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Moniuszko at Warsaw Churches Festival Final Concert
Sunday, 10. November 2019, 16:30
Warszawa, Kościół ewangelicko-augsburski św. Trójcy, Plac S. Małachowskiego 1, Warszawa

Location: Warszawa, Kościół ewangelicko-augsburski św. Trójcy
Plac S. Małachowskiego 1

The Polish parliament and UNESCO have declared 2019 the Year of Stanisław Moniuszko. He is yet another great Polish composer that most people have heard of but do not actually listen to. His sacred works are completely overshadowed by the other pieces he wrote and rarely performed in concert despite the fact that, in my view, they are where he achieves his fullest artistic expression. Written not for financial gain but because of an inner drive, these pieces explore the most intimate and important spheres of his life. As regards the reception and performing tradition of Moniuszko’s sacred output, the four Litanie Ostrobramskie (Litanies of Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn) have been at the most disadvantage, especially in the recent years. Overall, this output embraces over ninety pieces varying as regards the size, genre and means of performance. There are many reasons why the composer’s religious works are so little known, one being the fact that appreciation for them decreased just after Moniuszko’s death, when Europe saw the rise of great symphony music and neo-romantic style. As a result, the performing practice of these pieces was and still is strongly influenced by subsequent aesthetic developments and does not give full justice to the merits of the music and its expression, sometimes even undermining it. Considered en bloc, the Polish artist’s output is seen as having strong patriotic and national overtones, and believed to be an important element of our culture. On the other hand, however, it is viewed as unoriginal, lacking finesse or, indeed, provincial. Consequently, it may be perceived as not attractive enough by artists and audiences looking for aesthetic merit and artistically irrelevant by performers/programmers. The reason is often a flawed supposition, namely judging the works’ aesthetic value in the context of subsequent artistic developments. Also, quite simply, the pieces remain unknown due to the unavailability of sheet music. Our festival aims to change these optics. The goal of the programme is twofold. Firstly, it is to present the widest possible selection of Stanisław Moniuszko’s sacred music with special emphasis on his choral pieces. Most probably, this will be the first time the composer’s religious output is presented in all its diversity as part of one stylistically and performatively coherent event. Secondly, we wish to present the pieces in a form that is as faithful to the original as possible, in the original acoustic spaces, namely the historical Warsaw churches associated with Moniuszko, and using the original means of performance, that is vocal and instrumental ensembles of certain size and type, period instruments and original scores. For such an ambitious goal to attract adequate interest, we have enlisted the help of premier choirs and instrumental ensembles that possess the required period instruments and specialise in historically-informed performance. I hope that the novel approach will allow you to become more familiar with Moniuszko’s sacred pieces in their primary form and revise some listening and aesthetic habits you may have developed. The five monographic concerts will be a chance for all of us to enter – at least for a while – the inner world of intimate reflections and experiences of the remarkable composer that Stanisław Moniuszko was.

Dr Andrzej Szadejko
Festival Coordinator