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Szymanowski ad Orientem in Turkey

Atatürk Bulvarı No: 98, C Blok 3. Kat, BEŞEVLER, Ankara
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The project 'Karol Szymanowski ad Orientem' is the compelling result of collaboration between a Turkish instrumental ensemble and a Polish string quartet. Scheduled for 16 April 2014 as part of the Ankara International Music Festival, the project reflects the Polish master composer Karol Szymanowski’s fascination with the 'Orient.'

In his early years, Karol Szymanowski’s (1882-1937) music was very much influenced by Romanticism and more specifically, by the music of Wagner and Richard Strauss. As a follower of Fryderyk Chopin’s heritage, he is considered the founder and father of Polish modernism in classical music. Szymanowski wrote a good number of pieces revealing his vivid inclination towards what can be referred to as the "Orient", which back then (during his second musical period between 1914-1919) appeared to be an alluring and refreshing concept for Europe in its search to understand a larger picture of the undiscovered world.


Various other composers active in Szymanowski's time undertook to visit, study and implement the Near and Far Eastern ethnomusicological jewels into their western musical training. Figures such as the Hungarian composer Bela Bartók discovered possible fruitful resources, whereas Szymanowski did not borrow any literal quotations, nor did he show any inclination to be an “ethnologically conscious musician” and directly implant oriental elements into his music. He traveled more to his "imaginary Orient", and that is precisely where we may begin to understand Szymanowski's work in the context of Szymanowski ad Orientem. The project hopes to present international audiences in Turkey a world premiere of Szymanowski’s previously undiscovered works.

To turn Szymanowski's longed-for travels into reality, the project intends to portray a map of themes and motifs, as well as musical elements such as harmony, timbre, orchestration, and rhythm, in order to decode the so-called "oriental" as an atmospheric, aesthetic and aural quality. The project presents works that were influenced by mystical oriental music and poetry, such as Love Songs of Hafez, Songs of a Fairy-Tale Princess, Songs of an Infatuated Muezzin, Roxana’s Song (from the opera King Roger) and some motives from Violin Concerto No.1 and Symphony No.3 set to the texts of Jalal ad-Din Rumi (Mevlana), together with the String Quartet No.1.


World Premiere in Ankara

The first concert will be presented on Wednesday 16 April, starting at 20:30, at the MEB Concert Hall in the Turkish capital city, as part of the Ankara International Music Festival between 04-30 April, 2014. In addition to the Szymanowski ad Orientem project, the Ankara Festival will feature local and international key figures from the modern classical music scene including the Simon Bolivar Quartet, Russian Ossipov Balalaika Orchestra, Tetraktys String Quartet, Pink Floyd Classical Concept, Ballet Nacional de Espana, Camerata of Kazakhstan, and the Ankara Youth Symphony Orchestra. For detailed information on the festival visit:

The concert programme covers four sessions including East-bound [8.40]; Touching the Orient [9.20]; The Bazaar [10.30] and Immersion [16.50].  The original music is arranged for interpretation by the Turkish Saz Ensemble and the classical string quartet conducted young Polish composer, Aleksander Kościów. The original solo vocal parts will be substituted with performances on cello and kemençe (a stringed, bowed folk musical instrument of Greece, Iran, Turkey and the Black Sea region). The collaborating musicians include Konrad Bukowian performing on the cello, Derya Türkan on the kemençe,  Murat Salim Tokaç on tanburo and ney, Krzysztof Lasoń on first violin, Serkan Mesut Halili on the qanun, Agnieszka Lasoń on second violin, Fahrettin Yarkın on percussion, Elżbieta Mrozek-Loska on the viola, Cenk Güray on the bağlama as well as Stanisław Lasoń on the cello. 

For ticket information visit:

Follow-up Concert in Istanbul

The second concert of the Szymanowski ad Orientem project represented by the Turkish Saz Ensemble and the Polish Lasoń Ensemble will be on stage on 17 April 2014 at the Sabancı Museum, starting at 20:00. The concert will accompany the current exhibition, Distant Neighbours - Close Memories: 600 Years of Polish-Turkish Relations, in collaboration with the National Museum in Warsaw. 

For ticket information visit:

The project  Szymanowski ad Orientem is realized as part of the 600th Anniversary of Turkish-Polish Diplomatic Relations celebrated throughout 2014. It is co-funded by the Polish Ministry of National Heritage and Culture. The project is a result of the collaboration between Turkish and Polish musicans,  with the artistic direction of Polish composer Aleksander Kościów. 

Sources: own materials, press materials, own materials.

Edited by E. M. 20/03/2014

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