XIV Viljandi Folk Festival
Archived Articles 28 Jul 2006 Ingrid SeppEWR
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July 20-23, 2006 Viljandi, Estonia.
Viljandi Pärimusmuusika Festival, or Viljandi Folk.

VILJANDI — Year after year, the Viljandi Folk Festival draws around 20,000 visitors to southern Estonia, transforming a quiet town into a lively cultural centre. This year full festival and family passes were sold out well in advance, with only day passes available for purchase.

Hardly surprising, as over 300 performers had made the journey to entertain an enthusiastic audience. While some strove to recreate music from the past, others experimented with almost any instrument or style. Loyal festivalgoers know that they can experience music here that is not easy to find elsewhere. Many musicians and artists are among the audiences, curious to hear the new works of fellow musicians. Yet although one can hear the more obscure, there is still music here that soothes the more cautious ear. In fact, there are so many different styles of music, that the hardest part of being at the festival is actually deciding where to go.

The Viljandi Folk Festival was created by a group of traditional and folk music enthusiasts. Their aim has always been to increase public awareness and interest in traditional Estonian music and to propagate more contemporary renditions and explorations of music with traditional influences. While the main focus is on Estonian music, international guests offer cultural variations and alternative perspectives. This year the festival highlighted the accordion and accordion-like instruments.

The Viljandi Folk Festival is a great opportunity for Estonian language immersion for many visitors. One can learn and/or practice Estonian, while listening (singing or dancing) to wonderful music. There are open-air concerts among the ruins of Viljandi Castle at Kirsimägi (Cherry Hill) and Kaevumägi (Well's Hill), the Kultrahoov (Culture House Courtyard), Aura Tent and the Green Stage at the Lauluväljak (Song Festival Grounds). Indoor concerts are held at Suur Tuba (Black Box), Ugala Teater (Theatre), Jaani kirik (Jaani Church), Püha Pauluse kirik (St. Paul’s Church) and at Viljandi Nukuteater (Puppet Theatre). There are workshops, the Muinasjututuba (Fairy-tale Chamber), Käsitööhoov (Handicraft Courtyard) and exhibits at the festival. Free concerts are held at the Green Stage and in other locations in Viljandi County. In Viljandi, everything is within walking distance.

Seldom does one see as many children as at this Estonian festival. This is a family-friendly Estonian event where one sees children of all ages. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free, and organizers include activities to interest children of all ages. Several years ago my young daughter attended workshops where she felted her own hat, spent hours braiding and learned how to play the parmupill, or Jew’s harp.

The festival website is writen mostly for Estonians, but with some patience you can access the festival over the internet. For more information, visit their website at www.folk.ee , click on the accordion player on the top right corner for information on this year’s festival and on the next page, select the small UK flag below the accordion player. Click on Technical details about Realvideo Transmissions on the yellow box to the right for more information on how to view concerts over the internet.

If you have the required Realplayer, go to http://www.folk.ee/pildid_ja_v... which is in Estonian. Under Realvideo ülekanded aastal 2006 (Real Video transmissions 2006) and Videolingid (Video links) you will be able to see the concerts transmitted at Kirsimägi (Cherry Hill) and Kaevumägi (Well's Hill), at Kultrahoov (Cultural Courtyard) and Suure Toa (Black Box). The third selection offers the opportunity to see concerts in other locations. Refer to the festival program for information on performers and show times. Realvideo arhiiv refers to past concerts and performances. Here you can watch last year’s Canadian performers, Fiddlesong, with fiddle player Anne Lederman and Ian Bell. You can also view pictures from previous festivals here under the heading Pildialbumid (Photo Albums).

Enjoy the atmosphere of Viljandi Folk Festival over the Internet and make plans early to be there next summer!

For recent articles in Estonian about Viljandi Folk visit:
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