August 8, 2013

15th Annual World Music Festival Chicago Returns September 12–22

70+ free performances in 20 venues showcase acclaimed musicians from 34 countries over 11 days for the longest running World Music Festival Chicago to date

Mary May    312.744.0576

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is pleased to announce the full line-up of  World Music Festival Chicago 2013, taking place Thursday, September 12 – Sunday, September 22. The citywide, 11-day festival will feature more than 70 free performances in more than 20 venues from acclaimed musicians and groups representing 34 countries from around the globe. The ambitious line-up includes five concerts in Millennium Park, an all-night celebration of Indian music at the Chicago Cultural Center and performances from Malian artists as part of the Festival au Desert – Caravan for Peace helping to make the 2013 festival one of the largest and longest running to date.

“World Music Festival Chicago will bring a diverse, international lineup of celebrated musicians to the people of Chicago for its 15th year, said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “The 2013 festival will extend its reach into more Chicago neighborhoods than ever before through partnerships with the Chicago Park District, colleges and universities, community-based venues and clubs – advancing many of the key priorities of the Chicago Cultural Plan.”

World Music Festival begins on Thursday, September 12 with the legendary Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra. At 6 p.m. the nine-time Grammy® Award winner will take the stage after an opening performance by the plena and bomba ensemble, Plena Libre, at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.

Opening weekend of the festival also includes performances by the African Showboyz on Thursday, September 12 at 7:30pm in Grant Park’s Spirit of Music Garden as part of the closing weekend of the 17th Annual Chicago SummerDance series. The African Showboyz will also perform in Daley Plaza at noon on Friday, September 13.

On Friday, September 13, the festival will present RagaMala: A Celebration of Indian Music, a rare all-night Indian classical music concert with various performances in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Center. A tradition in India, all-night classical concerts are rarely held in the United States, and this will be the first all-night Indian classical music concert held in Chicago. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear ragas (traditional scales or modes) that are rarely performed in public and are only to be performed early in the morning or late at night.

The RagaMala will open at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park at 6pm with North Indian Sarod musician Amjad Ali Khan, joined by his sons, Amaan Ali Khan & Ayaan Ali Khan, and with an opening performance by the Hindustani slide guitarist, Debashish Bhattacharya & Family. At 9pm the RagaMala will move to the Chicago Cultural Center and feature a dozen different groups and artists performing North Indian Hindustani music and South Indian Carnatic music all night, until 8am.

Traditionally, the Festival au Desert has been held in Mali, but due to civil war, the festival was cancelled this year. So, in 2013, instead of gathering in the Sahara, they are bringing the music of Mali to the world. Many exiled artists are traveling around the world and throughout the United States for a gathering of Malian musicians united under the Caravan for Peace tour. Chicago is proud to be one of the host cities for the Festival au Desert, and World Music Festival Chicago will stage five concerts in four venues with each performance illustrating the vast musical diaspora of Mali.

The Festival au Desert – Caravan for Peace tour will make a stop in Chicago for the World Music Festival on September 13, 14 and 15. A must see performance on Friday, September 13 is the Bassekou Kouyate & Ngoni ba with Sidi Touré concert at the Mayne Stage at 8 p.m. Bassekou Kouyate and Ngoni ba has recently released an acclaimed new album titled Jama ko, which is a “call” for unity, peace and tolerance. The album is full of energy and was recorded in 2012 in the midst of the Malian Civil War.

The Caravan for Peace continues with two concerts on September 14 at the Old Town School of Folk Music by Sidi Touré, Mamadou Kelly and Leila Gobi. At 7pm, in The Myron R. Szold Music & Dance Hall, Malian singer and guitarist Mamadou Kelly and his electric Malian blues style will strike a familiar note with Chicagoans. Guitarist and singer-songwriter Sidi Touré will headline the evening and Malian pop-vocalist Leila Gobi will open and perform in the Gary and Laura Maurer Hall. On September 15, the caravan continues with performances from Mamadou Kelly, Leila Gobi and the International Blues Express featuring Creole musician Cedric Watson and Malian guitarist Sidi Touré performing live together in their Chicago debut at the Hideout beginning at 6pm. 

The festival will close with “One World Under One Roof,” an open house featuring nine groups on Sunday, September 22 at the Chicago Cultural Center. The grand finale will include performances throughout the building, kicking off in Randolph Square, continuing in Preston Bradley Hall and the Claudia Cassidy Theater.

A number of venues throughout the city will play host to World Music Festival artists and all performances are free admission. They include: Austin Town Hall Park, Beverly Arts Center, Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago SummerDance – Spirit of Music Garden in Grant Park, Columbia College – Conaway Center, Constellation, Daley Plaza, David and Reva Logan Center at the University of Chicago, DePaul School of Music, Hideout, Humboldt Park Boathouse, IMAN Community Café, Martyrs’, Mayne Stage, Millennium Park, National Museum of Mexican Art, Navy Pier, Old Town School of Folk Music, Reggie’s Rock Club and Schubas.

World Music Festival Chicago 2013 is presented by the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events and sponsored by the Chicago Transit Authority and Millennium Garages. Grant support provided by the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, managed by Millennium Park Inc.; the Consulate General of the Netherlands in New York; and Navy Pier, Inc.

The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

The full schedule with locations and times of each performance is included below, and may also be viewed at For updates and festival information, join us on Facebook at and on Twitter @WMFChicago #WorldMusicChicago.


Click here for the complete World Music Festival schedule.



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