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Richard Thompson and Natacha Atlas to headline Okarina festival

Bled, 23 July - English guitarist and singer Richard Thompson and Egyptian-British singer Natacha Atlas will headline the 28th annual Okarina festival of world music, which is opening tonight at the lakeside town of Bled.

Bled Lake
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA
File photo

Running until 5 August, the festival will see 15 concerts by musicians from Europe, Africa, South America and Hong Kong with artistic director Leo Ličof promising music "for every taste".

Most of the gigs, including tonight's, will be held on the promenade by the lake and will be admission-free. Only two will be held at Bled Castle, where admission tickets apply.

Most of the acts have not performed in Slovenia before, and none of the performers come from Slovenia this time.

One of the reasons is that Ličof is trying to offer something unique to the foreign audiences, which represent more than half of the visitors to Okarina.

Speaking to the STA, Ličof said the festival was focussed on world, world jazz and world rock music, while he was trying to follow the latest trends as well as "respect quality".

The opening concert will feature the critically acclaimed and multi award-winning collaboration between Welsh harpist Catrin Finch and Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita.

Bled Castle will provide the venue for Greek folk guitar player Dimitris Mystakidis and the "enchantingly beautiful voice" of Waldemar Bastos from Angola.

The Lake Promenade stage will see concerts by Mokoomba from Zimbabwe, Manou Gallo from the Ivory Coast, Gato Preto from Mozambique, Bokante Guadeloupe and Deluxe and Guillaume Perret from France.

Also performing there will be Los Mirlos from Peru, Dakh Daughters from Ukraine, Yip's Children's Choir from Hong Kong and Romania's Fanfare Ciocarlia.

This year's highlights are Natacha Atlas, who combines oriental and western music and has performed in Slovenia before, and Richard Thompson, who made his debut as a member of Fairport Convention.

"Thompson has a good reputation in artistic circles, and I'm glad we're having him here," said Ličof, who has been making the festival for 28 years.

Most of the performers he has hosted so far are keen to come back. "I'm overwhelmed with requests for reappearances because everyone falls in love with this place," he said.

The festival is named after the ocarina, a pre-historical ceramic vessel flute.

© STA, 2018