The 20th edition of the festival is an opportunity for us to celebrate its remarkable and rich history, as well as to reflect on how much the world of early music has changed during this time. The Misteria Paschalia Festival has had an unusually large impact on the development of the sector in Poland, in particular in the south of the country. Right from the very outset, it was organised as an international event – at that time, its primary goal was to present the best renditions of lesser-known works. Krakow has hosted and continues to host the most outstanding representatives of the field of historical music, including Jordi Savall, whose contribution to the development and promotion of early music cannot be overstated, to Italian maestros — Fabio Biondi, Ottavio Dantone, Giovanni Antonini, as well as French masters: Vincent Dumestre, Christophe Rousset and Marc Minkowski. These two decades have been a time of changes, development and unwavering growth; however, we have also noted a generational change, reflected in the festival programmes in recent years — the third generation of artists is slowly leaving the stage to the newcomers, who bring new and special energy to their performances and view the scores they play in a fresh and new way.

In other words – let us celebrate! And what better way there is to celebrate than music? This year’s programme abounds in what our listeners have come to love the most over the past two decades – passion songs, as well as the music of the masters of the French Baroque and the Italian South. We are going to offer our audiences a selection of outstanding works by equally outstanding composers, which have been previously featured at the Misteria Paschalia Festival, including perhaps the most famous ever rendition of Stabat Mater by Giovanni Battista Pergolesi, Dietrich Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu nostri, as well as excerpts from Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s Leçons de Tenebrae . There will be no shortage of pieces that you are going to listen to for the first time, such as Michelangelo Falvetti’s oratorio Il diluvio universale and works from the court of King Louis XIII.

We celebrate connections – because building bridges and connections should be the main goal of every festival and every cultural event. Vincent Dumestre and Christophe Rousset – two outstanding artists, who have greatly contributed to the Festival’s history – are coming back to Kraków together with their great ensembles, Le Poéme Harmonique and Les Talens Lyrique. We are also going to meet Leonardo García Alarcón, with whom we had worked for more than four years on an edition that never happened – in 2021, the date of the festival coincided with the peak of the third wave of the COVID-19 outbreak. These connections and relationships tend to pay off in the long run – Alarcón returns with Cappella Mediterranea to Kraków for the second consecutive year. We are also going to see some new faces – Sébastien Daucé and Ensemble Correspondances will perform for the Kraków audience for the first time. It took a lot of work and effort to be able to have them here. In 2020, we have almost succeeded, but the outbreak of the pandemic forced our hand and we had to postpone this remarkable edition. The programme they prepared back then with our Festival in mind will be showcased in Kraków this year – and it was well worth the wait. They are also going to surprise the audience with a concert at the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine, which has long been a big dream of theirs.

The Misteria Paschalia Festival has always been a space for young artists to showcase their skills and make their entrance to the world stages. We have also always wanted to use the Festival’s well-established position on the European stage to support local artists – they can use it as an opportunity to collaborate with renowned artists from the most vibrant early music centres around the world. This year, we are going to make good on both of these promises by inviting the Cohaere Ensemble, a Silesian ensemble created by four charismatic young artists, which qualified for the prestigious European Eeemerging+ young talent support program in 2022. During this year’s Misteria Paschalia, we are going to see them in an expanded line-up, presenting a vocal and instrumental programme for the first time in the ensemble’s history.

This year, we are also going to present a special feature, which has been in the works for many years – a concert on Eastern-Rite Easter, which falls a week after the festival this year. It will allow us to introduce the audiences to the early music of Eastern Europe, which boasts of beautiful and rich traditions, and despite that, it remains a rare sight in concert programmes. Ensemble Irini, a young vocal ensemble from France, explores the differences and similarities in Eastern and Western musical traditions, bringing them together in a special programme dedicated to the mystery of rebirth.

We are going to celebrate youth, energy and new performances – the three aspects, which have always been the essential pillars of our Festival. This does not mean that we are going to rest on our laurels — there is still a lot of work to be done to create the right conditions for young artists to develop their talent and educate new audiences. We want to focus on these directions and invest for the future – to that end, we have planned to launch several new educational and promotional projects during this anniversary edition.

We are not forgetting about the events of Holy Week, which have been the overarching theme of our Festival. That is why its programme is going to feature pieces composed by the most prominent masters of the musical craft specifically for this special time of the year, including various arrangements of Stabat Mater, the Membra Jesu nostri cantata series and the Tenebrae. The programme will be complemented by an unusual oratorio describing the story of the Flood, as well as a dash of courtly and opera music.

For us, the 20th edition of our Festival is yet another journey into the world of early music, as well as a sentimental trip down memory lane and an attempt to go back to its roots. At the same time, we are standing at a crossroads – we have an opportunity to draw upon the past to close another chapter of our history and begin the next one beautifully. We hope that it will be just as fascinating and full of delights.