Sacrum Profanum 2017

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  • Tuesday, September 26, 2017 - Sunday, October 1, 2017

It Ain’t Easy

Light and carefree music? Not a chance! The organisers of Sacrum Profanum aren’t following the path of least resistance, and between 26 September and 1 October they present a true zone of discomfort.

“If you struggle to keep up with longread articles or find yourself losing patience with the third season of Twin Peaks, take up our challenge and head to meditative concerts lasting several hours and listen to extensive minimalist compositions. Test your perception. Prefer shorter formats? Don’t miss the song-based inauguration and musical tributes to Moondog,” says Krzysztof Pietraszewski, the festival’s curator.

Erotica and faithfulness

The festival will be special from the very first day. The inaugural concert features four distinct tales told by four duos. On 26 September, the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre hosts Lubomyr Melnyk and Melvyn Poore. The former is the founder of the continuous music piano technique, and he’s been described as the fastest pianist in the world – he can play up to 19 notes per second! The latter is the acclaimed tuba player with Ensemble Musikfabrik from Germany. They join forces to perform the hour-long composition The Voice of Trees. Timely! They are followed by Murcof (Fernando Corona) and Vanessa Wagner: the Mexican sound artist and the French pianist have prepared their own versions of compositions by artists including John Cage, Aphex Twin, John Adams and Philip Glass. The third performance is equally tempting: Małgorzata Walentynowicz and Frauke Albert’s concert Série rose throws light on the sexual, sensuous, erotic and pornographic aspects of new music. For some reason they remain a taboo in the avant-garde… The evening ends with a performance by Bartek Wąsik and Barbara Kinga Majewska. Bartek is a pianist, arranger and co-founder of Kwadrofonik; Barbara is voice and word artist. They are brought together by their weakness for songs. As a duoe Bardo they move beyond categories and genres while remaining faithful to themselves.

It’s a dog’s life

Moondog would have celebrated his hundredth birthday last year. He lost his sight aged 16 as a result of a dynamite explosion, started learning violin and cello a year later, and soon decided to become a composer. He was widely regarded as a bit of a weirdo, and it’s no real wonder. His real name was Louis Hardin, but in his early 30s he took up the moniker of Moondog in honour of his dog who used to howl at the full moon. By then he was living in New York and performing on its streets, clad in a cloak of his own making and a Viking helmet, convinced that fashion was invented by huge corporations to brainwash the masses. He composed extraordinary music at the intersection of classical, jazz and highly rhythmical world music.

His eccentric works were imbued with a childlike innocence, but their sheer sincerity captivated passers-by as well as acclaimed musicians such as Philip Glass, Janis Joplin, Charlie Parker and the Polish conductor Artur Rodziński. In a sense he was a precursor of minimalism; he also invented several musical instruments, the best known of which is the trimba. On 27 September, the French ensembles Dedalus and Muzzix pay tribute to Moondog at Teatr Ludowy. Their joint album Round the World of Sound portrays the composer as a distant descendant of Bach or Monteverdi, so the works are presented as a cycle of madrigals. In turn, on 28 September Cricoteka presents music of the New York Viking in electronic and dance interpretations by the Parisian quintet Cabaret Contemporain joined by Swedish vocalists Linda Olah and Isabel Sörling. One of Poland’s most original guitarists Raphael Roginski with special guests Natalia Przybysz and the Slovenian ensemble Širom present the bluesy aspects of Moondog’s music.

Black angel

The next protagonist of this year’s Sacrum Profanum also escapes being pigeonholed. We can imagine him as one of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America. Julius Eastman, the African American graduate from the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, was an anti-racism and gay rights campaigner during the peak of the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s. His works bear the uncompromising titles of Evil Nigger, Crazy Nigger and Gay Guerrilla. He is introduced by his friends Petr Kotik and Joseph Kubera, while his compositions are performed by the S.E.M. Ensemble, Arditti Quartet and Apartment House. His works, almost forgotten until recently (his music scores were frequently impounded by the police, and many pieces are slowly reconstructed by writing down notes from preserved recordings), focused on the minorities and the excluded, losing him many privileges including his academic post. He died as a homeless drug addict living on the streets of Buffalo. Would he have been able to find himself in the realities of today? Would he have become world-famous? On 27 September at Łaźnia Nowa, the programme A Night From the Past features four of Eastman’s compositions – all performed in Poland for the first time – including some performed for the first time in thirty years. On 29 September, during the concert Eastman/East Men at Ludowy Theatre we will discover a gentle side to the avant-garde musician with his Stay on It flirting with pop music and Hail Mary for voice and piano. The programme also includes two pieces written by Apartment House in collaboration with Polish artists. They are a specially commissioned work by Robert Piotrowicz, virtuoso of modular synthesisers, and Michał Libera’s conceptual interpretation of George Brecht’s Symphony No. 5.

Find yourself

They can be found in the sounds of Indian raggas, Australian didgeridoo and Scottish bagpipes. In the 1960, the long, low, monotonous tones were christened drones. It’s no wonder the genre blossomed when disgruntled hippies rejected capitalism and looked for spiritual inspiration to India and other Asian countries. On 28 September, the Muzeum of Municipal Engineering welcomes Stephen O’Malley, the guru of guitar drones (he performed with Sunn O))) during the Unsound festival in 2009), presenting his half-hour-long Gruidés penned for an orchestra. The piece is performed by ONCEIM, the thirty-strong French ensemble of improvisers and experimentalists led by Frédéric Blondy. Stephen O’Malley is also joined by the Australian guitarist Oren Ambarchi in a performance of Iancu Dumitrescu’s South Pole and Criss-Cross by Alvin Lucier – godfather of American avant-garde experimental music and sound installations.

According to Far Eastern traditions, patience is an alchemical process the soul must experience before it can become a jewel. On 1 October at ICE Kraków, we will ponder the meaning of musical meditation and whether information overload can be harmful. During the three-hour concert, the Quiet Music Ensemble performs minimalist, meditative works by David Toop, Alvin Lucier, Jennifer Walshe, Rishin Singh and Pauline Oliveros, founder of the concept of deep listening who passed away last year.

Another dimension

They gave music a fourth dimension alongside pitch, volume and duration: depth. Spectralism was founded in France by pupils of Olivier Messiaen led by Gérard Grisey; however, it developed independently and concurrently in Romania where it took a distinctive form. Romanian Spectralism, more intuitive than its French variant, turns out to be unlike any other music. It seems to originate from the farthest abyss; the very bowels of the world. After encountering certain works by Iancu Dumitrescu, you may need to adjust your perception of depression and gloom in music. The composer appears at Łaźnia Nowa on 30 September joined by his Hyperion Ensemble to perform a programme of new works penned especially for the concert. The programme also features compositions by Ana-Maria Avram, whose sudden passing on 1 August shifts our thinking about the concert towards rather metaphysical categories.

Unexpected collaborations

You can expect the unexpected at the Nowa Huta Cultural Centre on 30 September. The last concert held that Saturday tries to define a new aesthetic: post-indie classical. Faith Coloccia, Aaron Turner, Toby Driver, Aidan Baker, Mika Rättö, Jussi Lehtisalo and Paweł Kulczyński have prepared compositions especially for the occasion. And there’s another reason why the concert will be special: all works are premiered by Spółdzielnia Muzyczna.

We head to ICE Kraków on 1 October to learn about the relationship between composition and improvisation. Polish musicians representing different genres (Raphael Roginski, Mikołaj Pałosz, Kamil Szuszkiewicz and Kuba Sokołowski) are joined by Adrien Lambinet and guided by Evan Ziporyn to explore Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s cycle Muzyczki. Faced with the vast improvisation potential of the works by one of Poland’s finest composers, the artists are bound to be respectful without reaching for piety (even though the concert is held on Sunday).

What does contemporary Polish electronica sound like? Invited especially by the festival, Tomasz Stańko performs his work Serial composed at the Experimental Studio of Polish Radio and presents improvisations to electronic compositions by Eugeniusz Rudnik and Tomasz Sikorski – another underappreciated outsider of modern music. We have a sentimental journey to a futuristic past in store!

Kids have a voice

Following last year’s formula, Sacrum Profanum also poses questions to its youngest listeners. How do they perceive music? What inspires them most? Answers can be found at two events for children: Efter/Sóley/DMK/AsiKIDS (30 September, Cricoteka) and the concert-opera Dragon-zoo with music by Julian Skar (1 October, ICE Kraków). The former features a world premiere of two pieces by the ensemble DMK from Bogota in Colombia: a team of father and two children covering Depeche Mode. The second concert, aimed at kids under six-years-old, is produced by the ensemble Dieserund/Lindgren, firm believers that children are just as capable of appreciating complex constructions and compositions as adults.

Hot finale

To finish, the festival heads to Africa for a true manifesto of cultural unity in this era of growing intolerance and racial tensions. Africa Express is an organisation promoting African culture in the West, featuring stars such as Damon Albarn, Brian Eno, Andi Tom and André de Ridder. They come to Kraków to present In C Mali – a classic of American Minimalism. After hearing their version of his composition, Terry Riley said that he “feels as though the music has returned home”. We will hear special guests from Poland appearing alongside musicians from the ensemble from Bamako, the capital of Mali.

***

Avant-garde, erotica, post-internet, Romanian Spectralism, early music, musical outsiders… A total of six days, twenty concerts, a plethora of uncomfortable questions and as many satisfying answers. (Artur Jackowski, "Karnet" magazine)

 

ATTENTION!

Please note that due to unforeseen circumstances, the concert In C Mali by Africa Express, originally scheduled as part of the Sacrum Profanum Festival, has been cancelled.

African Repercussion is held at 8pm on 1 October. The programme features traditional African music and Steve Reich’s Four Organs, Drumming Part One and Music for Pieces of Wood (arr. David Cossin) performed by Gideon Alorwoyie, Gideon Alorwoyie African Ensemble and Mantra Percussion.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Please note the following changes to the Sacrum Profanum programme:

- The concert Romanian Spectralism (30 September) will now start at the later time of 8pm, rather than 6pm as announced previously.
- The concert Post Indie Classical (30 September) will now start at 6pm.
- For technical reasons, the concert Meditations (1 October) will now start at 1pm.

PLEASE NOTE!

If you would like to return your tickets for the concert Africa Express in C Mali, replaced in the Sacrum Profanum programme by the concert African Repercussions, please visit the office where you made the purchase. You will need to present your tickets and sales receipt, and to complete and sign a return form. You can apply for a refund until 7pm on 1 October 2017. Tickets for Africa Express in C Mali entitle ticket holders to attend the concert Afrykańskie reperkusje.

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