The 39th “Hajnówka” International Festival of Orthodox Church Music in Białystok was held on 17-20 September in the Filharmonia i Opera Podlaska concert hall. Eighteen choirs and ensembles, including eight from abroad, performed during the festival. Choirs from Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Latvia, Russia and Ukraine competed for the best places in three categories – parochial, amateur-lay and professional choirs. Because of the pandemic, the auditions for the competition were held not only in the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church in Hajnówka, but also online. Choirs from abroad took part in such auditions. The festival jury announced the winners during the Gala Concert dedicated to the memory of Krzysztof Penderecki on 20 September.
The Olsztyn “Bel Canto” choir directed by Prof. Jan Połowianiuk won the 1st festival prize of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage among the amateur-lay choirs. Prof. Jan Połowianiuk also received an individual conductor’s award. The majority of the choir members are students and graduates from the Faculty of Arts of UWM. The “Bel Canto” choir was established in 1996. The ensemble was founded and has been directed by Prof. Jan Połowianiuk. The choir sings typical choral music, from Mediaeval Gregorian chants through Renaissance motets and madrigals, vocal pieces written by eminent baroque, classical period and romantic composers, to contemporary pieces. These include both religious and lay music of Polish and foreign composers. They sing the majority of their repertoire a capella.
The Festival of Orthodox Church Music is the first event in the world where Orthodox Church music, from the beginning of Christianity to modern times is presented, with special emphasis placed on the music of Polish composers. It has been held since 1982 and it is one of the most prestigious music competitions in Poland. The zero category assigned to it by the Ministry of Culture makes it equal to the Chopin Piano Competition and the “Warsaw Autumn” International Festival of Contemporary Music. During the festival, Orthodox Church music is performed by choirs of different nationalities and religions, i.e. not only by the faithful of the Orthodox Church, but also Catholics, Greek Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and followers of Buddhism and Judaism. Over the 38 years, 895 choirs from 41 countries and five continents have performed at the festival.
The “Hajnówka 2020” International Festival of Orthodox Church Music in Białystok is organised by the “Muzyka Cerkiewna” Foundation. The festival is held under the patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland and the Minister of Culture of the Republic of Poland, under the artistic patronage of Prof. Krzysztof Penderecki and under the patronage of the Polish Composers Union.
prep. by syla, photo – the choir archive
Photo – Jan Połowianiuk (centre) among the festival laureates