Tradition Brings Revolution: 'Budapest Ritmo Festival', 12 - 15 April

  • 12 Apr 2023 10:21 AM
Tradition Brings Revolution: 'Budapest Ritmo Festival', 12 - 15 April
Trees budding, birds singing, new wonders to hear arrive in April with Budapest Ritmo. The festival promises a four-day journey of music discovery with stops in Egypt, Iceland, Mali, Ukraine and Spain, among others.

The likes of Emilíana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra, Tamikrest and Mazaher guide you on the way, with local favourites like Kollár-Klemecz Chamber Orchestra and his friends, and up and coming regional artists adding flavour between 12 and 15 of April.

Apart from the music and film programme, this year’s Ritmo Conference explores the transformative power of music in conflict, hardship, urban and social change, as well as our mental and physical health. Tradition brings revolution - this is Ritmo.

Venues: Akvárium Klub / Magyar Zene Háza / Erzsébet tér / Szimpla Kert / Toldi mozi

Mystical opening and the freshest talent

Budapest Ritmo, organized within the framework of Bartók Spring International Arts Week  has an unusual opening scheduled April 12, in the House of Music. The evening sees two heritage-inspired performances: local gnawa ensemble Tariqa open, followed by Mazaher, the last living performers of the zar tradition, setting the wonder-filled tone of the festival.

Ritmo’s usual treat of up and coming regional performers follows next, on the by now established showcase day at Szimpla on April 13. This year's selection features Transylvanian take on world music by Koszika, Zarina Prvasevda's rendition of Macedonian vocal heritage, Bulgarian ethno jazz by Jazzanitza and three Hungarian bands: BudaPesme's beautiful Balkan melodies, charming etno-chansons by Ephemere and fiery vlach gypsy music by Amaro Duha.

They have 40 minutes each to impress a select group of world music impresarios and the curious crowd of Szimpla. Brought to you by UPBEAT, the European Showcase Platform for World Music - coordinated by Hangvető -  the gigs often bear out the right kind of tension: the thrill of perhaps taking the first step of an international career.

Weekend ramble around the world

The festival properly unfolds in Akvárium Klub and Erzsébet Square - its four stages and inexhaustible musical sortiment.

Friday, April 14

In true Ritmo style, the festival features an outlier of a headliner: Emilíana Torrini & The Colorist Orchestra. Their newest album Racing The Storm taunts with cinematic atmosphere and the usual dosage of Icelandic quirkiness and Emilíana magic. With one song already chosen among the best of 2022 by the The New York Times, expect to be enchanted again by the Icelandic singer, and hop along to hits like Jungle Drum.

A quick trip south, and you can lose and find yourself surrounded by the psychedelic Saharan riffs of Tamikrest. A journey in its own right, this concert offers complete immersion by one of the most acclaimed groups of the genre.

Just a few bounces across, the dynamic duo of Dagadana spreads a message of unity and hope through the jazziest ethno-beat. The evening closes with a prequel of Saturday’s psych-folk madness by DJ Koulla P. Katsikoronou & DJ Kraaaouuu.

Saturday, April 15

László Kollár-Klemencz starts the day on our outdoor stage: the ex-popstar turned recluse and his orchestra are on their fifth album melding folk, avantgarde and classical gestures with Kollár-Klemencz’s flowing lyricism. At Ritmo he invites the new generation of singer songwriters: Noémi Barkóczi (Dolgom Volt), Gergő Balla (Platon Karataev) and Sándor Csoóri aka “Sündi” (Ötödik Évszak) join him on stage, as well as seasoned masters such as János Másik and János Novák. The unique collab polishes the opaque shine of Hungarian poetry, reigniting the sacred alchemy of music and words.

After the poems Fanfara Station, brass band, North-African ritual and pumping electro in one appeases rhythm-hungry Ritmo-goers. Endorphin keeps level, with added notes of bitter-sweet melancholy as Corina Sîrghi & Taraful Jean Americanu revamp the beloved taraf genre aided by old maestros and urban attitude.

Your feet and voice won’t rest long, as joyful Vocal Sampling take the stage, delivering an irresistible rendition of Cuban classics and rock ballads all a cappella. The evening’s excitement won’t subside, at least not for jazz-lovers: a unique treat of Magalí Saré & Manel Fortià, the young hopefuls of Catalan jazz set off their explosive duo. Monsieur Doumani & Óperentzia, psych-folk cypriots coupled with Hungarian party troupers close the evening with an organic rave, extended by Óperentzia’s DJ act to infinity and beyond.

Music on film, films on music

Ritmo continues its foray into the realm of film, offering handpicked documentaries and music-inspired shorts. The Female Voices of Iran traces the lives of women who, defying oppression, let their voices soar and the diverse heritage of Iran thrive. 

Taarka, the first Setu film in the world, tells the story of Hilana Taarka, an outcast finding comfort in, and excelling through singing. All you wanted to know about klapa, or Dalmatian polyphonic singing is captured in the relevant episode of The Sounds That Made Us series directed by Balázs Weyer - before premier screening -, starring Klapa Ošjak, who perform the same day.

Ritmo’s brand yew production, an exclusive treat for festivalgoers sees Ábel Regős’s piece imbued by the velvety voice of Veronika Szász aka VENI.

Further audiovisual treats include the two winners of last year’s call: an opulent female-centred family story filmed by Anna Korom and Flóra Fecske, set to Uljana Quartet’s mesmerising music; and a five-part short by Marcell Bajor and Bence Szemerey, inspired by Дeva, the ethereal folk-ambient songstress.

All-in with pro pass: Ritmo goes Pro

Passes are available on the festival’s site, with this year’s welcome addition, the Pro Pass. Responding to Ritmo’s profile, the Pro Pass invites Ritmo-goers to go all-in: attending concerts, screenings, and the Ritmo conference - an excellent chance to meet the movers and shakers of the scene. A pass to Ritmo’s networking events, workshops and receptions, it also gives access to a database of delegates.

Learn more about the nuts and bolts of the region’s biggest world music festival, peep behind the curtain by subscribing to their newsletter here.

Organiser Hangvető has been a hub for world music in Central Eastern Europe since 2003. We organise world and folk music festivals, produce films, publish and distribute records. Hangvető builds cultural strategies and consults with cities, having worked with several ECoC title holders and candidates.


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