Cultural diversity at Canberra folk festival

The Bridge Project on stage at the National Folk Festival.

MORE than 45,000 fans immersed themselves in a feast of world class music at Canberra’s annual National Folk Festival held last month. 

More than 200 national and international acts performed including the Rheingans Sisters from Britain, The Galax Bogtrotters from America, Les Poules a Colin from Canada and popular Australian performers Ami Williamson, The Mae Trio Band and The Spooky Men’s Chorale.

Enhancing the cultural diversity of this year’s festival, held at Exhibition Park from April 13-17, was The Bridge Project comprising Jewish, Muslim and Christian musicians who performed a hypnotic mix of Middle Eastern sounds and songs. The Bridge Project’s line up of Israeli violinist and audio engineer Ittai Shaked, Turkish singer Umit Ceyhan and Australian Andy Busuttil delighted the audience, especially with their rousing rendition of the traditional Shabbat song Shalom Aleichem.

Busuttil’s deep haunting vocals sung in Maltese, Turkish and Hebrew was a highlight of their concert.

Popular klezmer duo Bohemian Nights featuring violinist Ernie Gruner and accordionist/singer Phil Carroll charmed their audiences with soulful mesmerising Yiddish, Hungarian, Russian and Romanian songs.

Celebrating their 21st year of performing together at the festival, Gruner and Carroll also conducted a Klezmer gypsy dance workshop with caller Audrey Fine.

Lara Goodridge (left) performs with FourPlay string quartet.

Violinist/singer Lara Goodridge and her versatile upbeat indie rock band FourPlay String Quartet wowed the audience with their Celtic rock and jazz tunes as well as songs from their latest album The Machine. During the concert fans regularly burst into spontaneous dancing.

The 2018 National Folk Festival will be held from March 29 to April.

ROBYN ARYA