You feel it immediately as you step inside the village. A forceful magical atmosphere embraces you and makes you part of the scene. Countless people, of any type, moving from one stage to another, crossing the narrow lanes of the village, enjoying the music of Crete, the Mediterranean and the East. Enchanted musical journeys in time and space, from medieval times to present day, from Afghanistan to Turkey and back to Crete. Sentiments and experiences interchange: musical rituals in “patitiri” stage and the “little square”, dancing and bacchian feasts in “Hatzine”, ecstasy in “Spiliada” and “the garden of the Labyrinth”. This grand multicultural celebration is for all: children, adults, locals, foreigners, all united in this rare occasion, a gift from the organizers.
The imposing aura of Ross Daly, the stately figure of Kelly Thoma, the now rightfully naturalized “Houdetsians” Efren Lopez, Zohar Fresco, Ciro Montanari, Peppe Frana (and more) - the established protagonists of the Festival who come every year to present their new work – and many more known and new musicians who come to Houdetsi to offer us new musical experiences, new magical expeditions. And this is how, after 6 years of faithful attendance, we have now become familiar with sounds and instruments, unknown to us before. We learned to distinguish the lute of Constantinople (lafta), bendir, saz, rabab, tabla, tanbur, viola de roda. If this is not a great achievement of cultural heritage, then what is?
The success of Houdetsi Festival lies in the organizers’ rejection of elitism, their open-mindedness and creativity, while setting high quality standards in the music they present. Authentic wild Cretan feasts co-exist with the modesty of Eastern sounds, “exotic” rhythms, the virtuosic improvisations with forgotten musical instruments and the collective -almost ritualistic- character of some musical meetings. And then, the Festival has managed to create its very own musical traditions and customs, such as the closing ‘party’ led by Cretan musician Vassilis Stavrakakis and Yiorgos Manolakis that evolves to a massive serenade invading the whole village. An ecstatic atmosphere with the Labyrinth’s garden as its epicenter, different sounds and languages uniting in one voice, dancing freely on wet grass, sending Dionysian vibes to the stage and the musicians who respond in this unique and rare bargain.
We feel the need to say a grand THANK YOU to the musicians and organizers of Houdetsi Festival.
Until we meet again, next year…