THERE IS A FESTIVAL BECAUSE THERE IS JASNA GÓRA
1085 performers from 11 countries: Austria, Bulgaria, Egypt, Spain, Moldavia, Germany, Norway, Romania, Ukraine, Great Britain and Poland who presented themselves during concerts of various kinds of music, and exhibition, spectacles and lectures composed the 22nd edition of the International Festival of Sacral Music ‘Gaude Mater’ which took place in Częstochowa on 1-6 May 2012.
The festival ‘Gaude Mater’ whose one of the trends is ecumenism, is the biggest project in Poland at present, which promotes music of various religions and cultures. The places of the festival presentations are, first of all, Częstochowa churches of various religions. As the director of the Festival Małgorzata Z. Nowak emphasizes the project is developing so perfectly thanks to a good cooperation of Częstochowa town, the Metropolitan Curia and Monastery of Jasna Góra, but also a great kindness and help of hosts of Evangelical-Augsburg and orthodox churches, situated – according to the rules of ecumenism – near one another. I think that it would have been impossible to organise this festival if Częstochowa did not have Jasna Góra and beautiful churches – emphasizes Małgorzata Z. Nowak. – The festival was born in Częstochowa because there is Jasna Góra – she adds. Surely, its propositions are so various like the mosaic of pilgrims coming to Jasna Góra is various.
The solemn opening concert, which took place on 1 May in the Basilica of Jasna Góra was also the main point of the celebrations of the 80th birthday of Wojciech Kilar and the 20th anniversary of the Polish Federation ‘Pueri Cantores’ which on 30 April – 3 May was celebrating its VII congress. During the concert there were very famous compositions of Kilar’s music performed – ‘Mother of God’, ‘Exodus’ and ‘Angelus’ – the works in which the history of Poland is contained.
An unusually interesting proposition of the Festival was a concert performed on a glass harmonica and verrophone by artists from Austria - ‘Wiener Glasharmonika Duo’. Those who arrived at the concert to the church of the Holiest Name of Mary, were impressed by an unusual sound of unusual instruments. Christy and Gerald Schonfelding were performing, among the others, compositions of Ch. W. Gluck, J. Haydn, F. Schubert and W. A. Mozart and thanks to the originality of the instruments and a beautiful interior of a church, the concert turned out to be a real spectacle. The audience coming out from the concert confirmed agreeably that there had not been such a phenomenon during the Festival yet.
Meeting with Judaism
Not as it has been so far – in the Theatre of A. Mickiewicz or Philharmonics of Częstochowa, but for the first time in a church – in the evangelical-Augsburg church synagogal music sounded. Shmuel Barzilai, the main cantor of a synagogue in Vien, who was accompanied by ‘Klezmer Reloaded’ with starring: Maciej Gołębiowski (clarinet) and Aleksander Szewczenko (accordion), not only was he singing songs of Judaism beautifully but he also made a wonderful contact with audience during the concert and music and songs were supplemented by stories of artists.
Music on panpipes
Another of brave propositions of the Festival - a concert of music on panpipes on 2 May, similarly as the concert of ‘glass music’ turned out to be a success. For, it was a unique trip to the world of magic sounds of an instrument known in Poland long time ago as a syrinx, and today it is present only in the Balkans. A Moldavian Stefan Negura with the accompaniment of the Romanian band ‘Traffic Strings’ enchanted listeners with beautiful interpretations of the music compositions of W. A. Mozart, A. Vivaldi, J. S. Bach, G. Rossini, G. Verdi and even Ennjo Morricone.
This year, in contrary to the previous years it took place on 3 May and with regard to a vast executive apparatus – on the hill of Jasna Góra. During the solemn Holy Mass celebrated in adoration of Our Lady the Queen of Poland, the ‘Holy Cross Mass’ sounded performed by a choir and pipe organ of Jan Maklakiewicz and performed by 600 choristers from the Polish Federation ‘Pueri Cantores’ and an organist Bogdan Stępień under the direction of Jarosław Jasiura.
Prominent young people
One of the priorities of the Festival ‘Gaude Mater’ is supporting young creators. For this purpose, every year the International Composers’ Contest is organized with the Warsaw Institute ‘Musica Sacra’ which concerns a sacral music composition performed by a mixed choir a cappella. According to the festival tradition, the music compositions of prize-winners of this year’s VIII edition of the Contest – Bartosz Kowalski, Phillip Armstrong Cooke from Great Britain, Michał Malec and Douglas Gary Pew from USA – were performed during the Concert of pre-historic Performances besides the compositions of the prominent composers.
Music of the past times
A great surprise for the lovers of the music of the past times was a performance of a soprano singer Joanne Lunn from Great Britain and a wonderful ‘Akademie fur Alte Musik Berlin’ – an unquestionable star of the Festival. The solo-singer and chamber ensembles celebrating their 30th anniversary of their existence, performed oratory compositions of J. S. Bach which in the interior of a seminary church found their worthy space.
A young audience appreciated the concert of the ‘Gregorian’ band. The band created in the 90s, from the initiative of a German music producer Frank Peterson, combines the Middle Age Gregorian choral with the contemporary Pop and rock music and the ‘Masters of Chant’ famous from albums, and he attracted a big crowd of young audience. Fans of the ‘Gregorian’ who arrived at the concert in Częstochowa from many far-distanced cities of Poland were not disappointed during the real performance of ‘Only You’, ‘Heaven’, ‘Angels’, ‘Moment of Peace’ and ‘Hymn’.
The wealth of the East
Every year the festival concerts of the Orthodox Music are very popular, which has been performed for three years in the Orthodox church of Częstochowa Icon of Our Lady, where there are a lot of Orthodox lovers. This year during the Festival there was a performance of ‘Cosmic Vices from Bulgaria’ one of the most famous female choirs which enchanted the audience with really heavenly voices and the sound typical for the Balkan culture.
A remembrance concert
The final concert was devoted to Krzysztof Pośpiech who died on 21 September 2011 – a great socialist and a wonderful educator, a creator of the Music Days in Częstochowa, the first director of the Centre for Promoting ‘Gaude Mater’ Culture (1991-95), a chairman of the Association of Friends of ‘Gaude Mater’, a creator and the first director of the Festival. During the concert ‘Requiem’ of W. A. Mozart was performed, one of the favourite music compositions of Krzysztof Pośpiech, but this time in a liturgical version, supplemented with the fragments of the Gregorian choral.
Not only concerts
The festival ‘Gaude Mater’ is not only a concert but also exhibitions, spectacles and lectures. This year the festival audience could see an exhibition of the photography by Zdzisław Sowiński entitled: ‘Wojciech Kilar. Now, now, now and...amen’, presented in the Exhibition Building in the Park of S. Staszic and the painting exhibition by Kazimierz Bednarz in the Gallery of the Centre for Promoting the ‘Gaude Mater’ culture – the organizer of the Festival.
A great event was the spectacle ‘Transition’ by Leszek Madzik with the music by Tomasz Stańko, performed by the Art Scene of the Catholic University in Lublin. Whereas, the festival was traditionally accompanied by a seminary for conductors of choirs, musicians and musicologists, during which the lectures were preached by: Michał Sławecki (‘Contemporary look at the Gregorian interpretation in the semiological optics’), Marek Dyżewski (‘Will music soothe manners?’) and Wacław Panek 9’Polish Hymns – forgotten songs?’).
The ‘overture’ for the Festival has been Etno*C for a few years – a three-day educational project addressed to young audience, whose purpose is to show and bring closer the multicultural world in the dimension of ‘profane’. This year during the days of 28-30 April different cultures were presented – through various workshops, concerts, dance shows and cuisine shows – of: exotic Egypt, cool Lapland and sunny Catalonia. – Etno*C is not a side product but an integral part of the Festival – emphasizes Malgorzata Z. Nowak. The growing interest in this event proves that the youngest child of the Festival was appreciated.