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KHAMORO 2016 in its 18th year - concerts, exhibitions, seminars, theater and much more

18.5.2016 19:10
Last year's parade by Romani performers through the center of Prague as part of the Khamoro Festival in 2015. (Photo:   Jitka Votavová)
Last year's parade by Romani performers through the center of Prague as part of the Khamoro Festival in 2015. (Photo: Jitka Votavová)

The world's biggest and most famous Romani festival in the world, KHAMORO, is heading to Prague for the 18th time. It will run from 29 May to 4 June 2016 and, as in previous years, offers a broad range of cultural events.

There will be no lack of children's programs, commemorations of Romani figures, concerts, exhibitions, expert seminars, interactive programs and theater. Since KHAMORO is celebrating its 18th birthday, the organizers have also prepared a competition and an extra concert of contemporary music.

"Khamoro does its best to show the diversity and richness of Romani culture and to aid in developing mutual coexistence, honor and respect between non-Roma and Roma. The festival is open to all irrespective of age, nationality or sex. Everybody will find something to interest and please them, and we are enormously glad about that," explained Jelena Silajdžić, director of the Slovo 21 organization, which runs the festival.

The festival is a favorite not just in the Czech Republic but also among people from abroad, and annually more than 9 000 people come to Prague for it. Among the best-loved parts of the festival are the concerts of Romani music, without a doubt.

Concerts will happen daily in various corners of Prague. You can look forward to the genres of Balkan brass band, cembalom (hammered dulcimer) music, Gypsy Jazz, a Russian ensemble, the songs of Czech, Romanian and Slovak Roma, and wonderful dancers.

The main stages will feature performances by 10 Romani bands from abroad and three from the Czech Republic:  Bengas from Prague, Milan Kroka Live Band from Beroun, and Le Čhavendar from Rokycany - but that's not all! Another seven Romani bands from the Czech Republic will perform as part of the auxiliary program.

For example, the band Duo Present from Ostrava will introduce itself, as will the Prague group Bench Band. Other brilliant musicians will perform too:  Josef Šenki, Ivan Herák, Robert and Marek Boldi, Michal Marcin, Michal Taragoš, Zdeněk Jano, Milan Pacik and others.

Party on Náplavka in Prague

The entire festival starts on Sunday, 29 May at 19:00 with a gigantic party. Outdoors on the Náplavka riverside venue in Prague fabulous musicians will play and sing - you won't want to stand, you'll want to dance.

You can look forward to Le Čhavendar from Rokycany, whose music is based on Romani folk tunes enriched with flamenco, jazz and Latin music. Maroš Bango & Ladislav Rig's Fantasy Orchestra will keep the good mood going and this gifted artist from Slovakia will spark emotions in each of us.

DJ Shantel of Germany will close the evening with a wild mix of Balkan and electronic music. The event is free of charge - all you have to bring with you is a good mood!

Concert of contemporary Romani music at La Fabrika

The next day will keep the good mood going at the La Fabrika club in Prague. This year we will be adding a concert of contemporary Romani music to the festival in honor of its 18th birthday.

Milan Kroka  Live Band will certainly please you with his Gypsy Rumba and traditional Romani songs, after which Gipsy Casual from Romania will get your blood pumping with their traditional Romani music enriched by electrifying club beats and electronic tones. Monday's concert ends with a mix of Balkan music and electronica, again from DJ Shantel (DJ Session) together with his eight-member band, Bucovina Club Orkestar of Germany. 

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Concerts of Gypsy Jazz

There is no doubt that Gypsy Jazz belongs to Romani music. This world-recognized genre is always representated at the KHAMORO festival.

On Tuesday 31 May, at Jazz Dock, the Spanish formation Menil will introduce itself to the festival. Javier Sánchez fronts the band and is a brilliant singer who is also considered one of the very best guitarists there.

This year we can also please all lovers of The Rosenberg Trio of the Netherlands, who will perform on 1 June at Lucerna Music Bar. This celebrated jazz group has performed at all of the big jazz festivals in the world and this is their third time at KHAMORO.

Traditional Romani music

Concerts of traditional Romani music belong among the best-loved events of the entire festival every year, presenting professional Romani groups from all corners of the globe and symbolizing the fact that Romani people really do live everywhere on planet Earth. At Prague's Palác Akropolis the Bengas group will perform on Thursday 2 June.

The Zuralia Orchestra will join them from Romania, repeating the success of their 2013 Khamoro performance, and from France the group Tekameli will perform. On Friday 3 June the concerts of traditional Romani music will continue at Palác Akropolis.

Cembalom (hammered dulcimer) music from The Netherlands will be performed by The Gypsy Ensemble Giani Lincan. There will also be Romani performers from Russia, with the Ruska Roma ensemble performing traditional Romani folk dancing and songs.

You will also be able to look forward to the Macedonian brass band Kocani Orkestar. Audiences can also hear all of the performers of traditional Romani music at the closing gala concert on Saturday 4 June at the SaSaZu club.

Auxiliary Program

The Khamoro Festival is not just about music, as it might seem at first glance. The program also offers many side events which will certainly please all of those attending.

This year you will be able to follow the interactive creation of open-air 3 D graphics. On the sidewalks of Prague, artists from Bosnia will paint a 3D image with a Romani theme, and we must admit that their creations are absolutely fabulous.

Do not miss these unique events! The works will be created on 31 May starting at 10 AM on Náměstí Míru, at 10 AM on 2 June on the inner courtyard of the National Theater, and on 4 June from 10 AM at Náměstí Republiky.

Exhibitions

As part of the auxiliary program we are also presenting three exhibitions. The first is the opening of an exhibition of wooden toys made by the Romani professional woodcarver Matěj Holub, called "...And Maybe He Will Come On a Goat", which will take place in Slovenský Dom to the musical accompaniment of the Prague-based group Bench Band.

The second exhibition of visual art, entitled "Archetype - Pre Bari" will be presented by Emilie Rigová at the Czech Center, where Maroš Bango of Slovakia will perform as part of the program as well, and Rigová will also present an outdoor performance piece on Na Příkopě Street. Another exhibition called "Roma Resistance" will be on display at the Goethe Institute.

Remembrances

Khamoro does not forget the significant figures who have written themselves into Romani culture and history. This year we will remember the author Andrej Giňa and musician Milan Šenki "Korytár" with musical accompaniment by brilliant musicians.

We will also pay our respects to Romani Studies scholar Milena Hübschmannová, in whose memory a play about the Romani language will be performed that will show the life of this leading figure. The play will be staged by the ARA ART group.

Performers' Parade

Among the most attractive parts of the festival is the parade by all performers and professional dance ensembles through the center of Prague in which more than 400 performers regularly meet up to literally dance and sing their way through the historical center of Prague. This year as many as 20 amateur dance ensembles from all over the Czech Republic will join the parade.

This exciting show, full of performers in colorful dresses and gorgeous costumes and accompanied by traditional Romani music from all corners of the world is not to be missed! The parade brings a fantastic atmosphere to the city center in which pride is married to the beauty of Romani culture.

Children's Day

The "Khamororo" Children's Day has acquired a great deal of popularity among both adults and children and this year you can again look forward to a proper celebration full of attractions, contests, dancing, singing and theater. The performances by bands and children's dance ensembles will certainly contribute to the good mood.

The very youngest participants will also be able to join the fun on the bouncy castle, pony rides, trampoline and wooden carousel. Various children's workshops in drawing, making original jewelry, and many other crafts also await.

There is so much more!

The organizational team is preparing even more events for festival-goers. In collaboration with the Czech Government Inter-ministerial Commission for Roma Community Affairs, an expert seminar on "Romani Civic Activism" will be held, and you can also look forward to a Swedish film about Romani author Katarina Taikon.

Follow the festival's Facebook page and our website, www.khamoro.cz, where we will publish bios of the bands, interviews, video clips and much more. The festival has been accompanied from birth to the ripe age of 18 by organizers from Slovo 21 and Studio Production Saga.

The festival is held under the auspices of Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman and Mayor of Prague Adriana Krnáčová. Czech Television is its main media partner. 

voj, SLOVO 21, z.s., translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Culture, Festival, Khamoro, Koncert



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