POLIN Music Festival 2024
Four evenings, four concerts featuring both world and Polish premieres. Songs, symphonic music, percussionists, street dancers, opera. From Bernstein to Braxton, from Glass to Weiser, from Kadia Molodovsky to Bruno Schulz. Renowned Polish ensembles—Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Warsaw, the Wrocław Opera; the younger generation of artists – Siwińska, Karpowicz, Ciepliński; as well as international stars such as Grammy winners Third Coast Percussion. What is Jewish music today? What history is recorded between the sounds? Let us find out during this year’s edition of the POLIN Music Festival.
- 22-25 February (Thursday-Sunday)
- four-day pass for all concerts (available until 15 February): 250PLN, BUY A TICKET →
- 22 February (Thursday), 7PM
- Eliza Bagg all the days were purple – concert for pass or invitation holders
- 23 February (Friday), 7PM
- Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Warsaw, Klauza, Karpowicz, Ciepliński, Melemed Tfiles/Prayer tickets: 120PLN / 100PLN, BUY A TICKET →
- 24 February (Saturday), 7PM
- Third Coast Percussion Metamorphosis, tickets: 100PLN / 80PLN, BUY A TICKET →
- 25 February (Sunday), 7PM
- Wrocław Opera Mannequins tickets: 100PLN / 80PLN, BUY A TICKET →
"Music, in its most primal function, connected people. Darwin claimed that the first ever song was a mating song. Invisible singing helped to curb invisible spirits. A well-tuned unit of soldiers with a song on their lips was more effective than a cacophony of the enemy’s gang. Music served as a carrier of stories that were most important for a particular community: stories about the past, heroes, gods. I do believe that, even though musical forms have evolved significantly since then, music can still fulfil its constructive, unifying function. Our Festival is precisely about that. Above all, however, it is an introduction to the diversity of Jewish music," says Kajetan Prochyra, curator of the POLIN Music Scene.
A prayer – "Tfiles"
"I pray, I don't yet know to whom, I don't yet know why. Jewish prayer is borne in me, and it’s looking for God, and it calls on His name. I pray in a quiet clearing, in the chaos of a street, along with the wind that brushes my lips. Jewish prayer is borne in me, and it is looking for God, and it calls on His name," writes Kadia Molodovsky in her poem "Tfiles."
Born in Bereza Kartuzka, in today’s Belarus, Molodovsky reached Warsaw via Odessa and Kyiv. Here, she grew to become one of the most active personalities in the field of Yiddish culture—she was a poet, a writer, a pedagogue and a social activist. In 1935, she emigrated to New York.
We used Molodovsky’s poem "Prayer" as a pretext s to commission a new work from Alex Weiser—composer and scholar of Yiddish culture, whose song series titled and all the days were purple was among the three of the Pulitzer prize finalists in 2020. Alex composed for us a clarinet concerto titled "Tfiles." The POLIN Music Festival audience will have a chance to listen to the songs for the first time in Poland during the concert on Thursday, open to the Festival pass holders.
On Friday, the POLIN Museum auditorium will resound with the premiere of the "Tfiles" concert. Andrzej Ciepliński, an excellent clarinetist of the young generation will be the soloist, the Orchestra of the Polish Radio in Warsaw will be conducted by its artistic director Michał Klauza—we had a chance to applaud them during the final concert of the POLIN Music Festival last year’s edition.
Avner Dorman’s music will also return to POLIN Museum: the premieres of "Shiksa" violin concerto (with Lara St. John and Sinfonia Varsovia) and his Mandolin Concerto (with Avi Avital and the Amadeus Orchestra) took place on our stage. This time, the POLIN Music Festival audience will be the first in Poland to listen to his "Piano Concerto No. 3," with American pianist Mackenzie Melemed as the soloist.
Leonard Bernstein’s piece "Halil" (Hebrew for ‘flute’), dedicated to the spirits of Yadin Tannenbaum and his fallen brothers, is a prayer of sorts, too. Yadin was a young flutist. During the Yom Kippur War, he fought as a tankman. He perished in combat aged 19. As the composer himself noted,
"’Halil’ is a struggle between the forces of tonality and atonality. In this case, it revolves around the war or a state of wartime threat and the overwhelming desire for life and the comfort that art, love, and hope for peace bring."
Ania Karpowicz will be the soloist in the Polish premiere of this piece.
After many years of going back and forth, The Grammy Award winners (for an album with the music of Steve Reich) and five-time nominees (including this year for the album "Between Breaths")—the one and only Third Coast Percussion quartet will make their debut at the POLIN Museum’s stage. They will present their latest project titled "Metamorphosis," in which the drummers are accompanied by two dancers (Trent Jeray and Cameron Murphy). Together, they explore the ways in which we are connected, how our energy affects the energy of our partner—from a choreographer to a dancer, from a composer to the musicians, from players to dancers and vice versa.
We will also hear a piece by an innovative producer Jlin titled "Perspective" (also a Pulitzer finalist, this time in 2023) in which the composer first recorded the sounds of the Third Coast Percussion’s instruments, then she mixed them and created her electronic composition, which was then given back to the players to recreate with the acoustic environment of the TCP. That evening, we will also hear and see metamorphoses inspired by the music of Philip Glass and Tyondai Braxton.
Mannequins – Schulz/Rudziński/Siwińska
The Festival’s finale will be the premiere of a new staging of Zbigniew Rudziński’s opera Mannequins, based on the prose of Bruno Schulz. It is a co-production of POLIN Museum and the Wrocław Opera, on whose stage the world premiere of the piece took place in 1981. Where is the line between a creator and the Creator? Are there previously unknown forms of life hiding under the shell of inanimate matter? These are the questions that the protagonist Jakub—a merchant, a madman, a bard, a heretic, loosely based on the author’s father himself – faces, and so are we, giving more and more space to artificial intelligence, and soon, to paraphrase Schulz, we will have a different actor—a different device, a different mannequin/robot— to every single gesture.
Kamila Siwińska, director, set designer and photographer is the author of the opera’s new mis-en-cene. She is also responsible for the visualizations that will be an important part of the new staging of Rudziński’s work. We will see the singers and musicians of the Wrocław Opera on our stage. Baritone Tomasz Rudnicki will perform as Jakub. The choreography was developed by Katarzyna Witek, costumes by Martyna Cierpisz (in cooperation with Kamila Siwińska). The whole ensemble will be conducted by Trajan Muryń.
Accompanying urban walks, the Festival club
POLIN Music Festival is really all about building a community around music. That is why we don't want to constrain ourselves to a concert hall.
A week before the Festival begins (to be repeated on the Festival Saturday), we invite you for a walk. On February 18 and 24, students of the Faculty of History of the University of Warsaw, under the supervision of Dr. Monika Polit (UW) and Katarzyna Jakubowicz (POLIN) we act as tour guides around Warsaw, following in the footsteps of Kadia Molodovsky. Participants will get acquainted with her poems and listen to them in the original Yiddish.
This year, for the first time ever, we will organize the Festival Club. After the evening events, we encourage you to pop in to the Resort bar, right next to Teatralny Square. You will be able to warm up there after a short walk from the Museum and also to meet the musicians who performed on the Museum stage that evening.
Puszke Foundation – aid for families from Ukraine
For several years now, the Museum teams up with non-governmental organizations during the POLIN Music Festival. Last year, on the first anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, together we collected over 26,000 PLN for the Ukrainian House. This year, our Festival again coincides with this sad anniversary. That is why we invited the Puszke Foundation, which helps 300 Jewish families from Ukraine currently residing in Warsaw and its vicinity. Puszke helps them in finding a place to stay, writing a CV and looking for a job, securing a place for children in kindergartens and schools; providing medical care for the elderly, as well as support for families with children with disabilities. Moreover, the Foundation subsidizes family trips organized by JCC Warsaw, organizes integration meetings with Jewish communities, and helps create "women’s circles" for women with refugee experience in Jewish communities throughout Poland.
Just like the Puszke Foundation, we also believe that the foundation of Jewish identity is tikun olam - Hebrew for "repairing the world." This is not an easy task—we are aware that one cannot run before they learn to walk. And yet, we strongly believe that together, by joining our forces, we indeed can repair the world—one small piece after another.