for Cinetalk.net  (at FMF Krakow)

The 1970’s were a time of radical cinema. Fueled with strong, violent and provocative images, it needed a musical soul mate to resonate with equal vigor. Thus the music of famed Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki ventured out of the boundaries of the concert hall to become an unmatched counterpart of the silver screen.

At that time, Penderecki (who was already famous in the field of contemporary and avant-garde music) stood as the musical voice for several sequences of the famous film of William P. Blatty’s The Exorcist (1973), when director William Friedkin heavily borrowed excerpts from what was already an impressive musical pedigree.

And then, in 1980, all work and no play made Jack a dull boy…

We remember Jack Nicholson, the camera travelings, the corridors, the axe, the screams. But the even greater impact on The Shining (1980) came from Poland. The prominent use by Stanley Kubrick of various excerpts of Penderecki’s music affected us with such oppressive and bone chilling power that it consciously and unconsciously became the major influence on what followed in the horror field. David Lynch, Martin Scorsese and a string of other great directors would follow, including fellow countryman, the masterpiece factory named Andrzej Wajda.

At home, dating back to the 1960’s, Mr. Penderecki had already worked directly for the screen. Documentaries, Wawel Concert (1960), animations, Encounter with Basilisk, Excursion into Space (based on a 1961 screenplay by famous Stanisław Lem). He also worked with pioneer director Wojcieh Has, notably on cult item The Saragossa Manuscript (1965), in which he made some significant use of electronic devices with an electro-acoustic approach. In what was to follow, the maestro stopped working directly for the screen and gradually abandoned his leaning toward avant-garde music ‘a la Boulez and Cage’ to turn to the sacred and more melodic and traditional, but with the same assured hand and powerful outcome.

An honorary (and literally a) citizen of beautiful Krakow, as the mutual love story dates back to the 1950’s, the composer is now 85. And the city celebrates its adopted son in many ways. As part of the celebrations, Krakow Mayor Jacek Majchrowski will first conduct a ceremony to name the state of the art, Auditorium Hall of the ICE Kraków Congress Centre after Penderecki. The event will take place early in the evening on the 30th of May. Then the Penderecki2Cinema concert, officially opening the 11th Film Music Festival (FMF) will take place.

Regarding the Penderecki concert homage, FMF artistic director, Robert Piaskowski, points out: “Many films have been produced, which feature music not composed specifically for cinema. We want to present this fascinating paradox, which has featured in culture for so many years.” Under the baton of conductor Sir Dirk Brossé, with Krzysztof Penderecki attending, the National Polish Radio Orchestra will perform Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima for 52 string instruments, Polymorphia for 48 string instruments, the first half of the II Christmas Symphony, Passsacaglia – Allegro from the III Symphony accompanying on-screen display of film sequences including Katyn, The Shining, The Exorcist, Shutter Island, Demon, Twin Peaks and Inland Empire.

The program of the evening includes delightful addition of works by very special guests, past and present winners of the Festival career achievement award, The Wojciech Kilar Award, Elliot Goldenthal (he won the first in 2015) and Michael Nyman, this year’s recipient (see also: https://cinetalk.net/2018/05/28/11th-fmf-krakow-kilar-award-2018-michael-nyman/).

Nyman’s featured works will be a suite from his celebrated score to Jane Campion’s The Piano (1993) and a variation of III String Quartet, from the BBC documentary Out of the Ruins (1988)

Elliot Goldenthal, for his fourth visit to FMF, offers a world premiere of the Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra, featuring Norwegian soloist Tine Thing Helseth. (see also: https://cinetalk.net/2018/05/28/16939/ ) Like Goldenthal’s love and friendship for Krakow, it comes as an analogy, through legendary Tadeusz Kościuszko, of the relationship between Poland and the United States. The composer’s friendly tribute to Polish culture, a celebration of the 100 years of independence of Poland.

FMF site : http://fmf.fm/programme/date/all

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