BALKAN:MOST – The Balkan experience, beyond stereotypes

A resounding roll call of fresh talent from the Balkans and music professionals from all over Europe, BALKAN:MOST Festival, in cooperation with WOMEX, brings 6 headliners, 24 showcase bands and a 3-day conference to Veszprém’s picturesque venues. Dubioza Kolektiv, Marina Satti and jazz maestro Daniele Sepe entertain the crowds at free open-air concerts while 200-plus experts of the world music scene convene in Veszprém, European Capital of Culture 2023 between 7 and 9 September.

Bringing new discoveries and moving beyond stereotypes, BALKAN:MOST strives to pay dues to a region of rich heritage and bustling energies long misrepresented. It’s a pioneer event in scope and relevance – never before have Balkan bands stepped onto the stage in such numbers and variety at a single festival. Never before has a professional event attracted this many participants convened for the cause of the region’s music. Crowning MOST, the four-year project led by Hangvető and co-financed by Creative Europe, the festival showcases fresh regional talent. It provides a bridge or stepping stone to wider markets.

The birthplace of brass bands, crossroads of peoples and cultures, home to natural and cultural treasures, the Balkans have been predominantly perceived through heavy-handed stereotypes. Organised by Hangvető, within Veszprém’s ECoC framework, BALKAN:MOST offers a truer, current and diverse encounter through music, the most potent agent of cross-cultural communication.

Rebellious, like Dubioza Kolektiv, spirited and sensual like Marina Satti, bohemian as in La Caravane Passe, full of bouncy joy like Barcelona Gipsy balKan Orchestra and enticing, just as Daniele Sepe’s pieces, music displays all the region’s manifold colours, and then some. Have a go at Bosnian blues, aka sevdah, experience neofolk, gipsy hop or upland electronica, check out gigs by Bulgarian Oratnitza, interpreters of Bosnian sevdah Divanhana, get lost in the woods with Macedonian Perija at 30 gigs on 3 open-air stages in the Veszprém Castle and City Center.

MOST references the Slavic word for bridge and stands for the four-year-long project revitalising the region’s music industry, co-financed by Creative Europe. The unprecedented undertaking was led by Hangvető, who invested over 4 million euros in elevating regional artists and building connections, partnerships and new joint initiatives with the rest of Europe. The conference in September will summarise and extend the projects’ efforts while providing another opportunity to showcase regional talent.

In cooperation with one of the major international platforms of world music, WOMEX, the 3-day conference discusses the strengths and challenges of the music industry in the Balkans, with plenty of workshops and networking opportunities. Veszprém, with its top-notch venues and picturesque location, proves a generous host in its European Capital of Culture title year. Adding to the city’s musical life and heightened buzz, BALKAN:MOST brings a multitude of flavours unmissable for professionals and audiences alike, for anyone curious about this rich yet largely unexplored region.