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Sacrum Profanum 2024



Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic Hall


Vibrant Strings

Mary Halvorson is a prominent figure on the jazz scene at the peak of her career, a virtuoso electric guitarist with a very original touch and an easily recognisable, unmistakable style. Together with Mivos Quartet, they will perform music from Belladonna, a 2022 Nonesuch release, as well as an excerpt from Patrick Higgins' string quartet.


Belladonna is a series of compositions for string quartet and an electric guitar from the realm of contemporary music, created with Mivos Quartet in mind. Halvorson also studied violin, but abandoned it out of a fascination with Jimi Hendrix and his music. The numerous improvisers she worked with over the years enabled her to nurture her passion and develop as a guitarist, who quickly left rock music behind, and who has a great understanding of string instruments, which allows her to use them in a perfect way. 


Halvorson's favourite technique is to manipulate the sustain with a delay pedal. This creates the illusion of sounds speeding up or slowing down, which dissolve amidst the rest of the arrangement. A sufficiently long delay, on the other hand, sounds almost like a loop, allowing the artist to overlay successive phrases on top of it.


Belladonna brilliantly blends the world of jazz improvisation with contemporary music at the highest level – frenetic chromatic guitar solos lost in the echoes of the delay pedal, illustrating the polished and sophisticated quartet parts.


Minimalism keeps coming back to Sacrum Profanum, with the recent showcases focusing mostly on the meditative and modest aspect of this music, in the spirit of Pauline Oliveros' practice and philosophy of deep listening. This reflection on listening methods continues to gain new followers. This time around, the audience will have an opportunity to immerse themselves endlessly in the music of Aleksandra Słyż in a new composition written for Sinfonietta Cracovia.


Aleksandra’s music is sometimes compared to the works and philosophy of Pauline Oliveros, Éliane Radigue and Gérard Grisey. The structure of her slowly–developing compositions evokes comparisons to her contemporary counterparts – Ellen Arkbro, Sarah Davachi and Kali Malone. Her electro–acoustic compositions, with their sophisticated sounds and sparse instrumentation, lead to a slowly accented rhythm. Her music is fascinating and engaging, maintaining a relentless suspense beneath the apparent stillness thanks to the somewhat asynchronous parts played by live instruments and electronics, as well as detuned harmonics and rumbling.


The orchestra will also play works by prominent Lithuanian contemporary composer Justė Janulytė, famous for her monochromatic music, as well as pieces by Tomasz Sikorski, the first Polish minimalist – November 12 marks the 35th anniversary of his death.

8:00 p.m.
Patrick HigginsAletheia (from SQ3 op. 10) for string quartet (2013) 7 [Polish première]
Mary HalvorsonBelladonna for electric guitar and string quartet (2022) 35 [Polish première]
Mary Halvorson – electric guitar
Mivos Quartet
9:00 p.m.
Justė Janulytė Elongation of Nights for string ensemble (2009) 8
Aleksandra Słyż – Pure Voices for string ensemble and electronics (2021–2023) 20 [world première]
Tomasz Sikorski – Pejzaż zimowy for strings (1982) 10′
Aleksandra Słyż – electronics
Sinfonietta Cracovia
Lilianna Krych – conductor
Venue: Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic in Kraków.
* commissioned by the Sacrum Profanum Festival