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Music festival held in the Centre of Europe


Ukrainians are Europeans  but with a difference. Uniformity in culture is not a very good idea and cultural differences should always be maintained. A music festival recently held in the town of Rakhiv in Ukraine showed that Ukrainian musicians follow the world music trends but at the same time retain differences that make them original.


Rakhiv is situated in Western Ukraine in scenic natural settings, not far from the place which is considered to be the geographical centre of Europe. No wonder, the 2nd International Festival Rock & World Music was called Yevropa-Tsentr  Europe-Centre.

The festival, surprising as it may seem, was organized jointly by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Ukraine which, in general, is regarded to be a rather conservative government body, and by the state-run concert agency Ukrayina hastrolna.

Those who participated in the festival and those who came to see the shows, were unanimous in describing the festival as an inspiring event. Modern rock which keeps you alert and prevents your conscience from going to sleep, and world music which is based on folk music and which is gaining in popularity world wide, demonstrated their great vitality.

For the state-run concert agency Ukrayina hastrolna it was not the first event on such a scale. The agency has been in the business of organizing such events for quite some time, and among the most spectacular events organized by Ukrayina hastrolna were The Day of Ukraine at the Slavic Bazaar Festival in 2005 which was held in the city of Vitebsk, Belarus; the opening ceremony of The Year of Ukraine in Poland, and celebrations of The Day of Independence of Ukraine in Kyiv.

The Europe-Centre Festival attracted massive audiences. In addition to music that was played on several stages, ethnic shows, exhibitions of local artists and craftsmen, fairs and other festival-related events proved to be great attractions as well. Among the Ukrainian musicians and singers who performed at the festival were rock groups Mandry, Fayno, Tartak, Chornobryvtsi; singers Hutsul Kalipso, Rosava, Liliya Vavryn and Oksana Bilozir. Oksana Bilozir, a pop singer who was minister of culture of Ukraine for some time and now is a member of parliament, was treated as a VIP guest.

The chief MC of the festival was Sashko Polozhynsky, a member of the rock group Tartak.

Among the foreign guests of the festival was a very important person too  Johann Hapsburg-Lotringen, a descendant of Franz-Josef Hapsburg, a member of the Austrian Imperial family. It was over a hundred years ago that the geographical sign that marks the Centre of Europe was set up in the vicinity of Rakhiv by the Austrians. The inscription on the stone slab says in part, This is the place which has been precisely determined, with the help of a special device made in Austria-Hungary, to be the exact location of the geographical centre of Europe. 1887. At that time the Land of Zakarpattya in western Ukraine where Rakhiv is situated, was part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire.

It turned out that Mr Hapsburg-Lotringens parents knew well another representative of the Hapsburg family, William, who was known in Ukraine as Vasyl Vyshyvany. Vyshyvany, a colonel, served in the Ukrainian army at the time of the Civil War of 19171920 when the newly independent Ukraine was fighting against Bolshevik Russia for its independence. Vyshyvany was a military advisor to Symon Petlyura, the military leader of Ukraine at that time and later head of government. After the capture of Ukraine by the Bolshevik forces, Vyshyvany fled to Vienna, Austria, where he was arrested by the Soviet secret service in 1947 (Austria was occupied by the Allied Forces after WWII) and taken to the Soviet Union where he died in a concentration camp. Strange are the ways of history and of human destiny.

The 2nd International Festival Rock & World Music Europe-Centre proved to be a feast of music and friendly relations. It is hoped that such events are an excellent promotion of culture tourism. Incidentally, Mr Hapsburg-Lotringen is connected in a certain way to the tourist business  he allows tourists to visit his estate which is located in the vicinity of Vienna.



Photos by Natalka ADAMCHUK



Sashko Polozhynsky,
frontman of the band Tartak.


Yan Lashkevych, 45, wearing his hippie-style
clothes, regularly attends music festivals
in Ukraine, Russia, Poland


Johann Hapsburg-Lotringen, a scion
of the Hapsburg family with his wife at the 2nd
International Festival Rock & World
Music Europe-Center.



These young men came to attend
the festival from afar, travelling all
the way across the Carpathians on foot.




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