56th Zagreb International Folklore Festival

20 – 24 July, 2022

Between Central Europe and the Mediterranean

The main program of the 56th Zagreb International Folklore Festival will take place from July 20 to July 24, 2022. The themed program planned for the previous two years focused on the traditional heritage Between Central Europe and the Mediterranean, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will finally come to be this year. We are therefore expecting more international groups, mostly from Central Europe, as well as from Greece, Portugal, and the US (Utah). In intense contact between Central European hubs and their perimeters ethnographic heritage has developed through folklore arts and cultures of intertwined and migrating peoples and cultures, groups and individuals between Central Europe and the Mediterranean. Many of these similarities are seen in customs, costumes, dances and music.

The intention of the program for the 56th International Folklore Festival is to showcase the values of ethnographic and folk arts that have been transferred to us and to the modern life of the European Union, stemming from a common or close historic sources. It will primarily present the Croatian cultural heritage in comparison to examples from neighbouring countries and cultures since similarities and differences can be traced in traditional music, as well as in some elements of church folk music, traditional costumes, customs, rituals, etc. The program of the Festival will present those interrelationships and characteristic examples of folklore legacy confirming the connections between neighbouring cultures, as well as their distinctions.

Young men’s dance-off is one of the particularities that reveal interconnections, while also presenting the wealth of diversity through its versions specific to dance traditions of the connected cultures. Groups and ensembles participating in the festival were, of course, chosen by this thematic criterion, since it has always been one of our goals to present the geographical reach of certain elements, often caused by migrations. The program of the Festival will therefore include folklore traditions of Croatian communities that migrated to other countries (Burgenland Croats) or of those living outside Croatia due to historical changes of borders (Croats in Bačka in Serbia and those in the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro). The Festival will also present the traditional heritage of Croats from Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they are one of the three constituent ethnic groups. The program will also include the musical and folklore art of Ukrainians in Croatia, an ethnic minority taking in their compatriots who fled the war-torn country.

The events preceding the main program of the Festival started with the Museum Night (January 28 – February 15, 2022). Since last year the Festival marked its 55th edition, an exhibition under the title Festival in Print – Exhibition of the International Folklore Festival Posters and Catalogues, organised in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research, opened at the Travno Cultural Center Gallery. The exhibits include posters and catalogues of the Festival, i.e. a portion of the material archived in both institutions and in the Institute’s digital repository. Since the digitalisation and systematisation of the material stored in the Travno Cultural Center archives is under way, the exhibition offered a partial insight into the organisation of the Festival through the decades.

On March 25, 2022, the Authentic Croatian Toys workshop for preschool children, organised by the Povuci za kulturu Association and Tanja Tandara, was held. The workshop has become a part of the Festival’s tradition.

Since the Festival itself always takes place in July, which makes it difficult for guests from Korčula to participate due since it coincides with the peak of the tourism season, we organised a performance of the baroque moresca by the Moreška Folklore Group and the Croatian Baroque Ensemble in May in front of the Croatian National Theatre. This was the first performance of the baroque moresca in Zagreb or anywhere outside of the Korkyra Baroque Festival, traditionally held in September.

Early in July, the Festival’s program at the Klovićevi dvori Atrium will include performances of music groups and individuals who create different music genres using traditional elements: Šćike from Istria, Dina Bušić and Melita Ivković with the Arbanasi singing from the area around Zadar, followed by the Harmonija disonance ensemble after their workshops on the restoration of traditional singing in Banovina and a concert in Petrinja with female singers from the villages of Bobovac, Divuša, Hrastovica, Hrvatski Čuntić, Jabukovac and Majur. Thomas McKeen’s Scottish band Duncreagan will also appear at the Klović Court Atrium (on July 3) performing Scottish and Irish music. The group of Catholic Faculty of Theology, KBF Folk Singers, led by Joško Ćaleta, performed a concert of Marian songs Bogom živim uzvišena! on June 16 at the church of St. Peter in Zagreb.

On June 5, an amateur theatre group from Tivat continued the years-long practice of putting up plays in local vernaculars that aim to preserve and popularise local dialects, while the play performed by the Croats from the Bay of Kotor contributed to the Mediterranean atmosphere of the Festival.

The exhibition part of the program includes three exhibition setups. The exhibition of the Korčula City Museum, complementing the presentation of the unique sword dances heritage of the island of Korčula – kumpanija and moreška, both protected cultural assets – was set up during June on solar panels in the Zrinjevac Square and during July in the Ethnographic Museum.

More about the dance traditions, research and the exhibition setup was reported by the Korčula City Museum curator and the exhibition coauthor Sani Sardelić at a panel discussion at the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research on July 8 (the other author of the exhibition was Prof. Em. Elsie Ivancich Dunin). The Nikola Tesla Technical Museum hosted an exhibition of the Čakovec Town Museum called Tibets about woollen scarfs with specific patterns worn by women on the traditional costumes in Međimurje and Podravina. The Music Department of the City Library, in cooperation with the Treasurers of the Tamburitza Heritage association, organised an exhibition in Starčević Square called Tamburitza: Croatia’s Cultural Identity.

In a public panel discussion organised in the Bogdan Ogrizović Library on June 13, under the title “From štrudla to štrukli – Austrian and German Loanwords in the Croatian Language,” Velimir Piškorec from the German Department of the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Zagreb and Ivana Kurtović Budja, from the Institute of Croatian Language and Linguistics presented the audiomap Austrian and German Loanwords in the Croatian Language created as a joint project of the University of Zagreb German Department and the Salzburg University German Institute.

With the help of the Algerian Embassy, fashion designer Karim Kadid will put up a fashion show of costumes inspired by Algerian traditions. The show will be accompanied by El Khaima – El Khadra instrumental group with Hakim Salhi as a solo vocalist.

After the Croatian Musical Youth’s summer camp in Grožnjan, a group of twenty young artists mentored during the camp by Cristobal Araya (Chile) and Lucija Maroević will hold a concert in the Močvara Club in Zagreb on July 18 called Ethno on the Road.

The main program of the Festival consists of performances by folklore groups and ensembles from Friday to Sunday (July 22 – July 24, 2022) at the Gradec Stage. They will showcase the peculiarities of men’s dance-offs, such as the Austrian and German Schuhplatller, Czech and Slovakian Verbuňk, Hungarian Légenès, Polish Krakowiak, dance-off of Bunjevci men, Slovenian guild dance Tkalečka, Zagorje dance-off Drmešari or similar dance-offs in the Czardas from Draganić, dance for the girl’s parta (headstall), a dance of Burgenland Croats, as well as in the Bokulja dance of shepherds with sticks from Bosnia and Herzegovina. The program will also include a group from Orubica with a distinctive kolo na štuk, performed in the village around Easter, which is similar to the dance from around Elasson in Greece, home of another visiting group. Performances will include Croatian groups, as well as numerous groups from other countries.

Performances on stages outside of the city have been organised in cooperation with the Beltinci Folklore Festival in Slovenia, Sveta Nedelja Cultural Center, the Sisak-Moslavina County (with a concert in Petrinja) and the Kaj su jeli naši stari food festival in Vrbovec. Dance workshops during the Festival will be held after the main stage performances at the Gradec Stage by Francis Feybli and Vido Bagur.

Digitalisation of the International Folklore Festival materials, in cooperation with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research and the digital repository, is an important part of the year-round activities directly connected to local communities actively seeking help and available digitised recordings from the previous editions of the Festival. That makes the activities related to the documented material one of the priorities in the effort to preserve and transfer local knowledge and crafts to younger generations through workshops or seminars regularly held by the Festival associates on the regional level for county associations of folklore groups.

Tvrtko Zebec

Artistic Director