Sanatorium Dźwięku is a festival dedicated to contemporary experimental music and broadly understood sound art. Its main objective is to present the widest possible spectrum of the phenomena related to the development of musical forms in the 20th and 21st c., maintaining the balance between the traditions of experimental music of the past few decades and the new, still structureless tendencies.
This year’s event takes place in co-operation with the European Capital of Culture Wroclaw 2016. As part of the Artist-in-Residence Programme A-i-R Wro, eight artist residencies were organized in Sokołowsko, during which artists produced projects to feature in the festival. The invited artists – Keith Rowe, Michael Pisaro, Valerio Tricoli, Mario de Vega, Alessandro Bosetti, Martin Howse, Olivia Block and Stephen Cornford – are among the world’s most prominent creators of music and sound art.
A-i-R Wro Programme is subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Poland.
The program of Sanatorium Dźwięku has been arranged in such a way that it develops in multiple layers, oscillating around a number of key ideas, including the search in the field of musical notation, the relation between composition and improvisation, the use of the potential of space and the perception of sound space. Festival activities include concerts, installations, lectures, panel discussions and presentations.
Whereas in 2015 Sanatorium Dźwięku was largely centered around improvised music, this edition’s focus will be shifted towards composition, but approached in an unorthodox way: the so-called „other traditions” of composition will be exposed, traditions that cannot be easily placed in the panorama of European academic music.
Among the events that touch upon this issue are concerts of the famous Swiss group Ensemble Phoenix, that specializes in performing unconventional contemporary music. This time they will perform pieces by Robert Piotrowicz, Kasper T.Toeplitz, Alex Buess and Antoine Chessex, artists that for years have been transgressing the borders between composition and improvisation, and the legacy of high modernist electronic music and countercultural noise.
On the other end there’s Michael Pisaro – American composer and one of the most important members of Wandelweiser, an international group responsible for the renaissance of the post-Cage tradition that has been going on in recent years (although mostly in the non-academic field, far from large concert halls and the system of composing commissions). His subtle pieces have certainly allowed to once again grasp and reevaluate great subjects of the 20th c. musical thought, such as the issue of silence, the perception of sound or the relationship between music and literature and visual arts (primarily on the grounds of notation).
Several of Pisaro’s canonical pieces will be performed in Sokołowsko, but he will also play a special concert together with Keith Rowe (one of the forerunners of electroacoustic improvisation and a founding member of the AMM group). The duo will perform a piece, over two hours long, inspired by the figure of Saint Bede. Since Pisaro and Rowe are currently working on a new record for Erstwhile Records, their performance can serve as a good illustration of the intersection of trajectories of development of the composed and improvised music.
Keith Rowe takes part in another project, Dry Mountain, which has been founded last year with Gerard Lebik, when the two musicians recorded their improvisations and created a score from the selected, several-minutes-long fragment. The composed piece will be interpreted by instrumentalists invited to perform it: Johnny Chang, Mike Majkowski, Bryan Eubanks, Xavier Lopez, Jonas Kocher, Gaudenz Bardutt, Emilio Gordoa and Piotr Damasiewicz, as well as visual artists (Bożenna Biskupska, Radek Szlaga, Alicja Bielawska, Daniel Koniusz), who will create further graphical scores to enable performances in various instrumental configurations. The project as a whole conforms to the broader tendency for experimentation in the fields of musical notation and the interference of different artistic disciplines.
Dry Mountain constitutes an element of a larger curatorial endeavor entitled The Fall of Recording (prepared by Michał Libera and Daniel Muzyczuk), which also includes concerts by Alessandro Bosetti and Valerio Tricoli, as well as special lectures prepared by the curators. In order to approach the history of phonography in transdisciplinary way (far outreaching the bounds of music as such), a number of concepts will be discussed – including those by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, Thomas W. Edison, Dziga Vertov, Glenn Gould and – most of all – Pierre Schaeffer. The intent of the project is to point to the methods that would allow to invoke the idea of recording beyond recording itself – of the ontology of new realism instead of the ontology of representation.
In order to use the potential of the space in Sokołowsko as fully as possible, festival activities will be spread to many locations, each different in terms of cubature, acoustic conditions and aura. This is particularly important for projects commissioned specifically for Sanatorium Dźwięku, whose aim is to undertake a dialogue with space – not only in the dimension of sound, but also in historical, psychosocial and ecological dimensions.
One such project will be Olivia Block’s Open Air installation that aims to emphasize the sensual character of the buildings of the old tuberculosis sanatorium. A different take on the subject of space is presented by Lucio Capece, whose Conditional Music project is heavily inspired by phenomenology, resulting in the use of resonance in specific rooms as a core element of the composition. In turn, Martin Howse’s Terra Muta and Stephen Cornford’s Migration put emphasis mainly on the relationship between nature and technology. In the first case this is achieved by invoking the concept of psychogeophysics, and in the second – by commenting on the processes of usage of consumer electronics in the context of environmental pollution.
An innovative aspect of this year’s edition is the greater number of solo concerts – smaller, more intimate, thus allowing the audience for a more thorough reception of the invited artists’ works. These concerts are meant to be presentations of new works and complete projects, but also characteristic statements, artistic manifestos. Among artists included in this block are Olivia Block, Lucia Capece, Kurt Liedwart, Anna Zaradny, Mario de Vega, Emilio Gordoa and Kasper Toeplitz.
Integral to the festival are educational activities that aim to promulgate knowledge of the culture of sound. This year’s special guest will be one of the most interesting critics of experimental music – Brian Olewnick (formerly associated with „The Wire”, currently an author of the Just outside blog). Together with Keith Rowe and Daniel Brożek, he will be reconstructing the rich history of the AMM group. Moreover, the program includes two presentations of new publications. The first one, miejsce, czas, (dźwięki), an anthology edited by Paweł Szroniak, is something of an introduction to the issues of Cage’s tradition of experimental music (such as the complex relationship between the sound, time and space, the modality of silence, or the non-standard systems of musical notation). The other one, Noise Traditions in Sound Art, is a book by Patryk Lichota, who comprehensively presented noise as a form of cultural practice, and put it in the context of contemporary sound art. Accompanying the publications will be discussions with Michael Pisaro, Johnny Chang, Marek Chołoniewski, Kasper Toeplitz and Kurt Liedwart, among others.