Sacrum Profanum 2012, Krakow, Poland
It’s taken me a while to post these as I was collating a lot of photos from the concert in Poland last weekend. Here’s a selection of images from my own efforts plus a few that I gleaned from the web, some by photographers Andrzej Banas and Wojciech Wandzel
Copyright: 10th Sacrum Profanum Festival, Krakow, Poland
The event was Sacrum Profanum, the 10th time it has happened in Krakow, situated in a working steelworks which is usually a no go area for the city’s inhabitants. This time the focus was on four Polish composers – Penderecki, Gorecki, Kilar and Lutoslawski – and the reinterpretation of their works. I was invited, alongside The Kronos Quartet, DJ Vadim, King Cannibal and Grasscut, by the Polish duo Skalpel, to perform a work by Kilar called ‘Krzesany’ in front of over 2,000 people for the event.
The set up ran like this: The Kronos Quartet would perform a piece (or a section of) by one of the composers, then one of us would perform our remix, then Skalpel would perform their take on another piece by the same composer. Once the show began we were encouraged to leave very little time between each piece so as to present a seamless flow, save for applause at the end of each piece. The audience were incredible, absolute silence during the pieces, no talking, mobile phones etc. – you wouldn’t find that in the UK at an event like this.
Skalpel are huge in Poland and this also acted as their reunion concert as they have been working apart the last few years (the Igor Boxx album on Ninja Tune is a solo record by Igor Pudlo from the group). They got big cheers when they appeared and, even though I was unfamiliar with all the music in both its original or remixed form, theirs stood out as being quite excellent. But the highlight for me was Grasscut’s take on Lutoslawski, an incredible piece in 11/2 time which grew to epic proportions with the addition of drummer Aram Zarikian. Coupled with the multi-layered projection screens behind them and the fantastic lighting design the whole stage resembled a huge stained glass window with the sun streaming through at points. The visuals were a big part throughout, helping fill the cavenous space.
The Kronos Quartet played their first piece with their backs to the crowd, reading a huge rolling projection of the score as they plucked and tapped their instruments to create a concrete opener for the concert. After this the screen was lowered as DJ Vadim presented his take on Penderecki (who was actually in attendance too) and an ‘X’ shaped cluster of screens were revealed showing different notes and textures. The X was a feature of the festival graphics, being that it was their 10th anniversary, and two of the huge supporting structures within the factory had also been lit to form the giant letter. I had sent animations of my own although I couldn’t see them when I was performing but was delighted to see used in photos afterwards.
A truly incredible gig in a year that has already had its share of great moments and events. I was honoured to be asked to such a concert (Aphex Twin and Johnny Greenwood had played similar pieces the year before) and will remember it for a long time. All the music I heard was excellent and I hope this will be collected and released as an album at some point. It was all filmed for DVD and Blu-ray release at a later date as well. More gigs like this please!