Sat, May 27, 2000 - Page 11 News List

Jam sessions

In the spirit of the event itself, a last minute change of venue for the World Music Festival to an outdoor plaza and a decision to entirely do away with the NT$3,000 fee creats a non-threatening atmosphere and opens the enjoyment of international non-mainstream music to everyone

By Ian Bartholomew  /  STAFF REPORTER

In 1980, Peter Gabriel came up with the idea of WOMAD, a festival organization dedicated to the "world of music, art and dance." Starting tomorrow, Taiwan's World Music Festival will embrace that concept to give Taipei residents a chance to glimpse the global rhythms of non-mainstream music.

Groups hailing from Spain and Serbia to Taiwan and Australia will take the stage at the festival to further Gabriel's goal of helping "different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music."

Festival organizer Serina Chen (陳琪) said a conscious choice had been made to select groups from so called "developed" countries to dispel the still prevalent conception that world music is a euphemism for music from "third world countries." She said that world music is now truly a global sound that includes some of the most innovative musicians around.

Fu Chang-rung (符昌榮), a world music industry observer, said that although CDs of world music are increasingly available in Taiwan, "concerts allow a kind of interaction that you can never have on a recording." Given the inspiration for the event, Chen regarded the original arrangements for the festival, in which performances would be held at the Dr Sun Yat-sen Memorial, as unsatisfactory.

In a last minute change of plans, facilitated by the sponsorship of the Chlitina International Company (克緹文教基金會), the venue has been changed to the plaza in front of the Taipei City Government building, and entry for the festival has been reduced from NT$3,000 to nothing at all. The purpose of this change is to facilitate a celebratory atmosphere.

After all, both the WOMAD spirit and that of world music is about celebrating people being together and communicating through music. The ultimate achievement of that will be the final jam session held on Friday, which aims to achieve the spontaneity and interaction that the organizers see as the purpose of the event.

According to Chen, the aim of the World Music Festival was not just to bring music to Taipei, but also to give local performers an international stage in which they can be exposed to festival organizers from all parts of the world. "We must have our own music festival, before local performers will be able to feature regularly outside Taiwan," Chen said. One of the local groups to feature, Labor Exchange, has already made the first step to wider recognition by taking the best non-mainstream group in the recent Golden Melody awards.

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