Monday 15 January 2024

Eight days, ten locations, dozens of events… This year, the artistic direction of the Misteria Paschalia Festival was entrusted to Vincent Dumestre, who is already very well known among audiences in Krakow as the founder, artistic director and conductor of Le Poème Harmonique ensemble, whose concerts have been highly anticipated by festival audiences for many years. We learned more about the vision for the 21st edition of the festival during its announcement on 15 January, which took place during a press conference at the Polish Embassy in Paris.

For more than two decades now, Holy Week and Easter in Krakow are accompanied by the sound of early music masterpieces performed by internationally acclaimed musicians. During this edition, the festival events were divided into two main streams: IN, featuring two series – Grands Concerts and Dormitio, as well as OFF, focusing on series such as The Painter’s Ear, Listening Keys and  Keyboard Days! In total, we are expecting several dozen concerts, masterclasses, meetings, conferences and workshops slated to take place from 25 March to 1 April.

The cornerstone of this year’s programme is the link between musical and architectural heritage. The Grands Concerts series features some of the most important works of the Western music oeuvre, and the listeners will be taken on a journey of discovery and exploration to some lesser-known venues. A Sephardic music concert is slated to take place at the Old Synagogue in Kazimierz, one of the oldest Jewish temples in Poland, to highlight the openness of Krakow to different cultures. St Kinga’s Chapel at the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine will echo with the sound of scores by Bach and his contemporaries, as well as a piece composed by artificial intelligence. The recently restored altar by Veit Stoss at St Mary’s Basilica – a masterpiece of sacred art and one of the largest wooden Gothic altarpieces in the world – will be a backdrop for a new performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, comprising mainly of score from his ultimate collection – Selva morale e spirituale – released shortly before his death in 1643. This musical last will of the master composer, prepared by Le Poème Harmonique, as well as soloists, orchestra and choir will be a response to the famous 1610 Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Monteverdi, performed by La Tempête led by Simon-Pierre Bestion.

An intimate exploration of the harpsichord repertoire in a series of evening recitals devoted to juxtaposing Bach’s works with scored by other masters will be a counterbalance to Grands Concerts. The audience will be taken on this journey by some of the most acclaimed virtuosos: Pierre Hantaï (Bach and the 16th century), Justin Taylor (Bach and the 17th century) and Carole Cerasi (Bach and the 18th century). The Dormitio series, commemorating the Dormition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, will offer an opportunity to reflect and listen to the instrumental repertoire by candlelight at the Church of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Wesoła district.

The meaning and significance of Easter would be incomplete without its context and without juxtaposition with the preceding Carnival and Lent. In the age of the Baroque, the former was the time of music, including opera. To hearken back to that day and age, the OFF stream of the Festival will depart from the more traditional IN stream. In the Keyboard Days! series, the Potocki Palace in the Main Market Square will open its doors to showcase the finest old keyboard instruments – about thirty of them in total. The series will comprise a three-day celebration of music, featuring recitals, lectures, workshops and masterclasses with Jean-Luc Ho, Diego Ares, Patrick Ayrton, Maciej Skrzeczkowski, Justin Taylor, Lucie Chabard, Corina Marti, Marcin Świątkiewicz, instrument makers and conservatory students. The instruments on display will include Spanish harpsichords, clavichords, Mother-and-Child virginal, clavicytherium, pianoforte, harpsichord-lute and many others.

The next feature of the programme explores the belief that to understand is to appreciate. Music is an art that appeals to everyone, even though more often than not we perceive it only with our intuition, and we cannot truly get immersed and delight in it without the keys to its understanding. That is why the events of the Grands Concerts series will be preceded by the Listening Keys meetings, showcasing the repertoire, composers, their times and the circumstances of the creation of their works.

Meanwhile, the Painter’s Ear series will find home in Krakow’s many museums, which house a number of important works that will enrich our understanding of the Baroque repertoire. The majestic halls of Wawel Royal Castle will be filled with music on Good Friday. A previously unpublished sepolcroLa Morte vinta by Marc’Antonio Ziani, rediscovered by Les Traversées Baroques led by Etienne Meyer, will sound in the Senators’ Hall, while other halls of the castle will echo with the sounds of other works as a prelude to this special concert. The Czartoryski Museum will also invite the audience for a unique encounter with art – we will have an opportunity to see two masterpieces of Western painting by Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt, embedded in the musical context of their creation. During this special event, we will hear frottolas by Bartolomeo Tromboncino performed by Sara Agueda on the harp – music that the great Leonardo might have heard in Milan in the late 15th century when he painted The Lady with an Ermine. This will be a special opportunity to discover hitherto unknown musical side of Leonardo, and to delve deeper into his emotions while experiencing  the atmosphere of his day and age.

You can learn more about the programme at the Misteria Paschalia Festival’s website.

Tickets will be available for sale starting on 26 January 2024 at KBF: Bilety.

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The KBF is a municipal cultural institution that has been active for more than two decades, developing creative industries, cultural tourism, the MICE industry and leisure sectors. It focuses on literature, film, music, visual arts, tourism, local initiatives and education.

It organises and promotes large-scale cultural events with local, national and international scope, including: the Misteria Paschalia Festival, Kraków Film Music Festival, Conrad Festival, Wianki – Celebration of Music and a number of other world-famous festival brands. The KBF is also one of the hosts of the Potocki Palace, publisher of a number of magazines and operator of the Krakow Culture, Krakow — UNESCO City of Literature and Krakow Film Commission programmes.

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