Skopje, Jazz Up!
For thirty-three years now, in the second half of October, the capitol of F.Y.R. Macedonia becomes a mecca for all jazz lovers. For approximately one week, Skopje Jazz Festival features some of the most distinguished jazz musicians from all over the globe.
Jazz Lovers’ Mecca
The first edition of the festival happened in 1982 and was organized by Oliver Belopeta with the aim to promote this musical genre that seems to be so different from the national culture and tradition. However, over the years, owing to the resourcefulness of the founder and some financial support on the part of Macedonian government, the festival has become one of Skopje’s vital cultural institutions. The insistence on the top quality of the performers has built up the reputation of Skopje Jazz Festival as one of the leading jazz festivals not only in F.Y.R Macedonia, but also in the Balkans and Europe, and earned the festival a membership in European Jazz Network.
Performers and Venues
Annually, the festival attracts thousands of visitors from the country and abroad who come to enjoy the carefully selected music program. Variety of jazz styles and the venues and stages scattered all over the city make this festival unique. Up to now, the program included the sounds of American, European, Latin-American, and African jazz. Performers such as Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Tito Puente, Anthony Braxton, Ray Charles, Cubanismo,Toni Kitanovski, Stanley Clarke, McCoy Tyner, Al Di Meola, Youssou N’Dour,Maria Joao, Gotan Project, Fire!Orchestra, The Necks are just some of the musicians whose concerts the festival audience was honored to attend to. The national and regional jazz scene is equally promoted. It is not rare that one night of the festival is devoted to Balkan jazz music and performers such as Vlatko Stefanovski, Miroslav Tadic and Theodisii Spassov.
The festival venues are scattered all over the city of Skopje and some of the location that host festival performances are Universal Hall, Macedonian Opera and Ballet, City Hall Center, and MKC Kino Frosina, etc.
Brand, New Jazz
The 2014 Edition of the festival brought along a slight change in the concept and the mission of the Festival. If there is a word written to describe this subtle shift, it is engagement. Namely, the organizers refocused their interests in engaging less famous jazz performers on stage, who may not have glory but possess as equal musical quality and talent, as well as the young jazz players or singers. The mission of the festival is to educate its audience about the new tendencies and achievements in the contemporary jazz world. Afternoon concert were also introduced as a way of merging the festival program with the everyday routine and life of Skopje’s residents and visitors.