Early Music Day is coming soon

Thursday 28 February 2019

What do Kraków, Biecz and Tarnów have in common? Why do we celebrate the Early Music Day on 21 March and what does the Misteria Paschalia Festival have to do with all of this? This year's festival is not just about the Holy Week, concerts and the well-known interiors of the church of St. Catherine of Alexandria or the ICE Kraków Congress Centre. What should we expect then? Today, we’re going to lay the first cards out for you.

21 March is the first day of calendar spring, a symbol of the world coming back to life after a winter slumber. It is also the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach, a composer who had a tremendous impact on European music and culture. That is why, at the initiative of REMA – the European Early Music Network, we have been celebrating the Early Music Day on that day for seven years now. This year, the Misteria Paschalia Festival joins the celebration for the third time, inviting the audience to two new venues: the Collegium Maius and to the neighbouring Collegiate Church of St. Anne.

First, at 6:00 pm, the Jagiellonian Auditorium, a former theologians' lecture hall forming the oldest part of Collegium Maius, will serve as the setting for the chamber concert Primavera – or simply “spring” – performed by Quartetto Nero, a young Kraków-based ensemble. This dynamic string quartet owes its intriguing sound to the fact that they perform their music on original historical instruments (or their copies), using gut strings and special bows suitable for playing the music from specific epochs, thanks to which it stands out significantly both on the Polish and foreign music scene. During the concert on 21 March, the artists will perform not only works written for a quartet or four string instruments, but also arranged for such an ensemble.

Falling in line with the concept of this year’s edition of the Misteria Paschalia Festival, the concert programme encompasses works by Polish and Italian composers, who were active between the first half of the 17th and the second half of the 19th century. We will hear Canzon terza by Adam Jarzębski, Polish composer and violinist of Sigismund III Vasa’s royal Kapelle; Sonata à 4 in A majorTWV 40:200 by Georg Philip Telemann, who successfully combined German, Italian, French as well as Polish style; Antonio Vivaldi’s famous Sonata in D minor RV 63 (“La Folia”) transcribed for a string quartet, and finally Luigi Boccherini’s String Quartet in B flat majorG.160. For the perverse and a bit unexpected finale of the concert, the ensemble will play Stanisław Moniuszko’s String Quartet No. 1 in D minor, whose year we are currently celebrating.

The partner of the concert is the Jagiellonian University Museum Collegium Maius – the event accompanies the Postcards from Italy exhibition, showcasing photographs taken by Professor Piotr Sztompka during his travels to Tuscany. Why postcards? According to the professor himself: “My photographs are not supposed to impress, and they definitely are not supposed to be touching or shaking people to the core. They are supposed to simply showcase things that I found worth showing. They are less aesthetic in nature, being in fact more cognitive. I feel more like a researcher than an artist. That is why I unpretentiously call them ‘postcards made with light’”. The exhibition will be on display in the basement of Collegium Maius from 8 March until 19 April.

The next concert on European Early Music Day will take place on the other side of the street – at the University Collegiate Church of St. Anne. From 8:30 pm, the audience will be joined by guests coming straight from the Vatican – Schola Gregoriana del Pontificio Istituto di Musica Sacra led by Professor Franz Karl Prassl will take us on a journey to a time so distant, that it remains largely unexplored even by the Misteria Paschalia Festival. The programme of the Fulget Crucis Mysterium (“The mystery of the cross shines out”) concert was structured in such a way as to make it a kind of a meditation on the mystery of the Holy Cross. The selected pieces come mainly from the choral of Roman and Beneventese tradition, and were performed during the liturgy of Good Friday. Composed and created over the course of nearly a thousand years, between the 8th and 16th centuries, the compositions represent both the archaic genre of polyphony as well as Magnificat by Tomas Luis de Vittoria, who lived and worked in Rome at the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries. Regardless of origin, time of creation or musical tradition they represent, all the works featured in the programme have one thing in common – the cross as a symbol of life and victory over death.  

However, the festival has more in store. On the first two Sundays of April, we are going to pay a visit to Biecz and Tarnów. Thanks to the cooperation with Kromer Biecz Festival and Musica Poetica Festival in Tarnów, the Primavera concert performed by Quartetto Nero will be reprised in these two cities as part of the Misteria Paschalia in Tournée series.

We will come to Biecz on 7 April at 12:30 pm. After the concert at the Collegiate Church of Corpus Christi, you can join us for a tour of this small town with a rich history. Few people remember that Biecz was once a royal residence, often visited by monarchs from the Piast and Jagiellonian dynasties, often with spouses and entire courts. A week later, on 14 April – Palm Sunday – Quartetto Nero will visit Tarnów. We will have more details for you after the announcement of the programme of Musica Poetica Festival. It is also worth mentioning that Kraków, Biecz and Tarnów were connected by interests and a trade route since the Middle Ages.

Jagiellonian University Museum Collegium Maius, Collegiate Church of St. Anne, Biecz and Tarnów, as well as the picturesque Tuscany – thanks to the exhibition of photography. And this is not our final word. Soon, we are going to have more announcements for you, so stay with us, follow the website and don’t forget to visit the fanpage of the festival!

Free tickets for the Kraków concerts will be available at the InfoKraków point at the Wyspiański Pavilion (2 Wszystkich Świętych Square), as well as via the evenea.pl website from Monday, 10 March, from 10:00 am. One person is entitled to a maximum of two tickets