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Sacrum Profanum 2023



KTO Theatre


Drumming / Activities


Completely different approaches to contemporary percussion in terms of timbre and energy, but also in terms of the expansion of the percussion instrumentation.

Zbigniew Karkowski is one of the icons of Sacrum Profanum. A native of Kraków, the composer was valued for his imagination and uncompromising approach. He was active primarily in the experimental music scene, improvising and creating sound art. He was keen to use stochastic procedures typical of Iannis Xenakis. Karkowski died in 2013 and Sacrum Profanum took on the mission of presenting in Kraków his subsequent instrumental works: Monochromy – zeitkratzer (2015), Doing by Not Doing – GGR Betong (2018), Field – Apartment House (2019), Nerve Cell_0 – Anton Lukoszevieze (2019), Encumbrance – Zespół Wokalny Gęba (2019) and Execution of Intelligence – Reinhold Friedl (2021). Now it is time for Form & Disposition written, like the other compositions of Karkowski, with a particular performer in mind, namely the now late Daniel Buess, great drummer and populariser of experimental artists. Our festival commissioned Aleksander Wnuk and Piotr Peszat to reconstruct this composition with specific percussion instrumentation and electric transformations. It will therefore be a kind of world première of a new version of this piece.

Earlier we will hear Hubert Zemler in a solo improvisation for snare drum. This drummer returns to Sacrum Profanum after presenting his colourful version of the pieces by Długoszewski and Feldman together with the Hashtag Ensemble (2019) and a dareful improvisation on a locomotive turned into a percussion in the old Płaszów locomotive shed (2020). As the artist himself explains: “I consider solo playing to be the root of my creativity. All my experiences, when I accompany someone on drum set or I play some new music, come into focus in solo playing. (...) Solo albums crystallise my experiences: I record them when I have enough ideas. (...) Even when I improvise, I think in terms of a large form, a long stretch of time. I like to draw myself and the audience into a kind of story. I sit in a given place, I unite with it, I adapt to what surrounds me, to the people, the mood and the acoustics of the venue. I never take notes before; what I will take to a given concert is already a kind of composition.” This time Zemler will take with him the Mafketel Drums snare drum, which was made under his direction, according to specific parameters (handmade, using the stave method, from exotic Afzelia wood obtained from old window frames from the townhouses of Ypres in the north-west Belgium, with oak rims also coming from recycling). “It is high time to redefine the word ‘progress’. It used to mean continuous technological development, achievements in engineering, industry and optimising the production and sale of goods. While doing my solo percussion projects, I also followed a linear development path for some time. I gradually enriched my instrumentarium. Now I am faced with an artistic challenge, which is also a symbolic gesture: I hope it will encourage the auditors to acknowledge self-restraint as the only way to save the littered world,” the artist explains. Moderation and something, that the Swedes call lagom, or the art of balance and coexistence with nature, seems to be an extremely advisable direction in today’s world. “The biggest drum set I had was at Pupation of Dissonance, now I can play snare drum solo, I do not need to expand any more. I played on it two concerts that lasted over 40 minutes each, and the audience listened attentively, no one left. I think this plan has a chance of succeeding,” feels Zemler, and we can only confirm that!

Hubert Zemler – Lagom/Umiar* (2022) 30’ [world première]
Zbigniew Karkowski – Form & Disposition for percussion and live-electronics (reconstruction)*
(2008–2022) 30’ [world première]

Performed by:
Hubert Zemler – snare drum
Aleksander Wnuk – percussion,  live electronics
Piotr Peszat – live electronics