My Canadian Adventure with Polish Chamber Choir
Conductor Maestro Jan Łukaszewski
"Gazeta" newspaper photos: Witold Liliental
Bus Trip to Niagara Falls
Polish choir takes Kitchener audience on wonderful musical journey
KITCHENER - While there is no shortage of fine local choral groups in the area, it is still a special treat to catch the occasional touring choir, particularly those ranking among the world’s elite.
One such event occurred Monday night at Sacred Heart Catholic Church – Kitchener, with the Laurier Centre for Music in the Community presenting the Polish Chamber Choir of Gdansk. This was done in partnership with Toronto’s Soundstreams Canada.
As is often the custom, the program was roughly chronological with three discernable sections: Renaissance, Romantic and Contemporary.
The candlelit procession and opening number, Ortus de Polonia (Jerzy Liban of Legnica) introduced the deep, rich, warm and round vocal sound that would characterize the next 75 minutes of exquisite choral singing.
This piece, featuring a male-heavy partial choir, had a feeling of swirling fluidity laying back on the beat, organically circling forward as felt and directed by conductor Jan Lukaszewski.
A league of marching women joined in on the luscious A Prayer When the Children Go to Sleep — their deep and resonating tone feeling mature and steady. The final numbers in this Renaissance-music set were the wonderful Veni Dilecte Mi and Hodie Christus Natus Est, both by Andrzej Hakenberger. They were sung with split choir polyphonic structures and form. These pieces were rendered with impeccable attention to pitch, phrasing, and articulation.
The Romantic section started with Polish hero Fryderyk Chopin’s Songs (Op. 74). This set of three programmatic songs — A Wish, A Drinking Song, and The Warrior — included delightful reflections of what sounded like birdsong, yodelling, and military trumpets. The choir sung these particularly expressive numbers with gusto and spirit.
Choirs often are characterized by either a clear, steady and transparent sound, or one that is deep in vibrato and dense with rich resonance. This remarkable choir was able to do both.
While their sound had a clean feeling of purity, they also drew on an amazingly rich well of deep and broad character. This, combined with relentless attention to technique made them a delight to hear.
The last section of this concert introduced a particularly varied palate of sounds within a contemporary music frame, although most of it fairly accessible to the initial listen. Villarosa Sarialdi (Thomas Jennefelt) featured criss-crossing male-female harmonic juxtapositions, rapid-fire sound repetitions, wonderfully complex tonal clusters, gradually shifting tempi, and an extreme range of dynamics, making this about as exciting — and technically difficult — as it gets with choral music.
The choir didn’t miss a beat. Other contemporary pieces featured American Eric Whitacre (Sleep) as well as the world-renowned Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki (O Gloriosa Virginum).
After three full encores, and with an eager audience still hoping for more), the final notes signalled no such luck as the choir humorously marched and sung their way out of the hall.
Copyright 2010 @ Dagmara Piotrowska