The Odra river is the lifeblood and backbone of Wrocław. The river stretches from the Baltic sea and snakes past the borders of Germany and Poland through Wrocław. On the banks of the Odra there are countless beautiful bridges, islands, parks, streets, municipal buildings. As the sun set during one of the longest days of summer, all of the riverside glistened like an ancient amulet.
The city of Wrocław, forth largest in Poland, was the setting for centuries of political, social and cultural upheaval. With seasons of growth, destruction and now growth again.
Happily for us on our visit, Wrocław is now a flourishing epicentre for art and culture in Europe. This year the city was named as the 2016 European Capital of Culture.
Each weekend, the banks of the River Odra is oscillating and shimmering with antics of all kinds. I got to witness one of the most dramatic manifestations of this celebratory year, a mind-blowing spectacle that was a whole year in the making.
“Flow”: The creation, destruction and reconstruction of Wrocław/Breslau told through light and classical music.
On Saturday the 12th of June, 2016 myself, the Polish Bear (and his sister) saw a blend of synchronised light, pyrotechnical, orchestral and maritime performance. This told the dramatic history of the city in all of its intense peaks and troughs.
Flow was an achievement of mammoth proportions. It involved 12 months of development and deployment. Hundreds of professional staff and artists brought it all together on the night.
Tens of thousands of people either stood on banks or perched on the beams of the low bridges to gain a better outlook.
The dramaturgical impetus was written by Chris Baldwin (director) and supported by Alan Urbanek (musical director). The performance involved young and remarkable composers who from the diaspora of people who originally came from the city.
Composer Pawel Romanchuk (Poland) worked along with Amir Shlip (Germany) Udi Perlman (Israel), Jiří Kabát (Czech Republic) and Adam Porębski (Wroclaw, Poland) on each of the four movements.
Each movement told the complex and dramatic part of the history of the city, from the eyes and ears of a particular composer. Each movement was accompanied by video, light and laser projections onto buildings in the heart of the city.
You can watch the whole performance here. I watched it on a large projected screen but then battled my way through the crowds to get to the banks of the river, in order to see the dramatic conclusion with my own eyes.
It was just as incredible and mind-blowing as it looks from the video. It was certainly one of the most spectacular parts of our adventure in Poland.
The Polish Bear was astonished at how much his country has come along since they joined the EU a decade or so ago. He hasn’t spent much time there until now, so he was pleasantly surprised. Wrocław is one of the most beautiful cities in Poland and it’s culture and economy is booming as well. Both of us were so impressed by it, we are tossing up whether or not to move there. Here it is on a Monday night, not so busy but still as pretty. Hope you enjoy the performance, let me know your thoughts.