The Baltic Pavilion at WOMEX – a full house performance by Jausmė and a visit by the representatives of Ministries of Culture

  • Nov. 9, 2023

At the end of October, the Galician capital of La Coruña, Spain, hosted the 29th edition of WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), which once again brought together music professionals from over 90 countries. The united and distinctive Baltic Pavilion, which was presented at the event, attracted an unprecedented level of attention from the fair's participants, and the music festival programme featured performers from all three Baltic countries for the second time in its history.

WOMEX is the world's most important international music forum, bringing together nearly 3,000 musicians, record labels, producers, music journalists, festival organisers and other music industry representatives from around the world.

“We provide a platform for people working in the music industry to meet, talk, collaborate and share knowledge,” explained Alexander Walter, the director of WOMEX, which has been running now for almost 30 years. The five-day event includes a trade fair with more than 100 stands, networking events, a conference, film screenings and a showcase music festival with around 60 bands and artists performing each year.

Jausmė, who represented Lithuania this year with her unique blend of folk, jazz and soul, said it was the strongest performance of her career. “Several audience members shared that it was the best performance they had ever seen at WOMEX – that means a lot to me. I’m thrilled and inspired to have received such beautiful feedback,” she said. She performed a programme of her own songs in Lithuanian and English to a packed concert hall.

The Latvian band ZeMe and the Estonian duo Puuluup also performed at the festival. It was an interesting coincidence that during the performances of all three Baltic countries, the audience could hear the traditional stringed instruments of our region, the kanklės, the Latvian kuokles and the Estonian talharpa. These instruments were used as motifs for the common design of the Baltic Pavilion, which was designed by graphic and book designer Jurgis Griškevičius.

Laurita Peleniūtė, who took part in the fair for the fifth time, presented traditional Lithuanian sutartinės as well as the Baltic Sisters project, which was founded a year ago during WOMEX, where she and her colleagues from Latvia and Estonia perform traditional songs from all three countries.

The Lithuanian delegation this year was joined by Dmitrij Golovanov, president of the Lithuanian Jazz Union, Vaidas Andriuškevičius, head of the Kauno Santaka concert institution, Justė Tankevičiūtė, manager of Subtìlus, and Vilius Arlauskas, organiser of the Saulės Muzika festival.

Second Baltic Pavilion at WOMEX – with even more unity

In cooperation with Music Estonia and the Latvian Music Information Centre, the Music Information Centre Lithuania initiated the Baltic Pavilion at WOMEX for the second time this year with funding from the Baltic Culture Fund, which was founded specifically for projects of this nature.

This has not only opened up the possibility to implement a common umbrella stand at the fair, to bring together a larger Baltic delegation, but also to present the three countries in a very united way, with a common pavilion design and information publication. Special networking events were organised with delegates from the Baltic countries, Spain and Canada to increase visibility and build closer ties.

According to Vilius Arlauskas, the warm and productive cooperation between all the Baltic countries and the outstanding stand are worthy of special mention: “It is very encouraging to see institutions from neighbouring countries cooperating and finding ways to present our region in a high-quality way.”

Laurita Peleniūtė noted that the Baltic stand was the only one at WOMEX to share a long table where conversations, treats and negotiations took place: “It was a very strong attraction and a symbol of Baltic traditions. I was struck by one Balkan singer's wonderment: how can countries next to each other get along so well and not fight? It was a surprise to many.”

Attention from representatives of Ministries of Culture

In addition to half a dozen delegates from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, the event was also attended by representatives of the Baltic Ministries of Culture – Vice-Minister Daina Urbanavičienė, State Secretary Dace Vilsone and Secretary General Kristiina Alliksaar. They welcomed the opportunity to discuss the future of the field and plan strategic steps to bring more international attention to our music industry professionals and talent.

“The joint presentation of the Baltic countries and the participation of the Baltic chancellors at one of the biggest festivals and conferences in the industry is of great importance. We are planning to promote a common Baltic music market both through focus events and cooperation projects more often,” said Ave Tölpt, director of Music Estonia.

“Over the years, we have seen that such joint projects have strongly increased the visibility and audibility of our countries among music industry professionals and have developed and grown extremely fast. During our meetings with representatives of the ministries of culture, we had the opportunity not only to understand better the differences in the music ecosystems of the three countries but also to put forward concrete proposals on how we can continue to work together in a sustainable way. We all have a lot of homework to do, after which we hope to take such projects to the next level,” summarised Radvilė Buivydienė, head of the Music Information Centre Lithuania.

The Lithuanian umbrella stand at WOMEX was funded by the Lithuanian Council for Culture and the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Lithuania.