Building Bridges To The Future: WOMEX 2014
Santiago de Compostela – a name that rather effortlessly rolls off the tongue, resonating with a certain poetic musicality. This legendary city in north-west Spain is also a cultural epicentre, and played an essential role during the Middle Ages in facilitating cultural exchanges between the Iberian peninsula and the rest of Europe – making it rather apt that it has just played host to one of the world’s most significant international music networking events – WOMEX 2014.
Now entering its 20th edition, over the years WOMEX has acted as a meeting place for music professionals from all around the globe. This year provided five scintillating days of music, conferences, film screenings, cultural exchanges and networking opportunities in the legendary city of Santiago De Compostela, with day time events held in the resplendent architectural complex Cidade da Cultura, and evening musical showcases spread out in quaint venues all across the old town.
Over the course of five days, the showcase festival played host to over 60 musical acts from all around the world – offering delegates and audience members a unique and diverse musical palette. The musical festivities opened with a gala performance titled “Compostela – The Roots, The Way” – which showcased local musicians from Galicia and a colourful collection of artists from the Iberian peninsula and Canary Islands. In the words of Vitor Belho from WOMEX 14’s local partners Nordesia, “After 18 years promoting Galician music to WOMEX delegates, we are so proud that this edition has been a satisfactory experience for all of us. We thank all the WOMEXicans who decided to share with us their final stretch of the Camino.”
Other showcase artists this year included the Cesaria Evora Orchestra – playing songs that first pushed Cape Verdean songstress Cesaria Evora to international fame; Moroccan oud maestro Driss El Maloumi, who blends elements of Middle Eastern music, tribal Berber music and jazz; Portugese born world travelled singer Lula Pena; Ethiocolor who play traditional Ethiopian music, using instruments like the Kirar (a sort of lyre), the Washint (a flute), and Kebero (traditional drums); and Madeeh from the upper Padawan region of Sarawak, who play traditional Bidayuh roots music. Many other artists also took to the stage, dazzling their audiences in exquisite locales under the stars of Santiago de Compostela.
In addition to the varied musical showcases, this edition of WOMEX also saw more participation than the last – with 2400 attendees from over 90 different countries. The DJ Summit returned to the WOMEX programme for its third edition as well, with a two night festival held at Sala Capitol featuring a line up of international DJs handpicked by the WOMEX jury.
Twenty-two conference sessions were dedicated this year to addressing pertinent issues relating to the world music industry. These conferences and discussion panels were aimed at contributing to the growth of a global music movement, analysing its progress in the industry and laying a strong foundation for its future – a process that WOMEX Founding Director Ben Mandelson first called “a work-in-progress shaped by all participants”. Topics discussed ranged from crowd funding, to electronic music, cultural diplomacy to new media platforms, with speakers and mentors from 26 countries present to discuss these topics with delegates. “After 20 years, it is heartwarming to see that the community continues to grow and work together in even more innovative ways,” said WOMEX Director Alex Walter. “Santiago de Compostela has been a very worthy host of our anniversary edition, helping us showcase the impact WOMEX has had on the global music scene – not only in numbers but in terms of recognition, confidence and a common culture.”
For more information on WOMEX, visit the official website at http://www.womex.com/