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EFN June's newsletter, #4

Updated: Jul 26, 2022

EFN Newsletter June 2022 #4


Welcome to the fourth edition of this communication and outreach initiative of the EFN. Feel free to forward it to your friends and colleagues. Receiving this newsletter is open to anyone for free, here. Read to the end to find out how to submit content for future editions.

This is what you'll find below:

Some immediate news from the network: REGISTRATION FOR THE ANNUAL EFN CONFERENCE is now open; and we welcome the new member Cie Baltazar Montanaro. · News from our members: WOMEX registration is open; new project of Ojkača by the World Music Association of Serbia; Kyndilberar/Torch Bearers, new project from Iceland; open call from MOST - the Bridge for Balkan Music. · Our next featured member is Trac Cymru: Music Traditions Wales. · Our next featured artist is the Bulgarian singer Valya Balkanska. · And we share several special contents: MODAL meeting in France; Kurbasy, from/in Ukraine, supporting refugees and keeping the music alive; summary of the Folklorist Summit from the Conference of the Folk Alliance International. At the end of the newsletter you will find indications on how you can contribute to future editions, whether you are an EFN member or not. And of course EFN is always looking for new members and at the end of this newsletter there is a note about how and why to join, with links to the membership pages of the website and the application form. Thanks for your attention, have a fruitful reading.


News from the EFN


Our EFN member and generous host Fira Mediterrania will welcome EFN to the beautiful ancient city of Manresa, near Barcelona, for our annual conference on Friday 7th and Saturday 8th October.

The conference programme schedule will be packed with opportunities for members and guests to meet, talk and share ideas, plus special guest speakers - and we'll have full, free access to the entire Fira Mediterrania showcase programme running through out the city.

Fira Mediterrania is generously providing airport transfers for all conference delegates and an amazing free offer of hotel places for 2 nights for EFN members. All members will get an offer of hotels accommodation - if more than one person wants to come from an EFN member organisation the first person will take the hotels provided by Fira Mediterrania and additional people will pay for their own hotel accommodation.

All EFN members will need to pay for is their own travel to Manresa (or Barcelona airport) and a registration fee of €40 which will cover lunch and other catering during the conference. Non-members of EFN are very welcome to attend the conference and can register to access airport transfers and lunch etc but will pay their own hotel costs.

So don't delay - to ensure an EFN members place at this special event (and access the 2 nights hotel accommodation for EFN members) REGISTER HERE NOW.

Non-members and additional representatives from EFN member organisations can REGISTER HERE.

More detail about the conference programme and Fira Mediterrania's showcases will come to you in future newsletters and EFN Members exclusive emails.



By EFN editors

We welcome a new EFN Member from France – Cie Baltazar Montanaro.

This is how they describe themselves:

"The compagnie Baltazar Montanaro was founded in 2001 by the multi-instrumentist Miqueu Montanaro, in Correns (Southern France). In 2016, the violinist Baltazar Montanaro took over from his father as artistic director of the Company. In recent years, Baltazar has collaborated with female artists, from other regions of France such as Sophie Cavez, Juliette Minvielle or Zabou Guerin. Together, they develop an artistic approach which combines different music styles, such as traditional music, contemporary music, world music, improvisation. In doing so, they break the invisible borders that separate the so called popular music and the so called "scholarly music". Baltazar Montanaro takes part in this new generation of musicians who aspire to re-examine borders and perspectives of "new traditional music". Find out more at"

And this is why they said they want to be part of EFN:

"We think that being part of the EFN would be an opportunity for the Compagnie to meet new potential partners, festival organizes, but also other artists. Baltazar, as an international artist (half Hungrian, half French, who lived abroad for several years) is yearning for developing international artistic collaborations. He is always very eager for meeting new people and artists. We are part of the French network FAMDT and we work closely with Le Nouveau Pavilion (directed by Mael Hougron), two pioneer members of the EFN. We could defend and promote altogether our vision of "traditional music" within the EFN."


News from EFN members


By Gaurav Narula, from WOMEX

WOMEX is the most crucial meeting in the global music scene and the most diverse music meeting worldwide. The event remains devoted to facilitating and promoting the global music industry and providing a platform to connect, inspire and share experiences, enabling new networks across transcontinental markets and an open economic and international cultural dialogue. Registrations are open; join us for the 28th edition of WOMEX in Lisbon from 19 - 23 October 2022.

For further information:


By Marija Vitas, from World Music Association of Serbia

World Music Association of Serbia has a new project, focused on the vocal tradition of Serbs originating from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It’s a vital and quite diverse heritage, which largely moved to Serbia in several waves, together with the Serbian population. The last mass immigration took place in the mid-1990s, during the war in the former Yugoslavia.

On the international list of Serbia’s Intangible Cultural Heritage the vocal tradition of the ‘Serbs from Krajina’ was registered under the unifying term ‘Ojkača'’. On May 30, 2022, the Association led a studio recording of several female groups from Belgrade, Batajnica, Šabac and Kikinda. This was the beginning of the complex project which is being implemented partly with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Information of the Republic of Serbia. Find out more at the website.

Picture: A female group, ''Zavičaj - Banija'', from Šabac, photo Marija Vitas.


By Chris Foster, from Vökufélagið

Vökufélagið is an organisation dedicated to building a vibrant, inclusive folk music and dance community in Iceland. People who are curious about Icelandic singing traditions find that there is little to be seen on the internet. When it became clear that it was not possible to organise concerts or other live music events during the Covid pandemic, Vökufélagið decided to focus on video production as a way to preserve and share the living traditions of Icelandic folk song.

Following the premiere cinema screening of the first seven videos on 14th May, the first of our Kyndilberar / Torch Bearers videos, which features Bára Grímsdóttir and Ragga Gröndal, is now up on YouTube at: We would love people to subscribe to our channel.


By Ella Csarnó, from Hangvető

MOST– the Bridge for Balkan Music has announced open calls for artists, young or aspiring managers, festivals and clubs! Our goal is to better connect European music markets. We offer funding, mentoring, training and more! Check out the call details at


Featured Member: Trac Cymru: Music Traditions Wales

trac is the development organisation for the traditional music of Wales: working across domestic, UK and international regions with amateur and professional musicians, offering advocacy, training and support to our sector. Its focus is "on celebrating Wales’ music and dance traditions, developing our performers from beginners to the international stage, stimulating interest, and making sure our traditional arts remain a relevant, core part of our vibrant cultural life and identity."

They are a Charity & Company Limited by Guarantee and a portfolio client of the Arts Council of Wales.

They have over 20 years experience working from grass roots to government with a wide network of partners, stakeholders and supporters across the globe. You’ll find Trac Cymru’s team and projects in schools, community settings, on festival fields and at international showcase events, helping to ensure that the traditional arts of Wales continue to enrich lives regardless of age, background, race or language.

Learn more about them on their website.Remember: the Featured Artist section is open to the contributions of the members of the EFN. Is there any folk artist you especially appreciate, someone who was a benchmark on his/her field of work? Don't be shy and tell the world about that person.


Featured Artist: Valya Balkanska

By Araceli Tzigane

On January 8, Valya Balkanska turned 80 years old. And, on August 20, it will be 45 years since the voice of this Bulgarian singer travels through outer space on the Golden Record that NASA launched inside Voyager I and II. She is a woman whose voice impressed the known world and, perhaps, beyond.

The sources for this bio are Edna, Trud, BulStack and the other references mentioned below. And this portrait, of public domain, is available, here.

She was born under the name of Feime Kestebekova in 1942 in Arda, in a family of Pomaks (Muslim Bulgarians). At the age of 18 she threw off her headscarf, she said that she was Bulgarian and she secretly went to an audition.

That story sounds a bit romanticized, but a few paragraphs from "Prädikat "Heritage": Wertschöpfungen aus kulturellen Ressourcen" (page 282) are very interesting in relation to this action of Balkanska. This book also explains about the song that would become her biggest success. It explains that: "She is the off-spring of a Muslim family, but emphasizes her Bulgarian identity, in part by preserving her Bulgarian-Slav name even though self-identification has not been an issue since the end of socialist era. "I feel a true Bulgarian", Balkanska stated in a newspaper interview of 1999." It is beyond the scope of this newsletter to go into this in depth, but if you are interested, I recommend you take a look at it here.

In 1960 she joined the State Ensemble for Folk Songs and Dances "Rodopi" - Smolyan, where she received her new name. In the following decades she would work with many other bands.

In the 1968 the American researcher of Bulgarian folklore Martin Koening recorder her performance of the epic song Izlel e Delu Haidutin. To learn more about the song, that has an interesting historical background, check pages 81 and 82 of the book On the Idea of Humanitarian Intervention.

That recording would later be included in the selection made by Carl Sagan for the Golden Record that would be sent to the space in the Voyager 1 and 2, in 1977. In the interview below she explains that it was not big news in Bulgaria. It was ephemeral and Balkanska continued with her usual life devoted to a music that was becoming less and less popular. Balkanska explains in the interview that a new style, that she calls "pop folk" emerged, but that was not her style of music.

Balkanska is still fit and singing, although her voice is not the same as it was 50 years ago, as she explains in the interview, but it still turns out well. Just a couple of weeks ago she performed at a party in honour of former president Peter Stoyanov. Let's hope that her strength will be with her for many more years to come.

Click the picture to watch Valya Balkanska performing Izlel e Delio Haidutin. Lazar Kanevski on the gaida. According to the video description, this was in 1965, when Valia was 23 years old. You can also listen to the recording that was sent in the Golden Album, here.

This is an interview with Valya Balkanska made by Smithsonian Folkways on the occasion of the release in November 2019 of the album ‘Sound Portraits from Bulgaria: A Journey to a Vanished World.’


Special Contents


From Eric Van Monckhoven, from Music4You

On June 9-10, EFN member FAMDT (French Federation of Trad Music & Dance Organizations), held the yearly MODAL meetings.


Every year since a while, the FAMDT has organized national meetings called “MODAL”. These meetings aim to bring together the major players of the French traditional music & dance sector. They offer a time for exchange, discussion, reflection, and the construction of the artistic and cultural dimension of the sector, and on the role artists, professionals, organizations, and citizens in a changing society. MODAL is free and open to everyone, whether or not you are a member of the FAMDT.


MODAL is a high point in the life of the federation. The ambition of these meetings is to reflect on cultural, social, political and economic issues faced by the local and regional organizations, the various actors, researchers and public partners. The idea is to grow a shared vision and awareness on the sector at local, regional, national, European, and international levels.

For more information, visit


By Birgit Ellinghaus, from alba Kultur

Between 2013 - 2019 I had the great pleasure to present and to support the Lviv based folk quintet KURBASY for concerts in Germany, France, Finnland and the US.

During this time they did three great tours in France with 30 concerts, almost 20 concerts in Germany included at Berlin Philharmonie and a four weeks tour for Center Stage Program in the US.

Since the russian war in Ukraine the musicians of KURBASY opened their theater in Lviv to host ukrainian refugees 👉

The group still stay in Ukraine and are leaving only for concerts abroad to return back home. As the male musicians are not allowed to leave the country during the war, the both female singer created a new duo program.

And they just had a great concert on 14.05.2022 at NOWA TRADYCJA Festival with the duo! Please find some more infos here, included a link on the full recording of their concert by Polish TV.

On 10.07.2022 they are performing as part of the EBU program at Rudolstadt festival.


By Araceli Tzigane, from Mapamundi Música

I registered from the Conference just online. I had an online showcase by my Spanish band Vigüela and checked the wholte program. This summit particularly caught my attention and I think it is of interest to all of us who work with traditional music, whether we are managers, promoters, researchers or artists. The topic of this Folklorist Summit sounded very interesting: Tradition as Profession. I will make a kind of summary of the summary session.

The facilitators of the summit were Stephen Winick (American Folklife Center, Library of Congress) and Jessica Turner (American Folklore Society, Executive Director).

After introducing themselves and their organizations, Winick explained the context of the discussion: the summit explored the ways the traditional arts are seen as more authentic when they're not professional and that affects various funding and validation pathways in the arts and this also affects equity in the field. He explained that when the field was being defined in the 19th and 20th centuries people thought about well what exactly is folklore what what differentiates folklore from other kinds of culture and one of the ideas that they had was that folklore was the unofficial culture in some way so it's not what someone did professionally. They wondered about who gets to be expert on traditional arts and why aren't the traditional artists themselves the experts. There are problems in our field that derive from some of those early definitions of folklore.

The folklorists involved in the summit were:

  • Junious Brickhouse, dancer choreographer folklorist.

  • Lamont Jack Pearly, from the American Folklore Society he co-convened the African-American folklore section. Founder and chair the Jack Dapper Blues Heritage Preservation Foundation. Artists.

  • Teresa Hellongsworth, folklorist and arts administrator working for a regional arts organization, South Arts. She explained she is not an artist but she works to empower artists and does her work in the background.

  • Elle Dassler, assistant director for traditional arts at South Arts.

  • Karen Abdul Malik, storyteller, teaching artist and folklorist, was part of the summit but she was not able to participate in the Summary.

Just a few of the many ideas they shared:

  • The definition of folklore is somewhat of a moving target. They shared the definition by the American Folklore Society from "Folklore is our cultural DNA. It includes the art, stories, knowledge, and practices of a people. While folklore can be bound up in memory and histories, folklore is also tied to vibrant living traditions and creative expression today.[...]".In the united states popular definitions of folklore often can refer to something that's untrue or false or something that's old-fashioned and no longer relevant to contemporary life. The definition of it was cultural dna describes vibrant living traditions and contemporary expression happening today. This change of definition can change the lens of the people working in funding and arts administration and enable the inclusion of practices and art forms and communities that have historically not been giving space in that industry. When done well, that starts with methods of deep listening, community groundedness and taking artists and tradition bearers seriously as experts and letting them take the lead this again when done well this kind of work has the potential for disrupting the top down structure of the funding world while also connecting more artists more communities practicing more art forms.

  • Junious explained a collaborator's code to guide the work with traditional artists: 1. Remember that integrity is non-negotiable 2. Disclose any/all conflicts of interest upfront, but respectfully 3. Approach the work patiently, remain trustworthy and honest 4. Know your privilege 5. Learn to speak the languaje of the collaborator 6. Remain cognizant of the collaborator's capacity to participate 7. Ensure that the research/projects are mutually beneficial 8. Be mindful of ethnographic tools 9. Do not prompt of romantice outcomes 10. Put your collaborators agency before your goals/outcome 11. Make your research specific/do not generalize 12. Try to establish long, meaningful relationships

  • Teresa Hellongsworth explained the reflection on the support systems through the arts administration: "it's about being available, it's about you know picking up the phone, it's about connecting an artist with a festival opportunity, it's about connecting a community organization with a funding or grant opportunity, it's about listening to artists when they have ideas or when they have frustrations that perhaps through professional development or other resources we can help to answer those questions"

The conversation was full of representative anecdotes and many more ideas to discuss further, too complex or sensitive to summarise without running the risk of altering their profound meaning. So I'll leave it here, hoping it has been helpful.



Are you already a member? Then, remember that you can submit contents for this monthly newsletter. Email your content to, for these sections:

· News from EFN Members. Brief announcements – of around 100 words and a link.

· Featured artist. A profile with around 200 words, an embedded video and one link. Members are invited to submit profiles, considering solo and ensemble living or not living artists who have achieved lifelong artistic and technical quality or historical significance in the field of folk art from/developed/settled in Europe. If you have any artists in mind that you'd like to feature, please ask in advance, just to be sure there is no other member already doing it.

And whether you are a member or not, you can participate in this section:

· Special sections. For instance, an interview with someone from an institution that is not a member or a thematic article by a guest writer or anything that can appear and be considered as interesting. This section can also host guest writers that are not members. If you'd like to share any content, contact us in advance to schedule it, in

Of course, self promotional articles lacking interest won't be accepted. In case of doubt, the board will be consulted and it will decide.



EFN membership is growing rapidly – why not join the network of traditional arts organisers and artists that stretches across Europe from the Irish Sea to the Baltic, the Mediterranean to the Black Sea? Find out more about membership and download an application form from



The EFN welcomes donations. We do a lot with little money. Imagine what we can do with a little more :) Let us know how much do you want to donate and we'll issue an invoice for your organization.

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