Janusz Prusinowski Kompania (formerly: Janusz Prusinowski Trio) is a Polish folk music ensemble. The group follows the traditions of village masters they learned from: Jan Lewandowski, Kazimierz Meto, Józef Zaraś, Piotr and Jan Gaca, Tadeusz Kubiak and many others. At the same time, Janusz Prusinowski Kompania incorporates modern elements, including improvisation.
The ensemble combines tours and concerts with music and dance workshops, both in Poland and abroad.
Janusz and his team are founders and promoters of the Wszystkie Mazurki Świata (Mazurcas of the world) festival, in Warsaw, of which Janusz is the artistic director. The festival provides an opportunity for encounters between the old rural masters and the new generations of musicians interested in traditional music.
Janusz Prusinowski was awarded with the Gloria Artis medal and the Annual Award of the Ministry of Culture, that acknowledges a life’s work, and more than 20 years of commitment with the revival, visibility and esteem of the legacy of Polish traditional music.
The album Po śladach includes primordial “obereks”, wild dances accompanied by ditties (short poems), improvised mazurkas and additional poetical pieces.
Przemyslaw Goc, better known as Ainu, is a leading artist in the domain of ethnic-world music in Poland with an artistic output consisting of CDs, music videos, over 1500 concerts in Poland & other European countries and a self-made multimedia website.
Przemyslaw Goc was born in 1967. He started off in the blues scene, but as a sound engineer in the Poznan radio station he got so many musical impulses that he started with the realization of electronic suites and etudes. In 1988 Goc presented his first compositions “anatomy of sin” which is a good example of his musically fresh contribution to the electronic music scene in Poland.
Since 1997 he has experimented with music from all over the world, combining electronic synthesizers and rhythm samplers with sounds of nature and ethnic instruments like flutes, pan-pipe, quena and vocalizations, creating an unusual atmosphere. Also during his concerts full of colorful lights, smokes and unique sounds. He has over 1000 concerts experience in Poland and 17 European countries for different audience also for handicapped people.
The year 2000 was a turn in his art creation. He changed his art name from “titilo” to Ainu (meaning the first man in the world history who has made pictures in caves).
Przemyslaw Goc is also a creator of new music instruments, unknown before, like a harp cast in bronze in an eagle shape or metal pan-flutes in Ainu’ tune.
His passion is also photography. He took part in many exhibitions; granted in 1997 in Poznan for “Faces”.
Ainu makes all by himself: recording, manufacturing and distribution of CDs, designing his advertising materials, CD covers, making multimedia presentations and videoclips.
Welele (1998) Earth 2000 (2000)
Multi Culti Kanti (2005) Save Tibet (2008) RaRoTonga (2010)
7 Days in Georgia (2011)
Born in Cracow in 1969, Jerzy Bawol started playing the accordion in elementary school at the age of nine and gave his first concert at the age of twelve. During his time at the High School and the Music Academy of Cracow, where he studied classical accordion, he was touring Poland, Germany and France with solo concerts.
After finishing the Academy in 1992, he worked moreover as a studio musician and with the Cracow opera, focusing on contemporary music.
His work with Kroke is definitely influenced by his grandfather, who was an acclaimed Klezmer musician.
Lautari’s music is modern, jazzy in sound rooted in Central European tradition. Folk motives, played on piano, violin, clarinet and flutes, thanks to brave arrangements and great dose of improvisation gather vital character in which tradition encounters modernity. The group was established in October 2000 and is based in Poznan, Poland. They draw inspiration from the music and attitudes of the Gypsy Lautars, masters and virtuosi of improvisation creating “gypsy jazz”, as well as from simple forms of folk applied arts.
The original lineup incluided Maciej Filipczuk – fiddle; Jacek Halas – prepared piano, accordion; Michal Zak – clarinet, flute, shawm, sampler; and Marcin Pospieszalski – double bass.
Their first CD, Musica Lautareasca Nova, involves instrumental compositions inspired by the traditional music of the Polish lowlands, the eastern and southern regions of the Carpathian mountains, the Balkans, and the Black Sea coast. “The sources of our music are musical notations (Kurpie), archival recordings (Greece, Macedonia, the music of Ashkenazi Jews), our own musical compositions and, most important, close and direct contact with village musicians still practicing traditional performance techniques (Poland, Romania, and Ukraine).
The basis of the album is our belief that the most interesting aspects of folk music originate in “borderland” areas where many cultures interpenetrate each other (e.g. Bukovina, Transylvania, Bessarabia, and Dobruja). In such environments musical motifs cross geographical borders and, arriving from distant places, join together to become statements of understanding without losing their original identities.”
The musical structure of Musica Lautareasca Nova is dual. On the one hand it emphasizes unity, homogeneity, and harmony of sound, on the other hand leaves space for individual expression and improvisation.
The second CD, Azaran, is the result of their fascination with the Byzantine music and influences from different lands-Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Romania, Serbia, and Bulgaria-all melted in one pot.
They reformed as a quartet in 2015 for the release of their album, Vol 67, their first project fully dedicated to Polish folk music, which was recorded live at the Lodz Philharmonic. The 2016 lineup included Maciej Filipczuk – violin; Zbigniew Lowzyl – piano; Michal Zak – flutes, clarinet, shawms; and Robert Siwak – drums.
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)
Bassist Tomasz Lato was born in Cracow in 1968. Both his parents were musicians, and so he started playing the piano as a child. At the age of fourteen he changed to the acoustic bass. His wide range of musical interests led him to various ensembles.
During his time at High School and his studies at the Music Academy of Cracow he played in Jazz Groups, worked as a musical director in theater and broadcast productions, joined the Philharmonic Orchestra, the “Capella Cracoviense”, the “Sinfonietta Cracovia” and the “Heidelberg Chamber Orchestra”. Beside all that activities he is a requested studio musician, also for pop music productions and soundtracks.
After the success of its first album Sounds & Shadows, which was rewarded with a title of the best Polish folk record 2005 year in the Polish Radio record competition as the Folk Phonogram of the Year Award, Transkapela released the Over the Village record, a continuation of the musical imagination about the times of Klezmers from the Carpathians. Musicians of Transkapela, once again reaches to the roots of the Carpathian music, searches once more for the trace of the village klezmers and musicians splendor, who separately and together played on village weddings, religious holidays and festivities.
This time, it is a sort of metaphysical story about the Carpathian village. Village, like in the old days, inhabited by Bukovina highlanders, Hutsuls, Jews, Gypsies, Polish, Romanians, Hungarians and many more from the abundance of the Transcarpathian cultures.
Ewa Wasilewska on violin, mazanki – little fiddle
Maciej Filipczuk on violin, fiddle with trumpet, guitar, zongura
Robert Wasilewski on hammered dulcimer, viola, shepherd’s pipes, jew’s harp, guitar zongura
Piotr Pniewski on cello, double bass, drum, gardon www.transkapela.com
The Warsaw Village Band (Kapeli ze Wsi Warszawa in Polish) emerged in 1997 and simultaneously conserves traditional music and experiments with modern instrumentation and subject matter. The musicians have created a genre of music they call ‘hardcore folk’; thanks to the groundbreaking, yet traditional singing style or ‘bio-techno’; thanks to electronic remixes featured on the group’s People’s Spring CD. The fresh approach earned them international recognition with a nomination in the newcomer category of the BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards in 2003.
On their countryside journeys, the band keeps their material fresh using the same means as classical ethnographic research; documenting dying traditions with live recordings of various Polish folk festivities and village celebrations. Their lineup includes the suka, a Polish fiddle from the 16th century that is only known from historical drawings and whose strings are played with the player’s fingernails rather than the usual fingertips. The suka is joined by an hundred-year-old Polish dulcimer and the hurdy-gurdy, a unique instrument that sounds similar to the bagpipe, thanks to a drone that is played by a cranked wooden wheel rubbing against the strings of the instrument.
The Warsaw Village Band’s lyrics address social and political concerns, in part, due to the music’s close ties with punk circles. “Who is Getting Married” takes a feminist stance on her assumed marriage. It is about a young girl in the countryside that refuses marriage in order to sing, dance, and be free rather than being dependent on someone. “Crane” is a protest song of defiance advising the country’s youth to “be nobody’s servant.”
The music and research of the Warsaw Village Band has inspired many in their home country. Their performance at the Pastoral Celebration in the mountainous region of Orava opened doors to the sound of the Mazovia Province. Although the music of the Polish plains was largely unknown to this audience, the band was welcomed with warm admiration and was honored with the distinction of being the first lowlanders ever to perform at a “highlanders only” party.
The sheep-herding mountaineers of Poland used a style of singing called “bialy glos” or “white voice”; a type of powerful, melodic screaming used to communicate across long distances. The Warsaw Village Band revives this musical style on their CD People’s Spring. The band travels Poland’s countryside in search of the old people who recall the traditional folk music of their regions.
One of the WOMEX highlights in Poland this year was for sure the opening performance of Kapela Maliszów, a family band from Poland, including the multi-instrumentalist Jan Malisz and his children, Kasper and Zuzanna. As said on the band’s official site, Jan Malisz got most of the instruments from his father, Jozef so the band called their music “Father’s notes.” I so rarely meet female drummers in Eastern Europe, especially in folk music, so from the first second I decided to talk with Zuzanna.
Daryana: Ok, first of all of course I would love to know your personal story of becoming a musician — how and why did you start playing, singing, which instruments and so on?
Zuzanna: I think my story has begun when I came up to this world. It’s a generational thing, my grandparents were musicians, and lots of my family members still are. They aren’t educated musicians, they are just people who love music. So, with so much genes and family I think I couldn’t have a choice… could I? I mean, of course I did but music is something that grew up with me, has been with me since I was born, and I didn’t even realize how much I was soaked by it, how much it affects my life.
My first serious instrument was piano. I went to a music school as an 8 years old child, and, it would be worth mentioning, that a music school had a huge influence on my adventure with music (and it still has). I’ve met teachers that taught me a lot, made me love classical music.
I’m not sure about singing, I believe that I started singing right after I learned how to speak. But 2-3 years ago, I started being interested how to sing properly, and, again, music school, and choir that I have been going to, has helped me to learn technical stuff.
What kind of percussion do you play? Is it a totally traditional way of playing? Does this drumming and percussion tradition exist in old folklore? Is the number of girls playing drums growing or spreading in Polish folk tradition?
Zuzanna: The drums I play are traditional polish drums called baraban (the big one) and bęben obręczowy (the small one). My way of playing is based primarily on improvisation. It’s obvious that the rhythm must be preserved but except that (and some parts in our compositions which I always play the same) the only limit is my imagination.
I always try to play to my brother and improvise with him. I can’t tell if it’s traditional way of playing, I think that in the past there also were several madmen that broke down the rhythm in every possible way… but perceived as more accurate and traditional is playing simpler and without so many wonders. The way of drumming depends on what region you play in, because it can be a little different in different regions. When I started playing drums, I listened to drummers from central Poland, so if you hear central-drumming-style in my playing, maybe that’s why.
Traditional drumming, as a traditional music was dying out few years ago, but now, fortunately, there are many young people who are interested in it, and want to resurrect it. There are also some girls that play drum pretty well and I often meet them at festivals like Wszystkie Mazurki Świata. Regarding women drummers from Eastern Europe, I don’t know any, but I hope that it’ll change soon. In general and apart from percussion I play piano, drum, sometimes trying to play guitar, I can also play on traditional Polish cello.
Why folklore? Don’t you plan to try out some other genres?
Zuzanna: Folk and traditional music have always been in our house. My parents always listened to it, and played it so I think they had a big influence on it. It wasn’t like one day we decided to play traditional music. The traditions chose us, and we had to continue it. Everything came naturally.
But, of course I listen to a lot of different genres! Jazz, indie pop, pop, rock, folk from different countries like Ireland or Bulgaria and a lot of others styles. I love listening to blues, soul, jazz, R&B singers and singing it. And, who knows, maybe this is what my future will be about. I wish it would.
What’s special in working in a family group?
Zuzanna: Probably the best thing about a family band is that we all live in the same place, so we can play whenever we want.
Once, at attempt, we got angry at each other, and we were arguing a lot. And then, Kacper started to play a random melody, improvisation. With all of those emotions, we made a new song.
Please tell about your repertoire and what are your favorite songs?
Zuzanna: We mostly play our compositions, based on tradition. There are some traditional songs that we changed a little bit. All of our compositions are unique and have a nice story behind it, but my favorite is “Chodzony od Józefa” (Kacper’s composition), which is played on our grandfather’s violin. It was broken by a horse, and after grandfather’s death, our dad fixed it.
Renowned Polish musicians and composer Maria Pomianowska and Reborn will be performing in the American Midwest in September and October 2017, including stops at Bloomington, Indiana’s Lotus Festival and Minneapolis’s popular Cedar Theater.
Maria Pomianowska’s music combines European classical music, new music and the folk music traditions of Poland. She has collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma and Gonzalo Rubalcaba, studying the Sarangi in India under the guidance of P. Ram Narayan, teaching violin to members of the Japanese Imperial family and founding the first Ethnic Music Department at the Academy of Music in Krakow. But her greatest achievement could be the resurrection of some of her homeland’s lost medieval stringed instruments.
9/16: Landfall Festival of World Music, Cedar Rapids, IA
9/19: University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, WI
9/30: Lotus Festival, Bloomington, IN
10/1: Lotus Festival, Bloomington, IN
10/6: The Cedar, Minneapolis, MN
Your Connection to traditional and contemporary World Music including folk, roots and various types of global fusion