The Head of Viljandi Folk Music: Program is Very Good Again


The Head of Viljandi Folk Music Festival, Ando Kiviberg has double load organizing the Festival this year: after a long time he has again put together the list of artists coming to the Festival. That is why it is quite clear that he is much more busy than before. His head is barely visible behind the piles of albums on his desk and his phone is giving a demanding ring every once in a while.

Ando Kiviberg, at the Festival this year you have two roles; you are the Head and also the Program Manager, which means that the selection of performers depends on you.
Indeed, the last time I put the program together completely on my own was probably four years ago. It's quite a good feeling to take on the old role again - inspiring.

Apparently, it is not as easy to put the program together as it may seem.
No, it's not at all. First you have to pick the candidates and then you discover that there are many more of them than the program could accommodate. That creates dilemmas, who to choose and who not. The program can't be added to endlessly and we don't want to exhaust people with too much variety. Despite all that the program has turned out to be very good again.

The copyright law will probably have its own viewpoint in those issues, however, why couldn't there be a DVD to remind us of the best moments of each Festival?
That would be cool, indeed. Traditional Music Center has not released any albums so far, yet we would gladly cooperate with someone who would be interested in doing it.

Who in the program brings the broadest smile on your face?
Let's start with Estonians. Both Vägilased and Ro:Toro offer fresh dance-focused programs that relate perfectly to our theme "Dance Flows from the Inside!".
The fact that Estonian TV is recording concerts at the Ait on two days, to be shown as part of their coming New Year program, is especially exciting and special. In addition to Vägilased and Ro:Toro, they also record Paabel, Oort, Svjata Vatra and the performance of Maarja Nuut, Karoliina Kreintaal and Tõnu Tubli.
As for visitors from abroad, we expect very colorful groups of extremely good quality. Ale Möller Band joins musicians from Canada, Greece, West-Africa, India and naturally from Sweden. Ale Möller is the absolute guru in the Nordic countries. At our Festival they play dance music from different peoples. I have been to his concerts in three countries - a very charismatic man who can create atmosphere.
Tsuumi Sound System from Finland is a group of top level artists who combine extremely skillfully traditional music and contemporary, sometimes quite complicated, sound combinations. It's all very rhythmic and danceable.

Naturally, we cannot get over the theme of dance.
Our greatest possibility to enjoy the magic of dance art is definitely Frikar from Norway. It's a great dance company who creates new compositions that are based on their very good knowledge of dance tradition. Frikar is known as the dancers for Aleksey Rybak.
The dance of Norwegian men is extremely acrobatic, occasionally they leave break-dance far behind. You can definitely see this firework at their performance. Unfortunately, they only give one performance.
Puerto Flamenco from Spain is an authentic Andalusian flamenco troupe, however, not in its classical sense. They, too, experiment, and are, without doubt, great dancers who combine ancient dance tradition with contemporary urban conditions and phenomena. That makes it very exciting to follow their performances, even for those who are not that familiar with flamenco culture.

Actually we will never know which was first, music or dance. They simply have this organic connection.
Exactly. Often you don't need any instrument at all to dance, human body is quite enough.

Well, bees have everything much better developed, yet, dance is definitely a way of communication for people as well. Exciting to imagine, what could develop from dance!
Just as it has been in the earlier years, the Festival program also offers films. There is a nice film from Portugal where an old man reaches a conclusion, through philosophical contemplations, that dance is a vertical activity in order to reach horizontal. We cannot, of course, underestimate the role of fertility magic hidden in dance.

Kristjan Torop has once said very well and to the point, that dance is the flywheel of life cycle.
That is very well said, indeed.

There are definitely important things that the Program Manager wishes to draw our attention to.
Sure. I am convinced that the younger audience will be driven crazy by Omiri from Portugal. They very tastefully combine club music with traditional music. I had not heard such tasteful combinations in that field before!
Omiri is very spectacular, however, they definitely wish to teach dances as well. It's very captivating and fascinating.
In addition to an urban and contemporary approach to traditional music we also have some truly authentic performers in our program, for example, Janusz Prusinowski Trio from Poland. Genuine dance music skillfully played with powerful feel for the music! It has such an authentic touch of village and peasant life as you can possibly imagine. The same with the Hungarian group Csürrento Egyettes. The Irish are back again. Attractive violin virtuoso Michelle O'Brien with friends is a really great performer.
And Pantokraator from Estonia is performing. We have been asked many times why they are in the Festival program.

Indeed: why?
Pantokraator comes with the program of runo song arrangements. They have several tradition bearers in their ensemble, for example, Triinu Taul. At our Festival you won't hear their hits, they will play their runo song arrangements.

All festivals are trying to show how to apply the values accumulated over time in our life today, aren't they.
We have never tried to back up from our goals, or evade them. It is true that some things have recently made me think about it what kind of music we make in Estonia that we call Estonian traditional music. The ghost of over-arranging and -modernizing has started to haunt us. I'd prefer more of the authentic.

Precisely. I use the term "studiofolk" for that kind of music.
Yes, we can't deny that the playing skills of our musicians have improved, and we have lots of novice performers who are very talented and skillful. This has brought along lots of trying out and pushing the envelope, yet I miss it that the power and strength wouldn't come from flirting with many music styles. It is still the power inside that fascinates the audience.

A true traditional album must indeed smell of a meadow rather than studio chemicals!
I completely agree with this comparison.

This year we have very idiosyncratic Russians who use national stereotypes with great subtlety.
Otava Yo is our Russian miracle this year. That group from St. Petersburg is memorable for their especially good state of mind. They use folk songs very attractively and can take great concert halls by storm with their Slavic temperament and fire. They also perform such tricks that they play tunes known from Russian cartoons and children movies of their own arrangements.
They look gorgeous on stage. Imagine slim boys with stretched-out light blue singlets and fur caps with ear flaps keeping away from their heads like wings! (Laughs.) They make wild fiery music!

If I paraphrase one of their tunes, then Otava Yo is an authentic example of what will happen if a classical Russian Ivan gets into groove.
Something like that! But, for heaven's sake, they do groove to the fullest. Those who wish to dance till they drop, then Otava Yo masters that task with ease.
Those, however, who are somewhat reluctant towards Russian music, can enjoy another authentic group from Cuba: Habana Son Club. The offer salsa, rumba and samba.
Latvian Ilgi is also quite remarkable - tasteful and quite groovy, too.
Thus, you can dance to anything at the Festival.

When we measure the life of the Festival by human years, then it is now officially an adult already. Time flies.
(Reflecting) Very fast. Sometimes I really get scared. I can say that we don't have an idea for the next year's festival yet. But it will surely come.

By the way - when is it that the musicians themselves get to dance?
They just put their instruments aside and go and dance. As strange as it may seem, musicians often do not want to dance. It is enough for them if they can play for dance for others.

About the Festival

Viljandi Folk Music Festival is held every year on the last weekend of July in Viljandi and it is one of the largest of its kind in the Baltic and Northern countries. The festival is a place where all the best musicians meet and present their contemporary renditions of traditional music.

4 days of traditional music performances on 5 outdoor and 3 indoor stages200 performers, 100 concertsmore than 20 000 visitorsfree green stage performancesworkshopsfilm programmenight universityregi song nestfairytale roomshandicraft courtyardexhibitioncounty concert

The visitors of Viljandi Folk Music Festival are cheerful and happy people who are considerate towards themselves and their surroundings and are able to fall in love and to concentrate. This is what the spirit of the festival is all about!

Interviews and information generated about the festival can be found at the Viljandi Folk Music Festival.