Bring a lovey festival of traditional music home

Something else today as a new album of traditional music from the Lublin region is out, here’s what it offers.

The Jagiellonian Fair – re:tradition is an annual festival of traditional music and culture held in Lublin, Poland. This popular and well-received event takes place every August and introduces the broader public to musical and crafting traditions of Poland and Central-East Europe. The new album, “Open Session”, released on 1 February allows listeners to bring home a tiny part of the festival and bask in the warmth of an August evening even in the middle of winter.

The album’s title, “Open Session”, refers to what the Orchestra’s leaders call its founding dream, because the Jagiellonian Fair Orchestra is open to new sources of inspiration and people. This educational and artistic project associated with The Jagiellonian Fair – re:tradition is based on the belief that traditional music forms and connects the performers and the audiences who enjoy dancing to its tunes. It also popularises the local culture of the Lublin region. Since 2014, when the Orchestra first performed under its current name at The Jagiellonian Fair in Lublin, more than 50 people have participated. Over the years, a permanent line-up of the Orchestra has emerged and they continue to perform during the festival.

The album comes in a custom digi-sleeve designed by renowned graphic designer and artist Malgorzata “Ryba” Rybicka. The cover is beige with blue, brown, and black elements that artistically represent music. When we open it, we find atmospheric, black and white pictures of the musicians, taken by the photographer Roman Krawczenko. Left pocket contains the sleeve notes, right pocket contains the CD. The graphic design contributes to the overall feel of the album and brings it together as a whole.

As I listen to the album, I am reminded of the warm August days and nights. This album contains some of the Orchestra’s best-loved melodies from the Jagiellonian Fair dance parties. In my mind’s eye, I see people happily dancing to live traditional music during those evenings or swaying to its lively rhythms during the concerts on the festival’s main stage. Sadly, the reality of the pandemic forced the organisers to cancel dance parties for the time being, but the music on the album, the music we can now take home, recalls their warmth and makes you teary-eyed when you hear it.

According to the album’s sleeve notes, the repertoire of traditional musicians in the Lublin region, from which the Orchestra draws inspiration and which we hear, “has been influenced and enriched by people from many cultures and languages who left their musical mark as they passed through the land. The region became a meeting point of different religions, traditions and dialects, all of which found their expression in the various musical styles and scales, archaic singing, unique traditions, and delicate instrumental music. The beauty and timelessness of this musical culture are in attention to detail in the direct oral tradition, which does not rely on musical notation and leads the next generations to make music according to rules that are traditionally handed down, interpreted and adapted in the spirit of changing times, customs and needs of the people”.

As if it were summer on a cold winter day, the music is a breath of sunshine. While listening to the album, you will be transported to another time, culture, and place. The album is richly arranged and professionally mixed and mastered, and the sound is crisp and clear. Tubas, fiddles, trombones, trumpets, clarinets, and accordions blend together in an exciting, rhythmical, and heartfelt manner, making you want to dance and whirl with joy and unrestrained abandon. The Jagiellonian Fair Orchestra will also take you on a delightful, sentimental journey around the Lublin region with its polkas, obereks, ride tunes (podróżniaki), marches, waltzes, foxtrots and other melodies. This is a great album for someone who enjoys heartfelt music and is interested in cultures from around the world.

Give the album a spin, great fun is guaranteed.

Music performed by: Maciej Filipczuk (fiddle), Joanna Glińska (fiddle), Ewa Grochowska (fiddle, vocals), Tomasz Graczyk (double bass), Magdalena Jakubowska (clarinet, transverse flute), Jakub Korona (baraban), Cecylia Korona (fiddle), Marcin “Kabat” Kowalczuk (trombone), Kamil Królik (accordion, clarinet), Eliasz Kuśmierz (saxophone), Przemysław Łozowski (trumpet), Edyta Piekarczyk (tuba), Grażyna Pluta (transverse flute), Ewelina Prokopiuk (saxophone), Milena Siczek (fiddle), Julia Szafraniec (cello), Katarzyna Zedel (the Biłgoraj suka).

Recorded, mixed and mastered by: TONAKO Music Tomasz Kraśkiewicz

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