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Tartu 2024 at the Veszprem Street Music Festival

From 25 to 28 August, the Tartu 2024 delegation visited the European Capital of Culture 2023 Veszprem in Hungary. During the trip, Jaan Ulst and Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu took part in the city’s most popular music events, the Street Music Festival, as members of the international jury, along with Giedrė Korotkovaitė, Communications Coordinator of Good Music Live - Kaunas. The VEB2023 team conducted an interview with the international jury members.

Jaan Ulst with colleague.
08. Sep Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu

Jaan Ulst. Photo: Kovács Bálint

VEB2023: Do you have anything similar to the Street Music Festival in your cities, or are you planning to organise such a thing in your city in the future?

Giedrė Korotkovaitė: Yes, in Vilnius we have a Street Music Day that happens in May, but it does not include international bands. It lasts for a day. It would be much better if there was a programme for international musicians in the Lithuania Street Music Day.

Jaan Ulst: From the Estonian side we can say that we do not have a festival of such magnitude as I have seen here. It’s hard to comprehend how many performances are happening simultaneously. You finish with one band and there’s already a new stage.

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu: And there may be some pop-up events, like after the first lockdown, when bands came to the street, and played near cafés, to boost the economy, but really there is nothing like this.

Jaan Ulst: In Tartu, we have the Car-Free Avenue. It is a one month long interdisciplinary festival, where you can find things for youth, stages with different artists performing in the evenings. There is a space for folk dance groups, or various dance groups. It is a space to relax in. We close the street for cars and give it back to the people.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė: And I can add that for Lithuania Street Music Day the bands only need to register. Everybody can play, there are no rules. But also there are no big stages, people just get their slot on the street, and play the music.

VEB2023: And how do people like these events? What is their popularity like?

Jaan Ulst: If you talk about the Car-Free Avenue, it’s very popular, especially with families. Different events with a different focus bring different people, so that is also a plus. But car owners, they say that this one street is taken from them, there is some resistance, but I think this year already went much better because people see the benefits of really having a social area instead of just passing by.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė . Photo: Kovács Bálint

VEB2023: What are the benefits, the positive consequences that such an event can bring about to a community or to a city?

Giedrė Korotkovaitė: I think it’s bringing their attention to the musician, you know. So people see that there are many young people who are rehearsing and trying to do music, and love it. It’s good for everybody: for musicians to show their talent.

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu: And to add on to your point, I mean I don’t know the Hungarian artists in your festival, maybe they are very famous in your country, but I think when it comes to street music festivals, it can really highlight unknown artists and give the stage to up-and-coming artists, young artists. This could be good ground to grow your career. Because if you think about music festivals, they are usually targeted towards famous names, or it’s more niche genres. But this festival has so many genres and so many different acts, that your next biggest star could be playing today but we don’t know it yet.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė: Music is born in the streets and in the bars. Music must be within people, within our lives.

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu. Photo: Kovács Bálint

VEB2023: Could you speak about your experiences, impressions of Veszprém, how your programme has been, and your feelings?

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu: It has been such a lovely city, with such wonderfully kind and generous people. People are very welcoming. I think I can probably speak for all of us: our days are really packed with tours and judging; there’s so much excitement.

Jaan Ulst: Yesterday I was in the streets with the musicians and the audience. You could see people of different ages, families, different social backgrounds side by side enjoying themselves. We see this diversity also in the architecture, where new and old come together. We have been hearing the plans for the castle, how to renovate the houses there, and how to respect the history and then what new things have to be built to make the city more livable. I understand this is one of the aims of the EcoC: to bring more people here. Diversity is also this one key word in our EcoC, especially natural diversity. It’s good to see that this EcoC thinking is very similar here.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė: And very well organised. Everything is on time (the bands), I didn’t expect it like this from my experience. The programme has been really-really good, the Hungarian bands’ programme and of course the nighttime programme. I’m totally amazed. And it’s so good that bands from all around Europe play here publicly for the people. You know, because in Lithuania normally you would see Lithuanian bands or bands related to Lithuania, but here, as I see it, it is open to everybody, and it’s cool.

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu: And also one thing I wanted to mention is I really see how inspiring the festival is to other musicians. There are the official stages and there is the night programme but you can go into some random alleyway and see people playing their guitars.

Jaan Ulst: Yes, and there’s a lot of audience!

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu: People gather around them to watch. So, I don’t know, maybe it’s some guerrilla programme you have going on, and they are where they are supposed to be, but maybe it’s just an overflow of creativity and people are just inspired to take their guitars and come out to play.


Kovács Bálint