Andrzej Bienkowski, a professor at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, traversed Poland for 30 years to document and record its village music. Eventually he started a salon out of his Warsaw apartment that became a musical hub for a younger generation of musicians.
It was there that the Prusinowski Trio, which will be a five-piece at the Folk Festival, were inspired to learn the traditional, string-based music of central Poland. They wound up traveling into the villages to study directly from the source.
Being young musicians, they bring their own improvisatory sensibilities to the music — they've added trumpet and clarinet — while keeping the essence of the traditional feel. One of their primary styles is the mazurka, which as it's played in central Poland has some odd triple-beat time signatures that can stretch out and feel like waves surging.
"Its pulsation can include two or four beats as well as five or seven," vocalist Janusz Prusinowski, who plays fiddle, dulcimer and Polish accordion for the group, says through its manager. "Accents can shift — not because of an artist's fancy, but resulting from the dancers' steps; they may twist and turn, undermining the logic of the tune, putting it in a new, unexpected light."
The group made quite a splash at the 2012 World Music Festival in Greece, and will be traveling from San Diego the day before the Richmond Folk Fest. Expect a show that involves a lot of audience participation.
Saturday: 2-3 p.m., Band in a Box: Accordion Traditions (just Janusz Prusinowski), Union First Market Bank/University of Richmond stage; 5-5:45, Community Foundation Stage.
Sunday: Noon-1 p.m., Dominion Dance Pavilion; 4-4:45, Altria Stage.