Drone Festival 2017

The fifth International Drone Festival
2017. June 9-11, 2017 in Alsunga, Basi and Jūrkalne
Theme: the sun is warm, mommy is dear.

The fifth International Drone Festival in the Suiti community, one of the main events for promoting the Suiti intangible cultural heritage, has been celebrated.

By the initiative of “Etniskās kultūras centrs “Suiti””, the tradition of celebrating international drone festival was started in 2004. The festival takes place once a three year time, this year in June 9 -11.

This year, the encompassing festival theme was the SUN and MOTHER – “The sun is warm, mommy is sweet” – which is a popular folklore song theme across the world.

Opening of the festival

The festival was celebrated for three days from June 9 till June 11, with a versatile program (conference “Drone, tradition, passing down”, evening gathering, lullaby evenings and four concerts), which embraced the whole historical Suiti community – Alsunga, Basi and Jūrkalne. This year, seven local folklore collectives participated in the festival: “Suitu sievas’, “Suitu vīri”, “Suitu dūdenieki”, “Suitiņi”, “Maģie suiti”, “Gudenieku suiti” and “Basu suiti”, five Latvian folklore collectives – ethnographic band from Otaņķi, “Abra”, “Atštaukas”, “Saucējas” and “Laiva” and five foreign collectives – 230 participants in total.

This time, one of our foreign guests was “Nanina” folk band from Georgia. The folk band is directed by Tea Kasaburi, ethnomusicologist. Almost each of the band’s participants is ethnomusicologist, and they have been friends since study years. The Georgians visited the International Drone Festival in the Suiti community for the third time.

“Kuršu ainiai” (the Curonian descendants), folklore band came from Klaipēda, Lithuania. The band keeps up the traditional culture of Lithuania Minor residents. The folklore band performed songs and dances.
two of them were from the Setos community and one from Kihnu Island (the Kihnu cultural space). Friendly relationship and versatile cooperation ties between the Suiti and the Estonian Setos community last more than a decade, becoming closer and more regular each year. Just like the Suiti community, the Setos “leelo” singing tradition was enlisted in the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage. At the festival, “Seto miihi summ” male “leelo” band and “Mokornulk” female “leelo” female band performed, participating in the festival for the third time.
The Kihnu cultural space was represented by the Kihnu folklore band. The Kihnu Island is a small island in the Baltic Sea beside the Estonian coast. It is characterized by strong and beautiful traditions. In 2008, the Kihnu cultural space was enlisted into the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage. The folklore band demonstrated part of the Kihnu traditional culture, as it exists nowadays – with colourful national attires, country dances and ancient wedding and sailor songs.

The first festival day was sunny and started with vivid discussions within the “Drone, tradition, passing-down” conference. The conference was international, so service of simultaneous interpretation was provided for the visitors and participants Among the lecturers there were both the local experts and guests from Georgia and Estonia, who shared their competence and experience regarding their unique singing techniques, and the practice of keeping-up and passing-down thereof. In the second part of the conference, Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, the ex-president of Latvia, presented book “Trejādas Saules. Mitoloģiskā saule”, which contains her latest collection of folk songs about the sun. Pēc konferences dalībnieki pulcējās vakarēšanā, lai pie vakariņu When the conference was over, the participants gathered at dinner table to get to know each other better. The first day was closed by demonstrating the ritual of putting a baby in cradle by “Gudenieku suiti” ethno-folk band, which was followed by lullaby singing by the festival participants.

Morning concert in Basi

Festivāla otrā diena – spraiga un saulaina sākās ar Rīta koncertu On the second day of the festival, still sunny, an energetic morning concert was celebrated at the Basi Tautas nams, the local culture centre, which was followed by a daytime concert in Ugunspļava park in Jūrkalne.

Concert in Ugunspļava, Jūrkalne

Great concert

The Great Concert of the festival was introduced by a walk of festival participants, stretching from the Alsunga Secondary School to the Zieduleja open-air stage. This time, the Great Concert was hosted by Edgars Lipors and Lilija Lipora, energetic couple, known in Latvia for keeping the Latvian customs alive.

After the Great Concert, the participants were invited to the dance party in the Alsunga culture centre. Here everyone, children and adults included, had a chance to try out the Latvian dance patterns, under the guidance of “Dandari”, dance company of the University of Latvia.

Church mass and gala concert

Traditionally, as always, the third day of the Drone Festival started with the Church mass at the Alsunga St. Michael’s Roman Catholic Church. The mass was followed by a very touching and loving gala concert. We would like to thank all the participants, the local ones and guests, and everyone, who helped to create the unforgettable celebration of drone singing! We proved to ourselves, together we can make a celebration, full of sound, beauty and love.

We are grateful for the funding allocated by the State Culture Capital Foundation, Alsunga District Municipality and the municipalities of Kuldīga and Ventspils. The total budget of the festival amounted to EUR 17300 (SCCF – EUR 13000, Alsunga District Municipality – EUR 1000, Kuldīga Municipality Council – EUR 1000, Ventspils District Municipality – EUR 1000, “UNESCO tourism” EST-LAT cross-border cooperation programme between Estonia and Latvia – EUR 1300).
See you in the sixth Drone Festival in the Suiti area!

Best regards, Dace Martinova,
Chair of “EKC “Suiti””