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Sacrum Profanum 2020

An intensive day in the Discomfort Zone


The last but one day of the festival passed following the motto “embarras de richesse”. We began it with a concert given by children who sang, among others, Soley’s compositions, and at the end of the day we were bombarded by  Iancu Dumitrescu’s and Ana-Maria Avram’s spectralist compositions.

Late in the morning at the  Ogniwo Cooperative, we discovered our own talents as composers and opened our minds to new ways of sonic creativity during the workshop with Michał Gorczyński. At the same time the dress rehearsal with the youngest festival performers , i.e. the children from Krakow and Silesian music schools, was coming to an end.

At noon, in Cricoteka, Joanna Bronisławska presented the art education project:  Efter/Sóley/DMK/AsiKIDS by the Danish ensemble Efterklang. The youngest artists met the great challenge, because after only a few hours of  working together, they played as many as 8 songs! Thanks to compositions by Efterklang, Sóley, DMK and Asi Mina, and the commitment of  Monika Bachowska and Piotr Steczek, the children had the opportunity to make the first steps on the great stage. Undoubtedly, it was one of the brightest and the happiest moments of yesterday’s programme.

When the youngest artists finished playing, the first notes of Juilus Eastman’s Buddha already resounded in the Museum of Municipal Engineering. The short composition soon led us to Femenine which continued for more than an hour. In this way we returned to the series of meditation music that had been earlier started by  Drone. The violin and the ear-piercing flute sequences  came into the foreground every now and then, against the background of repetitive sounds. Unbelievable how many faces of  Eastman we saw during this year’s festival…

Two long-awaited events, i.e. Post Indie Classical and Romanian Spectralism, were held in the evening. The first was referred to the aesthetics born after the compositions written by  non-academics from the world of independent music. Aidan Baker was the first to take up this theme with his ambient proposal An Instance of Rising. Then the baton was passed to Paweł Kulczyński, until then known mostly from his noise actions with synthesizers and numerous sound installations (including Shibboleth presented during last year’s edition of the festival). It was for the first time that we heard the artist in such a great musical shape, but the composition was easily associated with Wilhelm Bras (his electronic alias), because of its sharp, attacking sounds with the string sound background. Later Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner presented a wide array of references, and in fact musical tags, alluding to the aesthetics of nostalgic chamber music — we heard piano  songs alternated with low, mellow and rough sounds. Toby Driver brought energetic arousal using two noisy percussions against the background of distorted guitar sounds. And at the end there was a special Finnish performance by Miki Rättö and Jussi Lehtisalo. Heavy metal artists entered the stage smartly dressed and started  jiggling, gesticulating and marching to the rhythm of an orchestral composition in a comical opera style.

Finally, time came for Romanian spectralism -- a theme that carries a lot of questions and the event which will certainly be long remembered by those present in Łaźnia Nowa. Iancu Dumitrescu along with Hyperion Ensemble, Ilan Volkov, Stephen O’Malley and Oren Ambarchi showed us how an electronic dystopian future might look like if conscious and hostile machines take power. In Łaźnia Nowa we balanced between the extremes — murmuring silence and the walls of sound. First we heard Dumitrescu’s Magnificent sky, in which the composer achieved something  almost impossible, trying to entangle and disentangle noise. Then Diana Miron sang  Nouvel Archae by Avram. In this dark sound poetry, enhanced by dissected vocals, howling, squawking, disturbing electronics and  Miron’s facial expression, one could feel echoing inspiration with posthumanism. Another piece by the composer who has recently passed away — Murmur — inundated us with electronic  sounds  and instrumental explosions. At the end of the first part Zach Rowden depleted all ways of handling the contrabass  to produce  sound and as a performance. After a short break cosmic fantasies continued, enhanced by the titles of the compositions, such as Dumitrescu’s Spheroids Collision. The last composition by Ana-Maria Avram can only be described in words comparing it to the sounds of  suction created by a hole in the body of a spaceship, combined with a series of explosions, the motif well known from science fiction movies. Before the last performance of the composition Sacrum et Profanum written specially for the festival, a short lecture was given. We learned that Romanian spectralism is about  “rediscovering the sound combined with folk harmonies and philosophical references to phenomenology”.

Dumitrescu’s Sacrum et Profanum wrapped up the last but one day of the festival, reminding us that the meeting with the sacred may be dangerous, and even, as a result of the confrontation with the “dirty” profane, may lead us to the heights of discomfort, so tomorrow time will come to calm down and meditate with Pauline Oliveros.


Today at Sacrum Profanum:

Little Music/Solitude of Sounds – ICE Kraków – 6.00 pm

African Repercussions – ICE Kraków – 8.00 pm