Norway: Festival celebrates musicians who refuse to be silenced




Festival celebrates musicians
who refuse to be silenced

With the theme ‘Freedom and oppression’, the 21st edition of the Førde Folk Music Festival in Norway focuses on musicians’ struggle for human rights, and cultures that struggle for their survival. Opening on 8 July 2010, the festival features several prominent artists who have faced censorship, but continue to “make noise” – with Malouma from Mauretania and Amal Murkus from Israel topping the bill.

The Førde Festival combines concerts, conferences, lectures, film screenings and workshops, and this year’s theme is inspired by the work of Freemuse.

“To be able to freely perform and disseminate one’s music and music tradition is a fundamental element of the principle of freedom of expression; therefore it is also important to focus on this theme,” says Festival Director Hilde Bjørkum.

“However, this is no sombre and dead serious festival, if anyone should fear it! We will celebrate musicians, who refuse to be silenced, celebrate music’s immense power and survival capability and present unique music traditions that are alive today in spite of attempts to suppress and eradicate them.”

Freemuse lecture
Even in 2010, it is an undeniable fact that many musicians face obstacles when they seek to perform or distribute their music. The Førde Folk Music Festival offers a unique opportunity to meet a selection of these censored artists and according to Freemuse Programme Manager, Ole Reitov, the Førde Folk Music Festival shows a direction, that could inspire other major festivals.

Reitov is featured as one of the lecturers at this year’s Førde Conference which is held in conjunction with the festival. The Freemuse Programme Manager will also run a “free for all” session on music censorship

Music’s explosive power
“Arts and culture is the basis and hallmark for all of the world’s civilizations,” says the director of the Førde Folk Music Festival. “Therefore art, not least music, can also be provocative and pose a potential threat. Through history, musicians and several musical traditions have experienced censorship, prosecution and suppression of political, religious or other rights. Minority cultures, indigenous people, musicians who oppose society’s powerful elite; many have felt firsthand the crush of oppression – a crush that is still exercises its force today.”

Adds Bjørkum:
“Freemuse plays an important role in this field of work, focusing on documentation and information – we are very pleased to collaborate with them.”

250 artists on stage
Each year, the festival puts on display artists from the entire world at more than 80 concerts and other events during the festival’s four days – reaching an audience in excess of 25,000. Her Royal Highness Queen Sonja is the festival’s patron. The festival is subject to considerable domestic and international media coverage. A total of 250 artists from 25 countries perform at the four day festival

The audience will be able to meet some of the artists. Freemuse vice-chair, Daniel Brown, journalist at Radio France International will interview Malouma in front of an audience on Saturday 9 July.


Hilde Bjørkum

Ole Reitov

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