I,CULTURE Orchestra and Song of the Goat Theatre Take Edinburgh
Traditional Scottish songs performed by Poles will resound throughout the interiors of Edinburgh's medieval churches during evenings this summer. This innovative project of The Song of the Goat Theatre is titled Return to the Voice, and it features a guest appearance by legendary jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek. The half-a-million strong audience of the Festival City will also be presented with concerts of the unique I, CULTURE Orchestra.
The history of this Polish-Scottish collaboration began two years ago in one of the auditoriums of the Summerhall venue. It was there that the avant-garde troupe from Wrocław staged their experimental work-in-progress titled Songs of Lear. Soon after the first showings, the piece was showered with critics' praise. Reviews stated that Grzegorz Bral and his group restored Europe's capacity for lamentation, and the piece, although still unfinished, quickly gained legendary status. The Shakespearian magic had a great impact on the audience, which received each staging with a standing ovation. Song of the Goat Theatre left Edinburgh with three statuettes – the Scotsman Fringe First award, the Herald Archangel, and the special mention of the Musical Theatre Matters Award. Songs of Lear also came 1st in a poll conducted by The List, thus beating almost three thousand performances from across the world. Now, the group returns to Edinburgh with a special project co-financed by the troupe themselves, in which they present a polyphonic version of Scottish singing. Will they manage to repeat their success from two years ago?
The Polish-Scottish Return to the Voice
The Return to the Voice project is supported by the talent and sensitivity of jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek and a Corsican artist, Jean-Claude Acquaviva. Grzegorz Bral, the founder and director of Song of the Goat theatre explains how the archaic musical scales from Na H-Eileanan siar and the growingly rare Gaelic language are employed in the piece in a completely new way. He says,
"It is a journey across the fragments of Scotland's history which are encompassed by the music. During our expeditions to the sources, to Fort William, Glasgow, and the Skye and Lewis islands, we delved into Scottish music archives with recordings from the 1950s and 1960s. We even found a lamentation of a survivor from one of the battles of World War II. Maciej Rychły, who has collaborated with the group for years, composed the music for the majority of the songs. While preserving the melodic line of the original versions, he simultaneously transformed the compositions into the polyphonies which are so typical of our group's work. A dozen pieces were selected out of hundreds to make up the performance."
This intimate performance dedicated to tradition and forgetting will be presented at a very significant moment for the Scottish people. Return to the Voice showings come two months before a referendum in which the Scots are to decide about their possible independence. The world premiere of a piece supported by Culture.pl takes place on the 6th of August at the St.Giles Cathedral, and showings run through to the 25th of August. Apart from the Song of the Goat Theatre, there will also be performances of contemporary Polish dance. Anna Nowicka will present her solo piece The Truth is Just a Plain Picture, said Bob at Dance Base, and Agata Maszkiewicz will also show a solo project titled Polska.
Another major Polish highlight among the festive events takes place as part of the International Edinburgh Festival. This year's edition of this huge festival invited a total of more than three thousand artists from 40 different countries in an incredibly rich musical, theatre and dance programme. 111 young musicians from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute's I, CULTURE Orchestra will also find themselves among this crowd, fighting for the audience's attention with a series of concerts.
Culture in the shadow of political conflict
2014 marks the passing of a 100 years since the outbreak of World War I. Artists invited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival will refer to the history of relations between culture and political conflict. During a press conference, the artistic director of the event Jonathan Mills reminded of the long time presence of Polish artists in Edinburgh, calling the collaboration an honour. He also explained that with this year's theme, there appears the chance of "transgressing the political in favour of the human".
Participants of the I, CULTURE Orchestra project admit that playing at the Scottish festival is a sign of recognition and a great honour for them. In Edinburgh, they will perform alongside the Royal Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. A gala concert of the ICO takes place on the 17th of August, with young musicians from Poland and the Eastern Partnership countries performing Andrzej Panufnik's Sinfonia elegiaca, and Symphony No. 7 ( Leningrad) by Dmitriy Shostakovich. Kirill Karabits, a prominent conductor of Ukrainian origin, leads the ensemble. After Szymanowski and Lutosławski which had a strong presence in the 2012 EIF programme, this year will also resound with music from Polish composers Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and the aforementioned Andrzej Panufnik.
Edited by Anna Legierska, translated by Paulina Schlosser, 3/07/2014
Source: press release, own information, Culture. pl