Music of the Arab Spring at WOMADelaide

Wonderful WOMADelaide starts tonight, and at the launch we’ve just had a taste of what’s to come.

The welcome to Kaurna country by Steve Gadlabardi Goldsmith and the Taikurtinna dancers dragged us very willingly from the humdrum of normal life into the magic of global culture, song and dance that transforms this weekend each year.

Emel Mathlouthi

Emel Mathlouthi

Highlight of the launch was the preview performance by Emel Mathlouthi. She surprised us by starting with a soaring version of the Leonard Cohen classic Hallelujahher enchanting voice swirling around beautiful Botanic Park. But then she followed up with her own lyrical classic, Kelmti Horra (My Word is Free), a song she wrote at the kitchen table years ago, but which became the anthem of choice, powering the Arab Spring.

For the finale we were transitioned from the sublime to something much lighter; four Frenchman from street-theatre company Cie Fracasse de 12 giving us a chuckle with chant, mime and choreographed mayhem with their blue wheelie bins.

WOMADelaide’s window to the world is a cultural treasure; for me it’s the highlight of the festival calendar. Come Tuesday I’ll be looking forward to the 2015 WOMADelaide.

Kaurna welcome

Kaurna welcome

Meanwhile here are my picks for this weekend:

  • Mokoomba from Zimbabwe
  • The Balanescu Quartet featuring Romanian virtuoso violinist and composer Alexander Balanescu
  • The passionate and husky voice of Concha Buika
  • Campaign passion from Polly Higgins as she discusses criminalising ecocide with Peter Garrett and Tim Flannery.
  • The welcome routine of Chinese seven-piece band Hanggai
  • Femi Kuti & The Positive Force – 21st Century Afrobeat from Nigeria
  • And to cap it all off, there’s rabble-rouser Billy Bragg with his very personal mix of pop and politics on Monday evening

Let the show begin.


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