The 2016 Smithsonian Folklife Festival opened today with a tap on the
tabla, as Salar Nader and Homayoun Sakhi kicked off the opening ceremony in the Arts and Industries Building. The standing-room-only gathering included remarks from various Smithsonian and government officials and performances by and Basque: Innovation by Culture musicians and dancers, ending in a joyous recession to the Festival grounds. Sounds of California
Smithsonian Secretary David Skorton, Congressman John Garamendi, artists from Basque country and California, and other Smithsonian representatives and partners officially opened the Festival by ringing the ceremonial bell. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Grupo Nuu Yuku and Banda Brillo de San Miguel Cuevas capped off the opening ceremony by leading a procession east on Jefferson Avenue to the Festival grounds, blowing horns and cracking whips all the way. Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Members of the group Klaperttaŕak led a
txalaparta workshop in the morning, showing off the Basque instrument made from wooden cider making parts, similar to a xylophone. Photo by Walter Larrimore, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Martha Gonzalez is doing double-duty during the Folklife Festival, playing with the band Quetzal and with the
FandangObon group. Today she danced on the tarima platform with her son jarocho group. You can find them each day at the Sounds of California Stage & Plaza. Photo by Walter Larrimore, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Young members of Gauden Bat, the traditional dance troupe from the Chino Basque Club in Southern California, performed at the Frontoia stage. Photo by Ronald Villasante, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Salar Nader is a master of the
tablas. He, along with rubâb player Homayoun Sakhi, performed in the opening ceremony and again in the afternoon at the Sounds of California Stage & Plaza. Photo by Ronald Villasante, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
The Joaldunak practice a ritual procession in elaborate costumes: sheep skins, cone-shaped hats decorated with ribbons, and large—very loud—bells on their backs. Each afternoon through July 4, they will lead a parade around the National Mall. Photo by Ronald Villasante, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Irati Anda and Xabier Paya are
bertsolariak, Basque poets who improvise songs on given topics. In today’s “Berto Workshop,” they sang about arriving in Washington, their favorite sports, and Xabi’s amuma (grandmother). Photo by Maureen Spagnolo, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
FandangObon got the audience circling around the Sounds of California Stage & Plaza with a mix of Japanese and Mexican dance traditions. Want to join in? You have no choice! Just dance! Photo by Francisco Guerra, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
The day ended with an evening concert by Basque accordion virtuoso Kepa Junkera. Dancers from Aukeran and visitors joined in
kalejira, the Basque festival tradition of “going around singing and dancing.” Photo by Josh Weilepp, Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives
Join us again tomorrow for a full day of interactive performances, demonstrations, workshops, and discussions. Some highlights include a
tambourine workshop for children, a presentation of archival Basque American music, and Native California song traditions.
The Festival Marketplace, located inside the Arts and Industries Building, will host a
salt tasting at 2 p.m. and a wine tasting at 4 p.m. The evening concert, starting at 6:30, features the Afghan music of Homayoun Sakhi and Salar Nader.
See the full schedule.
Elisa Hough is the editor for the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.