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March 10, 2008 | by  | in Music |
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WOMAD returns again to Taranaki, with a spectacular line up of acts from around the world. Last year, over 45,000 partied and boogied at the TSB Bowl and Brooklands Park, where the festival has been held since 2003. WOMAD stands for World of Music, Arts and Dance, and aims “to bring together and to celebrate many forms of music, arts and dance drawn from countries and cultures all over the world”. WOMAD was first organized by English musician Peter Gabriel, and was held in Shepton Mallet in 1982. “Pure enthusiasm for music from around the world led us to the idea of WOMAD in 1980, and thus to the first WOMAD festival in 1982… Equally important, the festivals have also allowed many different audiences to gain an insight into cultures other than their own through the enjoyment of music. Music is a universal language, it draws people together and proves, as well as anything, the stupidity of racism.” The concept of WOMAD as an international event began in 1988, with festivals in Denmark and Canada. Currently it is held in 27 countries and islands including New Zealand, the Canary Islands, Singapore and Sicily.

WOMAD was originally held biennially in New Zealand, however it will be coming “to New Zealand on an annual basis from 2008, and the caliber of international and New Zealand artists coming in March [this] year means we definitely expect another sell out event”, says Taranaki Arts Festival Trust Chief Executive Suzanne Porter.

This year, highlights of the festival include legendary soul and gospel singer Mavis Staples; USA’s Beirut, providing a traditional take on Balkan folk music; Grammy-award winning Cape Verdean singer Cesária Évora, famous for performing barefoot; Peru’s Susana Baca; astounding Israeli composer David D’Or; Gyuto Monks; Brazilian Samba 9-piece, Clube do Balanço (straight from the International Arts Festival) and many, many more. Performing alongside these acts are New Zealand’s dance company Black Grace, SJD, The Phoenix Foundation, Kora, Whangara Mai Tawhiti kapa haka group, The Wellington International Ukulele Orchestra, Richard Nunns (considered the world authority on traditional Maori instruments) who will be performing with Green Fire Islands, Midge Marsden… the list goes on.

However, WOMAD has plenty more to offer besides music, performance and dance! Other major attractions include artist workshops, a global village where you can sample food and buy products from around the world, and a Kidzone and Under Five Zone to keep the little ones busy! The Artists in Conversation area allows artists performing at WOMAD to share information about their lives and their music. Artists appearing include Master Kong Nay, Joji Hirota, Terem Quartet, Susana Baca, Donal Lunny from Green Fire Islands, Sharon Jones, David D’Or and Mali’s Toumani Diabate. There are also several documentaries about music and dance to watch. AND if that’s not enough, check out Taste the World, a new feature at WOMAD this year, which allows artists to present and cook recipes from their home countries. Prepare to salivate at food from Russia, Peru and Brazil, as well as traditional Maori food and food prepared by Tibetan Monks.

At only $190 for a 3 day pass (or day/ night passes from $70- $110) WOMAD is a steal! (Especially when taking into account that Beirut is playing at San Fran for $52, but is playing at WOMAD twice during the 3 days…). It begins THIS WEEKEND (the 14 – 16), and last year’s festival sold out, so be sure to get in quick to avoid missing this amazing cultural experience.

For more information and full line up, go to

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