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Krayina Mriy Music Festival

 

The world-music Festival Krayina Mriy  Country of Dreams was held for the fourth time in Kyiv this year. It opened on July 6, the day of an ancient pre-Christian orgiastic feast Ivana Kupala, which with the advent of Christianity, was turned into the feast of St John the Baptist. The festival had a pronounced pagan coloring.

 

In the afternoon of July 6 a big motley crowd gathered at the mouth of Andriyivsky Uzviz, a street that flows like a river of cobble stones from the upper Kyiv down to the downtown Podil. People of all ages wore traditional Ukrainian dresses rich in colors and embroidery, jeans and embroidered shirts and cosmopolitan clothes with little ethnic touches added. Flower wreaths crowned many heads.

Several bands and individual musicians stationed at strategic places but far enough from each other, played music to cater to different tastes, from pure traditional folk to modern folk interpretations.

At one place young men with long locks of hair on their shaven heads in a classic Cossack tradition worked hard trying to get fire by vigorously rubbing one piece of wood against the other. The fire obtained in this way would be used to light a torch and that would be a signal to start the Kupalska Khoda  Ivana Kupala march to Spivoche Pole, The Singing Field, which is situated quite a way from Andriyivsky Uzviz in a different part of town. It is on the stages of Spivoche Pole in the open air that the festival music would be played.

It seemed at first that all the attempts to obtain fire would fail but then at last a thin waft of smoke announced that the most ancient way of making fire did work after all. The torch was lit and the march began, winding through the streets of Kyiv in all of its pagan splendor.

Oleh Skrypka, the principal organizer and producer of the festival (and the frontman of the VV rock group, one of the top acts in the Ukrainian rock scene), joined the march. Krayina Mriy is an international festival with musicians from Poland, Lithuania, Finland, Hungary, Great Britain and other countries coming to Kyiv to take part in it. At one point of the long march Skrypka, who was lightly unwell with a cold, excused himself and got into a car. A cheerful voice from the crowd advised, You should ride on a horse-driven wagon rather than in a car!

The crowd that eventually gathered at Spivoche Pole was visibly smaller than in the previous years  probably many people were scared off by the heavy menacing clouds that hang above the city. Also, the city authorities introduced the time limit  all the performances had to be over by ten p.m. There are no apartment houses anywhere near the place and loud music would not disturb the peaceful sleep of the city burghers anyway, but a ban is a ban.

One of the distinguished guests of the festival was Ivan Malkovych, the famed publisher of gorgeously illustrated books for children. Talking to the journalists, Malkovych, who was accompanied by his family, said it was a family tradition to mark the Feast of Ivana Kupala and the Krayina Mriy festival is an excellent occasion to do so. Look at the people around  they are lit by a magic inner light. Their emotions are genuine. They have left their worries behind and have come to listen to music filled with the most profound folk spirit. The festival is very properly called The Country of Dreams. Its a country without borders, you dont have to have visas or passports to visit it, and the ticket is your heart open to the magic of music.

Music was not the only attraction at the Spivoche Pole  a sort of a fair offered all kinds of folk memorabilia and souvenirs  embroideries, wood carvings, dolls, recordings of ethno and folk music, plus a lot else. Blacksmiths made wondrous things in their smithies right in front of the awed spectators. Horseback rides were available to those who felt like it, as well as folk instruments offered to those who thought they could actually play them. The atmosphere was relaxed and truly festive.

The festival lasted for three days and on the closing day the crowds swelled to their usual overwhelming size.

Viktor Yushchenko, President of Ukraine, and his wife were spotted in the audience.

The Krayina Mriy Festival once again proved to be an unqualified success which even the torrential rain could not spoil.

 

Photos by Oleksandr Kadnikov

and Ivan Dudkin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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