Jewish Culture Festival
- When? June 27th - July 6th
- Where? Kazimierz - The Old Jewish Quarter in Krakow: Tempel Synagogue, Sobieski Barque, Alchemia, Cheder Cafe and others.
The Krakow-based festival of contemporary Jewish culture is the oldest and largest festival of its kind in Poland, Israel and the entire diaspora. This year's edition is promoted by four words: Ashkenaz – according to the Book of Genesis, the son of Gomer, the name used to identify the culture of Jews originating from Central and Eastern Europe and constituting the dominant Jewish group; Mizrah – meaning 'the East' in Hebrew, used to describe Jews from the Middle East, the Maghreb and Sephardic Jews; Dybbuk – a spirit that takes possession of the body of a living person; one of the most important literary and cultural topoi associated with Jewish folklore, often the source of inspiration for pop culture; and Kibbutz – zionist agricultural and egalitarian communities that appeared in Galilee in the early 20th century and a cornerstone of present day Israel.
Bartosz Staszczyszyn has more on Jewish culture in an article about Yiddish films,
The Dybbuk found fans not only with Jewish audiences but also the Polish critics who touted it as the best European film in Yiddish, a motion picture in which the Jewish tradition encounters the literary influences of Adam Mickiewicz 's Dziady (Forefather's Eve) and the paintings of Artur Grottger and Władysław Podkowiński.
The festival programme covers everything from cantor's concerts to DJ sets, from classical music to traditional and contemporary jazz interpretations of Jewish music. Those who come to Krakow's Old Jewish quarter this year will be able to see and hear Shura Lipovsky, one of the most important contemporary Yiddish singers, klezmer music performed by the Tarras Band, a New York band of brilliant Brooklyn musicians, and New York-based composer and cellist Erik Friedlander presenting the European premiere of Song of the Scribes, a new suite for solo cello.
Festival programme: http://www.jewishfestival.pl/
Open'er Festival 2014
- When? July 2nd - 7th
- Where? Gdynia, grounds of Gdynia-Kosakowo airport
Over the last couple of years, Open'er has been expanding (and changing): the line-up of international bands is being complemented with Polish artists, and stages are being used for plays. This year it will be Radosław Rychcik's Podróż zimowa / Winter Trip based on Elfriede Jelinek and Adam Mickiewicz's timeless Dziady / Forefather's Eve. Visitors will also be able to see visual art collections from the Museum of Contemporary Art which are normally safely located in the four walls of the museum headquarters on Pańska Street in Warsaw, including works by Paweł Althamer, Paulina Ołowska, Artur Żmijewski and Slavs&Tatars.
Polish musicians you don't want to miss:
Hip-hop fans will want to secure a spot at Eldo's concert. The rapper has been performing for a couple of years, returning this year with an impressive new album. Eldo is supporting Earl Sweatshirt from the American collective Odd Future. Sometimes it's fun to remember the good old days, and that sentimental trip comes courtesy of Niewidzialna nerka na żywo (Invisible Kidney Live), composed of Night Marks Electric Trio, DjSteez83, Ras and Vienio) who will be honouring the pioneers of Polish hip-hop.
Electronic music fans might not get their fix at this year's Open'er but what makes up for it is the stylistic variety. Grab the chance to listen to Robert Piotrowicz, one of the classics of experimental music in Poland, or dance to a performance by Zamilska, a producer whose new album shakes the dancefloors of Polish night clubs. Also worth mentioning is the wizard of new beats Piotr Kaliński (performing under the pseudonym Hatti Vatti) and the Pink Freud concert - a jazz rehash of the music of the legendary Autechre (see the Sacrum Profanum programme below).
As always, fans of songs are get the best of Open'er. They can choose between new pieces by Rojek, the ethereal Coldair, the anonymous electro-pop trio Bokka, the dirty garage rock of Kaseciarz, and the clever Polish verses of Mela Koteluk. The main stage will of course be occupied by the well-known Open'er veterans: Jack White, Interpol, Faith No More and Pearl Jam.
Festival programme: http://opener.pl
Warsaw Summer Jazz Days
When? July 9th -13th
Where? Soho Factory, Warsaw
"This year's programme appears to be particularly "jazzy'', devoid of rock nuances, as was the case in the past. The moment to present new people, new names of the world jazz, has arrived" - Mariusz Adamiak, organiser of the event said at the Warsaw Summer Jazz Days press conference.
The prologue to this year's edition, however, remains grounded in rock. On the 9th of July, the legendary jazz musician Michał Urbaniak will perform with SBB, an iconic progressive rock band which was reactivated recently. The musicians have been trying to perform together for the last 40 years. The act was impeded by Urbaniak's tours in the 70s, and his move to the U.S. in 1973. By the time he was back in Poland in 1986, SBB had split up.
Also performing are this year's Grammy Award winners Włodek Pawlik and Gregory Porter. Pawlik's Trio will present a new musical programme prepared especially for Warsaw Summer Jazz Days 2014.
"The most expensive performer of this year's 23rd Warsaw Summer Jazz Days will be vocalist Gregory Porter" - Adamiak told the newspaper Rzeczpospolita - "A year ago, his fee was one fourth of what it is this year''.
The festival finishes off with the Polish Jazz Night concert, taking place, as the name suggests, at night. High Definition Quartet with pianist Piotr Orzechowski (aka Pianohooligan) will perform at midnight followed by percussionist Jacek Kochan with pianist Dominik Wania.
Festival programme: https://www.facebook.com/warsawsummerjazzdays
Na Rozstajnych Drogach Festival
- When? July 9th - 13th
- Where? Szklarnia, Momoty Górne and Janów Lubelski (southeastern Poland)
Na Rozstajnych Drogach (At the Crossroads [editor's translation]) is a five-day educational, artistic and musical event taking place in the picturesque south-eastern provinces of Poland called Ziemia Janowska (The Janów Land). Festival visitors can listen to and take part in the creation of traditional music, a current that is slowly ceasing to exist.
''The Janów Land sits on the crossroads between a range of hills in east-central Poland and western Ukraine called Roztocze and extends south-eastward through the Solska wilderness. This corner of Poland was influenced by different traditions (Polish, Ukrainians, Tatar, Jewish, Vlach) and its folk music is considered by ethnomusicologists as one of the most interesting musical cultures of Poland and Europe". – tout the organisers of the festival.
The festival is watched over by the ghost of the Suka biłgorajska. The suka was a unique fiddle that was played vertically and passed into the history books in the mid-19th century. "Biłgorajska" refers to the region it came from - near the eastern town of Janów Lubelski. The string instrument was revived in the 1990s when it was reconstructed by two independent scientists/scholars - Zbigniew Butryn from Janów Lubelski and Dr Maria Pomianowska from Warsaw who cooperated with Professor Ewa Dahlig-Turek and luthier Andrzej Kuczkowski. This is a description of the instrument from 1888:
"The ancient rural instrument, called the suka has completely fallen into disuse; it used to be played not like a violin, but by hanging it on the left shoulder so that they instrument lay close to the chest; you would pull the bow horizontally, placing it parallel to the shoulder line. Some say that in this region, ordinary violins were referred to as "dogs" (psy).
The Crossroads festival stands out for its "Master-Student" workshops which bring even the most un-musical people closer to the musical traditions of Western Roztocze. The programme includes lessons on how to play the suka, singing lessons, violin, drum, bass, and wind instrument lessons as well as classes on crafts and dance. All of them are for amateurs and professionals alike.
Festival programme: festiwal.sukabilgorajska.pl
Sounds of the North Festival
- When? July 16th - 20th
- Where? Baltic Sea Culture Centre, Gdansk
Back in the 70s, the town hosted a review of folk bands from the Kaszuby region. In time, the festival grew. Bands and groups from the rest of Poland and other Baltic countries started to take part in it. It used to be called Festival of the People of the North. It adopted its current name - Sounds of the North Festival (Festiwal Dźwięków Północy) in 1999. In its long history, it has brought together peoples of different lands: the Buryats, Chukchi, Tuvans, Eskimos and folk bands from Russia, Germany, Lithuania, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Greenland. This is where Urszula Dudziak sang with Yakuts and Karelians, VooVoo with Buryats, and Drum Freaks with Mordvins.
This year's edition is Polish-Scandinavian themed. Bands to perform include Same suki, a porno-folk all-female band who were brought together by their love for the Suka biłgorajska (see Na Rozstajnych Drogach festival); project Osako, formed on a trip to the oldest violinists of the Suwałki region; and Kapela ze wsi Warszawa, which has been spreading traditional music from different regions of Poland mixed with sounds from the four corners of the earth since 1997.
The Svӓng Quartet from Finland will turn the harmonica into a spectacle, Sami yoiker Wimme Saari from Finland will give a new interpretation of yoiking; The Nordic Fiddler’s Bloc will create a melting pot of traditional Norwegian, Swedish and Shetlandic music on the violin. Also to be heard are concerts by the Gjermund Larsen Trio, a Grammy award winner, as well as the Finnish duet Habadekuk, whose purview is traditional dance music.
Other festival attractions are traditional Polish dance and crafts workshops, and Norwegian 2/4 and 6/8 melody workshops (led by violinist Vegar Vårdal) topped off with a Night of Dancing event.
Bolków Castle Party
- When? July 17th-20th
- Where? Bolków Castle, in the former evangelical church and, club Sorento, Bolków
The Bolków festival is a gothic music event with 20 years of history. Featuring gothic music with industrial rock, EBM and dark wave dance productions, it's one of the biggest gothic events in Europe. Stages are spread out in the courtyard and other murky rooms of the castle. The festival visitor's attire makes it an eccentric, eye-catching fashion show displaying clothing straight from medieval tournaments and cyber (and steam) punk creations.
A couple of dozen bands and musicians will provide this year's dose of sinister music. The line-up features performers whose works are considered classics of independent music. Be ready for the Portuguese stars of Gothic metal Moonspell and Deine Lakaien, the pioneers of dark wave from the 80s. The Polish representatives will supply new romantic music: from Kapitan Nemo's more classical sound to the punk romances played by the recently reactivated Super Girl & Romantic Boys.
Festival programme: http://castleparty.com
- When? July 25th -27th
- Where? Płock, Vistula river beach
Audioriver is a three-day party on a beach on the Vistula river in the town of Płock (north-eastern Poland), complemented by electronic music performances (concerts, live acts and DJ sets). Thanks to the 17,000-strong dancing crowd of Poles and foreigners, Audioriver ranked among the most important European festivals in 2006, it was nominated three times to the Festival Awards Europe (Best Medium-Sized European Festival category), and was one of the runners-up to the title of Best South East Europe Music Event in 2010.
Appearing on stage will be the duet Skalper, i.e. Igor Pudło and Marcin Cichy, who reappeared with a new album after a long absence. Among the international line-up are other Polish artists: the anonymous electro-pop musicians Bokka and Hatti Vatti from Lady Katee.
International acts include Nina Kraviz, the Siberian DJ specialising in deep raw house; one of the most stirring raster-noton reps Kangdind Ray; the drum and bass-producing LTJ Buke, recognised for his warm sound and jazz samples; musicians skilled in the art of mash-up who trace connections between seemingly unmatchable songs from groups like Nirvana and Destiny's Child; and Zeitgeber - a leading techno music DJ duet i.e. Speedy J and Lucy.
Festival programme: www.audioriver.pl/Festival,3830,2.html
- When? July 31st - August 3rd
- Where? Dolina Trzech Stawów (Three Ponds Valley), Katowice
The ever-growing OFF Festival has been taking place since 2006. It was founded and is still directed by Artur Rojek, known for his role in the legendary band Lenny Valentino, and, until recently, vocalist for Myslovitz. His solo debut album, one of the most anticipated acts of OFF, came out recently. Festivalgoers are also preparing for the festival debut of Eugeniusz Rudnik, a well-known figure of the Experimental Studio of the Polish Radio who also plays at a concert before OFF at the Evangelical-Augsburg church.
The Tribute to Jerzy Milian concert will be a journey through time into the light and melodic songs of vibraphone player Jerzy Milian. A student of Bogusław Schaeffer who played with Komeda, his samples are nowadays used by Polish rappers (minimum O.S.T.R.). Strictly speaking, he is a jazzman, but his music shows hints of swing, bossa nova and funk. In recent years, recording labels OBUH and GAD have delighted in reviving his archives. At OFF, Milian's compositions will be played by a band formed by Bernard Maseli. They will be playing on no less than four vibraphones. The concert is co-organised by the National Culture Centre.
Inkwizycja, one of the forgotten legends of the Polish independent scene, will connect the past with the present. The punk band with a hardcore feel has existed since 1989. They released their first album in 1991 - the cult Na własne podobieństwo. In 2013, Marcin Dymiter remastered some songs and released them on vinyl. The album has a hypnotic effect and a gloomy, post-punk touch. The lyrics, sometimes called anti-clerical, are poems by the band's charismatic vocalist Dariusz "Ex Pert" Eckert. Inkwizycja is working on their next album, fragments of which can be sampled at OFF.
What else? Also worth seeing is the experimental folk performances of Noon (Mikołaj Bugajak), who is the producer behind the majority of the backing tracks of Polish hip-hop classics. He will be playing on the stage dedicated to the Year of Kolberg. His recent compositions are frugal and experimental but are still reminiscent of his earliest productions. This will be his first ever performance in front of an audience!
The international headliners include the harmonious songs of Belle & Sebastian, noisy hip-hop by CLIPPING, drone-like Eearth, the doyen of American avant-garde Glenn Branca, Jahiliyya Fields representing L.I.E.S. and The Jesus and Mary Chain - the pioneers of shoegaze.
Festival programme: http://off-festival.pl/
Tauron New Music Festival
- When? August 21st -24th
- Where? Katowice, Three Ponds Valley
''We came up with the idea for the festival in 2006 and it was really quite simple: from the beginning, we wanted to show Polish audiences the most interesting trends in contemporary music, ranging from jazz, electronic and dance. We wanted to prove that even though these genres were absent from the mainstream media, they have fans in Poland and Europe who would come to Katowice for the festival".
One of Tauron's most interesting events will be Project Carbon Atlantis, a stage managed by Wojciech Kucharczyk, creator of the label Mik Musik and a fearless seeker of sonic adventures. The other is a showcase by U Know Me Records, a well-functioning label supplying the world with mangled dance music.
''After almost 20 years of the label, there is quite a large group of people, especially young ones, a generation, or even two generations, younger than me who understand it without words, naturally. In the 90s we were like aliens, that's why were noticed but not always appreciated for our content''.
Project Carbon Atlantis presents among other the band kIRK, who have two incredible albums behind them, and Piotr Kurka, co-author of projects Piętnastka and Suaves Figures. Moreover, the founder of Sangoplasmo Records and DUNNO Recordings, Lutto Lento; Micromelancolié, a project by Robert Skrzyński who experiments with field recording, samples and aleatoric music; Wilhelm Bras, who restores faith in radical electronic sounds and whose uncompromising performances make crowds go wild; Stara Rzeka, a project by Kuba Ziołek, the Polityka Passport nominee. Additionally, the Carbon Atlantis stage will feature concerts by Robert Piotrowicz, the founder of Musica Genera Festival, and We Will Fail – Aleksandra Grünholz's experimental project bring together classical techno with field recording and electroacoustic experiments.
Night Marks Electric Trio with Paulina Przybysz, WODOWOROK (Daniel Drumz and Teielte) are going to be a part of the U Know Me Records SOUNDSYSTEM. Sonar Soul's new album comes out on the first day of the festival and will be played live. On top of the performances, U Know Me DJs: Buszkers, Daniel Drumz, Groh, Krime and Spisek Jednego will play their sets. The crowning element is the host of the evening - the one and only Rymek, (Jacek Markiewicz from the band Łona and Webber).
Festival programme: http://www.festiwalnowamuzyka.pl
- When? September 14th -20th
- Where? Kraków, Nowa Łaźnia Theatre, Urban Engineering Museum, Hotel Forum
The father of American minimalism – Philip Glass, the avant garde artist – Laurie Anderson, the Sonic Youth guitarist – Lee Ranaldo, and Squarepusher are but some of the Sacrum Profanum acts. The programme features three concerts by the famous string quartet – Kronos Quartet. Also coming to the tourist hub Krakow are the crème de la crème of contemporary music: London Sinfonietta and Sacrum Profanum regulars Alarm Will Sound and Bang on a Can All-Stars. The festival finale will be a celebration of the 25-year anniversary of the label Warp, including appearances by Autechre, Battles, Hudson Mohawke and LFO.
The festival's biggest happening will be the first Polish performance of Landfall, Laurie Anderson's new piece, in which Anderson plays an electric violin in harmony with a range of experimental sounds. Her half-joking, half-philosophical texts make for symbolically saturated contemporary music.
Author: Filip Lech, translator: MJJ 30/06/2014