Hall: Concert Hall
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65 Years of Warsaw Philharmonic Choir
Concert is part of the Niepodległa 2018 programme of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage
The history of Polish song is fascinating, but virtually completely forgotten today. There are many reasons why this repertoire is unknown to the general public, including inadequate music education and the nearly total disappearance of amateur choral ensembles. The 21st‑ century society almost exclusively listens to music, but very few people sing. All the same, there are songs which a Pole must simply know, such as Feliks Nowowiejski’s Rota (The Oath) to words by Maria Konopnicka, which once competed with the Dąbrowski Mazurka for the status of the national anthem. Konopnicka wrote this text exactly 110 years ago; it was printed in the 90th issue of the “Cieszyn Star” magazine, on 7th November 1908. The symbolic and emotional value of this poetry, particularly in Nowowiejski’s musical setting, is self‑ evident. The Rota was first performed on 15th July 1910 for the unveiling of the Grunwald (Tannenberg) Monument in Cracow, by a 500-strong choir.
There are real jewels in the treasury of Polish song. Solemn settings of Biblical verse and Psalms (Nowowiejski) coexist with subtle miniatures on light, frequently humorous subjects (such as Prosnak’s Two Mice – who remembers nowadays the works of this Łódź‑ based composer and choirmaster?) The wealth of song repertoire inspired by folklore is immeasurable. They include Kazuro’s Kashubian songs, the Mazovian melodies by the nearly forgotten Stanisław Wiechowicz, as well as a noble and simple masterpiece – Karol Szymanowski’s crystal‑ pure Kurpie Songs (1928–29), which he tenderly called ‘little choruses’ in his letter, though he was aware that they were serious compositions, drawing with great care on the original and beautiful Kurpie dialect.