The concert is the first such extensive monographical presentation of the songs of Polish Karaims’, showing this music in a vast cultural context.
The history of Karaims in Poland goes back over six hundred years. For centuries, Karaims functioned at the meeting point of cultures and alphabets, so they were the most common translators in the contacts of Polish kings with the Ottoman Empire. The Karaim language is related to Tatar or Turkish (coming from the Muslim cultural circle), while religion derives from Judaism (the liturgical language is Hebrew and the Holy Book is “Torah”). It’s an extremely interesting minority which, thanks to karaim’s passion for research, has kept their language, religion, songs and awareness of their own culture to this day.
Karaim music has cosmopolitan features. In addition to creating their own songs, Karaites often borrowed melodies from the countries where they had assimilated. Their music resounds with Polish, Russian, Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian melodies. This multi-colored potential of Karaims’ musical legacy is especially inspiring. Karolina Cicha in her work was based on unique source archival recordings made available by the Association of Polish Karaims.
Karaim music is a very important part of the centuries-old secular culture of the smallest minority in Poland. In search of sources and testimonies of musical practice among the Karaim community, one must refer to the history of the Crimea, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Vilnius Region and Poland in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today, the songs remain in the elusive memory of the oldest Karaims living in dispersal and in the few material testimonies – archival recordings preserved in Karaim private collections.
The material was created as part of an Artistic Grant from the budget of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage in Poland in cooperation with the Association of Polish Karaims and as part of the ‘Kultura w sieci’ program.