The events held in March 2018 as part of the Hong Kong Arts Festival and the Hong Kong International Film Festival provided Hong Kong audiences with a unique opportunity to encounter with Polish literature, jazz and classical music as well as animation. The artists performing in Hong Kong included: trumpeter Maciej Fortuna with his band, Anna Maria Jopek, Kroke and Mariusz Wilczyński, a creator of animated films.
Held since 1973, the Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF) is one of major annual cultural events in Asia. Each year the festival hosts artists from around the world, offering a broad spectrum of programmes ranging from classical repertoire to cutting-edge productions. The genres presented at the HKAF include classical and Chinese music, western and Chinese opera as well as theatre and dance. Over the past few years many Polish artists have participated in the festival, thanks to the support of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. In 2012, TR Warszawa company’s performance 4.48 Psychosis directed by Grzegorz Jarzyna was staged in Hong Kong. A year later, the HKAF hosted the Lutosławski Quartet, and in 2014 Krzysztof Warlikowski’s performance African Tales by Shakespeare.
Hong Kong International Film Festival, since 2005 operating as an independent non-profit organisation (Hong Kong International Film Festival Society Limited), is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals in Asia. As the largest cultural event in Hong Kong, it is considered an excellent platform for the promotion of film works and artists. In cooperation with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, in 2014 the festival organised screenings of Polish animated films as well as the presentation of the programme Has – Beyond the Master, a retrospective of films by Wojciech Jerzy Has and his students.
In 2018 the first to perform in Hong Kong was be jazz trumpeter Maciej Fortuna with his band. The artist played at the Hong Kong Arts Festival on 3rd and 4th March presenting two different programmes. One of them was the project Fortuna Plays Szymborska, blending music and literature, inspired by the poetry and humorous collages created by the Literary Nobel Prize winner Wisława Szymborska. The other was a concert of Maciej Fortuna Special Quartet, combining jazz, electronics and video art.
Next, on 16th March, on the initiative of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, an acknowledged creator of artistic animated films Mariusz Wilczyński performed a live animation show during a concert of Polish symphonic music. The programme of the concert included works by Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Panufnik and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Sebastian Perłowski, the finalist of the Hong Kong International Conducting Competition for Chinese Music in 2014. The event was part of celebrations of the seventieth anniversary of Polish animation. It was also continuation of AMI’s endeavours aimed at promoting Polish animated films in Asia, following the screenings in Hong Kong in 2014 and the presentation of Contemporary Polish Short Animation programme at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2017.
Finally, on 17th and 18th March, Kraków based group Kroke and vocalist Anna Maria Jopek treated the audience of the Hong Kong Arts Festival to a special programme combining the repertoire of the vocalist and the trio. Their concerts in Hong Kong were preceded by the artists’ concert tour of China and followed by further performances in Japan.
The project was organised co-organised by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute operating under the Culture.pl brand as part of POLSKA 100, the international cultural programme accompanying the centenary of Poland regaining independence.
Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland as part of the multi-annual programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2022.
Maciej Fortuna is one of the most active Polish jazz trumpeters of the younger generation, composer and music producer. Besides creating his own language of musical expression and expanding the sound palette of his instrument, he experiments with live electronics and electronic processing of the sound of trumpet. He creates and directs multimedia concerts and video productions.
The project Fortuna Plays Szymborska presented in Hong Kong uses archival audio and video recordings of Wisława Szymborska as well as original collages created by the poet. The melody of her voice reading her own works serves as a basis for jazz improvisation. The performance is complemented by projection of animations based on Szymborska's collages, synchronised with music and referring to the content of poems. Fortuna Plays Szymborska thus has the form of an interactive evening of poetry or a multimedia concert.
Maciej Fortuna Special Quartet is in turn the effect of Fortuna’s searching for new forms of expression in the area of European jazz. A double percussion section combined with electronics and video adds freshness and energy to the improvised music of the quartet.
Mariusz ‘Wilk’ Wilczyński is a painter, performer, director of animated films, music videos and short television forms. His works have distinctive original features, with recurring characters (e.g. a king, birds) and motifs (e.g. constant transformation of objects, some characters being eaten by others), to which Wilczyński refers in his subsequent projects, creating unmistakable style and atmosphere.
Uniqueness of Wilczyński’s achievements is evidenced by numerous exhibitions and presentations of his works at, among others, New York’s MoMA (solo retrospective, USA, 2007), London’s National Gallery (UK, 2007), Art Museum in Pretoria (South Africa, 2007), National Museum in Brasilia (Brazil, 2009) and at many recognized festivals (Berlin, Annecy, Paris, Chicago).
In 2014 Wilczyński received the Silver Medal for Merit to Culture – Gloria Artis awarded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Anna Maria Jopek is a vocalist, pianist and composer. She has created her own original sound, oscillating between jazz, pop, folk music and poetry.
She has worked with the world's greatest jazz musicians, including Pat Metheny, Bobby McFerrin, Branford Marsalis, Nigel Kennedy, Richard Bona, Youssu'n Dour, Ivan Lins, Oscar Castro-Neves, Makoto Ozone, Noa Gonzalo Rubalcaba and Sting.
Anna Maria Jopek has performed at Carnegie Hall, Hollywood Bowl, Royal Festival Hall, Opera Houses in Tokyo and Tel Aviv, Blue Note Tokyo, Tokyo Suntory Hall. She has worked at Peter Gabriel’s Real World studio, Abbey Road in London and Power Station in New York. In 2015, she was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta for promoting Polish art in the world.
Kroke is a trio performing music rooted in the klezmer tradition, enriched with Balkan, Indian, oriental, jazz and world music influences. The band's name comes from Yiddish and means 'Kraków'. It was in the clubs and cafes of Kazimierz, Kraków’s former Jewish district, where Tomasz Kukurba, Jerzy Bawoł and Tomasz Lato started making music together. The unique style they have developed has not only been noticed by the audience, but also appreciated by artists around the world. Steven Spielberg, delighted with Kroke’s concert, invited the band to Jerusalem to perform at Survivors Reunion ceremony. Thanks to Peter Gabriel, the band took part in WOMAD Festival in the UK. The piece The Secrets of The Life Tree performed by Kroke featured on the soundtrack of David Lynch’s film Inland Empire.
In recent years the trio has collaborated with British violinist Nigel Kennedy, Norwegian band Tindra, Mongolian vocalist Urna Chahar-Tugchi, Spanish violinist Diego Galaz, and appeared at the most prestigious music festivals around the world.
Sources: Organizers' materials, Culture.pl, edited by ZG, 13 Feb 2018, translated by AW, 20 Feb 2018
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