A four-day festival of Polish music including series of concerts, workshops and lectures – for the general public, as well as students and academicians – will feature the country's illustrious musicians, thinkers and critics to draw unexpected connections between very prominent (starting with Fryderyk Chopin) and very obscure phenomena of Poland's sound culture.
Organized jointly by the Center for Advanced Studies in Music (MIAM) at the Istanbul Technical University (ITÜ) – and culture.pl, Soundscapes From Poland presents an unorthodox combination of traditional, classical and modern music/sound art. The ubiquitous Fryderyk Chopin can be recognized as a pivotal figure here, one that connects beclouded traditional music with transfiguration of sensibilities of the ear towards modernity. In particular, the project intends to offer an extraordinary taste of Chopin's personal experience and emotions.
However, the romantic Polish composer generates but one of the cores of Soundscapes From Poland, a project which further extends to modern composition, audio-visual art boundaries as well as ethnic music, with certain references to Turkey and Middle East in general. It will also stretch the timeframe: the courtyard of the İTÜ Taşkışla Campus, located in an old armory from the Ottoman Empire epoch, will feature a sound installation built from snippets of Chopin's letters set to sound art by Sławomir Kupczak, open for a month.
Major Themes of Discovery:
Soundscapes From Poland looks at certain aspects of the Polish sound culture from a sonological perspective, bringing together phenomena both prominent (Fryderyk Chopin, the Polish school of composition) and obscure (traditional mazurkas, sound art). In each case, we try to find an unorthodox viewpoint, a different connection: how Chopin reconciles with sound art, how to conduct a pioneering Experimental Studio within Eastern Bloc hopelessness; and even to unearth some artefacts, like rare quadraphonic compositions of the Studio, surfing the wave of recent art rediscoveries.
Soundscapes will be composed of spoken word, workshops, and concerts / music events, including the opportunity to have a go at the Mazovian incarnation of the whirling. Some of the leading Polish music thinkers will be present, each with a carefully considered topic. Here are a few:
- What does the “Polish school of composition” (i.e. Górecki, Lutosławski, and Penderecki) catchphrase stand for today, in view of radical aesthetic changes among its representatives and general attitude flux towards modernism?
- The emergence of sound art between discordant expectations of music and visual arts.
- The revival / continuation of nearly completely forgotten authentic folk music, in spite of the “world music” ideology and Western academic dogma.
- The divergence between classical music’s posh requirements and the actual grassroots character of the mazurka – in search for the “real” Chopin.
Soundscapes From Poland does not attempt to present a representative panorama of Polish music. We consciously focus on selected aspects, trusting to whet the audience’s appetite. In particular, we endeavour to address Turkish (and more generally, Middle Eastern) culture, intricately connected with Poland, and the unique position of Turkey in and towards Europe.
Overview of the Festival Programme:
Monday, 05 May: Polish Traditional Music & Dance
The day will start with a conference insight into roots of Mazurka music, with its connections to Chopin as well as the Orient, and a foray into Polish-Turkish concatenation in the traditional music field. The discussion will begin at 10:00, at the İTÜ Maçka Campus, Cevad Memduh Altar Hall. Again, on Monday, starting at 15:00, at the Mustafa Kemal Hall, a practical, “feet-on” workshop of Polish traditional Mazurka dancing will be led by the Janusz Prusinowski Trio, who later that evening will also hold a concert/dance performance at the Mustafa Kemal Hall, starting at 20:00.
Read more about Mazurka and Polish traditional dance
Tuesday, 06 May: Chopin’s Personal Diary/ Gazebo
Chopin lovers are invited to attend the morning symposiums starting at 10:00, at the İTÜ Maçka Campus, Cevad Memduh Altar Hall. Later in the evening, audiences are invited to a concert by Turkish star pianist Idil Biret, who will interpret Chopin’s solo piano repertoire, at the İTÜ Ayazağa Campus, Süleyman Demirel Conference Hall, starting at 20:00.
Again, on this day, at 17:00, the İTÜ Taşkışla Campus will host the vernissage of the sound installation, Chopin's Personal Diary, curated by Antoni Beksiak. The installation had its premiere in 2010, at the Warsaw University Library's garden. The installation consists of short snippets from Chopin's letters elaborated in modern sound art.
Wednesday, 07 May: Sonic Arts
Wednesday’s events are devoted to sonic arts, including a morning panel on Polish sound and audiovisual creators, as well as the Polish Radio Experimental Studio and its unique Black Room visionary designed by Oskar Hansen. Electronic music composer Paweł Hendrich will hold a workshop starting at 15:00, at the Ilhan Usmanbaş Hall on İTÜ Maçka Campus. In the evening, audiences are invited to enjoy a collaborative concert featuring Hendrich, MIAM artists and archival quadraphonic compositions at the Mustafa Kemal Hall, starting at 20:00.
Thursday, 08 May: Polish Contemporary Music
For details on the day's events, visit the Festival Programme Page.
For a broader and more academic look at contemporary music, the Thursday panel will address both the newest occurrences as well as a perspective on the half-century-old Polish school of composition. Kwartludium Ensemble will host a workshop, as well as an evening concert in collaboration with MIAM musicians.
Dedicated to Polish music with an extensive perspective, from ethnomusicology to sound art, the Soundscapes From Poland welcomes audiences for a unique experience of Polish culture through different and appealing observations and indications in Istanbul. The event is recognized within the cultural programme of the 600th anniversary of Polish-Turkish diplomatic relations.
Sources: Organizer's materials, own materials
Edited by Elçin M. 28/04/2014