Ladies and Gentlemen,

the eighteenth Oldest Songs of Europe festival is devoted to a cultural movement originated in Central and Eastern Europe at the end of the 1970s and beginning of the 1980s. Since its inception, the main objective of the movement has been to reconstruct archaic songs, dances, instruments and instrumental music in their old, crude form. This gave rise to emergence of ensembles and communities whose objective to preserve traditional songs in their original form surviving until the present day. These communities, knowingly resigning from imposition of any style or arrangement, attempted to perform songs collected during their field studies in a rural-like manner, in order to keep the traditional performing style and ensure specific natural sound. One of the problems they encountered at the beginning of their pursuits, was the singing technique.

Months, if not years, that took them to master the technique, made them perceive the performing style as a component (next to lyrics and melody) playing specific role in the ritual. This initiated systematic laboratory investigation of performing techniques, at the same time posing fundamental questions about perpetuation of elements of the native culture dating back to the distant past. In the 1980s, this was a brand new phenomenon, especially in the light of high popularity of state song and dance ensembles performing stylized folk music. In Poland, this movement was initiated by Muzyka Kresów Foundation, and the Oldest Songs of Europe International Festival brought to life next to the International Summer School of Traditional Music, have become a component of rural singing technique reconstruction programmes.

This year’s festival is entitled the PORTRAIT OF A TEACHER and it is intended to present a few figures of this movement who, while researching traditional songs many years ago, discovered room for their own sensitivity, expression and talent in performance of these songs.

This edition makes direct references to the last year’s event entitled STUDENTS. We had a chance to listen to about a dozen artists who presented traditional songs coming from different Polish regions which they had reconstructed over the years. Twenty years ago, these artists participated in classes during initial editions of the International Summer School of Traditional Music, and they decided to make an enormous effort of reconstructing Polish traditional songs. Some of them, by referring to their original roots of their grandfathers and great grandfathers, took the effort of researching songs from the Polish and Ukrainian or Polish and Belarusian borderlands. They received instruction from this year’s protagonists of the festival: Jelena Jovanović from Serbia, Monika Mamińska from Poland, Rytis Ambrazevičius from Lithuania, and Yevhen Yefremov from Ukraine.

During the first part of the festival, Teachers will conduct week-long workshops for their students. The second part will be filled with concerts performed jointly by Teachers and Students. If you would like to listen to discussions explaining issues related to traditional singing, you must come to the lectures given by the artists. Dance Night with music performed live by Kapela Brodów, this time composed of Anna and Witold Broda together with their son Anatol, will also make references to the guiding idea of this year’s edition.

Enjoy the festival.

Jan Bernad

The International Summer School of Traditional Music organized since 1998 by the Muzyka Kresów Foundation is the first such initiative in Poland devoted to traditional singing. The program consists of intensive two-week vocal classes, led by the best teachers of traditional singing from Central and Eastern Europe, as well as lectures devoted to instrumental music and dance workshops combined with scientific sessions about singing traditions and their cultural contexts. Since 2009, International Summer School of Traditional Music classes are organized in collaboration with the Crossroads Centre for Intercultural Creative Initiatives.

Teachers of the International Summer School of Traditional Music in the years 1998–2018: BELARUS – Iryna Maziuk, Aleś Łoś, LITHUANIA – Renata Balsienė, Dalia Baronaitė, Toma Grašytė, Loreta Juciute, Loreta Mokaitė,  Zita Kelmickaitė, Lijana Šarkaitė-Vilums, Rytis Ambrazevicius, Arunas Lunis, POLAND – Zofia Bernad, Ewa Grochowska, Monika Mamińska, Klaudia Niemkiewicz, Edyta Piekarczyk, Marta Urban-Burdalska, Katarzyna Tucholska, Katarzyna Zedel, Jan Bernad, Robert Burdalski, Krzysztof Butryn, Piotr Dahlig, Jacek Jackowski, Mateusz Niwiński, Tomasz Nowak, Marek Szwajkowski, Maciej Żurek, RUSSIA – Jewgienija Redkowa, Irina Sawieliewa, Nina Sawieliewa, Galina Tawlaj, Swietłana Własowa, Tatiana Zimienkowa, Wiaczesław Assanow, Władimir Iwanow, Ihor Macijewski, Aleksander Piereslegin, Wiaczesław Szczurow, SERBIA – Jelena Jovanović, Sanja Ranković, Branko Tadić, UKRAINE – Olena Gonczarenko, Iryna Klymenko, Hanna Koropniczenko, Anna Ochrimczuk, Tetiana Sopiłka, Jewgienij Jefremow, Serhij Ochrimczuk, Jurij Pastuszenko.

© Crossroads Centre 2019
Photo: Roman Reinfuss (from the collection of Museum of Folk Architecture in Sanok)