Let’s continue to be curious: The 10th Todo Mundo is over
The tenth “Todo Mundo” world music festival was held in Belgrade, from September 21 to 24, 2022, at different locations. The program included eight concerts, an international conference, a street parade and a public talk with the artist Džambo Agušev.
World music in Serbia is a rare species. Easy to receive, difficult to maintain. Musically speaking, it is the most exportable local musical product, at least as it has been shown in the last 25 years. The number of festivals (in Serbia) that have this polygenre as dominant in their program is growing year by year. On the other hand, the number of local audio releases per year rarely reaches the number 10, the support of the Ministry of Culture and Information is reserved for some other genres, and local musicians struggle to decide between surviving and the long-term fight for a place on the European market.
And how to set up and maintain a world music festival then? A festival that should be both a show-window of local culture and a window into (another, better) world.
With such thoughts, we started preparations for the jubilee, tenth edition of the festival, at the already (finally) fixed date – at the end of September. The questions we asked ourselves were: how to make a rich program, with support received through international projects and foreign cultural centers, and be fresh, somewhat different from the others; how to present local groups; how to attract a younger audience…
How well we succeeded will be judged by the musicians, the audience, and colleagues from Europe. But also by our inner one, which has been driving us for years to make a festival regardless of all the problems and to enjoy the concerts at the same time. Here I don’t mean only on our team, but on all dear people who organize similar festivals in Serbia. Enthusiasm as fuel.
We welcomed the first guests fully prepared, although already sleep-deprived. Several novelties were already introduced before the beginning of the festival – a long-term campaign on social networks, preparation of volunteers from the Faculty of Music in Belgrade, billboards in several places in the city… We also started cooperation with the visual artist Vuk Maksimović (aka unk_anth), whose three totems and two masks formed the scenography of the concert evenings at JCC.
The beginning itself was a novelty – a street music parade (September 21). For that, there is no better band than the Dzambo Aguševi Orchestra from North Macedonia. Because they do it at numerous festivals around the world, so why not in Belgrade as well. This time they were joined by members of Fanfara Station, an international trio based in Italy.
The weather served us well, people passing by received flyers and their own piece of excellent music. There were also those who walked the entire path with us… Džambo led his orchestra as if at a specific concert, everything flowed spontaneously, without intermission between songs.
Having this orchestra at a festival is a serious matter, not only because they are great, but also because they are very, very busy. Džambo also made several interviews, and he also had a talk with students and professors of the Department of Ethnomusicology of the Faculty of Music. And what a talk… Maestro was inspired, talkative, cordial and open. And then, that same day, later, after terrible downpours and the delay of the entire festival evening due to technical problems with the amplifier, he nailed in the Garden of the Drugstore Club. But, exactly!
They have made great progress in the last three years, so they are never monotonous, not for a second. After such a groove, it would be difficult for anyone else to perform. But not Fanfara Station, who didn’t mind either the coldness (band leader Marzouk Mejri is Tunisian), or the fact that their concert started at 11 p.m., when many are already looking to catch the last night ride towards home.
A powerful performance, and it’s a shame that more people didn’t see them until the end. However, that evening (September 22) also showed what we felt during other evenings – a new and younger audience is coming to world music concerts. This was especially evident on the last evening (September 24).
But let’s go back to the concert beginning of the festival – for the first time, concerts at the Todo Mundo festival were held in the Jewish Cultural Center. This was a test for the audience and for us. The former Cultural Centre Rex has been home to the Ring Ring festival for decades, whose audience trusts the organizer and comes regardless of whether they’ve heard of the band performing that night.
When it comes to Todo Mundo – we moved it too often and until we settle at one venue, the audience won’t settle either. But the scene was beautiful, three hardworking volunteers, Emilia, Marta and Filip fit in easily and were very helpful. And on stage – Brdarići, sister and brother, Bojana and Nebojša, with the band. It’s a nice feeling to stick to the custom of local artists opening the festival with their performance. It is clear that Brdarići, due to their preoccupation with various other jobs, will have to think carefully about where they want to go – the potential is there, the singing and playing skills are there as well.
Jako el Muzikante – a fictional character created by the Spaniard Xurxo Fernandes, sings and plays (in a trio) Sephardic music. As Acart would emphasize – in the Jewish Cultural Center, in Jevrejska Street. After the concert, Xurxo and Stefan Sablić (the leader of the local Sephardic group Shira utfila) sang together in the hall. What a picture! Music that is rarely heard here (um, maybe that could have been the theme of the festival). Because on the third night, the Austrian duo Ramsch & Rosen dug deep into Austrian traditional music, which we also rarely hear.
A special issue was Dunja Knebl, the oldest participant. She performed as the winner of the Award with the statue Vojin Mališa Draškoci, in a duo with half a century younger Roko Margeta. Warm, immediate, she wrapped us (the few of us who did not go to see Manu Chao that evening) in the atmosphere of traditional songs of several countries.
The next morning we chatted cheerfully, learning that she used to live in Belgrade, and that she visited the place where Jugotehna company used to be, where she worked. And her speech at the Music on the move conference (September 24) was cheerful and heartfelt.
After all, the whole conference had passed in a pleasant way, like a conversation and an exchange of opinions, but during which you learn a lot.
Both Dea and Lea from the Perija group were with us then, to tell another unusual story. About the travels and performances in unusual places, of the band which is growing and growing. Whose concert on the same evening filled the Jewish Cultural Center. Admittedly, they were helped wholeheartedly by Meybahar, the Hungarian-Greek band, who opened the last festival night. And they surprised us – their repertoire is made up of Greek traditionals, excellently arranged and performed. This was one more opportunity to realize that bands are the ones who can make a key contribution to promotion, if only they deliver all the necessary material on time. This kind of Meybahar will have more and more fans.
And finally the Perija Quartet. For more than a year, now 18-year-old Ognen, one of the discoveries of the festival, has been with them. They bravely performed the repertoire from their upcoming album, which will be released not before next year. It is obvious that they have young fans who follow their work. From the first song, a few got up and danced until the end of the concert.
Is Perija the next big thing? We cannot guarantee it, but that they are on a serious upward trajectory, that is clear. That they will come to Serbia often is already clear from the invitations of several festivals for 2023!
That last evening brings us back to the aforementioned fuel, which sometimes needs to be topped up. Evenings like this – with two great concerts, with a full hall, a new, young audience, promising volunteers, smiles and praise from the musicians – fatigue fades under a new burst of positive energy.
Those vibes lead us first to the Pocket Globe festival in Novi Sad, which is also organized by us from the Ring Ring Association, and will carry us to the next, eleventh edition of the Todo Mundo festival.
. . .