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CULTURAL GUIDE: Organ jam session on Cathedral Island

Ready for a musical journey through the ages? We are going to set off on July 2 and continue onwards for nine following summer Sundays! One of the oldest and most renowned organ music reviews in Europe – the 24th NON SOLA SCRIPTA International Organ Festival – will come to one of the most beautiful places in Wrocław, the historic Church of the Holy Cross on Cathedral Island.

The Latin phrase “non sola scripta”, roughly translated means “not only what was written”, and as such, it perfectly fits the series of concerts with such a unique and interesting formula. If “organ music festival” instantly makes you think about a programme that is conservative and classical to the bone, you are in for quite a surprise. As the name indicates, the evenings with organ music are not just all about everything that is written in the score, it is equally about improvisation in various kinds and forms and this is the greatest attraction of the evenings at the Church of the Holy Cross. The NON SOLA SCRIPTA festival, or more fittingly, an organ jam session, combines classical music with improvisation and the most outstanding pieces of early music with contemporary propositions. “Music lovers liked the unpredictability of our concerts, and according to their wishes, we juxtapose the pieces composed and written for the ‘king of all instruments’ with chamber music and compositions for other instruments accompanied by organ”, said Professor Andrzej Chorosiński, artistic director of the event. “There are no two identical concerts during NON SOLA SCRIPTA, every performance is something unique.” The festival in Wrocław is the only event of its kind in Poland, the main goal of which is to experiment by bringing some of the most outstanding musicians together. The unexpected and unprecedented variations on famous organ compositions (this year we will hear Bach, Mozart, Mendelssohn–Bartholdy, Haendel, Verdi and many others) are born out of energy, which overflows in such unique bands and ensembles.

The starting point for a modern festival like this was... the musical history of Wrocław, dating back to the Baroque. “The first edition of NON SOLA SCRIPTA, organised for the first time in the 90s, was inspired by centuries-old organ music traditions in the city”, Professor Chorosiński recalls. “World War II might have been the final note of this immense musical heritage, but the exceptional organists, who after war moved to Wrocław, such as Professor Romuald Sroczyński, decided to save it.” From 1955 on, before he became the organist of St. Elizabeth's Church in Wrocław in the 60s, where he invited the leading Polish instrumentalists for concerts, Sroczyński was connected with the John the Baptist Archcathedral in Wrocław, a church that like no other connects the history of organ music in post-war Wrocław with pre-war Breslau. The cathedral, rebuilt after the intense fighting, received a true masterpiece, the organ from the Centennial Hall, which at the time was the largest instrument in the world. Despite the fact that they did not survive the war (or rather, post-war looting) in one piece, what we can hear in Wrocław’s church to this day is still the largest instrument of this kind in Poland. The concerts of the NON SOLA SCRIPTA festival take place on summer evenings in the beautiful interiors of the Church of the Holy Cross and St. Bartholomew, a unique building, comprising twin churches, located on separate floors of the monumental construction: St Bartholomew’s Church on the lower floor and the Church of the Holy Cross on the upper one. It is the interior of the latter where the bands formed for just one evening, bringing together the best organ players from all over the world and pairing them with the virtuosos of other instruments and outstanding vocalists will play and sing for the festival audiences.


Throughout this edition of NON SOLA SCRIPTA, the Cathedral Island will sound with the organ music performed by the most outstanding virtuosos and organ improvisers, organists of the greatest cathedrals in Poland and around the world. This year, the invitation to the festival was accepted by Roman Perucki (Gdańsk), Małgorzata Klorek (Warsaw), Winfried Boenig (Koln, Germany), Jan van Mol (Antwerp, Belgium), Giulio Mercati (Milan, Italy) and others. They will be joined by trumpeters of the Wratislavia Trumpet Consort, accordionist Klaudiusz Baran (Warsaw) and flautist Ewa Rułka, as well as some of the most interesting European sopranos: Lidia Basterretxea Vila (Basque) and Hasmik Sahakyan (Armenia).

Article can be found in summer edition of Wrocław Cultural Guide.​

The bi-monthly issue of the Wrocław Cultural Guide was published in two languages (Polish and English). The issue also includes the announcements and teasers for cultural events in Ukrainian. The magazine is free and you can get it at Barbara – ECoC Infopoint, the New Horizons Cinema, as well as cultural institutions and selected cafes, bars and beaches in the city.​


Photos: Marcin Jędrzejczak


Click to enlarge a photo

non sola scripta fot. Marcin Jędrzejczak


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