Polyphony is a term signifying the collaboration of different musical voices merging together into one whole. Here it is understood metaphorically. We will experience a polyphony of attitudes, genres, individualities. We will hear improvised music and also experimental sounds. What might be the relation of all these to Kantor’s work?

It is a fact well known that Kantor was an active conductor of his own plays. He was present by the stage, he conducted the performance: its tempo, dynamics, expression, rhythm, all these typically musical parameters. Kantor’s performances were “composed” in a nearly musical fashion: rhythmicised, following narrations that were often removed from the typical dramatic thinking, in favour of stretches of form, as it is the case in musical genres.

Kantor’s performances are musicalized also in the sound structure of the actions performed and scenes happening on the stage. Thus noises such as stomping, thudding, rattling, squeaking and a host of others can, in their own right, be considered as musical material, subject to composition by the author of the performance.

The artists performing in Polyphonies transcend their schematic roles as well. A series of concerts-happenings, action on the stage: this has a lot to do with performance art, with theatralization of musical narration. Sound happenings, improvised music, electronic music generated live bring back to life ancient formulae of experiencing the sound.

Polyphonies go thus beyond music, offering an encounter with an intrinsically diverse creativity that is sometimes difficult to name. We will see performers, musicians and dancers: Keir Neuringer and Rafał Mazur, Denis Kolokol, Tomasz Chołoniewski and Ernest Ogórek, Sergej Maingardt and Magdalena Przybysz, Reid Peirson and Benjamin Horner.


Anna Szwajgier
Curator of the project

Performance “Dancing for the Birds, They Watching Us” Magdalena Przybysz i Sergej Maingardt. Photo: Paweł Wyszomirski.


Programme of Polyphonies
Museum of Municipal Engineering in Kraków, ul. Św. Wawrzyńca 15, Hala F


21 November (Thursday)

6 p.m.

Dancing for the Birds, They Watching Us (Magdalena Przybysz, Sergej Maingardt)

“A bird is a symbol of the sun (…), time (…), the dead.”
Władysław Kopaliński, Dictionary of Symbols

“Wait. We are still alive .”
Zbigniew Cybulski in the film Ashes and Diamonds

“He composed for the birds.”
Alison Knowles on the work of John Cage

“Only when I’m dancing can I feel this free”

“I am only interested in the ideas […] that I’m afraid of.”
Marina Abramović

“See the boys in the club. They watching us.”
Britney Spears in Scream and Shout

“A man, nature’s creation, is a foreign admixture in the abstract structure of a work of art.”
Tadeusz Kantor, Theatre of Death

“The only dance masters I could have were Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Walt Whitman and Nietzsche.”
Isadora Duncan

Concept and performance: Magdalena Przybysz & Siergej Maingardt
Music: Sergej Maingardt
Choreography: Magdalena Przybysz
Coach: Trajal Harrell
Production: Gdański Festiwal Tańca; Freihandelszone, Cologne.
Project financed with creative scholarship awarded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage

10 p.m.

Unison Lines (Keir Neuringer and Rafał Mazur)

‘A band of improvisers is like an emergent system that generates an effect that is not merely a sum of its parts. Collective free improvisation not emerging from the language side, i.e. from musical materials prepared in advance (prepared both as sound phenomena, that is well-rehearsed licks – hackneyed phrases – and as ideas only) is created by the simplest means, resulting from the situation, hence suiting it best at the same time. Consequently, we could say that the situation determines itself and establishes itself, i.e. the piece creates itself, which is of course a metaphor, but it captures the essence of this kind of action. To put it simply, none of the artists involved in free creation/collective improvisation leads the ensemble, shows the direction of the situation development or conducts the ensemble’s play, but only reacts to the occurring changes.(…) During free improvisation all the cliché patterns of action, as well as the cliché opinions evaluating the modes of action, only disturb free creation.

While practicing free creation/improvisation we go back to the sources of creative behaviours. We do not follow the well-trodden paths of musical styles developed over the centuries, but we freely use all the possible ways of producing the sound that our instruments offer. With no pre-fixed ideas or arrangements for how to or what it should be like. We are a part of the developing situation’s nature. It is not so much that we participate in it, but we actually become the situation, so we cannot make a wrong move/sound, because all the moves/sounds we make spontaneously are part of the emerging piece of music. Each and every reaction, each sound we produce perfectly adjusts to the developing situation, since it has been created by this situation. We do not perform it from outside, it comes from the depths of the emerging piece’s nature. An improviser is perfectly adapted to the circumstances, to the transformation of the situation he/she’s involved in.’

From the essay by Rafał Mazur Intuitive/improvised music as contemporary art.

23 November (Saturday)

10 p.m.

In Reculver Bay (Reid Peirson and Benjamin Horner)

In Reculver Bay: Truth, Repetition, A Town That Fell Into The Sea.

In Reculver Bay is a live performance sound work composed by Reid Dudley-Peirson with Ben Horner. The piece is built around the oral history and mythology of the village of Reculver, which was once a large coastal town before it fell into the sea in the 18th Century. Many of the myths and stories surrounding Reculver have evolved and spurred into different versions and truths over time. Because very few records remain, this oral history of Reculver has become a primary historic artifact. As so little remains of the village, Reculver is barely known to people living in the area. One of the work’s composers only learned of its existence three years ago, despite living a few miles from the village for most of his life.

The performance moves through six passages that tell the stories of the history of Reculver Bay, from the many iterations of the ‘twin sisters’ legend that supposedly inspired the building of Reculver’s two towers, to the development of the bouncing bomb in WWII. The work is blended together with field recordings and soundscapes of the area and local nature reserve, a breeding ground for the Eurasian Curlew.

The compositional approach to the work was inspired partly by the Alain Resnais’s film Last Year in Marienbad. The film uses repetition and stasis to explore the variation and elasticity of truth and narriative. In Reculver Bay features passages of harmonic stasis and drones, alongside long, repeating (but shifting) passages which recur across the six different passages.

24 November (Sunday)

10 p.m.

Sympli Romatikó (the Volume: Tomasz Chołoniewski, Denis Kolokol, Ernest Ogórek)

 Imagine if we could touch sounds that surround us using our very own hands. Imagine if we could build a piece by simply grabbing and moving them around, as if they were sticks and stones.

Sympli Romatikó is a Virtual World with simplified physical laws. In this World sounds turn into objects, whose behaviour is affected by natural forces such as gravity and wind. A performer’s hands attract floating sounds – he/she literally ‘grasps’ them and ‘draws’ their trajectories in space. The space is scaled, which turns it into a giant ephemeral instrument, on which it is possible to play without touching any key or string, but simply dancing.

In this way performer becomes a sound-architect of the acoustic space, using natural forces as instruments. The piece will never sound the same – based on a complex dynamic model, it is highly sensitive to initial conditions and the slightest nuances of movement.

The project investigates limited capabilities of human senses – we can not touch the sound, the same way as we do not see or feel electromagnetic waves, while they do exist and permit the very same space we dwell in. It is our inability to catch a glimpse of what is beyond our scope of perception, that pushes us to invent technology and to use it in any possible artistic way.

Tickets and Passes:

Entry pass for 4 performances: 15 PLN

Ticket for an individual performance: 5 PLN 

Tickets and entry passes will be available from 13 November in Cricoteka offices at ul. Szczepańska 2 from 9 am until 3 pm and 1 hour before each performance.

Project subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Sponsor: Dyna-Trans.
Media patron: TVP KulturaTVP KrakówDwójka Polskie Radio, Radio Kraków, e-teatr.pl.


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