The National Choir of Ukraine Dumka, the most important choir presenting the power of Ukrainian voices all over the world, returns to the Wratislavia Cantans festival after 18 years, a year before the jubilee of the choir's creation. Praised for the unique Slavic style of singing – saturated with delicacy and lyricism, with a beautiful colour and great emotional charge – they will perform contemporary compositions by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and traditional sacred and folk songs from their homeland.
Marian Songs by Górecki will seem well known to practicing Catholics. The composer, deeply respecting Polish piety expressed in music, did not change the melody of popular church songs, he only added simple and subtle harmonization, thus giving them a noble expression. The cycle of five songs to the Mother of God was created when Górecki, having set numerous folk songs, became interested in the songs from a late 19th-century songbook in which Father Jan Siedlecki included songs sung by the faithful in Poland. Interestingly, the songbook (in the new edition) is still the basis of native liturgical music. The song Totus Tuus was written by Górecki for the occasion of the third pilgrimage of John Paul II to Poland. The content of the composition refers to the motto of the bishop's coat of arms of Karol Wojtyla. The work enjoys unflagging popularity among choirs around the world, just as Amen. The text of this song is only the word ‘amen’, repeated sixteen times, dressed up by the composer in an ever-changing harmonic and sonic garment. Thanks to the long, slowly progressive sounds, reminiscent of calm breathing, the composition has the character of prayer contemplation, and the overlapping of the vocal parts creates the impression of cathedral reverberation.
During the concert, we will also move to Ukraine: we will hear Ukrainian folk songs and sacred singing based on sophisticated Orthodox polyphony, including works by Dmytro Bortniansky, called Palestrina of the East. The Dumka choir was one of the first ensembles that at the end of the 20th century began efforts to revive sacred music in Ukraine. The Kupala songs, developed by contemporary composer Yevhen Stankowycz, relate to the summer solstice celebrated by the Slavs, the shortest night in the year, the celebration of the pagan deity of fertility Kupala (the rite to be later replaced by the Midsummer Night). The finale being an arrangement of joyful wedding songs promises a particularly impressive performance.
The culture and history of Poles and Ukrainians have been intertwined for centuries, and the lyrical musical sensitivity is common to the Slavic countries. The concert combining our the musical traditions of our neighbours with our own is a very interesting and ear-pleasing proposal for music lovers. Let's get carried away by the power of the Grammy-nominated National Choir of Ukraine Dumka!