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Sacrum Profanum 2024



Karol Szymanowski Philharmonic Hall


Resting / Activities


Organ meditations are a kind of catharsis of the festival: a time to slow down, arrange your thoughts and let yourself immerse deep in the sound.

Ellen Arkbro is a Swedish composer and instrumentalist of the younger generation, as well as one of the many alumni of La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela, who in the recent years has opened, alongside several interesting artists, a new thread in the history of the pipe organ. Arkbro graduated from the Royal College of Music in Stockholm, where she met, among others, Kali Malone and Marta Forsberg. Despite its academic nature, Arkbro’s music has been widely acclaimed by opinion-forming artists, critics and listeners. Following her rich experience on the border of rock music and experimentation, the Swedish artist decided to bring blues scales and harmonies to the organ music. She restored the memory of the organ and its historical tuning, and made the contemporary organ drone be considered as a separate current on the map of the neo-classical and experimental music. As Bartosz Nowicki writes: “The Swedish composer’s music is a form of emancipation beyond the restrictive framework of the evenly tempered system, which enables a search for the psychoacoustic properties of sound, an exploration of textures, tones and colours. When you listen to Arkbro’s works in the right acoustics and at the right volume, they surprise you with the intensity of the listening experience. (...) Both the approach to intonation and the slowed-down composition itself, based on held notes that recur in slow series, echo La Monte Young’s experimentation.” The composer, on the other hand, declares: “I am interested in exploring harmonic impressions that have been erased from our musical narrative since the standardisation of even temperament in the 18th century. Before this alignment, there were many tuning systems for different instruments, cultures and feelings. Tuning systems varied depending on whether you were in a small village or a big city, in the mountains or by the sea, in a church or a castle (...) It is appalling that our Western musical experience has been narrowed down to a combination of twelve tones.”

Anthony Pateras is an Australian artist influenced by the experience with freely improvised and electroacoustic music. He is also an excellent pianist, and his experience of working with this instrument translates not only into his compositional style, but also into improvisation and playing other instruments. He equally cares for the organ, whose characteristics and certain performance limitations determined the way Pateras prepares the piano. We met him at the Sacrum Profanum festival in the company of an excellent octet, performing Pseudacusis, a composition that puts the listener in a sound confusion. Now, we will hear him playing solo, but with no less intensity of sound and musical features. The new composition will be written with the Kraków Philharmonic organ in mind, so as to take advantage of the sound characteristics of the newly renovated Johannes Klais Orgelbau Bonn instrument and the acoustics of the concert hall. The piece will for sure include some improvised cadences.

Anthony Pateras – Organ Work for Jim Knox (2022) 40’ [world première]*
Ellen Arkbro – Untitled for organ (2022) 40’ [Polish première]

Performed by:
Anthony Pateras – organ
Ellen Arkbro – organ