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The festival “Musica dei Popoli”, born in Florence in 1979, was the first international gathering of ethnic and folk music in Italy, and one of the first festivals of ethno-music in the world. The festival’s goal is to share the knowledge of world’s musical cultures. For this reason, it has been promoting and “giving a voice” to the most distant populations, geographically and culturally speaking, inviting hundreds of artists from all over the world. In its 30 editions, Musica dei Popoli has been presenting more than 300 artists, coming from 80 nations and five continents, among which soloists, and ensembles of vocal and instrumental music, as well as evening of music and dance, or music and theatre.

The festival was the first of its kind to promote the musical heritage of populations that were scarcely known to the Italian public, such as the Uzbeks, the Tagiki, the Kazaks from central Asia (1985), or the Yacuts, the Buriats and the Tungusi from Siberia (1987); moreover, it staged traditional festivals and rituals by African ethnic groups which, thanks to their geographical and cultural isolation, have been preserving traditional styles and ways of life such as the Bafut from Cameroon, the Senufo-Fodonon from the Ivory Coast or the Dogon from Mali.

The artistic program of the “Musica dei Popoli” features folk and ethnic music, both from Italy and beyond. Throughout the years the festival proved that “music” is not only classical music, Anglo-American pop/rock or jazz, and that folk and ethnic music offers a rich cultural and artistic patrimony which is not marginal or inferior to Western-made music.

The festival’s primary goal has always been the valorization of music in its many forms of expression considered as an artistic and cultural treasure, by promoting performances that are diverse and that support cultural and musical relativism. The goal was (and still is) to promote traditional world music (the title of the festival comes from here) performed by its best and most appreciated interpreters: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Alim Qasimov, Zakir Hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Dulce Pontes, Shajarian, Charam Nazeri, Mory Kante, Caetano Veloso, Sainko, Dou Dou N’Diaye Rose, Luzmila Carpio, Peppe Barra, Lokua Kanza, Mosalini, Oumou Sangaré, Angelique Kidjo, Urna, Lura, Petrona Martinez, Lotfi Bouchnak, Anouar Brahem, Naseer Shamma, Toumani Diabaté, Lucilla Galeazzi, Elena Ledda, Luigi Lai, I Made Djimat, only to quote a few.

The festival has been presenting traditional music from all over the world but to limit the festival’s activities as related only to ethnic or oral extra-European traditions would not be appropriate. In its long history, many artists coming from their own classical traditions have performed at the F.L.O.G. Center. They came from India, Iran, Japan, and the Arabic world: Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan for Pakistani qawwali, Alim Qasimov for Azerbaijan mugam, Munir Bashir for Iraki maqam, Monajat Yultchieva maqam from Uzbek, Mahwash for Afghani ghazal, Shajarian for Persian radif, Ernesto Cavour for Andinian music, Luzmila Carpio for quechua, Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain for classical Hindu music, Cinuçen Tanrikorur for Ottoman classical music, Shivkumar Sharma for the sufiana kalam from Kashmir, Lotfi Bouchnak for Tunisian maluf, Cheika Remitti for Algerian rai, Consiglia Licciardi for the Neapolitan song, and so on.

The festival has been representing various styles, genres and repertories that can hardly fit one category and that are hard to label merely as “ethnic,” and even less so as “world music.” Let’s think for a moment about the Pakistani devotional music qawwali, the sama of Turkish Dervish, the lila by the Moroccan gnawa or the songs of the Holy week of the Sardinian or Sicilian lay brotherhoods. Many of the evenings have not been concerts – in the sense of a solely musical soirée – but performing arts events, weaving dance, theatre and music and where sound and movement were one whole. Eastern theatrical forms – like Kathakali from Kerala or the Beijing Opera – are true forms of “total art”, including music, dance, acting and movement.

The music of the people have been the true goal of the festival, classical and folk, European and extra-European, sacred and profane, and the choice of this name for a festival that focuses on music from the world seems appropriate.

“Musica dei Popoli” is strictly tied to the F.L.O.G. (Fondazione Lavoratori Officine Galileo), the promoting and organizing sponsor of the festival, financially sustained by public institutions such as the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Regione Toscana, Provincia e Comune di Firenze. The festival, moreover, benefits from sponsorship by the Ministero degli Affari Esteri.

Initially the organization of the festival was “anthological” with the participation of musical ensembles of different typologies and origins. Later it became “monographic” with a theme connecting all the participants: each edition is centered around a specific subject, represented by a geographical and cultural area – AfricaMusica, AmericaMusica, Suoni d’Oriente, Arabeschi Mediterranei, etc. – or by a thematic area – gipsy traditions (Mosaico Zigano), dance (Suoni in Movimento), singing (Le Vie dei Canti), etc. – which weaves a thread through the various artistic presentations, giving the festival, year after year, a coherent and homogeneous touch and a distinctive character.

In its 30 years history, the festival has respected its original goal, to represent extra-European and European folk cultures through music and dance performances presented as the cultural and artistic expression of the people they belong to. The cultural politics of the FLOG Center are expressed through intercultural activities of festivals and events of ethno-music and cinema, and are aimed at the promoting of the knowledge and value of cultural differences expressed through the language of sounds. It is in this direction that the FLOG Center intends to continue its path.

 
2013 Edition
Previous Editions

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Via M. Mercati, 24/b  Firenze
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