Misteria Paschalia 2018


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  • Monday, March 26, 2018 - Monday, April 2, 2018

Two concerts series, eight days filled with Renaissance and Baroque music, thirteen concerts, plenty of Polish flavours, three world premieres, two Polish ones, and as many as seven commissions by the festival. These figures are impressive, but the festival is not about the numbers, but the emotional musical and cultural experience. The 15th edition of one of the most recognisable European early music festivals will offer innumerable opportunities to experience emotions hidden within music. Krakow in the week between 26 March and 2 April 2018 is not to be missed!

”I am delighted by our cooperation with Mr John Butt, who kindly accepted my invitation to co-create the next year’s edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival,” says Jacek Majchrowski, the Mayor of the City of Krakow. “His presence is a guarantee of the highest quality of performances at the coming edition of the Festival. I invite you to the Misteria Paschalia 2018 and assure you that thanks to the festival, the British Islands will feel closer than it might seem, despite thousands of miles that separate us.”

The fourteenth festival saw a change of format, to which the City of Krakow and the Krakow Festival Office are proud to continue. John Butt, a prominent conductor and musicologist, a Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow, has been invited by the City of Krakow to co-create the programme of the 15th edition of the festival. He is the Artistic Director of the Dunedin Consort based in Edinburgh – a sister city of Krakow. John Butt specialises in early performing practices and has authored highly acclaimed interpretations of works by English composers of the Baroque era.  ”The new concept, based on international cooperation, coproduction and common ideals connected strongly to music and the art of its interpretation, is being realized for the second time,” says Izabela Helbin, Director of the Krakow Festival Office. ”In 2018 we will present the most notable pieces created on the British Islands. But the programme proposed by John Butt and developed in close collaboration with the Krakow Festival Office’s experts will not only acquaint us with the greatest musical accomplishments of the British, but will also present a cultural network that linked the regions of Europe in the Renaissance and Baroque periods.”

“It is a great joy to be the Director in Residence of the Festival and working together with the Krakow Festival Office team,” says John Butt. “Together we have created a rich programme that will present the British music created up to the 18th century and explore its links with the rest of Europe, with a special attention to the works of the Polish Baroque composers. I am delighted that some of Britain's finest musicians are joining us, including the splendid singers and instrumentalists of my own ensemble, the Dunedin Consort; the stunning vocal group Stile Antico; the great Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; and some superb soloists including the tenors Mark Padmore and Ian Bostridge or the renowned lutenist Elizabeth Kenny. I am particularly looking forward to meeting and hearing so many great Polish performers, and to the privilege of performing both Handel’s Messiah and Samson that will allow us to hear these two sister oratorios, written one after the other, together for the first time since Handel’s own days.”

John Butt will come to Krakow with his Dunedin Consort, an ensemble revered for its clear, precise, fine sound. They will perform during three festival evenings, the first of which is on Holy Monday, the 26th of March 2018. The Dunedin Consort will open the festival with George Frideric Handel’s most famous oratorio,  the London version of Messiah. The concert will also open the main strand of the festival: Vanitas. On Easter Sunday, the Dunedin Consort will performe Handel’s Samson and at the end of the festival, along with Dunedin Consort, John Butt, and Ian Bostridge – deemed the best British tenor of today – will appear on stage at the Auditorium Hall of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre. Known for sensational interpretations of romantic songs, this time he will show his great talent in virtuoso arias from Henry Purcell’s operas.

But before the joy of Easter, we will embark on a remarkable journey through musical traditions, not only British. Let’s go back to the second day of the Holy Week. During the Tuesday concert we will listen to the British ensemble Stile Antico, the group of unrivalled interpreters of English Renaissance music. They will perform a programme composed of the pieces written during the reign of the Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, and Augustus II the Strong, to present the cultural connections of two great, though geographically distant capitals.

On Holy Wednesday we will take in the first world premiere prepared especially for the  Misteria Paschalia Festival. British musicians, Tercia Realidad ­– led by the violinist Jorge Jiménez ­­– and His Majesty’s Cornetts and Sagbutts, will join forces with the Polish Capella Cracoviensis Choir to present a special reconstruction of a funeral Vespers following old English tradition.

Exequies, filled with sorrow and extraordinary music, are a great part of British heritage. The programme of the Evensong concert (Maundy Thursday) developed by Jorge Jimenez will be by no means the only example of a funeral ceremony on the festival’s programme, as we will see with Martyna Pastuszka, the artistic director of  the {oh!} Orkiestra Historyczna. Her orchestra and the British vocal ensemble Marian Consort will perform John Dowland’s, Henry Purcell’s and George Frideric Handel’s funeral compositions which cover nearly two hundred years of British musical tradition.

Traditionally, Good Friday is the day we contemplate the Passion of Christ. The spirit of that day has been best rendered by Johann Sebastian Bach, showing the agonising helplessness of man faced with God’s plans. Bach’s St Matthew Passion will certainly be a highly emotional experience, performed by one of the most outstanding British ensembles. The Auditorium Hall at the ICE Krakow Congress Centre will host the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, led by Mark Padmore, a great British tenor who will also sing the part of the Evangelist. This deeply moving concert will also be broadcasted live by the Mezzo TV. “Mezzo has been delighted to film three concerts of Misteria Paschalia 2017 edition. Monteverdi’s Selva Morale performed by Vincent Dumestre and Le Poème Harmonique last April will remain one of the most striking live broadcast of our season!” says Christophe Winckel, General Director of Mezzo TV. “We are quite excited to continue this very fruitful partnership with Misteria Paschalia Festival in 2018 with John Butt as the artistic director of the new edition. Our goal remains to fix a very unique musical and more widely cultural patrimony that will be shared by our 55 million households community in 60 countries.”

Mezzo TV will also be present in the ICE Kraków Congress Centre at the Holy Saturday concert on the 31st of March. On that evening the charismatic conductor Vincent Dumestre and his orchestra Le Poème Harmonique will return to Misteria Paschalia to give the Polish premiere of their dramatised concert performance of Son of England. The programme, in line with the festival theme, is dedicated to the composer Henry Purcell, known as the British Orpheus. Soloists are Emanuelle de Negri, Jakub Józef Orliński, Jeffrey Thompson and Victor Sicards who sing with the chorus of Les Cris de Paris.

The evening performance of Le Poème Harmonique will be preceded by the concert traditionally held in the St Kinga’s Chapel at the Wieliczka Salt Mine on Holy Saturday. In a salt chamber situated 101 metres underground, the splendid viola consort Phantasm together with the outstanding lutenist Elisabeth Kenny will perform Lachrimae, or Seven Tears by John Dowland – a remarkable testimony of melancholy characteristic of the Elizabethan era.

Elizabethan melancholy will also be the leading theme of the second series of concerts titled Lachrimae. The first two concerts will feature music composed by the master of sorrow John Dowland in line with the period traditions – on Holy Monday the lute virtuoso Thomas Dunford with whom Lea Desandre will sing about the agony of loss and longing, and on Holy Tuesday another lutenist Paul O’Dette will perform a solo recital on Holy Monday and Holy Tuesday. Meanwhile, on Holy Wednesday, guitarist Raphael Rogiński will present his astounding interpretation of English Renaissance works for the lute. The programme will be completed by the choreography by a butō dancer, Ryuzo Fukuhary. Maundy Thursday will offer yet another of premieres at the Misteria  Paschalia Festival. Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett will conduct the Cracow Singers in Wacław of Szamotuły’s Lamentationes – the sensational findings from Gniezno, Regensburg and Münich. The works have been reconstructed by the lutenist and researcher of mediaeval and Renaissance music, Marc Levon, connected with Schola Cantorum in Basel.

A dense network of associations, selection of the most distinctive cultural leads, and above all, the beauty of early music, a universal language crossing the state borders and capable of striking the deepest hidden emotions. All of this will be possible by the dint of the highest quality of performances from world-class British and Polish artists, as well as the special atmosphere of the Holy Week and Easter time in Krakow. The 15th Misteria Paschalia Festival will be, as usual, an unprecedented event!

But the new formula is not all. The Misteria Paschalia 2018 includes new programme lines, premieres of international co-productions with theatre and music, and brings in unique concert venues which will enhance the special atmosphere of the Holy Week. And we welcome back early music ensembles and stars well-loved by the Krakow audiences.



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