Norwid’ Ellipse - Elżbieta Sikora International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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Let us imagine Cyprian Kamil Norwid returning to a Paris street today. It is hard to say whether it is him indeed, or the memory of him wandering amongst passers-by. He is passed by a bicycle, a scooter, a car, he hears an oncoming ambulance, and is stopped by a tramway’s bell. He mixes into a group of young people chatting, amongst which he picks up a rap musician, playing with words: today’s street poet. 

Norwid watches and observes, hears and assesses. He misses his country but is also blunt about it: he has a sharp look for all of us, the entire society. He feels bad always and everywhere, but when his thought is free, he feels bliss and lives life to the full. He gives us emotion with his beautiful poetry snippets and forces us to reflect on his wise observations. 

The scriptwriter has created a balanced selection of the poet’s texts, composed of nine parts of varying length. Likewise, the musical composition is in nine movements, preceded by an introduction and followed by a coda. In the introduction we look for Norwid, unknown to anyone in Paris today, whose words make their appearance just before the beginning of the first movement; in the coda, fragments of his poetic texts resonate like a mantra of sorts, for posterity. 

Apart from actors’ voices, the composition uses the sounds of the accordion and double bass as well as a wide array of recordings from Paris streets and one of the city’s churches, sounding like the memory of the St Casimir shelter where Norwid spent the last moments of his life. Instrumental sounds and most recorded sounds have been processed and through-composed so as to serve words—the voice of Norwid speaking to us today. 

Elżbieta Sikora