Smithsonian Folklife Festival Set for June 24-28 and July 1-5

February 11, 2009
News Release
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This summer, the Smithsonian Institution will celebrate cultural diversity with three distinct programs at its 43rd annual Folklife Festival. The Festival will be held Wednesday, June 24, through Sunday, June 28, and Wednesday, July 1, through Sunday, July 5, outdoors on the National Mall between Seventh and 14th streets. Admission is free. Festival hours are from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day, with such special evening events as concerts and dance parties beginning at 6 p.m. The Festival is co-sponsored by the National Park Service.

Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture
Co-sponsored by the National Museum of African American History and Culture, “Giving Voice: The Power of Words in African American Culture” will explore the power of African American oral traditions in shaping American culture.

The program will include performance stages as well as more intimate interactive spaces where audiences can discuss the aesthetics and meaning of oral traditions with Festival participants. The oral traditions presented will include poetry, storytelling, religious speech, children’s games, debate, political speech and music performance.

The program is designed to inspire and also give insight into the aesthetics of language, and the cultural, social, political and religious issues that inform it, from an African American perspective.

Las Américas: Un Mundo Musical/The Americas: A Musical World
“Las Américas: Un Mundo Musical” will feature outstanding artists from the United States and Latin America in an engaging cultural dialogue. The core of the artists will be from the Tradiciones/Traditions series of recordings published by Smithsonian Folkways.

Program participants will represent the rich diversity of emblematic musical styles in the United States and throughout the Americas. Music featured will include Puerto Rican “bomba,” “plena” and “jíbaro” music; Mexican “son” music from various regions and “mariachi” music; Colombian “vallenato,” “joropo” and “currulao”; Dominican “bachata” and “salve”; Venezuelan “música llanera”; Guatemalan “marimba”; and Salvadoran “chanchona” music.

Wales Smithsonian Cymru
“Wales Smithsonian Cymru” will introduce Festival visitors to the vibrant culture of this dynamic and resilient nation and its commitment to sustainability. (“Cymru” is the Welsh word for Wales.)

Because most of its border is coastline, Wales’ maritime influences remain vital to the nation’s evolution. The mountain ranges and national parks sustain the rural communities and outdoor life that are Wales’ touchstones. The essence and inspiration of the landscape will be shared by those who live off and nurture Wales’ natural environment. Cooking demonstrations will explore the qualities of fresh, local ingredients sourced from farmers markets and savored across the country, from seafood platters to hearty Welsh lamb dishes.

Performances and workshops will illustrate the diversity of the Welsh music scene, from the ancient sounds of the “crwth” and “pibgorn” to evocative vocal and harp renditions and lively folk bands playing a range of familiar and experimental repertoires. Craftspeople and building arts experts will share their experiences and skills working with native Welsh woods, slate, wool, metal and stone. Visitors also will be able to practice Welsh phrases and learn about the history of the language.

About the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s Web site is

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