[PhotoSparks] Music for human rights and cultural preservation: the Forde Festival 2016


PhotoSparks is a weekly feature from YourStory, with photographs that celebrate the spirit of creativity and innovation. In this photo essay, we feature some of the courageous and creative bands performing at Norway’s annual Forde Festival of Traditional and World Music, held amidst picture-perfect fjord scenery and endless sunshine!

In the earlier 90 posts, we brought you a wide range of creative photographs from an art fair, world music festival, painting fair, telecom expo, art museum, mobile showcase, math museum, social hackathon, bookstore, co-working space, sensorium, international design week, flower show, outdoor ads, startup roadshow, computer museum, startup T-shirts, business cards, art therapy, startup festival, Diwali rangoli, Vesak, jazz festival, modern art gallery, ecopreneurs, painter-poets, health activists, eNGOs and digital innovators.

My summer travels took me again to the Forde Traditional and World Music Festival in Norway, the largest such event in all of Scandinavia. The performances, highlighted in this photo essay, are spread across 20 stages in large indoor halls, arts centres and outdoor stages.

Each year, the four-day festival has an anchor theme; past themes have been on aboriginal music, regional showcases and gypsy music. The theme this year was ‘Flight,’ reflecting the tragedies and horrors of the refugee crisis across many parts of the world – but also focusing on the creative traditions of many of the affected communities.

The festival logo this year featured the butterfly, aptly reflecting the theme of ‘Flight’ as well as the fragile nature of refugee existence.

A powerful opening invocation was delivered by Lavleen Kaur, a Norway-based human rights attorney and dancer. She recalled the horrors of the partition of India and Pakistan, which her grandparents experienced in 1947.

Singer-composer Faytinga delivered a haunting set of music from Eritrea, reflecting her years in the East African country’s liberation struggle since she was fourteen years of age. “I bring music of hope to the people,” she says. She also plays the krar, a small lyre.

Broukar was founded in 2007 in Damascus, to preserve and revive the musical heritage of Syria particularly during these war-torn years. Highlights included the Whirling Dervish dance, based on hypnotic rotation as an expression of gratitude to God. “Sadly, music for children during war is only bombs and rockets,” laments the group’s leader Taoufik Mirkhan.

The Kurdish people are spread across Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Pioneering group Nishtiman promotes the music, language and culture of the Kurdish people, with a mix of haunting Sufi melodies and rousing dance tunes.

Radik Tyulyush from Russia wowed the audience with his throat-singing style of the Tuva community from the Altai Mountains in south central Siberia.

One of the highlights of Forde Festival featured Terje Isungset - percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and composer from Norway. In a unique collaboration with vocalists from Canada and Russia, Terje played a range of instruments made from ice – including a horn, marimba and a percussion table with ice crystals.

One of the most unusual features of the Forde Festival was a rendering of lullabies from around the world by refugee mothers settled in Norway. In a way, it was a haunting call for the right to peace for babies around the world, particularly in war-torn areas.

What is a good festival without jugglers and stilt-walkers? Rajasthan’s troupe Circus Raj was on tour in Europe, and performed at the Forde Festival.

Some of the musicians at the Forde Festival played on an astonishing range of musical instruments. Hollowed out goat horns can be played as wind instruments – on display here at the Amot music resort.

Here is the nyckelharpa, the Swedish chordophone or key harp, played by members of the Gjermund Larsen Trio & Nordic (from Norway and Sweden).

What’s a good festival without a spontaneous jam session featuring musicians from the diverse bands? On many nights, right till 4 am and beyond, the artistes at the Forde Festival gathered in the hotel’s library (!) to jam with one another and show off their chops!


Got a creative photograph to share? Email us at PhotoSparks@YourStory.com!

See also the YourStory pocketbook ‘Proverbs and Quotes for Entrepreneurs: A World of Inspiration for Startups,’ accessible as apps for Apple and Android devices.