Warsaw Autumn 2006 – XI

The last concert last night was at the Koneser Vodka Distillers building, a very neat large warehouse in Praga that has been being used for performances.  It was our first time there and really enjoyed the the space. Once again, I was amazed at the audience: the concert started at 10:30PM and was again a full house, with people bringing children and even much older people in attendance.  It made me think a lot about the history of this festival and how generations of people have grown up with this. (It’s amazing to me to think that composers here have such an event happen every year…).  I’ve noticed too that most of the audience is Polish (I hear English spoken here and there but only a handful of people) and would have hoped that more people abroad would be here to attend this as I think it’s a really special and wonderful event and I have not seen anything like it elsewhere.

The theme of the concert was “Polish Songs” and touched on ideas of the relationship of old folk songs to today.  Each of the pieces/performances last night tapped into the idea in some way.  The performances were:

  • Polish Songs
  • Jacek Kochan – Alsamples
  • Jaroslaw Siwinski – Polish Songs
  • Jerzy Kornowicz – Scenes from Boundless Realms

Some notes I took at the performance:

Polish Songs – wonderfully performed old polish songs by the Ensemble of International School of Traditional Music in Lublin, performed in the dark, wonderful rhythms and changing phrase lengths, many different types of songs (themes)


Kochan – reorganized with performers in center, long and felt even longer, somewhat composed free jazz with electronic amplification/processing and glitchy sounds, very loud and seemed to have balance issues in the mix, trumpet reminded me at times of “Bitches Brew” but with an experimental trumpeter at the wheel, never felt very cohesive like in the free jazz improvisations I’ve enjoyed in the past, singers came in near end but wasn’t really integrated into the piece, didn’t feel there was much listening as an ensemble and didn’t feel driven by intuition

Siwinski – tape piece, beginning was long a pulsating bass tone with some tones and some colored noise, tasteful, droney, very minimal, nice breath like noise gesture; near end got really loud and noisy as a section loops, ended with a vocal sample clip(perhaps other material derived from it?); was a bit tired at end of piece (12:50AM) and quick entry of loud part was a bit harsh; opening reminded me of Eliane Radigue but haven’t heard her stuff in a while

Kornowicz- a structured improvisation by group called Mud Cavaliers comprised of many well known Polish composers, different sections clearly demarcated, there were sections where the singers performed (were still in the dark); improvisation was very tastefully done, each performer played on their own but seemed also to be very aware of the group, some of the sections really rocked out (one had a sort of hardcore jungle beat that looped), very fun and also very musical

It was really nice to be out at this venue for the concert.  I wasn’t sure I was going to make it to the end as concert lasted until 2:00AM in the morning and I had gotten sick yesterday (still am a bit today), but I was very glad to have heard the Mud Cavaliers perform (reminded me of good times doing improvisation at BACSUG meetings with Jim and Matt). It was neat too that the singers were in the dark the whole night until the very end when the lights shown and they were somewhat revealed: performers of all ages and in normal clothes.  The idea of how folk music is still alive and is a part of the culture seemed really accented with that gesture.

After the concert we weren’t quite sure how to get back to our side of the river so we ended up walking a bit until we found a bus stop with a night bus.  Being a little chilly, we took the first bus to arrive and then got off sort of out of the way near the river.  Walking through the old town and through the city so late at night, it was amazing how quiet and still everything felt, and it reminded me of all the times I had stayed up so late into the nights when I was younger and worked away during that quiet and peaceful time…


  1. hi, I want to add a bitter drop to this sweet report 🙂 I was there that night, and — after concert I felt rather disappointed… the best of all was first performace — traditional sing. the further the worse… Too long pieces, to long intermissions… why quadrophonic speaker setting? auditorium had no chance to get any impression of sound space. Siwinski (2nd piece) — too long, I spoke to one of composers which piece was “included” into this performace, and he told me, if he had known what he heard he wouldn’t have taken part in this enterprise. Kochan — if this piece was shortened to 10 minutes, it would be brilliant. Very depressing buzzing… And last one — Kornowicz. This was better than 2 preceding pieces, but in long run also little boring (unforgettable beat-box…). But I’m glad those events take place in Poland, which is in Europe but behind… (still 🙂

  2. Hi Snopek,

    I guess since I didn’t really come into a lot of the concerts with any expectations, I didn’t really feel so disappointed as much as just indifferent. I have to say though that my memory of the music that night isn’t as strong as my memory of the venue and the walk home, if that says anything.

    Thanks very much for adding your thoughts on the concert!


  3. Are you planning to attend the 2007 Warsaw Autumn Festival? I will be and am always glad to hear English spoken.

  4. Hi Cindy,

    There would be nothing more I would love than to be able to attend this year’s festival, but it seems very much up in the air. The 2006 Festival was as enjoyable and memorable an experience as I could have hoped for, and I imagine this year–being the 50th festival–will certainly be outstanding. If it turns out to be possible to attend I will certainly be sure to contact you!

    Otherwise, thank you very much for stopping by!


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