The Adam Mickiewicz Institute announced the launch of ‘Joy & Devotion’, a new annual festival of Polish sacred music, continuing its dynamic effort to bring the abundance of Polish culture to the international audience.
Taking place in St Martin-in-the-Fields from November 2-5, 2021 under the artistic direction of composer and conductor Paweł Łukaszewski, ‘Joy & Devotion’ features renowned choral groups The Gesualdo Six, Tenebrae and Echo with the organist Rupert Jeffcoat. religious works by renowned and lesser-known composers ranging from the 13th to the 21st century.
The festival opens with the famous vocal consort The Gesualdo Six directed and directed by Owain Park intermingling a program of works by prominent contemporary Polish composers, including two world premieres, paired with the 16th century Missa Mater Matris by Krzystof Borek . [2 Nov]. Borek’s Mass inspired the program, itself based on Josquin des Prés’ Missa Mater Matris, whose anniversary celebration continues five hundred years after his death. World premieres include Ave by Aleksander Jan Szopa, Regina caelorum and O salutaris Hostia by Łukasz Farcinkiewicz, alongside Benedicamus Domino by Krzysztof Penderecki (from his Missa brevis 1992) and Andrzej Panufnik & Roxanna Panwaufnik’s. The music of post-war organist and improviser Marian Sawa is also in the spotlight, with his Bogurodzica, Dziewica and Regina Poloniae for organ.
The oldest works performed at the Festival, Ortus de Polonia by Jerzy Liban from the 15th century and Gaude Mater Polonia by Wincenty from Kielcza from the 13th century, bookends Program by Nigel Short with the award-winning choir Tenebrae [4 Nov]. The concert also includes a composition by the artistic director of the Festival Paweł Łukaszewski, his Prayer for those who will return, as well as Totus tuus by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, written at the end of communism in 1987 following the 3rd pilgrimage of John Paul II in Poland, and Wojciech Kilar Dona nobis pacem, from his Missa pro pace written for the 100th anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra in 2000. The Missa Paschalis by 16th century composer Marcin Leopolita, the oldest known example of choral polyphony Polish for six voices, will also be sung and Miezysław Surzyński’s Improvisations on the Polish sacred song “Holy God” op. 38 for organ will be played by Rupert Jeffcoat.
The festival ends with the young but highly regarded vocal ensemble Echo led by Sarah Latto, who performs a musical program featuring 17th century composer Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki’s Missa Paschalis. [5 Nov]. His minimal writing “Stile Antico” provides the structure and inspiration for the rest of the program which includes 16th century motets by Mikołaj Zieleński and Wacław by Szamotuły against works by three dynamic modern composers: British-Polish composer Roxanna Panufnik and emerging Polish composers Aleksandra Chmielewska and Anna Roclawska-Musiałczyk.
“Joy & Devotion” will also be presented outside the capital, with Echo performing at Downing Place URC in Cambridge as part of the Cambridge Festival of the Voice [4 Nov]. Entitled “The Polish Court”, this program explores the work of composers living in Warsaw and Krakow in the 16th and 17th centuries, again starring Gorczycki’s Missa Paschalis and Zielenski’s Laetentur caeli alongside works by Italian composers Luca Marenzio , Asprillo Pacelli and Vincenzo Bertolusi.
Barbara Schabowska, Director of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, said: “The Adam Mickiewicz Institute is delighted to launch ‘Joy & Devotion’ which gives the British public the opportunity to experience the many glories of Polish sacred music, at the both traditional and contemporary. The UK is the perfect place for ‘Joy & Devotion’ as it is celebrated around the world for its many choirs and choral tradition. Everyone at the Adam Mickiewicz Institute wishes the performers who participate every success and looks forward to seeing the reactions of the British public to these great pieces of choral music. “
Paweł Łukaszewski, Artistic Director, said: “It was an honor and a pleasure to work on the first ‘Joy & Devotion’. This year’s program is a moving introduction to the abundance and emotion of Polish sacred music. I am also excited to present to the public the works of well-known and highly regarded composers such as Penderecki, Górecki and Roxanna Panufnik, as I present more obscure yet little-known works in the UK by secular Polish masters and the world premieres of two composers. are just starting their careers. “
Poland has a rich history of sacred composition to reveal to the British public, dating back to the 13th century. Compositions from this period include those dedicated to the revered Polish icon, the Black Madonna of Częstochowa, such as Gaude Mater Polonia of Wincenty of Kielcza and the Bogurodzica melody considered to be the oldest religious hymn in the Polish language. Rapid innovation followed during the 16th century, when composers like Wacław de Szamotuly, Mikołaj Zieleński, and Marcin Leopolita wrote for ensembles belonging to the King and Archbishop of Wawel in Krakow.
More recently, the election of Polish Pope John Paul II has been a particular inspiration for popular contemporary composers such as Penderecki, Górecki and Wojciech Kilar, while the music of Anglo-Polish composer Roxanna Panufnik is steeped in references to her Polish heritage. The young generation of composers in Poland today and presented at the Festival is no less convincing: Aleksandra Chmielewska and Anna Rocławska-Musiałczyk from Warsaw and Gdańsk respectively have a varied repertoire to show, while Aleksander Jan Szopa and Łukasz Farcinkiewicz are recent graduates of Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and demonstrate the great potential of Polish sacred music to come.