The Last Dance of Yet Another Edition of a Mad Festival
The 8th edition of La Folle Journée – “La Danse” has come to an end. Nearly 1000 artists from all over the world performed in 57 concerts at Teatr Wielki – the National Opera in the course of three days. Symphonic and chamber music concerts and interactive events were attended by an audience of nearly 40 000!
Pianist Nelson Goerner and violinist Alena Baeva graced the closing concert of the 8th edition of La Folle Journée on Sunday evening. Together with the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra they played works by Saint-Saëns and Liszt, showing the many ways in which dance manifests itself in music. The closing concert was a perfect reflection of the unique atmosphere of the whole festival. Even those not well-acquainted with the world of Bach, Beethoven and traditional philharmonic concerts were swept up by the musical madness.
“Wonderful musicians, enormous emotions, an unforgettable concert. Beautiful!”, “The best concert I have ever attended” – these are just some of the audience’s spontaneous reactions in social media. Many admit openly that the festival changed the way they think about classical music. Even the festival’s greatest stars think the same.
“It was a great joy for me to play at La Folle Journée in Warsaw. I love the idea of the festival very much, it is very inspiring for me and I think that this is a revolution that music needs” – said Alena Baeva, referring to the festival’s mission of making classical music accessible to everybody.
The artists were unanimous in saying how unique this event is compared to traditional concerts of classical music. They also pointed out that the atmosphere of the festival enables them to derive enormous joy from being in contact with such a large audience. Short concerts, low ticket prices and an attractive, yet varied repertoire make the festival popular both among connoisseurs and those just embarking on their adventure with classical music. The festival has been greatly successful in arousing the interest of people of various ages by holding special concerts for children and for whole families.
The programme of the festival combined masterpieces of classical music with classics of jazz, music from films, experimental, alternative, as well as music from various cultures and traditions. Dance was the common denominator for all works comprising the festival’s programme. Excellent orchestras appeared in the festival’s five venues: The National Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra of Teatr Wielki – the National Opera, Sinfonietta Cracovia and Sinfonia Varsovia, the latter being the organiser of the event. The Mazur Hall (usually the Moniuszko Hall) also featured Eitetsu Hayashi – master of the Japanese taiko drum. One day before Hayashi ran a workshop introducing young musicians to the world of traditional Japanese percussion instruments.
A pantheon of recognised chamber music ensembles performed during the festival. Especially worth noting are two concerts by the Apollon Musagète Quartet and an appearance by the Kwadrofonik ensemble which presented its original interpretation of Karol Szymanowski’s Mazurkas. In the smaller Quadrille and Arabesque Halls we could listen to piano recitals by Nelson Goerner, Luis Fernando Pérez and Vikingur Ólafsson, the latter having played in an exceptionally intriguing manner the works of J. S. Bach and Philipa Glass back to back.
There was also enormous interest in free concerts taking place in Foxtrot Hall, or in other words the festival tent set up in front of the National Opera building. This is where we could listen to the best orchestras from music schools all over Poland, Warsaw’s Szymanowski Young Power big-band and an unusual duet of Vassilena Serafimova (marimba) and Thomasa Enhco (piano). In the evenings Foxtrot Hall changed into an open dance floor and everyone could attend a dance party with live music. On the first day the music was provided by the Warsaw Sentimental Orchestra, while BumBum Orkestar swept up the audience with Balkan rhythms on the second day. Sunday featured open flamenco workshops, preceded by a concert with a masterful show of this Spanish style.
René Martin, the festival’s founder and artistic director, thanked Sinfonia Varsovia, the organiser of the Polish edition of the Festival for a very successful weekend and announced that the theme of next year’s La Folle Journée Festival is “Music from the New World”.