The Sixth Commandment by Elżbieta Sikora at SWR Experimentalstudio

Thou shalt not kill! A new work by Elżbieta Sikora at the Szczecin Philharmonic

The world premiere of The Sixth Commandment by Elżbieta Sikora, the outstanding composer and pioneer of electronic music, will take place on 27 March at the Szczecin Philharmonic. The piece will be juxtaposed with a masterpiece by Italian composer Luigi Nono. Both works are an expression of protest against political violence. They share a similar cast and Polish themes. Drawing from the past, they become a warning against current atrocities. 

The title of Elżbieta Sikora’s composition refers to the sixth commandment in the Talmudic tradition: “thou shalt not kill” and is dedicated to the victims of violence and injustice – much like the piece Quando stanno morendo. Diario Polacco no. 2 (1982) by Luigi Nono (1924-1990), written nearly forty years earlier.

In her new work, Elżbieta Sikora uses the words of witnesses of the crimes committed in the Nazi concentration camp Majdanek near Lublin and juxtaposes them with the poetry of Grzegorz Kwiatkowski and the Uighur dissident Ekhmetjan Osman, a member of one of today’s most persecuted ethnic groups.

The simple message of everyday violence from that time becomes a new warning against a new cruelty: in other latitudes human beings are still persecuted, women, men, children die before our eyes. And yet we know: Thou shalt not kill is a commandment that must not be forgotten – says Elżbieta Sikora.

Luigi Nono’s Second Polish Diary was written under the influence of the news that martial law had been imposed in Poland. Shocked by this news, the composer dedicated the piece to “Polish friends and comrades, who in exile, in the underground, in prisons, in their workplaces – persist in resistance; who keep hope, though there is none, who believe, though they are unbelievers”. In his composition, Nono used fragments of poems by Czesław Miłosz, Aleksandr Blok, Endry Adye, Wielemir Khlebnikov and Boris Pasternak to pose questions that, despite the passage of time, turn out to be surprisingly topical (“Mosca - chi sei?” – “Moscow, who are you?”).

Elżbieta Sikora’s The Sixth Commandment will be performed by the French vocal ensemble Les Métaboles, under the direction of Léo Warynski. Moreover, outstanding musicians Erik Drescher (flutes), Bartosz Koziak (cello) and Dominik Dołęga (percussion) have been invited to participate in the project. Nono will be joined by live electronics experts from the SWR Experimentalstudio in Freiburg. This studio, which is now celebrating its 50th anniversary, has produced works by Karlheinz Stockhausen, Pierre Boulez and Luigi Nono, among others.

The premiere of Elżbieta Sikora’s The Sixth Commandment and the premiere of the Sikora/Nono project will take place on 27 March 2022 in the Szczecin Philharmonic. The next concert is scheduled for November in Berlin at the Klangwerkstatt festival.

Elżbieta Sikora’s piece was commissioned by the vocal ensemble Les Métaboles and the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. It has been financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of Republic of Poland as part of the Multi-annual 2017-2022 Programme NIEPODLEGŁA 2017-2022 with the friendly support of the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation, SACEM, the Polish Institute in Paris and Centre National de la Musique. It will be published by PWM Edition. Sikora/Nono project has been created on the initiative of SONORA Music.

Concert programme:

Elżbieta Sikora – The Sixth Commandment for female voices, flute, cello and percussion (2021)
world premiere
Luigi Nono – Quando stanno morendo. Diario polacco No.2 for female voices, flute, cello and electronics (1982)


Les Métaboles – vocal ensemble
Erik Drescher – flutes
Bartosz Koziak – cello
Dominik Dołęga – percussion
SWR Experimentalstudio – electronics
Léo Warynski – conductor