PNCHM / fot. Michał Mazurkiewicz
Choral concerts
Universal Prayer
17.08
Sat.
6:00 PM
NFM, Main Hall
Programme:

A. Panufnik
Song to the Virgin Mary
Prayer to the Virgin of Skempe
Invocation for Peace
Universal Prayer*
Winter Solstice*

Performers:

Łukasz Borowicz – conductor*
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny – conductor, artistic direction of Polish National Youth Choir
Natalia Rubiś – soprano 
Małgorzata Pańko-Edery – mezzo-soprano
Krystian Adam Krzeszowiak  – tenor
Wojciech Gierlach – bass
Roman Perucki – organ
Polish National Youth Choir
Instrumentalists

Duration:
75 minutes
Venue:
NFM, Main Hall
plac Wolności 1, 50-071 Wrocław
Pricelists:
from 10 to 75 zł

The choir features prominently in the five compositions by Andrzej Panufnik included in this programme. These mature and late works of the artist (all of them were created in England, where Panufnik emigrated in 1954) will be performed by the NFM Choir and the Polish National Youth Choir. Roman Perucki will play the organ, and the entire project will be supervised by Łukasz Borowicz, a conductor who specialises in discovering forgotten Polish music. He is well acquainted with Panufnik’s work – he has already made a well-received set of recordings of this composer’s orchestral pieces. This concert will also be combined with the recording of an album, which will become an important addition to the panorama of 20th century Polish music.

The concert will begin with the performance of the Song to the Virgin Mary. Panufnik composed this work in Twickenham in 1963, and as his house was still under renovation at the time, he worked in nearby St Mary’s Church. A simple, ascetic and at the same time tense hymn was created, in which the artist used an anonymous Latin poem by a Polish medieval poet. The melody, based on the pentatonic scale, refers on the one hand to Gregorian chant and on the other to Polish folk music. Prayer to the Virgin of Skempe is a composition from 1990. It was then that the poet and translator living in London, Jerzy Pietrkiewicz, asked Panufnik to set his poem to music. In the composer’s words, the lyric “was so beautiful in itself that I didn’t feel my music could improve it. Therefore, respecting the words, I placed the original Polish version in a musical framework that, I hope, reflects its intensity and fervour.” The work opens with an introduction played on the organ, followed by the recitation of a poem, and only then the melody composed to the words of the popular prayer “Angel, my guardian” sounds. In the Invocation for Peace, Panufnik used thematic material from Symphony of Peace, written in Poland in 1951 and withdrawn by the composer. In 1972, a choir from Southampton asked the artist to write a work for them, and Panufnik decided to return to his old work and take up the theme of peace again. The lyrics to the existing melody were written by Panufnik’s wife, Camilla. The composer commented on his work: “The character of both the music and the text is religious, but non-denominational – [it expresses] the pursuit of the unity of humanity.”

Universal Prayer is a work completed in 1969, scored for four solo voices, three harps, organ and choir. This extensive piece, lasting over half an hour, is one of the most important in the composer’s achievements – both in terms of its message and advanced musical language. Panufnik used a poem by the 18th-century English poet Alexandre Pope. It is contemplative music, developing slowly, but not without tension. The concert will conclude with Winter Solstice, a Christmas-themed cantata. The composer commented: “When I was asked to compose a Christmas choral work, my mind immediately turned to the fascinating dualism between early Christianity and paganism, especially the close parallel between the celebration of the birth of Christ – the Son of God – and the pagan celebration of the birth of their god – Sun – both events take place at the same time of the year. The soloists are accompanied by a small ensemble consisting of trumpets, trombones, timpani and bells.

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