Jakub Haufa violin, artistic direction
Marcin Zdunik cello
Chór Prawosławnej Katedry Metropolitalnej p.w. św. Marii Magdaleny
ks. protodiakon Sergiusz Bowtruczuk choirmaster
Eastern Orthodox Church Choral Music
Pyotr Tchaikovsky Legend op. 54 (1889, choral version)
Anton Arensky Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky op. 35a for string orchestra (1894)
John Tavener The Protecting Veil for cello and string orchestra (1987)
Wacław of Szamotuły Modlitwa, gdy dziatki idą spać (ca. 1550–60)
The Protecting Veil of the Mother of God is, after Pascha, the greatest feast of the Orthodox Church. Celebrated on October 14 in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia as well as on October 28 in Greece, it is commonly referred to as Pokrov or Pokrova. The word pokrov/pokrova refers to protection, but also to a veil, shawl, scarf, and a cloak with which, according to the 10th-century tradition, the Mother of God protected the people of Constantinople from the Saracen invasion. The Pokrov icon depicts Mary spreading her veil to protect humanity.
Similarly, the Protecting Veil (the title is the English rendering of pokrov) is an icon in sound for cello and strings composed by Sir John Tavener (1944-2013). This contemplative and ecstatic piece is divided into eight movements, each of which is based on an icon in the life of Mary: the first and the last movement refer to the feast of Pokrov, the other six represent Mary’s birth and annunciation, the incarnation, Christ’s crucifixion, and resurrection, and Mary’s dormition. The fifth movement for solo cello is the lament of the Mother of God at the cross. Tavener converted to the Orthodox Church in 1977, which became a major influence on his work. The composer was one of the greatest representatives of the 20th-century sacred music, along with Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Arvo Pärt. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the Protecting Veil is reminiscent of Symphony No. 3 of the Sorrowful Songs or Fratres.
The concert will open with original Orthodox Marian chants and Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s stylized choral piece, the Legend, which tells the apocryphal story of the young Christ in his garden and was extremely popular in the 1890s. The theme from Legend became the foundation for Anton Arensky’s variations for chamber orchestra included in the evening’s program. The concert will close with probably the most popular piece by the master of the Polish Renaissance – Wacław of Szamotuły. The composition dates back to the mid-16th century when the village of Kamion (future Kamionek) was already mentioned as part of the Warsaw district.