Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Lake Rusałka Water Walk

Michal Giżycki
We used fb to announce the event. 

If the link no longer works, this is what it once said.
Rusałka Water Walk: Call for Musicians/Volunteers 

"This is an event with many events: a meeting with visiting Native American composer Raven Chacon, Friday 27 April (at Kołorking Muzyczny); an exploratory sound-walk, of lake Rusałka area on Saturday 28; a performance for 2 groups of musicians to send musical messages across the lake, into the water, on Sunday 29. Details will appear in the Discussion section of the event page. This is also an open call for musicians who would like be involved in the performance and recording the event and volunteers/helpers."


Raven Chacon in Poznan

     Prior to Raven's arrival by train from Berlin (where he has been resident composer at the American Academy), we had discussed various plans for adapting a percussion piece of his to be played around Lake Rusałka but the adaptation turned out to be a new composition entirely. I would not have done it alone so, the score, is either a collaborative score or one deeply inspired by the presence of my old friend. Indeed, we discussed doing various versions of his Drum Grid piece but in the end another concept evolved. I spoke to him about my personal motivation for performing around the lake by describing various aspects of the history, involving the water itself, the building of the fake lake during Nazi occupation by combined Jewish and Polish slave labor, the laying of the foundation of the lake with matzevot, gravestones taken from cemeteries nearby, and the numerous massacres of the prisoners there.

    Although named after the water or tree nymphs of Slavic mythology -- the subject of a an opera by Antonín Dvořák  -- the romantic version itself is creepily Gothic in that the once beneficent nymphs of fertility and pure water filling the fields became glassed over -- for soon the stories emerged of drowned, attractive young women, Ophelias, the ghosts who would lure men into the waters and drag them beneath, never to return.

Bilibin's Vision of a Rusałka nymph, 1934

 This shift of the folklore towards the macabre drew my attention and caused me to dig deeper & when I dis-covered that a 23 year-old student named Sara Radwan drowned herself in the lake in 2016, I took a further plunge into the waters of the internet to find the story of the fake lake and the earth-works as they were called. It was then I realized that although there are two monuments mentioning murders of people in 1940, there is no indication that the lake itself was dug and fortified by the people massacred there, when they could no longer lift their tools, en masse, buried there, then disintered later for cremation, when Nazis' started to erase traces of their atrocities. As blogger Erik Ross point out, the massive concrete barrel one finds on the south-eastern rim of the water seems too large to be a drain for the gentle Bogdanka stream.  

  On April 27th we met with musicians & other interested people at Kołorking Muzyczny, in order to discuss the score, pictured here in the earliest version.

 Musicians who ultimately took part in the composition's realization on April 29

many thanks!


You can listen to a mix of the sounds recorded on location while the two groups moved around the lake and called to one another across and through the water.


 thanks to everyone who assisted and devoted energy and attention:
Raven Chacon, Kołorking Muzyczny, Rafał Zapała, Piotr Krawczyk, Piotr Delimata, Michał Giżycki, Krzysztof Kuśmierek, Stas Aleksandrowicz, Agnieska, Ola Hausner, Maciej, Karolina Ossowska, Kacper Antoni Hepner, Waldek & all the people who witnessed.  

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