the Poland-based celebrity artists Malwina Paszek from Poznań (vocals, hurdy-gurdy) and the Belarusian-born Nastya Niakrasava (vocals, Belarusian dulcimer), the ensemble will feature Aïda Nosrat (vocals, violin), Olivier Kikteff (guitar), and Antoine Girard (accordion). Last but certainly not least, the closing day will feature a performance of Balaklava Blues, a Canadian band that explores Ukrainian traditions, made up primarily of Marek and Marichka Marczyk.

Tomasz Janas

translation: Krzysztof Kotkowski

  • Ethno Port Festival
  • Zamek (Castle) Cultural Centre
  • 23-25 June
  • For more, see:

© Wydawnictwo Miejskie Posnania 2023