‘When I found out that my music would be juxtaposed with Elliott Carter’s compositions during the festival, I was shocked,’ said Tigran Mansurian at the beginning of Nostalgia Festival Poznań. During the three festival concerts and meetings, and six film shows, we presented two diverse musical trends from two very distant parts of the world: Armenia and the USA. Below, some of the participants share their impressions of the seventh Nostalgia Festival Poznań.
Melodious, moving, ascetic
For the festival opening, Tigran Mansurian personally performed his own compositions and the "Songs" of Komitas, an Armenian musician who dedicated his life to the recording of folk songs and melodies. The composer was accompanied by Anja Lechner. ‘To say about Anja Lechner that she has a beautiful timbre would be an unfair simplification – even in the simplest of phrases, she operated with an impressively extensive palette and a myriad of the most minuscule hues,’ wrote Magdalena Lubocka, a reviewer from kulturapoznan.pl., after the concert in Poznań.
Friday belonged to the second star of the festival: Elliott Carter, an American and master of avant-garde music. ‘This complicated music found its perfect performer in the person of pianist Maciej Grzybowski who successfully conveyed not only the precision of its details, but also its enormous energy,’ reported Ewa Chorościan and Magdalena Nowicka, participants of music critique workshops organised during the festival in collaboration with the Meakultura Foundation.
For the Nostalgia Festival Poznań finale, the l’Autunno Chamber Orchestra, the Adam Mickiewicz University Choir and soloists, conducted by Adam Banaszak, performed the Polish premiere of Tigran Mansurian’s Requiem, and in a smaller lineup, two pieces by Elliott Carter. Tigran Mansurian, who is celebrating his 75th birthday this year and who was the festival’s special guest star, listened to all the three festival concerts and took part in two meetings. After the concert on Saturday, he ‘openly expressed his satisfaction with the Poznań interpretation of his work’, wrote music critic from the "Głos Wielkopolski" daily paper Marek Zaradniak, who had the opportunity to speak to the composer following the event.
In her blog, Dorota Szwarcman, a critic from the "Polityka" weekly magazine, drew attention to the successfully combined presentation of two very distinct composers and to the very good selection of performers: ‘It is difficult to identify two more remote personalities, but presenting them together did not sound shocking, especially in with this choice of performers. First there were two pieces by Carter: Tempo e Tempi, songs to some Italian poems, featuring the excellent soloist Natalia Rubiś-Krzeszowiak (…); apparently, this was her first encounter with contemporary music, but this was hard to believe when you saw how confident she felt about it, followed by Sound Fields, a tasteful string miniature. I always thought that Carter’s music was pure speculation and mathematics, but I was very happy to be disappointed by these pieces.’
The colours of Nostalgia
The Nostalgia Festival Poznań also featured meetings and film shows which added new meaning to the music performed. But as the co-creator of the programme and head of the legendary ECM label Manfred Eicher puts it, Nostalgia is primarily ‘a state of mind’. This is why we are especially dedicated to finding the best venues for listening to chamber music. The festival ambience is described by Dominika Gracz in the "Gazeta Wyborcza" daily paper: ‘The ascetic interior of the Dominican Fathers church was in perfect harmony with the refined music, whilst the green lighting skilfully accentuated the monolithic quality and interior of the temple.’ The journalist also mentioned the open character of the event: ‘The organisers did not close the doors to any music aficionado, and admission to the concerts was open to all.’
The Poznań experience
The Nostalgia Festival was accompanied by a series of meetings for culture managers. This year, we were the host of the Atelier for Young Festival Managers, the training programme initiated by the European Festivals Association (EFA). The event brought together 41 young festival managers from 23 countries. For Jeffrey Tan, a festival manager from Singapore, the seven days of meetings and workshops were an opportunity to ‘take time to stop and reflect, listen and learn, rediscover why I am doing what I am doing and how I am running my festival.’
A new development was the Polish-Estonian Music Business Networking Meeting and Concert, with the latter presenting contemporary compositions performed on traditional and historical instruments. The event, organised in cooperation with the Estonian Music Development Center and Sonora music agency, was attended by over 60 managers working in the field of classical music from Poland and Estonia. The meeting was led by Professor Kevin Kleinmann, an advisor to Universal Music International and lecturer at the Sorbonne, Paris, who took part in all the Nostalgia Festival concerts. On the last day of the festival he described his experience in the following words: ‘I think that is what every festival should aim for: it is to create a sense of event. You can't manufacture them, they happen. If you ask me a year from now I will always remember it. If you ask me two years from now I will still remember it. If you ask me ten years from now I will still remember."