“Cultural Rhythms” is the idea that different cultures have their own unique rhythms, representing their traditions, experiences, and self-expression. This is the slogan of the free open-air music festival in Kūdrų Park, Vilnius, held on 20th June, to celebrate World Refugee Day.
Together with the Ministry of Social Security and Labour of the Republic of Lithuania, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Refugee Reception Centre, the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN), Arts Agency Artscape via the music festival aims to promote awareness of refugee and migration topic.
Music that was banned
The festival’s music stage welcomed exceptional and inspiring performances. According to Aistė Ulubey, founder and director at Artscape, it is particularly powerful, necessary and impactful to hear music and stories from different cultures on stage.
“The World Refugee Day celebration is not only important for the newcomers to Lithuania – refugees, asylum seekers – but also for our society: to show how many different people with their own unique cultures and traditions are living here, and how that enriches us. World Refugee Day is a catalyst that brings cultures together in a very sensitive way and empowers everyone’s voices, everyone’s story,” says Ms Ulubey.
First on stage was Arya Aramnejad (Sweden). He is an Iranian singer and songwriter known for his protest and social songs. He has been imprisoned and tortured three times by the Iranian regime for his music. He was also banned from making music and leaving the country for five years. In 2018, he moved to Sweden and now continues his music career there. He is also currently leading a project to promote the music of refugee youth in Sweden.
Another music group, Rakija Klezmer Orkestar, joined forces with Ukrainian musicians for the festival. Rakija Klezmer Orkestar (Lithuania) is a music band that specializes in the genre and music tradition of Klezmer. In a 10 years old long existence this collective of young professional musicians had performances all over Lithuania, from synagogues to mainstream music festivals. With an idea of meeting foreign musicians and introducing their music to bigger crowds the band started travelling to other countries, spreading their spectrum every year.
The closing performance was done by “Dlina Volny”. It is a post-punk/new wave/brut-pop trio from Minsk, Belarus, now based in Lithuania. It translates into the English word “Wavelength.” At the end of 2021, the band released their second album, DAZED, and are now working on their third LP. Mixed by Dean Hurley, frequent David Lynch collaborator & producer, the record is gorgeous. Elegant synthesis is flanked by the brut low end of the rhythm section. The album balances mystical narratives & dreamlike fantasies sourced deep in the trio’s subconscious. Aesthetically, Dazed encompasses 1980s Estrada Pop & the 1970s brutalist architecture.
Together we can do more
The UN Refugee Agency is marking World Refugee Day this year with the message “Hope Away From Home”. We can all do more to give refugees more hope – and more opportunities – while they are away from home. Including refugees in the communities where they have found safety after fleeing conflict and persecution is the most effective way to support them in restarting their lives and enable them to contribute to the countries hosting them.
“The refugees who came to Lithuania brought with them their talents, their education, their professions, their knowledge. We just need to open up opportunities for them to apply it here in Lithuania”, says Renata Kuleš, UNHCR Representative in Lithuania.
“Cultural Rhythms” festival also featured workshops for children, food and drink zones and other activities.
July 1, 2023