Grand Finale of the Jubilee | EtnoKraków/Rozstaje – Sunday, July 10th
Great musical experiences and concerts by undisputed stars of the Polish (and not only) folk scene were the biggest events on the final day of the jubilee edition of the festival.
The 25th anniversary of the EtnoKraków/Rozstaje festival received a fitting culmination with beautiful concerts that awaited us on Sunday afternoon and evening. However, it's worth noting that before the music took the stage once again, everyone interested had the opportunity to participate in workshops. This, in fact, is a recurring principle of the festival: weaving together musical events with other activities and engagements such as meetings, workshops, and presentations. On Sunday, the Krakow Ethnographic Museum once again invited attendees to the House of Esterka for Ukrainian traditional song workshops from the Rivne region, led by Ludmiła Wostrikowa.
Such a duet, such a quintet
In the afternoon, music returned just as it did a week ago and similarly to the previous year's festival edition, to the courtyard of Radio Kraków. This time, we were in for another real musical feast (live and in direct radio and internet broadcast). The ensemble of Stanisław Słowiński played in his joint project with Tomasz Kukurba. It's worth noting that this formation, if time and schedules allow, has the potential to become one of the most exciting projects on the Polish scene. Their grand debut was at the EtnoKraków/Rozstaje festival four years ago.
The leaders of the ensemble are musicians who require no introduction. Kukurba has been a pillar of the Kroke group for over three decades, playing the viola, flutes, percussion instruments, and presenting distinctive vocalizations. In the ensemble we listened to on Sunday, he has the opportunity to showcase a more open, bold musical formula and a wider range of his remarkable skills. His partner in this project is an artist with a strong personality and exceptional creative abilities. Stanisław Słowiński is a prominent figure in young European jazz, one of the best violinists on the national scene, and a musician often inspired by folk traditions.
Together, the two leaders presented dynamic, positively charged, creative fury, full of fantasy and technical finesse. On one hand, their music was rooted in world music, and on the other, in jazz, with many contemporary influences in the background. Alongside them, they had three outstanding instrumentalists who allowed them to improvise freely. This exceptionally sensitive and sophisticated formation included pianist Franciszek Raczkowski, double bassist Szymon Frankowski, and drummer Adam Stępniowski (all three of whom would play again at the festival a little later with Joanna Słowińska).
The concert program featured compositions by the leaders and one piece by Dariusz Grela, all delivered in brilliant interpretations. The final day of the Rozstaje festival got off to a superb start.
After such an exciting concert, the musicians and the audience moved to the Małopolski Ogród Sztuki (Małopolska Garden of Arts), where arguably the most important gala concert of this year's jubilee edition of the festival took place.
Before the music began, there was an opening for an exhibition featuring the works of Władysław Trebunia-Tutka, both with a bow and a brush. Władysław Trebunia-Tutka, who passed away more than a decade ago, is one of the iconic figures in understanding the essence of Polish folk culture. He was an authority, a masterful violinist, an outstanding leader of traditional music, and at the same time, he was aware that new times required new interpretations. He was a co-creator of the great successes of the Trebunie-Tutki ensemble, which to this day serves as an important reference point for many, not only in the highland regions.
The exhibition presented a collection of oil paintings by the artist from the family collection. A particularly special aspect of the vernissage was the fact that the family ensemble performed during it, continuing the traditional form of highland music. Besides the siblings Krzysztof, Anna, and Jan Trebunia, the (adult, let's emphasize) children of the first mentioned, Marcin, Anna, and Jan, also played. A few dozen minutes later, Trebunie-Tutki performed in their regular concert lineup at Rozstaje.
Tree, house, and table
However, first on the festival stage for the second time that day was Stanisław Słowiński. This time, he performed with his own quartet alongside Joanna Słowińska in the program "Drzewo, dom i stół" (Tree, house, and table). This outstanding program, announced as a narrative inspired by Slavic folklore, Jewish, Roma, and Ruthenian traditions, consisted of songs with lyrics by Jan Słowiński, originating from programs like "Zielnik polski," "Bursztynowe drzewo," and "Możesz być." The musical themes, drawing from folk traditions but primarily featuring original compositions by the violinist, combined with excellent, thoughtful lyrics and fantastic performance skills, made for a wonderful listening experience.
Joanna Słowińska, an artist with an extraordinary voice and great charisma, incredibly expressive and moving on stage, was in her element here, leading interesting stories and guiding the audience towards tradition while simultaneously offering a very relevant, important, here-and-now narrative. Additionally, she had excellent instrumentalists by her side who steered the performance towards jazz improvisation without losing touch with their source inspirations. The fantastic vocal skills of the vocalist and the spirited playing of the band earned them a standing ovation from the audience, which filled the venue to capacity.
For the encore (a short one due to time constraints), the artist sang a cappella in a duet with her husband, once again earning the admiration and emotion of the listeners.
The concert that concluded the jubilee edition of the Etno Kraków Rozstaje festival was a gathering of undisputed genre stars, artists with a significant body of work, and also of great significance to the Polish music scene. Therefore, after the performance by Joanna and Stanisław Słowiński, we had the pleasure of listening to another set of classics – the previously mentioned Trebunie-Tutki ensemble. Arguably the most important group in contemporary highland music, they presented the program "Przez granice" (Across Borders).
On one hand, this program reaffirms the strength and endurance of the Tatra tradition, and on the other, its great ability to merge with other genres while effortlessly drawing inspiration from other cultures. This project demonstrates an awareness of the power of their own heritage while also illustrating a beautiful openness, showcasing the richness of Podhale's music and the minorities that contribute to the musical culture of the Carpathians. The group was joined by the excellent and highly regarded Slovak cymbalist, Miroslav Rajt, who delivered some wonderful solo passages on Hungarian cymbals. In addition to the leader, Krzysztof Trebunia-Tutka, and his siblings, Anna and Jan, Andrzej Polak and Robert Czech also performed in the ensemble.
Three decades have passed since the release of the "Higher Heights" album, their first collaboration with the Jamaican Twinkle Brothers. It is joyous to note that Trebunie-Tutki continue to develop their musical ideas, remaining an important group in the Polish music scene, and delivering remarkable concerts, such as the one on Sunday in Krakow. The performance included tracks from their original albums, as well as recordings with the Twinkle Brothers and the Georgian group Urmuli. Trebunie-Tutki performed at the first festival in 1999, so their Sunday performance also had a symbolic dimension. A particularly touching moment occurred when, towards the end of the concert, the artists invited Joanna and Jan Słowiński to join them on stage for a collaborative performance – it was a beautiful and outstanding performance.
Journey from Babadag
As the last to take the stage, the Polish-Lithuanian group Babadag, led by the acclaimed artist Ola Bilińska, made their appearance. Ola Bilińska has a number of significant achievements to her name, both in the context of the broad independent music scene and in folk music. On one hand, there were early recordings by Babadag and albums by groups like Muzyka końca lata and Bye Bye Butterfly. On the other hand, her wonderful projects with Jewish music resulted in albums like "Berjozkele" and "Libelid." It can be said that the modern (for several years now) history of the Babadag ensemble is a combination of both of these tendencies: traditional, folk inspirations beautifully intertwine with the aesthetics of alternative, independent music. This was clearly evident during the final concert on Sunday.
"Sulinys / Źródło," crowned with an excellent album, is a project born a few years ago from the inspiration of polyphonic sutartinės songs and a fascination with the folk music of the Polish-Lithuanian border region, finding its expression in a superb contemporary musical form. We heard recordings from this album as well as the latest songs from the group's "Bestiarijus" program.
Ola Bilińska, who played electronic instruments and sang, was joined by three fantastic Kriščiūnaitė sisters – Dominyka, Luksmina, and Raminta – who also sang, along with instrumentalists from Warsaw: Sebastian Witkowski, Igor Nikiforow, and Paweł Szpura. Melancholy blended with almost rock-like energy, traditional vocal forms merged with modern arrangements, making the entire performance exciting for fans of many musical genres.
This was a very successful conclusion to the 25th Etno Kraków Rozstaje festival.
[ Tomasz Janas ]
Radio Kraków / dziedziniec – Kukurba-Słowiński Project
Małopolski Ogród Sztuki – wernisaż wystawy prac Władysława Trebuni-Tutki, Joanna Słowińska & Stanisław Słowiński Quartet, Trebunie-Tutki, Babadag