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Cultural Rhythms Music Festival: Yusuf Suleiman & Cris Gera Performing in Vilnius on World Refugee Day

July 8, 2024
Yusuf Suleiman performing in at the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival in Vilnius. Credit: M. Frolova/Artscape.

On June 20, Cris Gera and Yusuf Suleiman performed at the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival on World Refugee Day and under the 2024 theme ‘Solidarity with Refugees’.

The evening summer sun in the outdoor venue Bernardinų Kiemas in Vilnius welcomed an audience from Lithuania and beyond on 20 June 2024, World Refugee Day. As well as music performances, the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival had a diverse programme of workshops and creative spaces.

Under this year’s theme of solidarity with refugees, Yusuf Suleiman and Cris Gera took central stage to perform their music for those attending. While Suleiman sang both pop and traditional Uyghur music, Gera performed several of his pieces influenced by Afro-pop,jazz, soul music, as well as traditional Zimbabwean and gospel sounds. Both Suleiman and Gera currently live in Sweden, having been in ICORN residencies in the northern Swedish city of Piteå.

Cris Gera performing in at the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival in Vilnius. Photo: M.Frolova/Artscape.

Alongside Gera and Suleiman, the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival featured performers from Ukraine,Afghanistan, Belarus, Venezuela, the USA and Lithuania. The festival is part of Lithuania’s first full Refugee Week, aimed at celebrating the contributions,resilience, and resourcefulness of asylum seekers and refugees.

The Refugee Week, held between 13 and 20 June 2024, included a programme of artistic performances, workshops, and discussions between refugees and asylum seekers in Lithuania and relevant organisations. This is the second time musicians in the ICORN network have been invited to the Cultural Rhythms Music Festival, with Arya Aramnejad performing in 2023.

The events were organised by the arts agency Artscape and the Lithuanian Ministry of Social Security and Labour, with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as the main partner. Other partners were Vilnius City Municipality andthe Lithuanian Council for Culture.

The Cultural Rhythms Music Festival was funded by the European Union.