For Orthodox Christmas, East Warsaw ensemble has prepared a program of traditional carols from Poland, Ukraine and Russia. The repertoire of the concert will include both canonical lyrics about the Virgin Mary and nativity themes, as well as some interesting traditional Christmas well-wishing songs. These were often sung outdoors, or at someone’s door, to bring good luck and a healthy crop to the host in the coming year. Other category of Christmas repertoire are wishing carols for a girl to get married soon – there will be some examples of such songs as well.
Musically, traditional carols represent the whole range of styles: from archaic heterophony, through polyphonic structures, to sublimated church-like sounds.
The variety of styles is united by traditional way of singing: with an open, unconstrained voice, full of energy, not hidden behind an instrument or an orchestra. Some of the songs are reconstructed from Polish and Russian archives, some of them - learnt from local singers during field expeditions: “Music is then transmitted naturally – by learning, singing together, absorbing it, not forgetting about the most precious source – the village musician who opened his or her world to us”.
This will be the third concert of the East Warsaw Ensemble at Pushkin House.
The East Warsaw ensemble documents, reconstructs and performs Russian, Ukrainian and Polish traditional folk music. Amongst the repertoire of the group are songs recorded during field trips in Ukrainian Polissya, southern Russia, and in Polish regions of Kurpie, Kujawy and Mazowsze. These are ancient ritual chants, polyphonic lyrical songs, as well as drinking and dancing songs.
The group aims to preserve the unique vocal styles and traditional repertoire of the Eastern-Slavonic music culture, reviving it in a contemporary context. Its members have been singing folk music since 1999, when they first met, united by their fascination for ancient traditions. The group has been learning various singing styles from pedagogues from Moscow's Gnesin Academy and the Tchaikovsky Music Conservatory. An important source of information are Polish, Ukrainian and Russian music archives; the biggest inspiration however remains the contact with singers of older generations.
The East Warsaw ensemble has organised and taken part in various cultural projects, in 2014 its new album “Laweczka” was released. The East Warsaw ensemble has many times performed in Europe: in Poland (at festivals: Crossroads Festival in Krakow, Mazurkas of the World in Warsaw, Songs of our Roots in Jarosław, The Oldest Songs of Europe festival in Lublin), as well as Russia, France, Denmark, and the UK (Café Oto, POSK and London Pushkin House in 2013 and 2016).
Members of the group: Justyna Piernik, Joanna Górska, Ewa Grochowska, Anna Jakowska, Jagna Knittel, Taras Shumeyko, Cezary Szymański, Monika Walenko-Ili-Tsang.