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First WOMEX Edition in Southeastern Europe: A Feast of Global Sounds

United States
Saturday, 20 October 2012, Thessaloniki, Greece -- The eighteenth edition of WOMEX – the world music expo – is ending on Sunday, 21 October in Thessaloniki, Greece, after five full days and nights of global industry networking, thought- provoking exchan ge, and th e finest sounds and most irresistible beats worldwide. Taking place in Southeastern Europe, the Balkans, Greece, for the very first time, the number of delegates from WOMEX’s new host region increased significantly. With a total of 2200 delegates from 90 countries, WOMEX has established itself as the number one international hotspot among all music industry events.

Southeastern Europe was not only WOMEX’s new destination in 2012 but also WOMEX’s focus throughout the programme, offering artists and music professionals from the region the opportunity to take centre stage.

Having grown to eight stages, the WOMEX Showcase Festival presented over 61 acts – including 36 Jury-selected ones – from nearly 50 countries in excellent sound conditions at the international exhibition centre Helexpo, Megaro and Kitchen Bar.

Dedicated e xclusively to the artistic wealth o f Southeastern Europe, the extra Club Globalkan stage hit the mark with delegates and the public audience alike. Club Globalkan was organised by our local partner Gaialive with the support of the Municipality of Thessaloniki. Club sounds were in the limelight at the new WOMEX DJ Summit, with a specific festival and networking programme dedicated to DJs. For the first time, WOMEX offered two special club nights in downtown Thessaloniki on Friday and Saturday with three DJs on each night. With the Puglia Sounds and the Minas Gerais nights showcasing their home-grown talent, two regions had their premiere in the offWOMEX programme. The Nordic Club night brought back good memories from WOMEX’s previous home turf in Northern Europe from 2009 to 2011.

A special gala concert with a strong local reference – My Sweet Canary – was offered at the WOMEX Opening: a hub for Sephardi Jewish culture for over four centuries until the Nazis arrived, Thessaloniki was the childhood home of Roza Eskenazi, the legendary singer and first true star of rembetiko, to whom WOMEX paid tribute with this concert featuring artists from Greece, Turkey and Israel. The production is based on a music documentary of the same name, masterminded by Roy Sher and Elpida Markianidou. Helen Kontos coordinated the project for the WOMEX Opening. Thanks to a collaboration of public radio broadcasters – ERT (Greece), BBC (UK), RBB and WDR (both Germany), and NRK (Norway) – large parts of the Showcase Festival were recorded and made available to the European Broadcasting Union for the distribution and transmission of full WOMEX Showcase concerts among their member and affiliate sta tions in and outside Europe.

Besides the most spacious Greek representation at WOMEX ever, there was a number of individual-booth first-timers from Greece at the Trade Fair this year. Also new in the WOMEX fishbowl were umbrellas from neighbouring Turkey, Czech Republic, Colombia, Peru and Malaysia. All in all 600 companies from 40 countries exhibited their business activities on 245 stands. 70 speakers and mentors from nearly 30 countries and all sectors of the music industry shared their know-how at the WOMEX Conference: from basics to backgrounds, from live to recorded, and from roots to visions.

With WOMEX moving to Southeastern Europe, the Conference had a particular emphasis on the state, peculiarities and development of the regional music business – and the music history. Another first this year, the WOMEX DJ Summit featured a special Conference programme alongside two dedicated club nights.

Delegates requiring specific advice could choose between two formats this year: the new Round- Table Mentoring scored very highly, while the One-to-One Mentoring for professionals in need of individual help also remained a firm favourite.

Multiplying relevant business contacts and identifying new avenues for international collaboration was the aim of the fully-booked Southeastern European Matchmaking which connected delegates from the region with delegates from outside Southeastern Europe in targeted meetings. A growing number of networks – old and new – from all over the globe convened at WOMEX: the European Forum of Worldwide Music Festivals; European Broadcasting Union’s World Music Workshop; International Music Managers’ Forum; Jazz & World, organised by Europe Jazz Network; DJ Networking; Southeastern European; North American; the European Network of World Music Promoters; Trad Network; and MALI – the Music and Languages Initiative.

In cooperation with the IMZ – International Music + Media Centre in Vienna, WOMEX presented the 11th edition of the IMZ Film Screenings, showing outstanding recent music documentaries with a focus on Southeastern Europe.

WOMEX Thessaloniki closes its doors on Sunday, 21 October, with the prestigious Award Ceremony honouring colleagues and artists from the global community. The WOMEX 12 Artist Award is given to Värttinä from Finland: artists committed to cultural roots expressed through excellence, with a dedication to the achievement of a musical vision for almost 30 years.

Alexander “Sasha” Cheparukhin from Russia, pioneer promoter, festival founder and activist believer in the free flow of music across borders, receives the WOMEX 12 Professional Excellence Award.

The WOMEX 12 Label Award goes to France-based Lusafrica, label of the late Cesária Evóra who performed at the first edition of WOMEX in 1994.

Created as a joint project with the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE), the selection for the WOMEX Label Award is made using the monthly charts of 48 radio broadcasters from 25 countries.

WOMEX’s partners for 2012 are Helexpo S.A., Thessaloniki’s congress and exhibition centre; Gaialive, an established and well-versed concert promoter; the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, and the Municipality of Thessaloniki. The event was sponsored by OPAP. WOMEX 12 Thessaloniki took place under the auspices of H.E. the President of the Hellenic Republic, Dr. Karolos Papoulias.

WOMEX gives heartfelt thanks to all production staff, volunteers, broadcasters, professionals, enthusiasts and fans; to the local partners Helexpo and Gaialive; the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, the Municipality of Thessaloniki and the great sponsor Opap; and to the additional venues Megaro and Kitchen Bar.

WOMEX 12 was a production of WOMEX – the World Music Expo, in cooperation with Helexpo and Gaialive, the Hellenic Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs, Culture and Sports, and the Municipality of Thessaloniki.

The next edition of WOMEX will be held in Cardiff, Wales, UK, from Wednesday, 23 to Sunday, 27 October 2013.

WOMEX 12 at a Glance:

• 2,200 delegates and 1,200 companies from 90 countries.

• 730 concert and festival bookers.

• 490 labels, publishers and distributors.

• 570 managers and 310 producers.

• 330 national and international journalists, including 160 international radio broadcasters.

• A busy Trade Fair with 600 exhibiting companies from 40 countries at 245 stands.

• 61 Showcase acts with 350 artists from 50 countries on 8 stages.

• New! WOMEX DJ Summit incl. a specific Showcase & Conference programme.

• A special World & Jazz focus at the Conference.

• 70 speakers and mentors from nearly 30 countries in over 20 Conference Sessions; a Mentoring programme and Southeastern European Matchmaking.

• Film Screenings, in cooperation with IMZ – International Music + Media Centre, Austria.

• The festive WOMEX Opening Concert: My Sweet Canary with artists from Greece, Turkey and Israel paying tribute to the Sephardi singer Roza Eskenazi.

• Three WOMEX Awards honouring Värttinä from Finland; Alexander Cheparukhin, Russia; and label of the year, Lusafrica, based in France.

• Numerous Networking Meetings, Presentations and Receptions.

• The WOMEX Webcast, in cooperation with Mondomix, France.

• The Radio Studio for live programmes from WOMEX, organised by ERT (Greece), NRK (Norway), rbb (Germany), and WDR (Germany); and recordings of the Showcase Festival for distribution within the EBU, organised by BBC (UK) and rbb (Germany).

• virtualWOMEX – the professional future of world music online.
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