2013 belonged to less known bands and anonymous musical formations. The music scene reveled in their fresh ideas and scenic bravery. All the while, music moguls Lutosławski, Górecki and Penderecki were celebrated anew and young artists Wojtek Blecharz and Jagoda Szmytka revamped the opera.
It was the year to be a fan of art: music, theatre and visual arts all at the same time. Disciplines mixed and merged creating a vibrant multidisciplinary scene. Their most fertile grounds were festivals. The Gdynia based Open’er fused concerts with theatre plays (not just any plays but Krzysztof Warlikowski’s brilliant new piece - Warsaw Cabaret among others) and the Katowice based OFF festival juxtaposed rappers with guitar players and an underground heavy metal band called Furia (read about contemporary Polish artists of the metal scene).
When it comes to Polish classical music celebrities, their timeless compositions spread even further into the world this year. Opera houses around the world played the music of Witold Lutosławski on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his birth, for his 80th birthday, Krzysztof Penderecki arrived in Bonn to perform one of his most important pieces, the Piano Concerto Zmartwychwstanie / Resurrection. Concert halls and fancy people with monocles aside, classical music is keeping up with the digitalisation of the world. Trzejkompozytorzy.pl, a website that appeared this year is dedicated to Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki. Its specialist filters allow for free handed assembly and comparison of pieces and its unique features consists in a couple of curious recordings: Górecki’s grandson playing his grandfathers educational pieces on the violin, Lutosławski and Penderecki playing the piano and several recordings that were never released.
Henryk Mikolaj Górecki, photo: Czesław Czapliński/FOTONOVA / East News; Krzysztof Penderecki, photo: Jan Morek /Forum; Witold Lutosławski, photo: Juliusz Multarzyński © IMIT
The year brought a revolution in Polish opera. What was hitherto almost exclusively the purview of soprano voice loving regulars is now open to out of the box ideas. Paweł Szymański had his long awaited début in Qudsja Zaher. With the libretto written by the documentary film-maker Maciej Drygas, the show secured itself a high level of interest from the normally opera oblivious mainstream media. Projekt P written and directed for the National Opera by young creators Jagoda Szmytka together with Michał Zadara and TRANSCRYPTUM by Wojtek Blecharz which explores the space of the monumental building on Plac Teatralny.
Novel operas and re-visited classics aside, presenting to you the Icing On The Cake: an eclectic list of 10 bands, concerts and songs that made 2013 an explosive musical bomb.
- 1. RSS B0YS are RSS BOY ONE and RSS BOY TWO and that's all that can be said of the completely anonymous duo. Said to be musicians-wanderers, the pair have spread the rumour that they met in Benin in West Africa. Your type of fellows?
RSS B0YS - 0MG from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
Krystian Zimerman, photo: East News
- 3. Michał Kupicz receives a spot on the Top 10 for his entire creative output: his cassette released with Sangoplasmo and his work as a producer. This year he recorded, mixed and re-mastered among others the music of Marcin Masecki, Pictorial Candi, Hokei.
- 4. Mike Majkowski, who despite being Australian spends increasingly more time in Poland where his roots are. He cooperated with other musicians and producers. He releases his albums with Bocian and Monotype Records. Together with Mikołaj Trzaska he did the score for Wojtek Smarzowski's Rose and regularly performs in Polish concert halls. Moreover, he is undoubtedly one of the most innovative jazz double bass players in the world.
- 5. Sokół and Marysia Starosta, who cooperated with two prominent producers for their album: DJ Premier classical hip-hop record producer and DJ whose production for rappers and soul includes Nas, Jay-Z, Mos Def, Snoop Dogg; and SpaceGhostPurrpa, a 22-year old rapper and producer whose mix tapes brought a breath of fresh air to the hip-hop world.
- 6. A special mention is due to two Polish bands (Na Górze and Remont Pomp), one Australian (The Bridge) and one festival (Unsound Festival). The aforementioned bands include handicapped musicians who were brought together at workshops organised by the Krakow festival. Together, the artists did a tour of Poland and were joined by local musicians along the way, among others Mikołaj Trzaska, Michał Górczyński and Pablopavo. Music for all! Check out the video.
Unsound Festiwal - Projekt Most from Culture.pl on Vimeo.
- 7. Re-editions of formidable albums come out all the time, and that was the case in 2013. But one album stood out: the psychedelic Nurt. The new edition of their self-titled début is released by Sound on Sound on vinyl only, which brings out the best from the Wrocław band's music (originally from the 70ties). The rawness and precision of the recordings from a Warsaw radio studio captures the sound and atmosphere of this musical secret from behind the iron curtain.
- 8. One of the discoveries of the Lutosławski Year (2013) was the release of the composer's songs and tales for children (some inspired by texts by Julian Tuwim and Kazimiera Iłłakiewiczówna) as well as carols. An extra for Lutoslawski lovers? More than that! Two full hours of classical music that can appeal to the genre's enemies. Despite the presence of the piano (Mariusz Rutkowski) and the mezzo-soprano (Anna Radziejewska) the album is an emotional journey that grabs everyone’s attention. The whole album can be listened to on Culture.pl's soundcloud.
- 10. 10. The video clip to My Słowianie / Slavs Are Us by Cleo and Donatan. Viewed by over 30 million people. Why? The reasons aren't all that clear.
I congratulate you on the success enjoyed by your piece My Słowianie / Us, the Slavs. To this moments, over 28 million users have viewed it on YouTube, that's a great result! As a great admirer of Slavic culture, I am thrilled that it can sweep millions. At the same time I am distressed by this fact. Knowing how frequently the convictions that stem from the Slavic myth have led to discrimination and exclusion, I would like to express a few remarks with respect to your work.
Author: Filip Lech, translated with edits by Mai Jones 06.01.2014