WOMEX 19 wraps up a successful 25th Anniversary event in Tampere, Finland.
Over the course of five days, 23 - 27 October, the event hosted over 2,500 music professionals from 83 countries, more than 60 musical acts with 260 artists representing over 47 countries, 17 music-based documentaries from across the globe, 25 conference sessions with 110 speakers, mentoring opportunities with 8 experts, 20 network meetings and offWOMEX presentations. The WOMEX Academy, in its second year, welcomed the young generation of music professionals consisting of 32 candidates from 15 countries through 3 different projects in partnership with SuCarMus, the World Pitch Programme and the Sibelius Academy.
Being held in its northernmost location to date, WOMEX was well-received by the local community and saw the highest participation from the wider Nordic region and Baltic states. The Finnish debut saw first-time exhibitors in the Trade Fair from China, Taiwan and Japan and a record number of Russian and Indigenous delegates. WOMEX was once again a celebration of both diversity and inclusion.
Travelling from Southernmost to Northernmost
The success of reaching a quarter of a century was a dazzling commemoration with more than a thousand guests in attendance at the Tampere Hall along with four meritorious performances from Pauanne, Pekko Käppi, Suistamon Sähkö, and Vildá, all representing this year's host country, Finland.
The Opening: Arctic Fire – Pohjoiset tulet - was put together by Music Finland and curated by internationally-noted choreographer and dancer Kaari Martin, together with composer, musician, producer Roni Martin. Yle, the Finnish Broadcasting Company, the official media partners for 2019, broadcasted the event live on national television that is now available for streaming online via their website.
Equality, non-discrimination, multi-culturalism, cultural diversity, easy access to culture, freedom of expression, the right to - and responsibility for - cultural heritage and the right to choose one’s own culture were some of the subjects addressed in the opening speeches that resonated amongst the audience present.
Alexander Walter, WOMEX director, opened the speeches and introduced this year's local partner Tapio Korjus from Rockadillo Production Oy who thanked and acknowledged everyone who made this event happen.
On hosting WOMEX in Tampere this year, Minister of Science and Culture of Finland, Hanna Kosonen, shared: "Finland can be considered as an example of the power of music; to help to construct and articulate national identities in the language of music, but also offer the most peaceful and natural way to fuse cultures together and express multi-culturalism...World music brings audible values such as equality, multi-culturalism, cultural diversity and easy access to culture. These values go extremely well hand in hand with the main goals and values of our Ministry."
Deputy Mayor of the City of Tampere, Johanna Loukaskorpi, was greeted with regular mid-speech applause, as she communicated: "The value of music can be a personal emotion or on the other hand, its value can be the huge economic impact the music industry has. Cities and nations all over the world need you, the music professionals, to keep them going. Equality and diversity are things which have to be essential values in every decision and action we make...this is something to be celebrated."
The evening reception was hosted by Music Finland where a special toast was raised to the all WOMEX delegates who have attended every edition of WOMEX's 25 years of existence.
Finnish Showcase Acts
Suistamon Sähkö: Uncompromising folktronica act inspired by crossing points of modern day and the history of Karelian villages – combined with rap and manic dance moves.
Vildá: Sámi yoik – the ancient vocal tradition of the indigenous Northern people – encounters rhythmic accordion dexterity.
Pauanne: Spells and curses, dreams of a shepherd, 17th century witch hunts and cattle calls – modern folk sound with archive tapes and enchanting stories.
Pekko Käppi: Swamp blues grooves and hard rock riffs, archaic chants, polyrhythmic psychedelic incantations and shamanistic interventions with jouhikko (the Finnish bowed lyre).
MA Rouf: Fusion of the mystical Persia and the luring cool of the North, traveling the paths of international jazz while remaining true to Middle Eastern maqams.
Tuuletar: Influenced by hip hop and Finnish tradition, this vocal performance group builds rich harmonies with beats and fierce energy.
Wimme & Rinne: Sámi yoik tradition invokes the spirits of nature, uniting with current-day bass clarinet and electronic soundscapes.
Duo Emilia Lajunen & Suvi Oskala: Two five-string fiddle masters saving unique tunes from archives and expanding their own energy-laden chamber folk style.
The WOMEX 2019 Awards
On this remarkable 25th Anniversary edition of WOMEX, the organisers, Piranha Arts took a new direction for our Top Label Award. Instead of presenting an award to any individual record label, the Top Labels list itself (drawn from World Music Charts Europe and the Transglobal World Music Charts) was celebrated on-stage with a film commemorating the top albums of each label, and an on-stage group photograph with representatives of the music charts and record labels, acknowledging their collective efforts, dedication and commitment to recording and broadcasting music.
On receiving the WOMEX 19 Professional Excellence Award, representing Julie's Bicycle (UK), Knowledge and Sector Intelligence Lead, Chiara Badiali shared: "We are really honoured to be recognised today and to be given the Professional Excellence Award, from a community of music, which is where our roots are and also in the very best of company, our global music community. There isn't another recognition that could mean more to us.
Accepting the WOMEX 19 Artist Award, Kayhan Kalhor (Iran/USA) shared: "I am very touched and honoured and it's nice to be appreciated during your lifetime when you can see it. However, I don't see this as a personal achievement. I think a lot of wisdom, history and hard work went into this and I represent the great Iranian musician community here. I am honoured to represent them. On behalf of the Iranian music community, I dedicate this award to Mohammad Reza Shajarian, the great master of Persian music who has been fighting a nasty illness for the past few years. We need his voice and we need him to be with us, so we wish him well and I hope the musical community accepts this from me."
WOMEX 19 at a Glance
More than 2,500 professionals (including 260 performing artists) from 83 countries representing 1,250 companies. 850 event promoters. 520 labels, publishers and distributors. 410 governmental, educational and other institutions. 660 individual booking agents, 610 managers and 300 producers. 250 national and international journalists. A bustling Trade Fair with 670 exhibiting companies from 55 countries at 250 stands. More than 60 showcase acts with 260 musicians representing 47 countries on 6 stages. The eighth WOMEX Club Summit 110 speakers and mentors from 40 countries in 25 conference sessions; 20 network meetings and offWOMEX presentations and 8 expert Mentorings. 17 music-based documentaries from across the globe divided into Market and Public Screenings alongside a Film Library, with 13 attending filmmakers, producers and artists representing their films. The Opening concert 'Arctic Fire - POHJOISET TULET'.
WOMEX Announces 2020 Host City: Budapest, Hungary
After a successful WOMEX event in 2015 in Budapest, Hungary; Piranha Arts, the organisers of WOMEX, today confirmed that the Hungarian capital will once again host the World Music Expo in 2020, making this the second edition to be held in Central Eastern Europe.
Budapest has a rich musical culture, whether it is classical music, modern experimental, electronica, alternative music, or traditional Hungarian and Roma folk music. While this capital city is known for its Turkish thermal baths, Gothic and Neo-Gothic and Roman-inspired architecture, today Budapest is a vibrant musical hub with a unique blend of east meets west, old meets modern culture and lifestyle, making it a valuable city for another exciting edition of WOMEX in 2020.
With a mission to promote intercultural exchange and business among music professionals, for WOMEX 20, Piranha Arts have once again joined forces with Hangvető, WOMEX's local partner from 2015.
On partnering for the second time, András Lelkes, CEO of Hangvető, announced: "It's a great pleasure to welcome WOMEX back to Budapest, made even sweeter by receiving the role of the host from our Finnish sisters and brothers. You will find again the ingredients of the 2015 edition: good weather, great wines, a city rich with musical heritage, the blue Danube and great music. We also plan to open up new horizons, with a special focus on our neighbours; and bring closer the fascinating music of the Balkans."
Confirming WOMEX in Budapest, Hungary, in 2020, WOMEX Director Alex Walter added: "The WOMEX team is happy to go back to Central Eastern Europe after our successful edition there in 2015, and once again to team up with Hangveto, now a regular partner for other cultural projects in recent years. The city will provide the convenient setting of venues, accessibility, and plenty of accommodation and delicious food options already known to WOMEX delegates!"
The dates for the 26th WOMEX are Wednesday, 21 to Sunday, 25 October 2020. More information is available here!
Photo Credits: (1) WOMEX - The World Music Expo, (2) Mari Kalkun, (3) Duo Emilia Lajunen & Suvi Oskala, (4) Pekko Käppi, (5) Vildá, (6) Wimme, (7) Kayhan Kalhor, (8) Muzsikas, (9) The Transsilvanians (unknown/website); (10ff) Womex 2019 (by Womex (Jacob Crawfurd, Yannis Psathas, Eric van Nieuwland)).