The Saint Nicholas Orchestra (Orkiestra p.w. sw. Mikolaja) came into existence in 1988. Since then the band has focused on everything associated with folklore, especially whatever has been condemned to be forgotten, and yet can inspire and enrich contemporary culture.
The Orchestra gathers together people who would like to experience an adventure in folklore. The beginnings of the Orchestra were connected with hiking in the Polish mountains, which fifty years ago were still inhabited by Lemko and Boyko Ruthenians (eastern Polish Carpathians). The group’s members wandered through abandoned valleys and saw old terraced fields, orchards gone wild and forgotten paths. Who tilled these fields and trod the paths? How did those people live? What made them happy? What made them sad? The musicians tried to answer these questions by performing music that was once played there.
At first, its repertoire embraced mainly Ruthenian songs but now it comprises also music from the Hutsul region (Ukrainian Carpathians) and Poland – at the moment its main inspiration.
The instruments played are: the violin, dulcimer, mandolin, mandola, cello, dutar, flutes, bass drum, congas, percussion instruments, guitars – 8 persons.
The Orchestra has played over 200 concerts and took part in 10 TV program. In 1994 the band played at the festival of European Broadcasting Union as the representatives of the Polish radio. Stylistically, the group departs from traditional patterns by applying foreign or non-traditional instruments such a dutar or guitars.
The arrangements are “unplugged” and they incorporate stylistic elements from many musical cultures. The words and melodies are authentic and collected from written and aural archival records.
In Poland, the Saint Nicholas Orchestra’s music is recognized by audiences as strongly transformed folk music, inspired by authentic and original folk sources. Foreign listeners, however, sometimes understand the group’s music as a quite genuine continuation of living folk tradition because it plays acoustic instruments and tries to preserve the folk vitality and liveliness of the original in its arrangements and performances.
Z Wysokiego Pola (Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej W Lublinie, 1994)
Kraina Bojnów (Orange World Records, 1998)
Z Dawna Dawnego (Nicolaus, 2000)
Jeden Koncert (Nicolaus, 2002)
O Milosci Przy Grabieniu Siana (Nicolaus, 2004)
Huculskie Muzyki (Nicolaus, 2006)
Nowa Muzyka (Ferment, 2007)
Lem-Agination (Warsaw Impact, 2007)
Drugi Koncert (Konador, 2010)
Mody I Kody (Dalmafon, 2016)
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.