Sunday / 20:00
Sunday / 20:00

Minimal music concert: Canto ostinato

Sinfonia Varsovia, ul. Grochowska 272, Warszawa


Zuzanna Elster harp
Magdalena Kordylasińska-Pękala marimba
Adam Kośmieja synthesizers
Karol Krasiński vibraphone
Karol Sikora bass clarinet
Martyna Zakrzewska piano


Simeon ten Holt Canto ostinato­

Canto ostinato is one of the most popular Dutch compositions of the 20th century. Created by Simeon ten Holt in 1976 for four pianos, it is performed – especially in the Netherlands – several times a year. The secret of its popularity lies in several elements. Apart from the instrumentation variants suggested by the composer, Canto can be performed on any combination of instruments, each time taking on a different color or emotional effect. The duration of the composition is not limited – 106 sequences of several bars, called cells, written out by the composer can be performed in approximately 80 minutes, but each of them is repeated by the musicians an unspecified number of times. As a result, the longest Canto performances lasted even over 24 hours! The musicians have freedom of articulation and dynamics; they decide for themselves how to play individual cells and when to bring about the dynamic culmination. This piece by Holt is classified as minimal music, which is characterized by numerous repetitions. It is based – somewhat like the Baroque-era and earlier ostinato forms – on a fixed melodic and rhythmic sequence in the bass, which reappears from time to time in the piece. In keeping with its name (and in spite of the fact that it was written in the avant-garde and melody-averse 20th century), Canto is a melodic, even pretty piece. Its character is usually described as meditative and relaxing.

The open formula of this composition also applies to performance conditions and reception styles – the concert hall is only one possibility, and traditional concert etiquette does not necessarily apply (e.g. one can freely leave the concert). So, feel encouraged to take any comfortable position during the concert – the Sinfonia Varsovia Concert Hall will be prepared for this. You can also bring your own mat or stool, so that you can immerse yourself in this extraordinary music as comfortably as possible.

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    The task was delivered thanks to financial support from the capital city of Warsaw under the Integrated Restoration Programme for the capital city of Warsaw to 2022
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