What does a great city-sponsored music festival look like?
A superb example comes in the form of the 15th annual World Music Festival Chicago, which since its inception has offered a combination of outdoor events downtown and indoor performances in some of the city's best neighborhood venues.
Unlike the Chicago Jazz Festival, which presents concerts at Millennium Park's superb Pritzker Pavilion but otherwise turns its back on most of the city's clubs and concert halls, the World Music Fest offers the best of both worlds. So in addition to shows at the Pritzker Pavilion, the World Music event drives crowds to the Old Town School of Folk Music, Hideout, Constellation, Martyrs', Mayne Stage and the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts. That's a bona fide, citywide music festival.
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North Michigan Avenue & East Randolph Street, Chicago, IL 60601, USA
4544 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
4545 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60625, USA
1328 West Morse Avenue, Chicago, IL 60626, USA
1354 West Wabansia Avenue, Chicago, IL 60647, USA
601 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605, USA
3855 North Lincoln Avenue, Chicago, IL 60613, USA
3159 North Southport Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657, USA
This year, the World Music Festival expands to 11 days (from seven last year) and presents five concerts at the Pritzker Pavilion.
Following is an annotated guide to highlights. All events are free. For more details, visit worldmusicfestivalchicago.org or phone the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at 312-744-3316.
RagaMala: A Celebration of Indian Music. One of the most ambitious offerings in the history of the World Music Festival will kick off with a major outdoor concert featuring a double-bill at Millennium Park followed by an all-nighter at the Chicago Cultural Center.
To open the festivities, the eminent sarod virtuoso Amjad Ali Khan – son of Hafiz Ali Kahn – will perform with his sons Amaan Ali Khan and Ayaan Ali Kahn, also sarod players. Debashish Bhattacharya, who has championed the slide guitar in Indian classical music, will perform with his daughter, vocalist Anandi Bhattacharya and his brother, percussionist Subhasis Bhattacharya. 6 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street.
The music-making then moves across the street, to the Chicago Cultural Center, for an all-night marathon of Indian classical music featuring Max ZT & Ajit Deshmukh at 9 p.m.; Aditya Prakash Trio, 10 p.m.; Lyon Leifer with Kalapriya Dancers Ensemble, 11:10 p.m.; Rakesh Chaurasia and Shashank Subramanyam, 12:10 a.m.; Shyam Kane and Kunal Gunjal, 1:40 a.m.; Soumik Datta and Salar Nader, 2:50 a.m.; Tabla Quartet, 4 a.m.; Aditya Sharma and Nishad Parmar, 5 a.m.; Sur Musafir, 6:10 a.m.; and Indrajit Banerjee, Subrata Bhattacharya and Nirmalya Roy, 7:10 a.m.; at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
Festival au Desert – Caravan for Peace Concert. The civil war in Mali has forced many of its musicians into exile, bringing their Festival au Desert to spots across the globe. Chicagoans will hear these artists in various lineups, with Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba on a bill with the Chicago Afrobeat Project, 3 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street; Mamadou Kelly, 7 p.m. at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Szold Music & Dance Hall, 4545 N. Lincoln Ave.; and Sidi Toure with Leila Gobi, 8:30 p.m. at the Old Town School's Maurer Concert Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. (Additional performances: Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni Ba with Sidi Toure, 9 p.m. Friday at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.; and Mamadou Kelly, Leila Gobi and International Blues Express, with Cedric Watson and Sidi Toure, 6 p.m. Sunday at Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia Ave.)
Krar Collective with Nicolae Feraru & His Gypsy Band. The Krar Collective is staffed by three London-based Ethiopian musicians who play the six-stringed lyre for which they're named. Chicagoans will be particularly interested in the work of Feraru: Not yet famous enough in his adopted city, Chicago, as he ought to be, the Romanian cimbalom virtuoso recently won one of America's most prestigious musical honors, the National Endowment for the Arts' National Heritage Fellowship. 3 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Also: Joan Soriano, playing music of the Dominican Republic, 4 p.m. dance lessons, 5 p.m. concert at the Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, 601 S. Michigan Ave.
We Banjo 3 with Kardemimmit. We Banjo 3 celebrates the bluegrass music of Bill Monroe, giving it an Irish lilt. Kardemimmit is a Finnish quartet that produces lush, exotic harmonies singing and playing the kantele, a kind of Finnish zither or lap harp. 8 p.m. at Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave.
Also: Krar Collective with International Blues Express, featuring Cedric Watson and Sidi Toure, 8 p.m. at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.
Kardemimmit with Pacific Curls. The three musicians of Pacific Curls tap the Maori song traditions of their native New Zealand but also reach beyond them, incorporating instrumentation and repertoire they've gathered from around the world. Kardemimmit is a folk quartet performing original songs steeped in Finnish traditions. 6:30 p.m. in Preston Bradley Hall of the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
Also: Arifa, from the Netherlands, and We Banjo 3, from Ireland, 7 p.m. at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.
Tal National with Leni Stern African Trio. Based in Niamey, the capital of Niger, Tal National performs original repertoire and fresh arrangements of West African folkloric music. Guitarist-vocalist Stern addresses pop, rock and jazz vocabularies. 7 p.m. at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.
Also: Pacific Curls, from New Zealand, with Arifa, from the Netherlands, 8:30 p.m. at the Old Town School of Folk Music's Maurer Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave.
Baladino with Leni Stern African Trio. The Israeli ensemble Baladino embraces a swath of music of the Mediterranean, past and present, as well as currents of Ladino sounds rooted in Judeo-Spanish culture; on a bill with eclectic pop-rock-jazz vocalist-guitarist Stern. 8 p.m. Thursday at Constellation, 3111 N. Western Ave.
Also: Mono Blanco, of Mexico, 8 p.m. at the Old Town School's Maurer Hall, 4544 N. Lincoln Ave. Noura Mint Seymali, of Mauritania, 8 p.m. at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.; and Tal National, from Nigeria, with Fatbook, from Chicago, 8 p.m. at Martyrs', 3855 N. Lincoln Ave.
Dr. L. Subramaniam, Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers and Pejman Hadadi & Imamyar Hasanov. Subramaniam, a revered violinist who has stretched the definition of Indian classical music, will share the stage with singer Bindu Subramaniam, his daughter. Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers, from Karachi, Pakistan, perform qawwali religious music dating back centuries. Pejman Hadadi and Imamyar Hasanov intertwine Persian and Azeri music. 6 p.m. at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street.
Also: Fareed Haque's Hymn of the Ancients. As part of the overlapping Latino Music Festival, Chicago guitarist Haque leads his new ensemble, featuring musicians from Iran, Syria and the United States. 6 p.m. at Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1440 N. Sacramento Ave.,
Brock McGuire Band. Accordionist Paul Brock and fiddler Manus McGuire bring traditional Irish music into the realm of bluegrass. 8 p.m. at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St.
Also: Bloco Maximo, with music of Brazil, noon at Austin Town Hall Park, 5610 W. Lake St.; Pejman Hadadi and Imamyar Hasanov, with Persian and Azeri music, 7 p.m. at the University of Chicago's Logan Center for the Arts, 915 E. 60th St.; and Lulacruza, with music of Columbia and Argentina, 8:30 p.m. at Mayne Stage, 1328 W. Morse Ave.
"One World Under One Roof." The grand finale of the World Music Festival features seven hours of continuous music at the Chicago Cultural Center. The lineup: Qawal Najmuddin Saifuddin & Brothers, Brock McGuire Band, Nicolae Feraru & His Gypsy Band, Baba Ken Okulolo & the Nigerian Brothers, 2:30 to 8:45 p.m. in Preston Bradley Hall. DakhaBrakha, Christine Salem and Lulacruza, 4 to 9 p.m. in the Claudia Cassidy Theater. And Janusz Prusinowski Trio, Andreas Kapsalis & Goran Ivanovic and Paulinho Garcia, 2 to 5:45 p.m. at Randolph Square. At the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St.
To read more from Howard Reich, go to chicagotribune.com/reich