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ARTISTS

Fanfare Ciocărlia (21.04 | 00am)

Romania Henry Ernst founded Fanfare Ciocărlia (literally: the song of the lark) in 1996, after discovering the brass band in Zece Prajini, a small, secluded Romanian village. Having selected a dozen of its musicians, the German world music fan organised the band’s first tour in his home country. It was a major success and since then the brass band has doubled in size and now consists of 24 musicians who perform around the world, maintaining traditions inherited from their forefathers and keeping the authentic spirit of gypsy music alive. The incredible speed of its interpretations, rhythm changes and tones of its brass set this band apart. They have been blasting out Balkan grooves for more than 20 years but are equally at home playing gypsy music, popular Romanian songs, jazz standards, rock or funk. In order to celebrate their 20th anniversary, which marks their first major milestone, they have released a new CD entitled “Onwards to Mars” which was named “best European album released in 2017” at the Songlines Music Awards. In it, Fanfare Ciocărlia explore both Romanian folklore and contemporary Balkan music. The album includes exceptional collaborations, with the likes of Puerto Candelaria, one of the best Colombian cumbia groups.

URBAN CHAPTER (20.04 | 8pm & 10:30pm)

The new urban generation of the Balkans is an intellectual, social, cultural and aesthetic melting pot, giving birth to myriad identities and collective representations. The ‘colourful revolution’ in Skopje, Serbian students taking to the street for democracy, the reaction to the Greek crisis or the affirmation of a modern identity in Priština are all striking examples. The Urban Chapter brings together some twenty urban artists from the Balkans and Belgium, with varied styles and experiences, for a unique creation that is the culmination of an artistic residency. This great concert, mixing rhythms, lyrics, slam, beatbox and rap, will unveil the boundless talents of these representatives of a generation in flux.

go to URBAN CHAPTER

Amsterdam Klezmer Band & Söndörgő (21.04 | 10:30pm)

Netherlands/Hungary SZIKRA is an amazing collaboration between the Amsterdam Klezmer Band from the Netherlands and the Söndörgö group from Hungary. They form an ensemble whose scale, sound quality and stage presence are truly exceptional. The Dutch group has built up a strong international reputation for its performances combining klezmer or gypsy traditions with modern music and dance. Collaborating with the Söndörgö group was an obvious choice. The group has revitalised traditional Balkan music and works wonders with its acoustic string instruments. The sensational result has been immortalised on CD, and you can now hear them live thanks to Balkan Trafik! This will be a performance you won’t forget.

Candan Erçetin (19.04 | 8pm)

Turkey To open this year’s Balkan Trafik Festival, the Turkish singer of Albanian origin Candan Erçetin is proposing a concert of music from Turkey and the Balkans. This now legendary Francophile figure on the Turkish scene debuted with the group Klips ve Onlar when she represented her country in the 1986 Eurovision Song Contest. After studying classical opera at the Istanbul Conservatory she quickly became a household name in Turkey as a host of television and radio programmes. Her first album Hazırım (I am ready), on which she sings songs from Thrace and Macedonia, shot to the top of the charts on its release in 1995. Over the years, success and prizes have followed, including two MCM awards for her video clips. While continuing her television work, in 2009 she was appointed lecturer at Galatasaray University and began to work more closely with international film production. After a career spanning more than 20 years she is now firmly established worldwide as one of the best interpreters of Balkan songs, whether accompanied by historical arrangements or contemporary sounds.

Savína Yannátou & Primavera en Salonico (21.04 | 7:30pm)

Greece Studying in her home country and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, the Greek singer Savina Yannatou fell in love with traditional song and founded the group Primavera en Salonico with musicians from Thessaloniki. Together they have recorded eight CDs for the ECM label and have performed all over the world. Savina Yannatou has also composed her own songs and has recorded 21 albums in total. She has collaborated with the likes of bass player Barry Guy, percussionist Baby Sommer and the Canadian ensemble Constantinople, and works with renowned orchestras and Greek composers. Accompanied by an exceptional group of musicians, she performs traditional songs from Thessaloniki, nicknamed the Jerusalem of the Balkans and home to numerous Greek, Jewish, Turkish, Bulgarian, Serbian, Armenian and Pontic communities. Taking old songs as a starting point, they go on a musical journey to recreate the spirit of each community, thanks to the exceptional arrangements of Kostas Vomvolos.

Džambo Aguševi Orchestra (20.04 | 11pm)

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia The Džambo Aguševi Orchestra is no doubt the best orchestra in Macedonia. Džambo’s fame and talent owes nothing to chance. Born into a family of musicians, he was a child prodigy on the trumpet. Having joined his uncle’s orchestra at the age of 11, that same year he recorded his first CD! Winning all the major music competitions – including Serbia’s prestigious Guča Festival that brings together the best musicians in the Balkans – Džambo was soon lending his name to his own brass band. After going on to win every prize imaginable with this band, he was even asked to give other musicians a chance by no longer competing in international competitions! Today he has a large following in the Balkans and other countries where his popularity continues to grow. He is frequently invited to perform in Turkey where he can already boast a brilliant career stretching back a number of years and has played in countries including Australia, the United States, Mexico and throughout Europe.

Eda Zari & Byzantine Project (20.04 | 8pm)

Albania Born in Albania, Eda Zari grew up in a family of musicians, living and breathing the music of one of the most famous traditional Albanian music groups in the world – Famille Lela dè Përmet. From a young age, she was familiar with the famous ‘iso’ drone (singing in unison) and the ‘kaba’ (powerful) polyphonic and modal instrumental improvisations that are characteristic of ancestral Albanian music. Her training as an opera singer allows her to express the full emotional range through contemporary interpretations. In her latest album, she harnesses her impressive technique to interpret deeply spiritual Byzantine musical harmonies. Eda Zari and her extraordinary musicians take you on an odyssey through cultures and history, from the splendour of Byzantium to the vast open spaces of the Balkans – a project that she recorded with the legendary trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.

From East to East (21.04 | 10.15pm & 01.30am)

Poland From East to East was founded by Polish author-composer and pianist Yaroslav Gawryluk. They perform music from Eastern Europe that combines gypsy, klezmer and even Turkish traditions to create a truly unique sound. The audience is transported to the heart of the Balkans through vocal and instrumental pieces or dances, with accordion, violin, clarinet, classical guitar, double bass and percussion. With a reputation for attention to detail, the members of the group will take you on an exciting musical journey full of diversity. From songs driven by infectious rhythm to works of great emotion, you will find yourself fully immersed in From East to East’s unique atmosphere.

KUKERI GROUP (20.04 | 8:45pm, 00am & 21.04 | 6pm, 10pm, 11:35pm & 01:30am)

  Bulgaria The Kukeri gather between 30 and 50 artists between the ages of 8 and 60, originally from the village of Rakovsky in Bulgaria. They perform the ceremony of forgiveness, a Bulgarian spring tradition that is part of UNESCO’s list of the intangible heritage of humanity. The young seek forgiveness from their elders, who grant it to them by saying: “You are forgiven by me and by God.” The tradition also includes food rituals, with the participants expected to eat 12 times, as the ceremony takes place on the eve of the Lent fast leading up to Easter. This folk tradition is represented in the form of a play featuring several characters and many magical dances. The Kukeri wear more than 20 impressive masks, up to 2.5 metres high, with extraordinary costumes, some up to 4 metres high. According to tradition, the Kukeri go from village to village to chase away the evil spirits and ensure health, wealth, and abundant harvests. The Kukeri have won several awards, including from the Surva International Festival of Kukeri at Pernik in Bulgaria. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to witness this bright and colourful show that brings a beautiful tradition to life.

Salonika trio (21.04 | 9:15pm)

Greece Rebetiko at its best! Three musicians carry you away with their ‘Balkan blues’, urban music for migrants which originated in Thessalonica. The musicians are here with primavera en Salonico, the group which accompanies Savina Yannatou Yannis Alexandris – voice, guitar, Kyriakos Gouventas – violin and Kostas Vomvolos – accordion

Mitsoura (20.04 | 10pm)

Hungary Mitsoura was the most characteristic Hungarian world-music/etno electronic band of the 2000s, famous for its unique approach to seeking a special sounding experience that is embedded in limitless artistic complexity. After 7 years of break, we can first hear them again at the BalkanTrafik Festival. The singer, Monika -Mitsou- Miczura claims one of the most prestigious places amongst Roma performers in the world, with her unmistakable voice and distinctive talent. She has worked for example, with film director Tony Gatlif (Gadjo Dilo), was a lead singer in AndoDrom and went on tour with Fanfare Ciocărlia. We could last see her perform as a guest for YallahBye here, in Brussels. From the original band, Mark Moldvai (music director, live electronics, keyboards, percussion) remained part of the performance next to Mitsou. They are complemented by Andras Jeli (electric and bass guitar, visual director), Barna Gabos (kaval, ney, bamboo flutes) és Sandor Fodo (drums, percussion). Imagine ancient traditions, contemporary sounds, authentic folk elements mixed with 21st century cinematic-electro-ambient sound collages, supported with a strong visual background. With all certainty, MITSOURA’s multimedia concert promises to be a special event.

Wata Wata (20.04 | 7pm)

Belgium Wata Wata is made up of seven musicians from Brussels who have come together to produce joyful exhilarating music. Singing in Greek, Romany, Yiddish and Arab, they express a universal humanity. The group began with the meeting of a singer and a clarinet player in the small village of Agios Lavrentios in eastern Greece. Together, they mastered the tone and colours of traditional local music. Back in Brussels, they joined up with five other passionate musicians, sharing their little secrets and their great treasures. They were guided by Tcha Limberger, Dimos Vougioukas, Pantelis Stoikos, Stavros Kouskouridas, Aurel Budisteanu, Marcel Ramba and Nicolas Hauzeur. You are invited to join them on an emotional rollercoaster of a journey through a range of musical traditions. 

Plovdiv Academy (20.04 | 11:35pm & 21.04 | 2pm, 6:15pm & 11:45pm)

Bulgary/Romania Created in the 1960s, the Academy is one of the most prestigious Bulgarian folk music and dance institutions, in the Balkans and beyond. Hundreds of soloists rising through its ranks now have careers across the world or are part of international ensembles, like some musicians now working with Jordi Savall. Their programme includes modern works as well as folk pieces and songs from different regions of Bulgaria. The Academy’s orchestra is made up of 16 musicians playing traditional instruments (including the kaval, tamboura, gadoulka and gaida) and a choir of 16 young singers.

Bubliczki (20.04 | 9pm)

Poland Founded in 2007, Bubliczki are seven of the most exciting musicians to emerge from the new Polish folk scene. Combining Kashubian culture with klezmer harmonies and Balkan grooves, they have performed hundreds of concerts. Overflowing with energy, Bubliczki are an incarnation of turbofolk, their explosive stage presence combining with the virtuosity of a Rom band!

Brussels Balkan Orchestra (20.04 | 9:15pm & 01:30am)

Belgium The Brussels Balkan Orchestra is a collective of professional and amateur musicians that emerged from Balkan music workshops led by Nicolas Hauzer in Brussels. The group mostly plays hits from the popular repertoire discovered during various musical trips through Romania, Bulgaria and Greece, reinterpreted as delicate sensual orchestral versions. Faithful to its spirit of cultural openness, the Brussels Balkan Orchestra will take part in the Vino Zirkus, welcoming soloists to share a special moment of musical celebration and joy that is typical of the festival’s warm and friendly atmosphere.

Orhan Osman (21.04 | 8.30pm)

Turkey Orhan Osman was born in Germany in 1976 to a Greek family with Turkish roots. His own cultural diversity drew him to the bouzouki, of which he has become one of the great international masters. He uses his instrument to explore the musical traditions of the world, in particular the melodies of the Balkans and beyond (Bulgarian, Romanian, Greek, Indian and Turkish). He has collaborated with many musicians including the German Shall Sick Brass Band, the Macedonian Koçani Orchestra, and jazz musicians Horacio Hernandez from Cuba and Dave Wecki from the United States. For Balkan Trafik! he will perform with Bulgarian beatboxer SkilleR, whose international reputation is well established. SkilleR was crowned Bulgarian beatbox champion in 2007 and world champion in 2012, and has some 6 million views on YouTube and 150,000 followers on social media. He has performed in the United States, Europe, China and Japan. Bouzouki and beatbox, an amazing mix of tradition and modernity for a great ethno-jazz experience in Brussels!

The Somos Ensemble (20.04 | 8:45pm, 11:40 & 21.04 | 7pm, 11:15pm & 00:30am)

Hungary The Somos Ensemble has been playing the traditional folk music of Csango-Hungarians since 2002 in its current formation. The speciality of the ethnic music of Csango-Hungarians is that this group has lived isolated from Hungarians of the Carpathian Basin, and this isolated environment has left its mark on their traditional music as well. Famous Hungarian composers Béla Bartók and Zoltán Kodály have also studied and collected both traditional instrumental music and folksongs of Csango-Hungarians. Csangos have maintained a rich folklore and folksong repertory, the performance style of their ballads and laments represent the most ancient layer of Hungarian culture. The members of the ensemble approach the music of Csango-Hungarians with a great respect. Their performances aim to reproduce the art of the traditional folk musicians, whom they regard as their masters; the sound of ancient music is played to the liking of the contemporary listener. Their instruments comprise the shepherd’s flute, the kaval flute, tilinko (holeless flute) and the violin as well as the koboz (folk lute), the drum, the gardony (hit cello), and Jew’s harp as accompanying instruments.

TOMÁŠ LIŠKA’S INVISIBLE WORLD QUARTET (21.04 | 9:30pm)

Czechia The Invisible World Quartet grew out of Tomáš Liška’s encounters with other musicians and through his search for exceptional soloists capable of captivating his audience. Trained at the J. Ježek Conservatoire of Prague and the prestigious Berlin Jazz-Institut with Greg Cohen and John Hollenbeck, he has toured the greatest stages in Europe, North and South America. He will be joined by Efe Turumtay from Istanbul, Nikola Zarić from Serbia and Kamil Slezák from Moravia, bringing their talents and sensitivities to original compositions combining elements of jazz, chamber music and traditional Mediterranean and Balkan music. Their approach is guided by a wider philosophy that sees music as a clear, crystalline medium, radiating a rich palette of emotions awakened by delicate melodies and subtle musical flourishes. The quartet has performed on the biggest international stages and the most famous jazz and world music festivals. Last year, they received the Audience Award from the Ostrava International Music Crossroads.

Albanian National Ensemble of Folks songs and dances (20.04 | 7pm, 00:10am & 21.04 | 9:15pm)

Albania The National Ensemble of Folk Songs and Dancing was established as a professional ensemble in 1957, having all the artistic and technical components of an artistic troupe. The Albanian folk is distinct from that of other countries for its originality, long existence, as well as for the variety of artistic genres. The values of the Ensemble is his hundreds artists of Albania have been part of it: dancers, musicians, choreographers, singers and costume-makers. Costumes are perhaps, the Ensemble’s greatest richness, with both their originality and the variety of their colors, designs and ornaments. They have been estimated as rare values of traditional culture of a nation.

Ceylan Taci Quartet (21.04 | 6:30pm & 11:15pm)

Albania/Belgium Ceylan Taci, auteure-compositrice-interprète, Albanaise d’origine en passant par la Macédoine et puis Istanbul, est née à Bruxelles. Baignée depuis son plus jeune âge dans la culture des Balkans, le chant, les rythmes et la fête n’ont pas de secret pour elle. Sa Mère, ses cousins, ses oncles chantent et jouent d’un instrument, ils se rassemblent pour célébrer les moments de vie en rythme et en chant. En plus de ses propres sources musicales albanaises, turques, son tambourin’térieur, Ceylan s’ouvre aux rythmes africains, au jazz, au gospel, aux chants polyphoniques bulgares, géorgiens, aux chants ethniques, aux chants Yoruba. Son amour des rythmes et du groove imprègne ses compositions. Ses textes en albanais, en anglais et en turque dévoilent un univers très personnel. Sa voix est touchante et généreuse, elle nous invite à découvrir ce qui l’anime profondément, ses émotions, ses moments de vie à elle et son retour aux sources… l’Albanie.

MARIUCA VERDES (20 & 21.04)

Romania

The north western Romanian region of Maramures is dominated by a landscape of mountains and rolling valleys and is home to many villages where century-old traditions are still part of daily life. Through her authentic interpretation of traditional ballads and songs, the young performer Mariuca Verdes brings us closer to the spirit of Maramures and its inhabitants. Mariuca is a graduate of the Conservatory of Bucharest and lives in the village of Calinesti where she runs a prominent association ‘Calinestenii Tarii Maramuresului’ whose aim is to preserve and promote the cultural heritage of her village and Maramures.

Svetlana Spajic (20.04 | 9:35pm & 21.04 | 8pm)

Serbia Svetlana Spajic Group is a powerful re-discovery of forgotten vocal idioms, Dynamic second interval strikes and unexpected harmonies. What brought the the reputation of « traditional avant-garde » is their faithfulness to the old principles of traditional singing through uncompromising risky performances of great emotional and physical impact. An ultimate control and spontaneity in one.

VATRA (20.04 | 7pm)

Albania/Belgium (Albanian diaspora of Belgium) Vatra means “at home” in Albanian. This dance troupe with infectious energy brings together members of the Albanian community in Brussels. These young artists immerse you in the exciting musical cultures of the enchanting Albanian-speaking world.

VILAFGA (21.04 | 7pm & 11:15pm)

Hungary/Belgium More info soon

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