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Sacrum Profanum 2024






This kind of minimalism is a somewhat rarer sight at the Sacrum Profanum Festival; however, this year we will also explore minimalist rhythms with numerous repetitions thanks to one Dutch masterpiece and one of the most popular pieces of the 20th century. Simeon ten Holt’s Canto Ostinato in a new rendition by Chain Ensemble will all but guarantee a trance experience for audience and performers.


Canto Ostinato remains one of the most popular Dutch compositions of the 20th century. Written in 1976 by Simeon ten Holt for 4 pianos, it is performed by artists to this very day. The secret of its popularity lies in the almost obsessive repetition of motifs – thanks to their traditional tonality and the combination with minimalist repetition, the resulting piece was simply bound for greatness. Ten Holt is one of many avantgarde artists who, having explored all the paths towards new techniques and means of artistic expression, decided to return to harmony, calling it “tonality after the death of tonality.” In keeping with its name, Canto is a relaxing and meditative melodic piece;


however, the theme of this year’s festival – the Multiverse – is also clearly reflected in Canto Ostinato and greatly responsible for its success. There is a virtually infinite number of renditions of this piece, which can be brought to life by changing the instruments – some of them were suggested by ten Holt himself, but everybody is free to try new combinations. What is more, the duration of the piece is also unlimited. It comprised of 106 sequences of several bars each, which take just over an hour to play; however, each of the fragments can be repeated by musicians as many times as they want, with the longest performances of the piece running for 24 hours. What is more, the performers have full freedom regarding the dynamics and articulation of the piece. Every time the Canto Ostinato is performed, we experience new versions of the same composition, characterised by different emotions, tone and duration. That is why, in spite of knowing this piece very well, we cannot wait for what the Chain Ensemble is going to show us!


The concert is co–organised with the Witold Lutosławski Association.

4:00 p.m.

Simeon ten HoltCanto Ostinato (1976) 60


Chain Ensemble

Andrzej Bauer – cello

Małgorzata Walentynowicz – keyboard instruments

Magdalena Kordylasińska–Pękala, Miłosz Pękala – percussion instruments

Cezary Duchnowski – electronics



Venue: Manggha Museum