After living through a creative announcement and a brief adjustment of temperature, this year’s festival finally reigned supreme over the city on the Drava river with all the cultural pomp it could muster. The floating stage once again made it back home and its stands were packed on the very first day to see the theatre masterpiece Swan Lake. The cold breeze over the Drava river more than aptly replaced the mysterious lake, whereby the stage surrounded by water only added to the authenticity of the ballet performance that got a fair share of standing ovations. The next day brought a spectacular harmony of sound with the over 100-member deep orchestra of 100 Violins: The Gypsy Symphony Orchestra from Budapest. The orchestra that is remarkably in tune took the weather, threating to turn sour and even sending a few rain drops our way, by its throat until the very end of the concert. Whenever rain started to approach, the orchestra switched the first violin and together they kept the storm at bay with well-known covers of pieces-turned-folk-songs of Russian, Hungarian, Austrian and Roma origin, and even getting into a fine rendition of Kol’ko kapljic, tol’ko let, driving away the storm for good.
“These guys are just awesome! Look at them; there’s so many of them! And the way they play! Never mind, where can I get their album?!”
Irena was more than thrilled after the concert and ran after them without even waiting for our answer.
The festival promenade came alive as well, the strip that connects the action at the banks of the Drave river with the history and souls of Maribor’s most recognizable streets, squares and courtyards, leading all the way up to the music, performances and workshops at the amazing Art kamp hidden in the greenness that is the city park. The programme of shows and workshops in the park is known for filling the hearts and souls of our youngest visitors with utmost joy, all while reminding their elders of the true meaning and joys of life. Katalena definitely knows the joys of life, having laid them bare at Jurček Stage with melodies that ease the burden of our being and move the boundaries of folk heritage. The magic of the festival definitely lies in being able to hear and see this type of heritage of other countries from near and far away, a chance the festival brings with the upcoming Folkart programme. The intimate atmosphere of the Judgement Tower is definitely a good start, as was the Brazilian singer Denise Dantas with her quartet, who insisted on building an intercultural dialogue with the audience and finally got their wish, even though most of the audience have never spoke a word of Portuguese in their lives. The singer who lives somewhere between Nova Gorica and Gorizia knows a suspiciously large number of Slovenian words that are essential to survival – not only those that urge everyone to dance, but also those that make you really good at ordering beer and food.
“We’ve played Lent before, each on our own, but this is the first time we’re here together. We feel great, we get to play in an amazing setting with an amazing sound, and unlike the Brazilian audience, the audience here is actually on time.”
The irony was not lost on guitar player Egon Boštjančič.
Those looking for heavier tunes got what they wished for at the Večer Stage, where amps and sound techs were on their last legs during the last few days with appearances by Pankrti, Majke, and the legendary British punk rockers Bad Manners. It doesn’t get any easier today when Demolition Group get ready to unleash their demolishing ways. Naturally, the festival caters to the night owls with a diverse after-hours programme at the Mladina Stage, Wetrinsky, Minoriti, and the Žički Manstion.
“Lent is an amazing experience! I feel like I have to take a bow to the festival with such an amazing creative spirit and diverse line-up. I’m very grateful to Maribor,”
was how Katja from somewhere around Ljubljana put it. Katja visits Lent every year. See you at Lent!