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John Butt to become the Director-Resident of the Misteria Paschalia Festival 2018!
Add date: Friday, 21 April 2017

 
Eight days of concert premières, powerful emotions, excellent audience and a charismatic Director-Resident, Vincent Dumestre – this year’s Misteria Paschalia Festival slowly becomes history. It was a great celebration of music, which received coverage from the European media and reaffirmed Krakow’s pre-eminence as the world’s centre of early music. After French sophistication, we invite the audience to cross the English Channel and find a mixture of melancholy and passion waiting on the other side. To our utmost delight, we now present the Director-Resident of the next edition. Ladies and Gentlemen, John Butt!

The common European heritage, European audience, lasting relations between the cultural centres of the old continent – the Misteria Paschalia Festival has undergone a spectacular metamorphosis. It aspires to show the most characteristic aspects of particular circles, but continues to present the unity of emotions. The first episode of this incredibly successful venture is already behind us.

“We are honoured and delighted by the perspective of working with this eminent conductor, acknowledged researcher of the legacy of bygone centuries and musicologist, as well as a consummate performer specialising in British and German music. The renditions of Handel’s and Bach’s works by the ensemble under his direction, Dunedin Consort, have become a point of reference for other artists. John Butt, coming from Edinburgh to take up the reins of the Festival, guarantees top quality performances and provides the emotional vibe which is the essence of experiencing music.” – says Robert Piaskowski, programme director of the Krakow Festival Office. “What’s in store for us next year? Zeal, drama, melancholy, and finally an explosion of joy. We will visit the British Isles and show the ties connecting them with the rest of Europe, we will showcase cultural trends that electrified the audience of the era, and finally we will reveal the unifying power of Handel’s music, the most famous British composer despite his German descent. This will be an opportunity to strike new alliances, launch cooperation with British institutions and present the United Kingdom in its widest context. We guarantee that this context will turn out – despite the intervening distance of many hundred miles – closer than it seems.”

John Butt can’t wait for the Festival either. “It’s a great privilege and joy to be involved so closely in Misteria Paschalia 2018 - a unique festival which is rapidly becoming one of the crown jewels of Europe’s cultural scene. (...) English music of the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, both for voices and for instruments, evokes an astonishing range of expression and spiritual emotion. As a culture with both Catholic and Protestant elements (of several types), this repertory shows a very marked range of contemplative functions and interpretations of a common Christianity. This will be complemented by the strong contribution of Polish music, which will bring its own diversity of music contemporary with the English, but also with works of much more recent composition. European composers of the high Baroque will provide the most inspiring synthesis of eighteenth century styles, geographically linking Britain with Poland across the whole of Europe: J.S. Bach, who was undoubtedly the greatest uniter of European styles in his age (and who, incidentally, worked for much of his life in an electoral Saxony that was intimately connected to Poland through its monarchy); G.F. Handel, the greatest dramatist of the age, who also absorbed so much of the spirituality of Catholic Rome and Protestant London, complementing his own Lutheran upbringing. He was the composer who brought Britain’s music towards the peak of early modern European culture.”

John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow and musical director of Edinburgh’s Dunedin Consort. As an undergraduate at Cambridge University, he held the office of organ scholar at King’s College. Continuing as a graduate student working on the music of Bach he received his PhD in 1987. He was subsequently a lecturer at the University of Aberdeen and a Fellow of Magdalene College Cambridge, joining the faculty at UC Berkeley in 1989 as University Organist and Professor of Music. In autumn 1997 he returned to Cambridge as a University Lecturer and Fellow of King’s College, and in October 2001 he took up his current post at Glasgow. His books have been published by Cambridge University Press: these include “Bach Interpretation” (1990), a handbook on Bach’s Mass in B Minor (1991), “Music Education and the Art of Performance in the German Baroque” (1994). “Playing with History” (2002) marked a new tack, examining the broad culture of historically informed performance and attempting to explain and justify it as a contemporary phenomenon. He is also editor or joint editor of both the “Cambridge and Oxford Companions to Bach” and of the “Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Music” (2005). His book on Bach’s Passions, “Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity”, was published in 2010, and explores the ways in which Bach’s Passion settings relate to some of the broader concepts of modernity, such as subjectivity and time consciousness.

John Butt’s conducting engagements with the Dunedin Consort (2003 –) have included major Baroque repertory and several new commissions. He has been guest conductor with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The English Concert, The Irish Baroque Orchestra, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, The Royal Academy of Music Bach Cantata series, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Portland Baroque Orchestra and the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra. John Butt also continues to be active as a solo organist and harpsichordist. Eleven recordings on organ, harpsichord and clavichord have been released by Harmonia Mundi. As conductor or organist he has performed throughout the world.

In 2003 John Butt was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and received the Dent Medal of the Royal Musical Association. That year his book, “Playing with History”, was shortlisted for the British Academy’s annual Book Prize. In 2006 he was elected Fellow of the British Academy and began a two-year Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship for his research on Bach’s Passions. He has recently served on the Council of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. In January 2011 he became the fifth recipient of the Royal Academy of Music/Kohn Foundation’s Bach Prize, for his work in the performance and scholarship of Bach. In 2013 John Butt was awarded the medal of the Royal College of Organists and the OBE for his services to music in Scotland.

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