By Yekaterina Krasovskaya
The bagpipe has always been viewed as a military instrument, with its plaintive yet majestic tone inspiring Roman warriors to battle. Over the course of time, Europeans changed the tradition; bagpipe playing is now popular in Scotland, for example. In fact, the instrument is closely connected with folk culture. Quite a few modern day fans of the bagpipe live in Belarus, with the Festival of Bagpipe Music — Dudarski Fest — organised in the Republic since 1990. This year, it featured several concerts, with bands from Germany, Sweden and Poland in attendance.
The event opened at Minsk’s House of Veterans, with cult Belarusian band Essa creating a wonderful mood, as might be felt in a village home. Stary Olsa band strengthened the fairy-tale by wearing medieval costumes and performing enchanting music.
In turn, Swedish Hedningarna performed a mix of electronic and rock music, featuring Scandinavian folk motifs. The band organically unites traditional instruments with synthesised music and sampled melodies. Belarusian Litvintroll closed the party, singing lyrics which fully embraced the mood and well confirmed bagpipes as a folk instrument.
The village of Borok, in the Volozhin District, hosted a conference as part of the festival, entitled Preservation of Bagpipe Traditions in Eastern Europe. Participants delivered speeches, followed by a German-Swedish-Belarusian jam session. The museum complex of Dudutki also hosted several events. Its surroundings perfectly suit the historical and musical traditions of the Belarusian bagpipe. Several centuries ago, bagpipe playing was common at Easter, it being a Belarusian custom to visit neighbouring houses with bagpipe playing and songs.
The festival closed at Minsk’s Reactor Club, where Belarusian and foreign bands met on a single stage to perform music in various styles.