Lulabaje - Katarina Aleksić i Bastarda International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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...lullaby, the sacred mother of all songs... 
Rodrigo Caro (1573–1647) 

In which place
the uncertainty, fear, darkness,
loneliness, mourning
sometimes frustration, jealousy,
but also,
tenderness, comfort, caring,
and the very essence of love
could stand together?
In the realm of lullabies, which are probably one of the very first forms of music, reaching far back to the beginnings of humankind—with dark nights full of danger, enemies, predators and demons;
Back to the times when staying silent and unnoticed often meant staying alive;
Back to the times before the civilisation, before nations, even before the Word. 

The concept of Lullabies is built upon my interest in the basic forms of music, their expressive strength, and the induction of trance through music in various ancient rituals. rough this interest, and my personal experience of motherhood with my first born child, during the tough times of my own little “rite of passage” in embracing a new role in my life, I came across the fascinating field of lullabies. Singing lullabies to my crying baby became something that was bringing me comfort and strength, and—in the longer hours of this intimate “ritual”—I have often experienced some kind of a trance. 

Lullaby, simple as it is, has many aspects, both practical and symbolic. It is a “bridge” for a newborn to overcome the shock of new environment, listening to the mother’s voice already familiar from within the womb. Symbolically it belongs to the borderline between being awake and being asleep, which in many cultures is a borderline similar to the one between life and death. Originally, it was considered magical, with the power to scare away the evil spirits. Therefore the etymology of the word “lullaby” may have come from the hebrew Lilith-abi (Lilith begone), which sounds like lull-aby. 

Finally, whenever we speak about traditional lullabies, the place of their origin is recognised as important. However, the lullabies – so universal and so personal at the same time, are far beyond geography. They represent a natural channel of the first connection and communication between a parent and a newborn child. But also, they are very much about the emotions, expressed both in the lyrics and the music—and that is the key moment of this concept: our Lulabajeare presented through a spectrum of emotions. Inspired by the lyrics of traditional lullabies, in which the various emotions are expressed, together with Bastarda Trio, an ensemble known for their versatility, imagination and unique combination of instrumental colours, we took a step forward: we left the words behind, and we paint our music with colours. 

In the words of old songs, that my mother sang to me, 
live all those who were singing them before 
Katarina Aleksić 

Together with the idea brought by Katarina, this instantly appeared: the circle. In the form of the circular swinging of a cradle, of course. But also: we have come full circle. Melodies for sleeping? How to construct a concert out of them?—I wondered. Soon, however, it turned out they contain the circle of life, an entire gamut of emotions (the colourful Plutchik wheel!). And while a lullaby tends to calmness (sleep?), before it reaches it, it resounds with jealousy, nostalgy, frustration, joy, love, and regret. And the calmness of an Armenian lullaby shines alongside the calmness of Congo with quite a different colour. 

And now a secret: a circle is also hidden in the very Polish word for lullaby: kołysanka, as shown by the etymological dictionary and our ears. Of course, within the image of the pre-mother of all songs, I have also seen a singer’s, ritual, shamanic circle, the circle of tales. I rarely resort to storytelling while running concerts, but with Lulabaje, I need a connection, a string to hold those colourful beads in a closed shape. Hence the story On a Girl and the Little Bird, which shall be one of the paths to the musical improvisations of Bastarda Trio and Katarina Aleksić. Bastards follow their own paths. We can only be sure that each melodic and rhythmic motif that they found with Katarina Aleksić will be transformed and returned to reality, experiment, or some other madness.

Finally, a word about the circle made by teaching and children-oriented culture. Today, we are again connected with Korczak’s “ ere are no children; there are people.” We include them instead of isolating them. We let them live and express every emotion. Let us not limit children’s colour to blue and pink. Lullabies have known this for a long time. 

Anna Szawiel