Last year as a part of a research project about music and social conscience I have the opportunity of attending the first event of Festival Esperanzah! in Barcelona. This was a great experience of how music can interrelate with communities and open minds to accept diversity as a part of the rich cultural legacy that this world is offering us. The music was only one part (even if big) of the many possibilities this festival offered. There was theatre, cinema, social debates, a great market for crafty pots, necklaces or earrings and, not least, great food representing the different immigrant communities living in Barcelona.
Previously, my study research led me to the website you are now visiting. RadioChango is a fundamental actor together the social integrationist project GATS (Associated Groups for Sociocultural Work) to bring this festival to Barcelona for the first time last year. The Esperanzah Festival! is the idea of Belgian social worker and, now, promoter, Jean-Yves Laffineur. In Belgium this started 9 years ago in the Abbey of Floreffe, seven miles from the town of Namur. In Barcelona, the location is the more humble and working class area of El Prat de Llobregat, a close distance to the airport. Oscar Rando, the director of the festival Esperanzah! in Barcelona has emphasized the importance of El Prat and its relation with the festival for its participative and community ethics. Esperanzah! is a unique type of music festival as also a gathering of social activists, communities, associations and music fans joining in a tree day celebration of festive music, theatre, cinema, world food, and a market of artisanal goods, and, not least, to engage in a global issue debate. Last year the topic under which the debate opened was the Food Sovereignty, the right of all countries to control their own destinies, on agricultural and farm issues, against the monopolization by transnational corporations. This year they have chosen a much more popular theme. Football, this is not only to follow the World Cup mania, also run during the month ofJune, but to transmit the idea that football can be an important tool for social transformation.
For the music fans we should not forget the outstanding list of artists coming this year. The flamenco-reggae tinged street music of Canteca de Macao from Madrid, the French kings of swing the Poutrelles Fever, the electronic uptempo beat with social conscience of La Kinky Beat (check their song Citizens in youtube) for a non stopping dance craze on Friday 25. The next day the fiesta goes on with the Spanish superstars of Ojo de Brujo and its flamenco fusion, the British-Colombian new adventure of Bristol producer Will Holland the Quantic and his Combo Barbaro, and to carry on with the Saturday night fever the Balkatalan Experience, this musical project offers an infectious beat in the combination of music and visuals for the purpose of marrying Catalan and Balkan grooves. The African music contribution will come from the South African pioneer of protest music against Apartheid, Sam Tshabalala, ex-leader of Malopoets, a popular band in the South African scene of the 1980s. For the final day, the more mellow music from Amparo Sanchez compared to her late music project Amparanoia, will transport us from the desert border between Mexico and the US to the Caribbean shores of Cuba in her first album Tucson-Habana recorded with some of the Calexico members between both cities. Of course the final day there will be time to dance and not better than the trio of accordionists Trikordeon to make us dance with a fussion of Columbians cumbians and vallenatos. These are some of the major artists coming but there will also be space for new emerging bands, three of them will be selected from a competition. It is important to say that all the bands, artists, organizations, speakers and volunteers participating in the festival shared common beliefes in social transformation and a profound respect for a diverse world in line with the principles which the festival promotes. This does not mean that they all have the same ideology but a vision of social transformation to improve communities, cities, countries and, in a bigger scale, the world. Festival Esperanzah! is determined that its beliefs for a better world and its declaration (“Esperanzah World Music Festival works to build a real bridge between music, arts and the compromise for mobilization of the civil society towards a fairer and more sustainable world” )are not empty words.
Festival Esperanzah! is a festival designed for all ages to enjoy. There will be kids area and facilities for the elderly and disable attendants. According to its non-profit making status, the prices are much lower than similar festivals, with 45 euros for the three days and only 3 euros for the camping entrance for those who would like to stay over. Music is an important vehicle to bring people together but, also, a powerful force to change people’s minds. There is no hype about this festival, only a shared belief that together we can make this world better. In El Prat this June we all will dance but we will also think. Think Global Act Local!