The diversity of Veszprém is impressing! – Interview with the international jury members of the Street Music Festival

From 25 to 28 August, one of the city's most popular music events, the Street Music Festival, takes place, with this year's jury including representatives from the 2022 EKF city Kaunas and the 2024 EKF city Tartu. We spoke to Jaan Ulst, Programme Director of Tartu With Humanity, Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu, Programme Assistant of EKF Tartu 2024 and Giedrė Korotkovaitė, Communications Coordinator of Good Music Live - Kaunas.

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

Giedrė Korotkovaitė (Kaunas): Yes, in Vilnius, Lithuania we do have a Street Music Day; it’s happening in May, buti t doesn’t include international bands, only local ones, it’s happening [in] one day, so that really I would miss, you know, to be be much better if there would also be a programme for international musicians in [the] Lithuania Street Music Day.

Jaan Ulst (Tartu): Yes, I think from the Estonian side we can say that we do not have a festival of such magnitude as I have seen it here. It’s hard to comprehend how many performances are happening simultaneously and it’s just you finishing with one sound from the back and there’s already a new stage, so in such a format I don’t think we have…

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu (Tartu): And there may be some pop-up [ones of] events, like during the COVID times, you know, when bands came to the street, and made music near cafés, you know, to boost the economy a bit, as well, but those were just, like, one of, like things, nothing like this.

Jaan Ulst (Tartu): I Tartu we have now, I think, for two years, a Car-Free Avenue, so it’s a one-month-length festival, interdisciplinary, where you have a certain area for youth, then there’s a stage where different artists have performing in the evenings, there’s a space for folk dance groups, or various dance groups, there’s a Latin dance night, so ther’s a space for chillout, so it’s about closing the street for cars and giving back for people. So I think in Estonia we have more this interdisciplinary search for events.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė (Kaunas): And I can add that in Lithuania Street Music Day the bands, the musicians only need to register. Everybody can play, you know; there are no rules. But also there are no, like, big stage, and people just get their slot on the street, and play the music.

Jaan Ulst, Programme Director of Tartu With Humanity

Photo: Bálint Kovács

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

Jaan Ulst (Tartu): If you talk about the Car-Free Avenue, it’s very popular, espacially for families, and different events with a different focus that bring a different profile with their persons, so that’s also the plus side of it. But car owners, they say that this one street is taken from them, so they have to drive around, so there’s 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.

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu, Programme Assistant of EKF Tartu 2024

Photo: Bálint Kovács

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

Jaan Ulst (Tartu): So, I think what’s already happening is connecting the communities. Even in our very small area as in the city of Tartu or we are together with a region of Estonia, the different municipalities often do not collaborate on a cultural level. Ont he political level there’s of course different laws and rules they have to all follow but in a matter of collaborating I think this has had already a very good impact. It’s bringing people together and we need to have then one aim, which is the title year, and I think it’s already creating a buzz.


Giedrė Korotkovaitė (Kaunas): Yes, and also I think it’s bringing their attention tot he musician, you know. So people see that there are many young people who are rehearsing and trying tod o music, and love it. It’s good for everybody: for musicians to show their talent.


Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu (Tartu): 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 usually targeted towards famous names, or it’s more niche genres. But this your festival has so many genres and so many different acts, that you know… your next biggest star could be playing today but we don’t know it yet.


Giedrė Korotkovaitė (Kaunas): And it’s about people’s street music festivals that the music is like very-very… is with people from millions of years ago and the streets and the bars is where it, the music [is born], you know, many times, and it must be within people, not somewhere outside: within our lives…

Giedrė Korotkovaitė, Communications Coordinator of Good Music Live - Kaunas

Photo: Bálint Kovács

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

Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu (Tartu): Oh, well: wow! Such a lovely city, so 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 entours and the judging; it’s… there’s so much excitement, and, oh, so much sun for me, and… it’s been really lovely.

Jaan Ulst (Tartu): I can just… it was yesterday I was totally in the streets with the musicians and the audience… and the audience was what I was noticing: you could see people with diferent ages, families it’s I think the different social backgrounds of people just side by side and enjoying… and I think this is the diversity in which we see also in architecture, like in this house, this is new and old come together and 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 has to be to make the city more livable – I understand this is one of the aims of the EcoC also to bring more people here, so… it’s a very diverse view, and I really like it. Diversity is also this one key word reflecting to our EcoC, especially natural diversity. It’s good to see that this EcoC thinking is very similar here, also to find different opportunities for different target groups.

Giedrė Korotkovaitė (Kaunas): And very well organised. Everything on time, you know, the bands play, I didn’t expect it like this from my experience, normally, you know, and the programme was… it is really-really good, the Hungarian bands’ programme but 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 we… normally you would see Lithuanian bands or bands related with Lithuania, but here, as I see, [it’s] open to everybody, and it’s cool.


Kaidi-Lisa Kivisalu (Tartu): 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 allyway and see people playing their guitars.

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

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


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