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‘Cultural Rhythms’ festival celebrates World Refugee Day with up to 8 international performers

‘Cultural Rhythms’ festival celebrates World Refugee Day with up to 8 international performers

The “Cultural Rhythms” festival celebrates World Refugee Day with the idea that different cultures have their unique rhythms reflecting their traditions, experiences, and expressions. Under this theme, for the second consecutive year, people are invited to celebrate World Refugee Day on June 20 at a free music festival in Bernardine Courtyard, Vilnius.

Organized by the Ministry of Social Security and Labor of the Republic of Lithuania and the arts agency Artscape, the festival aims to celebrate the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers, while promoting public awareness.

On Thursday at 18:00, organizers invite everyone to join the Cultural Rhythms: World Refugee Day” festival, featuring musicians from up to 8 countries.

Programme here.

World Refugee Day is a special day dedicated to raising awareness about the refugee situation worldwide and celebrating their strength and courage. The journeys of these individuals are often long and perilous, yet their pursuit of safety and a better life exemplifies extraordinary resilience. Let us allow this day to become a celebration where we honor our ability to be hospitable, empathetic, and open towards each other. World Refugee Day serves as a reminder that despite our different origins and cultures, we are all bound by common values and humanity,” says Justina Jakštienė, Vice Minister of Social Security and Labour.

The festival’s music stage will feature exceptional and inspiring performances. According to Aistė Ulubey, founder and director of Artscape, it is particularly impactful that the stage will showcase diverse music, different stories, and introduce various cultures.

“We can each contribute to creating and celebrating an inclusive society, and Refugee Day has already become significant not only for those who have newly arrived in Lithuania – refugees and asylum seekers – but also for our society. Around us are individuals with unique cultures and traditions that enrich us. Residents of Vilnius and city guests discover our festival, which carries a unique message,” shares A. Ulubey, noting that the festival will feature 7 performances by 17 musicians.

From Zimbabwe to Uighur Culture

This year’s stage will resonate with a diverse array of sounds. Musician and singer Yusuf Suleiman presents himself as a representative of Uighur culture. As a musician, he experiments with both traditional and modern musical instruments, while as a singer, he is well-versed in Uighur folk and pop music. At the beginning of his career, Suleiman performed in China, where he lived, and in 2016, he moved to Turkey, where he founded the group “Dolan” with the aim of preserving and developing ethnic Uighur music. As a Uighur and a well-known musician, Yusuf faced threats, harassment, and the possibility of illegal deportation back to China while in Turkey. Therefore, in June 2023, he arrived in the Swedish city of Piteå under the ICORN residency program to continue his musical journey, promoting Uighur culture and music.

Cris Gera, born in Zimbabwe and currently residing in Sweden, has been involved in the music world since childhood. His music primarily reflects afropop, jazz, and soul rhythms, though some of his songs also incorporate elements of traditional Zimbabwean sounds and gospel. The musician is also an active advocate for human rights and social justice through his music and art, with parts of his work telling the story of Africa and Zimbabwe’s struggle for emancipation.”

Ukrainian Voices Ensemble

Maryna Pylypenko Quartet (Ukraine, Lithuania) will present an ethno-jazz program where Ukrainian songs are performed with jazz arrangements. This genre synthesis represents a completely new and uncommon musical phenomenon in Lithuania. Maryna Pylypenko is not only a vocalist but also a promoter of Ukrainian cultural traditions in Lithuania. Born in Dnieper, Maryna actively participated in the musical life of her homeland, worked as a vocal teacher in Odessa, and performed concerts. In Lithuania, she continues her artistic activities. The members of the ensemble are: Andrey Polevyakov – piano, Maryna Pylypenko – vocalist, Timur Pylypenko – percussion, Denis Murasov – bass guitar.

“JazzLingual Rhythms” (Ukraine, USA, Lithuania) is composed of the group’s leader, vocalist, and music producer Andrii Gumeniuk, Crystal Pupa (Gabija Vaičekonis) – singer, pianist, and composer, Andrijus Kudaba – guitarist, bassist, and composer, and Ignas Skirkevičius – drummer and composer. The group’s repertoire includes various styles ranging from modern jazz, funk, soul, contemporary to bossa nova or Latin music, enriched with colorful languages from different countries. The musicians’ creativity is filled with original lyrics and compositions.


Names familiar to Lithuanians

The rising group “Uphill7” (Lithuania, Belarus, Afghanistan) consists of five members who began their journey in a multicultural environment at the Caritas Day Center in Pabradė. The musicians perform both their own original songs and covers of well-known hits, infusing their concerts with strong dance rhythms. The predominant music styles they perform include dance pop, pop rock, afrobeat, Latin, and funk. Vocalist Abdullah radiates energy that keeps even the furthest listener engaged, while the charismatic Diana captivates with her deep voice and magical stage presence. They are complemented by Leonardas (guitar), Edgardas (drums), and Artūras (bass guitar). The group is soon to release their third single, “Chills.

On stage, we will also see the well-known Lithuanian performer AISTÈ (Lithuania). She promises to convey intimate and emotional versions of songs from her debut album during the concert, which encourage believing in a better tomorrow. Aistè, who now resides in London, debuted a year ago in Lithuania. She introduced her debut album ‘The Theory of Everything,’ filled with gospel, psychedelic, and soul music, and held numerous performances in her homeland. For this, she earned two M.A.M.A. nominations and participated in the Eurovision selection this year.

An energetic, versatile, and vocally talented artist, Aistè openly shares that she draws great inspiration from 70s music, with icons like Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and The Beatles exerting a profound influence on her musical creations.

And the evening will be concluded by the charismatic DJ Zay’Zemi from Venezuela. Zay’Zemi boasts over 8 years of experience as a DJ. Her music pulsates with tribal and Afro-American rhythms, reflecting percussive beats and sounds from South America and Africa.

The “Cultural Rhythms” festival will also feature creative workshops, artistic installations, a community zone, food and beverage areas, and other activities. The event starts at 18:00.

From June 13 to 20, Lithuania is hosting Refugee Week, during which various organizations invite to celebrate the contributions, creativity, and resilience of refugees and asylum seekers through various events.

The festival is funded by the European Union.

Organizers: Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania and ARTSCAPE arts agency. Major partner: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Partners: Vilnius City Municipality, Lithuanian Council for Culture.

June 18, 2024