Academic journal article Hemispheres

Around the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival - Cultural Aspects of Festival Tourism

Academic journal article Hemispheres

Around the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival - Cultural Aspects of Festival Tourism

Article excerpt

Introduction

The largest and the most important Central Asian festival is held in Samarkand, Uzbekistan: the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival, established by a ministerial resolution in 1997. 1 The festival was established with two important objectives in mind. The first was to undertake special activities to rediscover and preserve lost cultural traditions (especially in the countries of Central Asia and the Caucasus); and among other things, to present the melodies and songs of this intangible cultural heritage of countries from all continents. Secondly, the festival was designed to develop intercultural dialogue between all communities in the world over any language or cultural barriers and initiate a meeting and cooperation of musicians at the international level. The festival takes place every two years. In 2011, a special edition of the festival was organised, celebrating the 20 th anniversary of Uzbekistan's independence, while the 8th edition of the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival was held in the same year.

Samarkand, a city of significant symbols for Eastern culture, was selected as the festival location. It is one of the oldest cities in the world, situated on the ancient Great Silk Road. For many centuries, Samarkand was an oasis of dialogue among various nations and cultures. Numerous languages, traditions and cultural experiences of nations from all over Asia met in this gem of the East. 2

The organisers of the music tournament are the following: the President of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov, the Ministry of Culture and Sport of the Republic of Uzbekistan, national television, the Union of Composers of Uzbekistan, Samarkand regional authorities and t he United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), as the patron of the project . The primary qualifier in evaluating artists' participation in the festival was a reference to national traditions and an ability to recapture the musical heritage constituting a cultural value of a particular ethnic group. An international jury was formed (comprising leading musicologists, art directors and directors of international festivals from countries such as Singapore, Belgium, South Korea, Indonesia, Morocco, Canada, Japan, India and China, Israel and Uzbekistan). The prizes for winners are designed to support their activities for the benefit of culture: the Grand Prix - 10,000 dollars, 1st place - 7,000 dollars, 2nd place - 5,000 dollars, 3rd place - 3,000 dollars.3

During the festival, special additional tourist events are organised for the visitors, promoting the material and non-material cultural heritage of Uzbekistan. Apart from the main festival stage in Registan in Samarkand, performances are held in parks and amphitheatres: Mujiza, Yoshlik and Sogdiana, and outside Samarkand centre - in Taylak, Urgut, Jambay, Akdarya and Payariq. Exhibitions presenting the history of Uzbekistan and the cultural heritage of prior generations are also organised. Festival guests are in addition offered trips to museums and to historic and holy places.

Each Sharq Taronalari festival is considered so important for the Asian region that a very solemn opening celebration takes place (with a speech delivered by the president of Uzbekistan and a great opening performance). Television and radio stations broadcast the whole festival in prime time. The last day of the festival, rounded off by a music feast, is a day for the spiritual culture of all nations of Asia.

Within a short time, the Sharq Taronalari International Music Festival has become one of the most popular festivals in Asia and a highly valued one in other parts of the world. Year after year the number of people interested in active contribution increases. The geographic scope of the festival's musical influence also expands and competition increases. As readily admitted by, among others the students of Education and Research Institutes in Samarkand (volunteers assisting the organisation of the musical event), the festival "allows you to get to know other nations of the world with their beautiful cultural heritage, to explore this diversity that you do not think about every day and which does not tear us apart, but makes us different. …

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