Dr Eckehard Pistrick talking during Albanian Film Screening Day: Visual Approaches to Society and Culture at at University College London

Dr Eckehard Pistrick talking during Albanian Film Screening Day: Visual Approaches to Society and Culture at University College London

Last month Albanian polyphonic folk music, which is recognized by UNESCO as a masterpiece of Intangible World Heritage, was presented at two London venues: the Albanian Embassy and the University College London.

Dr Eckehard Pistrick, Lecturer in Ethnomusicology from the Martin Luther University of Halle, gave an illustrated talk on Albanian polyphony, and shared examples of his own research into the state of polyphony in rural Albania today. He also showed an extract from his film “Polyphonia – Albania’s forgotten voices”.

This genre of Albanian folk singing, which dates back into the mists of early history, is described as “otherworldly, complex and trance-inducing sounds manifested by the power of the human voice, carrying the emotional weight of centuries of pride, poverty and oppression”.

It stems mainly from the Lab and Tosk regions of the south, as well as Cameria.

In 2005, UNESCO recognized Albanian polyphony as a masterpiece of Intangible World Heritage.

About the „POLYPHONIA – Albania’s forgotten voices” film (90 min, HDV)

Two shepherds in the Albanian mountains, Arif, a Muslim, and Anastas, an orthodox Christian, have been friends for years in spite of religious barriers. Their profound friendship is constantly strengthened by a local musical tradition, the polyphony. In 2005 this vocal tradition has been declared UNESCO-World Heritage.

The film sets up unforgettable images for the severe poetry, the harsh fates and the almost magical power of the human voice, which helps people in the mountains to master their surreal daily routine at a contradictory stage of post-socialist change. On another level, the film gives an example of how music – even in the Balkans — can build bridges between people and religions.

Prizes & Festivals


“10. International Mountainfilmfestival Tegernsee”, 2012 Germany
“Off Europa: Lajme nga Shqipëria”, Dresden and Leipzig
“Norient Musikfilmfestival” 2012, Bern/Helvetia
“World Film Festival” Festival of Visual Culture 2012,Tartu/Estonia
“GIEFF – Göttingen International Ethnographic Film Festival” 2012, Germany