Music of New Beginnings

Music of New Beginnings, a special concert by musicians who draw on tradition in a creative manner, will be one of the events accompanying the X Convention of Gniezno. Held on Saturday, 12 March 2016 at 8 pm, it will be performed by Ensemble Peregrina, Adam Strug and Monodia Polska.


Based in Basel, the ensemble was founded in 1997 and has been led to date by the Polish singer and musicologist Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett.

Ensemble Peregrina preforms European secular and sacred music from the 12th through the 14th centuries. The principal focus of the musicians’ research and art is early polyphony and monody of Saint Martial and the Notre Dame School in Paris. The objective of the Ensemble Peregrina vocalists is to seek a lesser-known repertory, a surprisingly original counterpoint for the “classical” one.

The interpretation style of Peregrina is informed by analyses of the original sources and treatises and by state-of-the-art musicological and historical studies. The ensemble makes every endeavour to recreate the performance style as recorded in the written sources. At the same time, it pursues a style which will naturally appeal to today’s audiences.

The term peregrina (wanderer) refers to the manner in which medieval aesthetic trends were disseminated. It is moreover expressive of the approach of the ensemble members, who consider travelling to be a factor with a direct impact on their sensitivity and creativity. Peregrina musicians, from Poland, Switzerland, Finland, and the US, create in a comprehensive manner, harmoniously tapping into the traditions of their different backgrounds, finding there numerous interrelations and inspirations.

During their concert in Gniezno, Ensemble Peregrina will perform e.g. compositions from their Sacer Nidus (Sacred Nest) CD, taking as its subject matter King Boleslaus the Brave and St. Wojciech/Adalbert. As Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett observes, the death of Wojciech/Adalbert and its political and religious ramifications were reflected in medieval poetry and music: “Within a short time of the canonisation of the martyr bishop (ca. 1001), a sequence Annua Recolamus was composed in Reichenau. The composition makes references to Emperor Otto III, who was most likely instrumental in honouring his murdered friend and commissioned a new work dedicated to him. In Gniezno, in turn, we can find the sequence Hac Festa Die, the earliest from the repertory of over 140 compositions devoted to Adalbert made in Poland, Bohemia and Hungary”.

The ensemble will perform an original version of the Bogurodzica [Mother of God] hymn. Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett believes that the audience may be “surprised not only at the pronunciation of the lyrics, harking back to the 13th c. and consulted with researchers of Old Polish, but also at the polyphonic fragments of this song, whose written records imply that it is to be sung in unison. I have taken liberties with the score, stressing the collective aspect of the expression of the faith during the invocations of Maria, Kyrieleyson and Bożycze in simple, archaic polyphony”.

The musicians:

– Agnieszka Budzińska-Bennett, vocals, harp, art director;

– Kelly Landerkin, vocals;

– Hanna Järveläinen, vocals;

– Lorenza Donadini, vocals;

– Baptiste Romain, vielle.

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A singer and instrumentalist, author of songs, composer of music for theatre and film, ethno-musicologist, and script writer for documentaries. The originator of Monodia Polska vocal ensemble which performs Polish songs as transmitted through the oral tradition. The leader of a music Company performing his own compositions.

Adam Strug will moreover moderate a singing meeting dedicated to songs of the liturgical year as well as ritual and historical compositions whose melody lines have been handed down orally in the villages belonging to landed gentry in the north-east of the region of Mazovia. The meetings follow a non-invasive formula: the moderator submits a motif and the attendees sing. According to Strug, such a meeting differs from a workshop in that “we do not so much learn to sing but discover in ourselves the resources of music collective memory and on the individual level the power and timbre of voice”. The participants of the Convention of Gniezno will be able to take part in such a meeting on Saturday afternoon, during the Christian Freedom Workshops.

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Monodia Polska is a vocal ensemble performing old Polish religious and secular songs in melody lines collected by Adam Strug in the regions of Łomża and in Green Kurpie.

The ensemble uses musical scales preceding the currently widespread major and minor scale, preserving the old tuning, enunciation and performance manners. The oral traditions continued by Monodia Polska are: chivalric songs, Baroque pietas, sung moralities of the 18th c., Romantic devotional songs, and uncodified compositions expressive of folk piety.

The poems are derived from the Pelplin Song Book (1871), containing 1,102 compositions for the entire liturgical year. Medieval anonymous poetry is included side by side with poems by Kochanowski, Wujek, Bolesławiusz, Trembecki, Zabczyc, Naborowski, Krasicki, and Karpiński. The secular repertory of Monodia Polska includes songs from the Green Kurpie region and historical ones.

During their concert in Gniezno, Adam Strug and Monodia Polska will perform Polish Marian songs, old and 19th-century ones, originally sung in nobility mansions and in village cottages. Polish piety has a very clear Marian trait, hence the large number of scores and compositions dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, transmitted exclusively by word of mouth.

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