Tajemniczy ogród - Frances Hodgson Burnett, Wojciech Błażejczyk International Festival of Contemporary Music Warsaw Autumn

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Tajemniczy ogród - Frances Hodgson Burnett, Wojciech Błażejczyk

Loss can affect everyone, though not everyone is ready to admit and accept it. This is also true of characters from Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel The Secret Garden, who, each in their own manner, strive to cope with the loss of their nearest persons. Mr Craven completely isolates himself from the outside world, while Mary Lenox throws herself into that world with all her uncompromising, indefatigable energy. 

Loss is difficult to talk about. Its many shades frequently lead to a sense of void that cannot be filled. Are new relationships the only way to cope with that void?

The spectacle, produced at the Zagłębie Theatre in Sosnowiec, remixes and recycles a classical book. Its authors work with different artistic media (theatre, contemporary music, video and performance art) and transform the novel’s plots. They approach the story critically, reappraising it in the context of our present-day, changed attitudes to the human body, to what is considered as normal, and... to nature. The Secret Garden is thus confronted with new music, children’s artistic expression, and the experience of motorically different persons. It is an invitation not only to discover the rich and colourful, varied landscape, but also to play in the newly rediscovered secret garden and change it together according to our own rules. 

Filip Jałowiecki 


Wojciech Błażejczyk’s music for the spectacle combines the sound of a string quartet, clarinet alternating with saxophone, cimbalom, kantele, and other ethnic string instruments. There are illustrative passages, elements of sonorism, but also string-phony, which first made its presence at the 2022 Warsaw Autumn in an installation by Błażejczyk presented at the same venue, at the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw. We will also hear sampled sounds of nature, which play a central role in the sound material of The Secret Garden. These sounds are closely related to the key topics and content of both the book and the spectacle, serving as their pivot and point of reference. In the story context, sounds of nature are mainly associated with Dickon, one of the main characters in both Burnett’s novel and the spectacle directed by Justyna Sobczyk. In the novel, Dickon (Dick) was always close to nature and deeply anchored in it. Those who remember The Secret Garden from their childhood will certainly also recall the crucial (musical) role of the little robin, which acts as the children’s guide to the world of nature. For the needs of the spectacle and its sound world, the robin’s musical language was recreated. In this contemporary vision of the secret garden, dense sounds intertwine like acoustic ivy, while some come out at points from this solid mass of greenery, attracting with their colours like flowers, forming abstract patches of chords and hedges of far-from-obvious instrumental clusters, interspersed with samples of frogs croaking, woodpeckers tapping, birds twittering, and the robin’s solos emerging from this complex soundscape. It is a world of seemingly unstructured noise, but, paradoxically, soothing and abounding in silence. 

All this is needed to attract the young audience to the mystery, to the apparently closed world of classical contemporary music, walled-in by the metaphorical hedges of form. Sounds attract the ear and attempt to enclose the listeners in their secret garden in order to open them up to the depth of contemporary music but also to their own inner world of delicate, still childlike minds, which, particularly in teenagers (such as the story’s main protagonists, Mary and Colin) is often deconstructed in order to be constructed anew. 

Anna Kierkosz