Little Warsaw Autumn International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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Can contemporary music be attractive? Often, casual listeners are afraid of it. Other feelings include anxiety, confusion, and a lack of confidence, as if moving in an alien, new world. Contemporary music can be associated with noise, scratches, rasps, many unpleasant, abstract swishes and hisses. Yet is also a field where new ideas and things are continuously born that allow us to deeply and fascinatingly explore new resounding worlds.

Contemporary music can seem a strange world to children—both those familiar with it and complete novices—but also an extraordinary journey to a fascinating region, where many things, situations, emotions, events and activities seem different from our everyday world. In this way, they move us to the world of creativity and imagination, in the realm of sound, timbre, and music. In this realm, we feel we can and know more. During this edition of Little Warsaw Autumn, our youngest listener—alone or accompanied by adults—will visit three regions of unlimited musical imagination.

The first of these regions will be Behind the Mirror, where we have been led for over a century by the curious Alice from Lewis Carroll’s tale. This time, Alice will reveal her musical talents and vocal experience. A Catless Smile is an experiment: a paraopera presented by means of a hologram, which will draw the audience of this (literally) spectacle into the intriguing world Behind the Mirror. At the same time, it is an operatic monodrama in which the vocal part of its character from Alice’s fairy tale will be performed by the same singer, Agata Zubel. It is her first creative endeavour aimed at our youngest audiences.

On the third day of the Warsaw Autumn Festival and the second day of the 13th edition of Little Warsaw Autumn, we shall travel to the world of Music and Animation, led through a bridge of sounds and images by Młoda Orkiestra Nowego Teatru (MONT), the Nowy Theatre Youth Orchestra directed by Dagna Sadkowska and Sean Palmer. During the MONT SoundTracks concert, sound and vision images will resound and display. Kids from MONT will improvise on the themes of animations of contemporary artists, authors of short movies, performative paintings, and animated images created by themselves and their colleagues, guest composers for this project.

Can contemporary music be a mysterious garden for young listeners? It unfolds somewhere in the distance, behind a closed gate, seemingly inaccessible. Following the path of modern music, we want to penetrate into the natural space, combining these two areas and inviting young listeners to the mysterious garden of their own psyche. During the final day of the 13th Little Warsaw Autumn and 66th Warsaw Autumn Festival, thanks to a vehicle built of elements of theatre and contemporary music, we shall immerse into a modern vision of the mysterious garden familiar from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel: a vision paradoxically composed of thick sounds, convoluted ivies of musical phrases, colourful abstract sound patches emerging here and there from a solid background of sonorous greens, hedges of unobvious instrumental clusters, interspersed with natural sounds: a vision full of the cracking of frogs, tapping of woodpeckers, chirping of birds, and particular the special singing of the redhead. The full-time musical show titled Mysterious Theatre by the Zagłębie Theatre directed by Justyna Sobczyk with music by Wojciech Błażejczyk will invite our young audience to a realm full of understanding for children’s difficulties of facing the challenges of the adult world and the complex modern world; a realm of newly discovered corporality and new motorics.

For the last couple of years, Little Warsaw Autumn has gradually increased the presence of instrumental theatre, one of Bogusław Schaeffer’s favourite genres, currently used by a few select composers. In instrumental theatre, objects come to life to become instruments, instruments become everyday objects or magical items, musicians become actors and actors create sounds. In this year’s edition, the theatre will dominate our children’s festival, though not exclusively as “instrumental.” All events of the 13th Little Warsaw Autumn will intersect with the world of theatre in various ways. Sounds of contemporary music will fill in the spaces and stages of two Warsaw theatres: the Guliwer (our second appearance there) and Nowy (a Little Warsaw Autumn debut), while our final concert will take place in the unusual, quite non-theatrical spaces of the State Ethnographic Museum. Our theatre will come here from Zagłębie.

All works and shows presented at this year’s “theatrical” Warsaw Autumn will be world premieres. As since premieres are often coupled by experiments, this edition of Little Warsaw Autumn will be largely dedicated to experimenting with sounds, timbres, phrases and forms; sound sources, transforming, reflecting, analysing and verifying meaning and possibilities. Following our latest quests, it will also be a starting point for experimenting with other channels of sensual perception. This time, it will include vision and kinaesthesia, or the combination of motion, balance, and deep feeling. Thanks to the magic of sound and objects, we might be able to go gravity-free for a while.

Travelling through worlds ravishing with a multitude of forms, domains, colours, shapes and their various combinations, we do not forget the world of children’s miniatures. Since 2021, Little Warsaw Autumn has been consistently enriching its library of contemporary musical miniatures for children through special commissions for composers and curations. You can return to them at any time, visiting Warsaw Autumn’s YouTube channel and the festival’s website to play these miniatures to your children at home. The library is enhanced each year with several works by contemporary composers of different generations.

Little things make us happy. We enter brave resounding worlds large and small through large and small resounding things, to which this year’s main festival’s programme is chiefly dedicated.

Anna Kierkosz
Curator of the 13th “Little Warsaw Autumn” Contemporary Music Festival for Children