The WOMAD Festival 2008

Thursday 25 October 2007

Into its 26th year worldwide, the WOMAD festival continues to grow - both in popularity and in the calibre of artists it attracts.

It was started by former Genesis member Peter Gabriel back in 1982 and was set up to bring the World of Music, Arts and Dance together in a multi cultural global celebration. There have been other festivals in places as diverse as Singapore, Spain, the UK, and Italy to name but a few.

Next year's event in Taranaki is likely to be no different to the other festivals New Zealand has seen. Not just about the music, the festival also provides a haven for children as well. Already the acts are lining up for their time in Taranaki over 3 days in March.

An Emerald City are from Auckland - their style of music incorporates the sound of the East such as the sitar and the tambla). Together for just over a year, the six piece which comprises An Emerald City are already a formidable force live.

Black Grace (New Zealand) has cut an imposing figure on the world stage for 12 years as New Zealand's leading contemporary dance company, thanks to the robust athleticism of Neil Leremia's dynamic choreographic vision. Fusing Pacific and contemporary dance in an extraordinary and dynamic form, Black Grace has become internationally renowned for its artistry, creative excellence and innovation.

Clube do Balanço (Brazil) - In the same way that the Rolling Stones played homage to the masters of the Delta Blues, Brazilian band Clube do Balanço have re-ignited the work of the masters of samba-rock, reshaping the ballroom style to share with this new century’s audiences. With their two albums Swing & Samba Rock and Samba Incrementado they’ve single handedly started a movement that’s been shaking Brazilian dancefloors for the past six years.

Gyuto Monks (Tibet/Australia) - The Gyuto Monks are a welcome return to WOMAD 2008. Trained over many years, the Gyuto Monks are the unique masters of deep harmonic overtone chanting. A recitation of the Buddha's teachings- this ancient chanting forms a secret and mysterious pathway to tantric transformation. Aside from their performance, the Gyuto Monks will be hosting a series of workshops for both kids and adults.

Mavis Staples (USA) - Soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples possesses one of the most recognisable and treasured voices in contemporary music. From her early days sharing lead vocals with her groundbreaking family group, The Staple Singers, to her powerful solo recordings, Mavis Staples is an inspirational force in modern popular culture and music. A 40-year-plus veteran of the music scene, and inductee to the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, Staples is responsible for blazing a rhythm & blues trail while never relinquishing her gospel roots.

Toumani Diabate's Symmetric Orchestra (Mali) - For Kora player Toumani Diabate, fame has come not from just his virtuosity – and no one can match Toumani for sheer dexterity – but it is his incredible soulfulness, a lyricism he brings to the music that has subsequently been captured so beautifully on his albums and live performances. He has worked with such artists as Taj Mahal and Damon Albarn from Brit-pop band Blur.

Whangara Mai Tawhiti (NZ) First established in 1961, Whangara-mai-tawhiti kapa haka group have competed and won countless placings at a national level over the years. The group represents the Ngati Konohi iwi from Gisborne and boasts a number of seasoned performers. Whangara-mai take the key elements of kapa haka – strength, grace and unity – and add the sparkle and joy that elevates a good group to an outstanding group of performers. Whangara is the landing place of the legendary Paikea, who travelled to Aotearoa on the back of a whale. His arrival is commemorated within the walls of Whitireia and Waho-te-rangi meeting houses at Whangara. The nearby island, Toka-a-rangi, is said to be the final resting place of this tipua and is the burial ground of Paikea, Porourangi, Hinematioro and other renowned ancestors of the Tairawhiti.

But with a line up this fabulous, it'll come as no surprise to you that the tickets are selling fast. All Early Bird three day passes including camping and Marae style sold out on Monday 15 Oct, just two weeks after tickets went on sale on Monday 1 Oct. Full price three day passes are now available. Remember that WOMAD tickets sold out in 2007 leaving many disappointed! Don’t delay - purchase your tickets now. Three day pass - $190 Three day pass & Camping - $235 Three day pass & Marae Style - $25.

So what do you think of this year's line up so far? What's the best part of the WOMAD festival? And, more importantly, are you going to this year's event?