Friday, August 01, 2014

WOMAD 2014

1 August 2014

2014 was the hottest WOMAD I can remember. It was also the busiest - the first time the Festival has sold out since it moved to the enormous Charlton Park, near Malmesbury in Wiltshire, in 2007. The weekend was full of musical superlatives too. Every year WOMAD is a showcase for the best music you had never previously heard of. I don't bother looking at the line-up until I arrive because it's invariably the unknowns that provide my personal highlights. This year my favourites included four female singer/songwriters – the Swedish 'cellist Linnea Olsson, the lively swing of harpist Lucinda Belle (this year's 'Caravan Palace' moment), Cumbrian folkie Maz O'Connor (the recent beneficiary of an English Folk Dance and Song Society Fellowship) and the former Mercury Prize nominee Kathryn Williams (whose latest album 'Crown Electric' is wonderful – highly recommended). It was a privilege to see the veteran Indian Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan performing with his sons Ayaan and Amaan Ali Khan. The warmest applause of the weekend was for two sisters from Iran, Masha and Marjan Vahdat, who break Iranian law every time they perform in front of an audience that includes men. They got a deservedly rapturous reception. But my pick of WOMAD 2014 was a performance by Justin Vali and the Ny Malagasy Orkestra from Madagascar. Justin Vali is famous for championing the valiha – a bamboo zither from which he can conjure both beautifully delicate and rousingly percussive music. His set with the Ny Malagasy Orkestra included a wide variety of styles and was moving, charming, lively and very danceable. You can see a selection of my photos from WOMAD 2014 at:

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