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Indigenous Music Theme at Tønder Festival

Tønder Festival is this year presenting a series of musicians with roots in the indigenous cultures of Canada, Greenland, Australia and northern Scandinavia.

This year's Tønder Festival offers a major indigenous theme: singers and songwriters from a variety of native peoples take the stage. The musicians will present contemporary versions of musical narration stemming from their own folk culture, reaching back through thousands of years of music. 

From the Canadian prairie to the Australian outback

From Manitoba in Canada we have two songwriters from the First Nation culture, William Prince, who was at Tønder Festival last year, and Richard Inman. Both have achieved fame on short order in their home country, bidding in with a blend of country, folk and traditional culture.

Greenland will be strongly represented. Singer Nive Nielsen, who also performed at Tønder Festival last year, and her band The Deer Children, mix americana and Greenland traditions. And veteran Rasmus Lyberth, loved by a wide Danish audience, he masters the arts of narration and song.

The Sami culture, historically based in the very north of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, is famous for among other things the 'yoik' singing style, also known as vuolle, luohti and leu'dd, recognised as some of the oldest forms of song in Europe. Tønder festival audiences can look forward to hearing two of today's finest Sami musicians, Mari Boine and Vassvik.

From Australia come two singers and songwriters who purvey their aboriginal culture in different ways, but who have won awards for their art in the homeland. They are the soul-inspirered Dan Sultan, and Gawurra, who sings in the Yolngu language.

"We are proud to present a whole spectrum of outstanding musicians in this year's indigenous theme. Our audiences will have access to songwriters and singer who bear ancient music traditions, sometimes translating them into modern musical language, and who stem from a wide variety of ethnicities and cultures. An international folk and roots festival like Tønder Festival has a duty to present this theme in our programme, and to give representatives of the indigenous peoples a voice," says Maria Theessink, artistic director of Tønder Festival.

Working with IWGIA

In 2018, the organisation IWGIA, International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, celebrates its half centenary. The organisation is based in København and is cooperating with Tønder Festival to attract attention to this year's indigenous theme. A fortnight before Tønder Festival, IWGIA launches a campaign Day of the World Indigenous Peoples, running from 9 August 2018, with the support of Tønder Festival.

Interviews, podcasts and dissemination

Tønder Festival's indigenous theme will be the focus of exclusive artist interviews and podcasts produced by former Radio Denmark journalist Claus Vittus. You can trace these via the Tønder Festival website tf.dk and on Facebook. The theme will have its own visual presence on the Tønder Festival site: the main street will be lined with art installations dedicated to indigenous music. The design and production of the installations are the work of Tønder Festival's atmosphere group.

Tønder Festival will take place 23. 24. 25. 26. of August.

For more information about the festival and the musicians that is going to play, visit Tønder Festival's web site here




IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting and defending Indigenous Peoples’ rights. Read more.

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Indigenous World

IWGIA's global report, the Indigenous World, provides an update of the current situation for Indigenous Peoples worldwide. Read The Indigenous World.

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Phone: (+45) 53 73 28 30
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