|Polish Music Newsletter|
SUSAN SVRCEK –CONTEMPORARY POLISH MUSIC CHAMPION
Two important performances featuring piano music by Polish composers were presented recently in the Los Angeles area. The first took place on March 17 at the Zipper Concert Hall on the campus of the Colburn School of Music. The second concert was held at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall on the USC campus on March 28.
The common denominator for these two events was provided by Susan Svrček, a local pianist who throughout her career has specialized in performing modern music. She is one of the founding members of Piano Spheres, a gifted group of Southern California musicians who exclusively program contemporary music, now enjoying its fifteenth season.
The first half of Ms. Svrček’s Zipper Hall program was devoted to piano compositions by Tom Flaherty, Jeffrey Holmes, and Virko Baley. Flaherty’s opening Nightstars (1996) was the longest and most amorphous of the three piano essays, with moments of arresting beauty interspersed by episodes of creative wasteland. It was followed by Cyan by Jeffrey Holmes, a work composed in 2007 especially for Ms. Svrček. According to notes provided by the composer, Cyan is meant to convey “a general feeling of the coldness of winter, the motions of water, the darkness of the night, and nihilism that I see and feel everywhere.” Such diverse phenomena certainly add up to an ambitious agenda, perhaps more appropriate for a large-scale symphonic work. The first half of the program closed with Virko Baley’s Nocturnal No. 2, “Tears” originally dating from 1960 but revised in 1998, and a more recent Pajarillo (2001). The Nocturnal’s poetic opening and its tighter formal layout provided some framework for the composer’s ideas, whilst the post-modern Pajarillo beguiled the listener with its flamenco-inspired rhythms and its tongue-in-cheek humor.
After the intermission, the charmingly familiar suite, Melodie ludowe [Folk Melodies] by Lutosławski brought the audience back in time to the mid 1940s, when Polish composers were forced to inventively use folk idioms in order to keep the communist censors and cultural czars at bay. Lutosławski’s language here is delicate and discriminating with finely-wrought harmonies, and just as sophisticated as it would be two decades later, when Lutosławski could compose without any formal diktats. The concert closed on a strong and effective counterpart to Lutosławski, a 2003 composition by Krzesimir Dębski, entitled Organismi. With it, Dębski, a prolific composer of concert, stage and film music, provided a welcome surprise for the Zipper Hall audience. Organismi is a compositional tour de force—both as a brilliant piano piece and as an efficient use of a very traditional formal design. Listening to the well-structured motivic development, one had a sense of hearing a modern-day Chaconne, with all its power, sweep, and irrefutable consequence of every musical gesture. The work received its American premiere that evening, and it certainly should surface on concert programs again.
Pictured above: Krzesimir Dębski and Susan Svrček greet a fan at Zipper Hall
Throughout the evening, Susan Svrček successfully coaxed beautifully nuanced and colorful textures from the Colburn Steinway. In addition to her discriminating touch, Ms. Svrček’s search for understanding within complex modern works and her desire to permeate her interpretations with personal engagement proved a big bonus for the listener.
These very qualities were once again evident in Ms. Svrček’s appearance at the Spring Concert organized by the Polish Music Center at USC on March 28. The program was devoted exclusively to works by Grażyna Bacewicz, in celebration of the centenary of her birth and the fortieth anniversary of her passing. Bacewicz’s towering Second Piano Sonata stood at the center of the program that also included her String Quartet no. 4 and Quintet for Winds. The Sonata is a complex and challenging piece with three substantial movements, demanding considerable pianistic prowess from the performer. The work was premiered in 1953 by the composer, who is chiefly remembered these days as a virtuoso violinist and a prolific composer, not as a concert pianist. Susan Svrcek’s ability to shape the music’s narrative thread and bring its rousing content to the audience was much appreciated on both occasions of her recent appearances at Zipper and Newman concert halls alike.
PMC CONCERT REVIEW
During the Bacewicz Centenary Concert on Saturday, March 28, the Polish Music Center at USC’s Thornton School of Music celebrated two women who have left their marks on Polish music in different but significant ways. Honoring the 100th anniversary of the birth of Grażyna Bacewicz and the recent passing of PMC Founder Wanda Wilk, the concert at Newman Recital Hall was a fitting tribute to both of these extraordinary women.
After a brief introduction by PMC Director Marek Zebrowski, Diane Wilk-Burch offered a touching remembrance of her mother, who was certainly "smiling down at everybody who is here at the concert." As Ms. Wilk-Burch read a page from her mother’s voluminous notes and reflections, her words showcased the late Mrs. Wilk's deep love of music as well as her great appreciation for musical humor.
As one of the most celebrated female Polish composers, and one of the most prolific, Bacewicz's works offer virtuosic challenges to the performer yet remain instantly accessible and enjoyable by any audience. Such was the case with this all-Bacewicz program, which featured selections that demonstrated the composer's range of musical expression and her facility with multiple forms and ensembles. The Luther Quartet opened the afternoon with an impressive performance of the String Quartet No. 4, a composition that won Bacewicz the First Prize at the International Composers Competition in 1951. This piece features a remarkable range of emotion, and the performers deftly brought this to life to the delight of the audience.
Above: Cosima and Chris Luther of the Luther Quartet in Newman Hall
The second composition on the program, Sonata No. 2 for piano, is an example of the composer pushing the performer technically as well as emotionally, and challenging the audience with more dense and complex tones. Susan Svrček gave a lively performance, clearly taking delight in the energy and richness of the material.
The afternoon concluded with a performance of an earlier work, the Quintet for Winds. Bacewicz was only 24 years old when she composed this piece, and it maintains a youthful playfulness while demonstrating her emerging talent for composition. The performance by Midnight Winds was a rousing finale to the afternoon. Taken as a whole, this celebratory concert demonstrated both the enduring qualities of Grażyna Bacewicz's music and the lasting effect of Wanda Wilk’s mission to preserve and promote the work of Polish composers.
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A TOAST TO PADEREWSKI
Proceeds of the event will benefit the Paderewski Festival Exchange Program with Poland. Selected finalists from the 2007 and 2008 Paderewski Youth Piano Competition in Paso Robles will participate in piano workshops and master classes held at Paderewski’s manor house in Kąśna Dolna, near Tarnów, Poland, in June of 2009. Together with young pianists from Poland, the California youth will also perform in concerts at the manor house and at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. The cities of Paso Robles and Tarnów signed a sister city agreement in November 2008 to explore cultural and business opportunities.
The event celebrates the opening of the Pear Valley Winery and will include a VIP tasting of wines from 20 Back Roads Wineries of Paso Robles complemented by Polish-themed appetizers provided by Cass Catering. A live auction of premium wine and tour packages will follow the concert.
Polish appetizers created by Cass Winery Chef Jacob will include Waffled Potato Crisps with a Smoked Herring Mousse, Gołąbki [Stuffed Cabbage Leaves] with a Modern Twist, Kiełbasa w koszulkach [Polish Sausage in Puff Pastry] served with Whole Grain Mustard, Barszcz [Polish Beet Soup], Bacon-Wrapped Prunes, and Pierogi [Polish Dumplings].
Back Roads Wineries is a consortium of 20 boutique vineyards located between Paso Robles and Creston, specializing in creating unique, handcrafted, limited edition wines. More information about Back Roads Wineries is available at: www.backroadswineries.com.
The Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles is a non-profit organization that sponsors annual series of concerts, featuring internationally acclaimed artists, the Paderewski Youth Piano Competition, and other Paderewski-themed events. The 2009 Paderewski Festival will be held in a number of venues in Paso Robles and vicinity from November 12-15. Concerts of solo piano and chamber music, exhibit of Paderewski’s memorabilia, film screening and lectures are planned. Winners of the Paderewski Youth Competition will be presented in a free and open to the public concert that will be followed by the Festival Gala Concert on Saturday, November 14th. Both events will be held at the historic Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn.
Toast to Paderewski - Event Details:
For questions or additional information please contact:
ZIMERMAN IN L.A.
World-renowned Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman, who won the Chopin Competition in Warsaw at 19 years old in 1975, will give a rare performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 26th at 7:30pm. The evening’s program will include: Bach - Partita No. 2 in C minor, BWV 826; Beethoven - Sonata No. 32 in C minor, Op. 111; Brahms - Klavierstücke, Op. 119; and Szymanowski - Variations on a Polish Theme, Op. 10. This solo recital presented by the Los Angeles Philharmonic is a part of the Colburn Celebrity Series.
Zimerman will also perform the same program in:
FESTIVAL OF PREMIERES
The 3rd edition of the “Festival of Premieres – Poland’s Newest Music” took place in Katowice between March 27 and 29. The festival, organized and hosted by the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR), featured solely Polish contemporary music, with many of the works receiving their World premieres or Polish premieres. The festival accepts only works written after 2002, to preserve the “newest music” formula.
In addition to introucing rarely programmed music, another aspect of the Festival's intention is to bring together mutliple generations of the best compsers in Poland. The featured composers this year included: Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, Weronika Ratusińska, Piotr Moss, Włodzimierz Kotoński, Krzysztof Herdzin, Krzysztof Meyer, Zygmunt Krauze, Wojciech Blecharz, and Jan Krenz, among others. The compositions were performed by some of the best Polish musicians: Rafał Kwiatkowski (cello), Jadwiga Kotnowska (flute), AUKSO orchestra, Marek Moś (conductor), NOSPR, the Silesian Quartet, Tomasz Strahl (cello), and many others.
For more about the festival and a full list of works performed, please visit the official website of NOSPR: www.nospr.org.pl.
POLSKA! YEAR IN UK
The “Polska! Year” in Great Britain, organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in co-operation with the Polish Ministries of Culture and the National Heritage and of Foreign Affairs, will officially open in May 2009 and will continue until May 2010. However, the musical part of the Polska! Year, which already began in March, will continue in April with Rafał Blechacz’s recital in London, performances by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Sounds New Festival and ‘Polish Music Since 1945’ conference, among others. See more details on each event below. For all full listing of all events of the Polska! Year, visit www.polskayear.pl
The objective of the Polish Year in the UK is to present Polish contemporary culture and heritage in one of Europe’s most influential, opinion-forming and affluent European countries. The presentation is also relevant in the context of Poland’s membership in NATO and the European Union, as well as the opening of the British labor market which resulted in a wave of Poles looking for work in the UK.
Michael Nyman + Motion Trio: Films To Write Music To
During the Kinoteka Film Festival, London’s Polish film festival, British film composer Michael Nyman and Polish accordion ensemble Motion Trio will collaborate on a concert of some of Nyman’s most acclaimed soundtracks plus new premieres.
The evening begins with Nyman and the Motion Trio (pictured at left) revisiting some of his most celebrated scores for Peter Greenaway’s films, including The Draughtsman’s Contract (1982), Drowning by Numbers (1988) and Prospero’s Books (1991), followed by the world premiere of a new version of his piece MGV (Musique à Grande Vitesse). The phenomenal technique, imagination and avant-garde approach of the Motion Trio adds a totally new aural dimension to these classic Nyman scores.
The climax to the evening is the World Premiere of Nyman’s latest musical work, a personal celebration of classic Polish cinema. Nyman has composed his new work to a montage of extracts from the Polish films which have inspired him, featuring many remarkable and visually stunning images from great Polish filmmakers such as Andrzej Wajda, Andrzej Żuławski, Krzysztof Kieślowski and Andrzej Munk.
Royal String Quartet concert
The Royal String Quartet established in 1998 by graduates of the Warsaw’s Frederick Chopin’s Music Academy is one of the most interesting ensembles of such kind in the world. The concert is organized by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and will take place in the prestigious St George’s Hall. The programme includes Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet No. 1 in C-major op. 37.
Rafał Blechacz at Wigmore Hall
Polish pianist Rafał Blechacz will perform a solo recital at London’s Wigmore Hall on April 22nd. The first Polish pianist since Krystian Zimerman to win the Chopin Competition (in 2005), Rafał Blechacz is one of the most exciting pianists of his generation. In this concert he presents a program of music for which he has earned not only international acclaim but also an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon. Program: Bach - Italian Concerto in F, BWV 971; Mozart - Piano Sonata in B flat, K. 570; Szymanowski - Variations in B flat minor, Op. 3; and Chopin - Ballade No. 3 in A flat Op. 47, Nocturne in B Op. 62 No. 1, Nocturne in E Op. 62 No. 2, 4 Mazurkas Op. 17, and Polonaise in A flat Op. 53 'Heroic.'
Andrzej Bauer's Recital (cello), Cellotronicum Project
Andrzej Bauer is an extraordinary figure on the Polish music scene –a soloist, composer, pedagogue, artist experimenting with new media, laureate of the ARD International Music Competition in Munich in 1992, a Witold Lutosławski fellowship holder... The artist’s repertoire includes pieces from Baroque to contemporary times, many of which have been written especially for him. Cellotronicum is the composer’s project to inspire and perform music written for the solo cello and electronic media, thus expanding the Polish repertoire for these instruments.
The Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) and their conductor Jacek Kaspszyk join violinist Tasmin Little for a special concert celebrating the 3rd May Constitution Day and the inauguration of Polska!Year. The program will include Andrzej Panufnik’s Heroic Overture and Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, as well as Karłowicz’s entrancing Concerto (2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth). The evening’s soloist, Tasmin Little, was one of the first violinists outside of Poland to appreciate Karłowicz’s Concerto, including it in her repertoire as far back as the early 1990s.
Sounds New Festival
As a part of the Polska! Year celebrations, the motto of this year’s Sounds New Contemporary Music Festival is “Polish Connections.” Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki is the honorary guest, and the Festival will culminate in a performance of Penderecki’s St Luke Passion in Canterbury Cathedral on May 2, as performed by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR), a Polish choir and soloists, and conducted by the composer himself. In addition to Penderecki, the festival will feature works by Grażyna Bacewicz, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Witold Lutosławski, Paweł Mykietyn, Andrzej Panufnik, Karol Szymanowski and Paweł Szymański. In addition to outstanding British performers there will be a plethora of Polish artists including: Olga Pasiecznik (soprano), Maciej Grzybowski (piano), Silesian Quartet, “Camerata Silesia,” Warsaw Boys Choir, NOSPR and Motion Trio. In addition to classical concerts the festival will feature movie screenings and jazz concerts.
Polish Music Since 1945
The Music Department of Canterbury Christ Church University will hold a conference on the subject of “Polish Music Since 1945.” The conference is organized by Dr Eva Mantzourani in association with the Sounds New Music Festival and the Institute of Musical Research (IMR), and supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute of the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The conference opening address will be delivered by Professor Charles Bodman Rae (University of Adelaide) and the key-note address will be delivered by Professor Adrian Thomas (Cardiff University). Topics for discussion will include: compositional practice of Polish composers, such as Penderecki, Górecki, Lutosławski and Panufnik, among many others; Polish film music; Jazz, popular and ‘world’ music in Poland; Music, politics and identity in the Soviet and post-Soviet eras; the global influence of Polish music; and more.
WWII-RELATED PREMIERES IN KRAKÓW
On April 19 and 20 in the Kraków Opera there will be two premieres of works directly connected to the tragedy of the Holocaust. The first piece, Der Kaiser von Atlantis [Emperor of Atlantis], is an opera written in 1944 in the Terezina camp by Viktor Ullman, who eventually was killed in the Auschwitz camp. The second is an oratorio by contemporary American-Jewish composer, David Eddleman—Kolot min HaShoah [Voices of the Holocaust].
Ullman wrote his opera to the text of his Terezina camp-mate, Peter Kien. Terezina was a “transit” camp, which served as a holding point for the other Nazi death camps. It served as a propaganda tool for the regime by allowing considerable artistic freedom, including concerts, plays and other artistic activities. The rehearsals for the opera had even started in the camp, but before it was staged, Ullman and Kien were transferred to Auschwitz and killed in the gas chamber.
Eddleman’s oratorio is based on religious texts sung in Hebrew and Yiddish. The work also contains sections referring to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. It was premiered in New York in 1995. The composer will be present in Kraków for the Polish premiere of his work.
FINALLY, A HOME FOR SINFONIA VARSOVIA
According to the news service of Polskie Radio:
Legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin arrived for concerts in Poland as a soloist and conductor in April 1984 year on the invitation of the Polish Chamber Orchestra functioning already for some time. To meet the planned repertoire’s needs the orchestra enlarged its composition by inviting distinguished musicians from around the country. With initial concerts of the ensemble conducted by Yehudi Menuhin meeting with an enthusiastic applause of the audience and critics’ appreciation, delighted Lord Yehudi Menuhin expressed his desire to continue cooperation with the new formation. The idea of creation a standing orchestra made of stringed instruments and doubled wind instruments had become a fact. Yehudi Menuhin without any hesitation accepted proposal of the Ensemble Director Franciszek Wybrańczyk and took up duties of the first visiting conductor and the orchestra was named SINFONIA VARSOVIA.
KACZMAREK HONORS IRENA SENDLER
Oscar-winner Jan A.P. Kaczmarek has recently been in Poland for the recording of his music for the new American film The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler [a.k.a. Miss Irena’s Children] with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Katowice. This movie will premiere on CBS Television on April 19th. Watch a behind-the-scenes preview here: www.cbs.com The news service of Polskie Radio provides the following details below:
WROCŁAW OPERA IN TROUBLE
In evidence of the strong impact the international economic crisis is having on cultural institutions, the Wrocław Opera, one of Poland’s first victims, is facing money shortages in the amount of 2 million PLN (ca $600,000 USD). As a result, the company will have to postpone their planned productions of Amilcare Ponchielli’s Gioconda and Modest Mussorgsky’s Boris Godunov. Additionally the company will have to lay off 30 employees, including singers, dancers and musicians, to save it from total collapse.
Read an interview with Elżbieta Penderecka, originator and Director General of The Ludwig von Beethoven Easter Festival, entitled “A unique undertaking...” This interview was conducted by Maciek Proliński and discusses the festival’s role in the musical life of Warsaw, the highlights this year and how the global economic crisis might affect the festival in the future. Read the entire article here: www.polishmarket.com.pl. Read more about the Festival in the Festivals section.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: CHOPIN IN POETRY
A new anthology of original, contemporary poetry—entitled Chopin in Poetry—is being compiled by editor Maja Trochimczyk. The book will be released in March 2010 to honor the 200th Anniversary of Chopin’s Birth. Details for submission and publication are below:
SKOWRONSKI ON SZYMANOWSKI
In the April 2009 issue of Strings Magazine, violinist Vincent P. Skowronski contributes his expertise to another "Masterclass." An important and valuable tribute to the music of Szymanowski, this article is entitled "Master Class: Myth Buster - Learn to Scale Szymanowski’s Suite from the ‘Dance of the Mountaineers’ " and tackles some of the most challenging aspects of playing Szymanowski's music for violin.
An excerpt from the artice:
Read the entire article on the artist's website: www.skowronskiplays.com.
ADA SARI COMPETITION
70 singers from 14 countries have signed up for the 13th International Ada Sari Vocal Competition in Nowy Sącz, Poland. The competition and festival will take place between April18 and 25. Since the first edition of the competition, it has been judged by an international jury chaired by Helena Łazarska, a professor of Salzburg Mozarteum and Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna and also the creator of the competition.
The Ada Sari Competition is one of the most prestigious and most competitive vocal competitions in Europe. Participants must have not only great vocal technique, but also performance repertoire in a wide variety of styles and genres.
Concurrent with the competition, the 15th edition of the Ada Sari Festival will be held. The Festival will feature seven opera performances, including Victor Ullman’s Emperor of the Atlantis (see more information about this opera in the News Section above) and an outdoor staging of Moniuszko’s Halka. Also performing at the Festival will be opera ensembles from Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany.
The festival and competition are partially funded by the European Union. To find out more, please visit www.adasari.pl.
CHOPIN COMPETITION ANNIVERSARY CONCERT
The Kosciuszko Foundation will present a Gala Concert on Sunday, April 5, at 8:30 P.M., in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall. The concert will mark the 60th anniversary of the Foundation's Chopin Piano Competition, and will feature eight Laureates—from the most recent winner to Roy Eaton, who won the very first Competition. The evening’s program will highlight the music of Chopin. Performers include Jonathan Floril, Igor Lovchinsky, Magdalena Baczewska, Yael Weiss, Andrew Armstrong, Joel Fan, Daniel Epstein, and Roy Eaton.
The Chopin Piano Competition was inaugurated on October 17, 1949, by the great Polish pianist Witold Malcuzynski, who performed a candlelight recital in the Foundation House on the centennial of Chopin's death. Held annually, Competition Laureates include some of the greatest performers of the century, including Van Cliburn, Murray Perahia, Daniel Pollack, Ian Hobson, and Joel Fan. The great majority have gone on to successful performing and teaching careers.
GACH RETURNS TO CHOPIN
Pianist Peter Gach, Palomar College’s Artist-in-Residence, will present a recital of music by his favorite composer, Frederic Chopin. The program, entitled “Return to Chopin,” will include the powerful 4th Ballade, the Berceuse Lullaby, and a lively collection of Mazurkas.
Because of his Polish heritage, Peter Gach feels a special affinity for Chopin as well as 20th century composers like Karol Szymanowski. He holds a degree in Slavic languages, which enabled him to study at the same conservatory that Chopin attended, the Warsaw Conservatory in Poland. Fluent in Polish, he frequently returns there to perform.
LY PERFORMS CHOPIN
On April 10th at 7:00 pm, child prodigy Olivia Ly will present a solo recital of Chopin’s music at the Strathmore Mansion in North Bethesda, MD. The extensive program, dedicated to the memory of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), will include his Sonata, Op. 35 no. 2; 12 Etudes, Op. 10; 12 Etudes, Op. 25; and Trois nouvelles Etudes.
Olivia Ly, 12 years old, began her piano study from age 3 at the European Academy of Music and Art (EAMA), Inc, Maryland, under the tutelage of Dr. Bella E. Oster, Professor of piano performance and theory of music with Professor Roberto Perez. This young pianist has performed along with a group of Dr. Oster’s students at many prestigious stages in the United States and abroad. She performed a large number of concerts at embassies in Washington, DC, twice at the United Nations, twice at the White House, the State Department, the U.S. Capitol, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, NY, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln Center, Strathmore, International and National Congresses, Forums and Conventions, universities such as Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown and many other universities and colleges, and other venues. With a group of Dr. Oster’s students, Olivia has been profiled on international and national television programs, magazines, newspapers, and has been recorded on many educational CDs.
In 4 consecutive years 2004-2008, Olivia was Winner of International Contest from the International Association for Musically Gifted Children, Inc. (IAMGC, Inc.), and received gold medals for best performances with pieces by Franz Liszt and Felix Mendelssohn. In the years 2002-2003, she earned gold medals for best program presentations with various composers from the Music Teachers Associations International, Inc (MTAI). For 9 years of studying music, she has held the position of the International Honor student from MTAI and IAMGC, Inc. In 2001, at age 4, Olivia won first place in the 21st Bartók-Kabalevsky-Prokofiev International Piano Competition. In 2001, Olivia received first place in the “Concours International De La Musique.” Olivia is the youngest ever to win the first place in the history of these competitions. She also has been awarded with many top prizes (gold medals and first places) from national and state competitions.
OPERAS IN POLISH CINEMAS
Audiences in six major Polish cities will have the chance to view performances from the Royal Opera House Covent Garden without leaving the country. The Cinemaestro Project will present performances of the Royal Opera, recorded live, on the big screens of Polish mulitplexes in Warsaw, Łódź, Kraków, Poznań, Bydgoszcz and Gdańsk. The honorary patron of this operatic-cinematic project is Polish musicologist and specialist in the field of opera and operetta, Bogusław Kaczyński.
The shows will take place between March 26 and June 26 and will present three operas: Bizet’s Carmen, Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro and Don Giovanni, and two ballets: Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty.
KILAR HONORED BY VATICAN
Wojciech Kilar, Polish composer and 2008 Paderewski Lecturer, has received the “Per Artem ad Deum Medal” from the Pontifical Council for Culture. The award will be presented on June 8th during the Sacroexpo Fair in Kielce. During this gala event, the Kielce Symphony Orchestra will perform two of Kilar’s most famous works for orchestra: Krzesany and Koscielec 1909. The ceremony will be attended by Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, Head of the Council.
POLISH FILM ACADEMY AWARDS
And the recipient of the Eagle 2009 in the category of original soundtrack is… Paweł Mykietyn, for 33 scenes from life. The movie itself was also chosen as the best picture of 2009. One of the main characters in the movie is a composer, preparing for a premiere of his new work, which gave Mykietyn a chance to include his own contemporary work in a film. The movie includes fragments of Mykietyn’s Symphony No. 2.
PUBLIC MEDIA AWARD
The 2nd edition of the Opus and Cogito Public Media Awards is about to get under way. Candidates may still be entered until April 10, at which point the board will begin the review process.
These awards were established in 2008 in the categories of music (Opus) and literature (Cogito), to honor the new, original works of great artistic level, written during the previous year. Works may be recommended by publishers, cultural institutions, industry press editors, libraries, and festivals. Recommendations should be sent to Polish Television headquarters or entered online at www.nagrody-mediow-publicznych.pl
Last year’s recipients include Małgorzata Szejnert (Cogito) for her book Czarny ogród [Black garden] and Paweł Mykietyn (Opus) for his Symphony No. 2.
BBC PICK OF THE MONTH FOR WIT
The recording of Karol Szymanowski’s ballet music has received the “This Month’s Choice” honor in the orchestral category from the April issue of BBC Music Magazine. The CD was recorded by the National Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir under the baton of maestro Antoni Wit, with soloists Wiesław Ochman, Alexander Pinderak and Ewa Maricniec. The album was released on Naxos records in February 2009 and is the fourth in the series of the complete orchestral recordings of Szymanowski project undertaken by Wit.
According to the Naxos website, “Multiple prize-winner and Grammy award nominee for several of his Naxos recordings, Antoni Wit is one of today’s most highly regarded Polish conductors, an ideal interpreter of the exotic, colourfully scored music of Karol Szymanowski, described by Sir Simon Rattle as ‘one of the greatest composers of this century.’ The ballet-pantomime Harnasie and the incidental music for Prince Potemkin both draw on the folk-music of the people of the Tatra Mountains, while the ballet Mandragora was composed for a production of Molière’s comedy Le bourgeois gentilhomme.”
Szymanowski: Harnasie/Mandragora/Prince Potemkin
KOSCIUSZKO FDN PIANO COMPETITION
Lee Ko-Eun, a student of Jerome Lowenthal at the Juilliard School and a native of South Korea, won the $5,000 First Prize in the Kosciuszko Foundation’s 2009 Chopin Piano Competition. Ms. Lee, a 22-year old Master’s candidate, also won the $500 Jan Gorbaty Memorial Prize for the best performance of a work by Chopin. The Competition was held on Friday, April 3, at the Kosciuszko Foundation's headquarters in New York City.
Second Prize of $2,500 was awarded to Yang Song, a 17-year-old student of Philip Kawin at the Manhattan School of Music and a native of Beijing, China. Third Prize of $1,500 was awarded to Victoria Chan, a 20-year-old student at Columbia University, where she is studying sociology and is in the pre-med program. She studies privately with Miyoko Lotto, of New York City, and Michael Skell, of Columbia University.
Lee Ko-Eun and David Dubal
David Dubal, well-known pianist, author, lecturer and broadcaster, headed the jury. Mr. Dubal is on the faculties of both the Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music. The other jurors were Mirian Conti, of the Juilliard School; Philip Kawin, of the Manhattan School of Music, and Polish-born pianist Roman Markowicz.
THE KOSCIUSZKO FOUNDATION, founded in 1925, is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural relations between the United States and Poland, and to increasing American awareness of Polish culture and history. In addition to its grants and scholarships, which total more than $1 million annually, the Foundation presents a variety of cultural programs including lectures, concerts, and exhibitions, which explore and reflect its mission of promoting Polish culture in the United States, and nurturing the spirit of multicultural cooperation.
The board of the Witold Lutosławski Society in Warsaw has awarded the Witold Lutosławski Scholarship to Łucja Szablewska. She will use the $10,000 scholarship to fund her studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
TELEMANN VIOLIN COMPETITION
Polish violinist, Celina Kotz, has won First Prize at the 6th International Georg Phillip Telemann Violin Competition in Poznań. She has also received a prize for the best performance of Telemann’s Fantasy. Second prize went to Maria Ten from Russia, third ex-aequo to Amelia Maszońska and Patrycja Mynarska, and fourth ex-aequo to Mateusz Gidaszewski and Wiktor Modrzejewski. The award for the greatest individuality of the competition went to Chanelle Bednarczyk.
The competition attracted 58 young violinists from Poland, Russia, Czech Republic, Hungary and Germany. It was organized under the patronage of the Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski. To find out more about the competition, please visit telemann.art.pl.
TVP KULTURA AWARDS
The nominees for the “Cultural Guarantee Awards” given by the Cultural station of Telewizja Polska (TVP Kultura) have been announced. The awards are given to the most interesting artistic personalities of the year. The awards are given in categories such as literature, film, theater, alternative and visual arts, classical music, and jazz/rock music. Nominees in the music categories are:
The awards will be given during a ceremony in the Kubicki Arcades at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on April 17. To find out more, please visit the official website of TVP Kultura.
YOUTUBE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
The audition process for the international YouTube Symphony Orchestra has ended. The 2-round review of entries consisted of the first screening by esteemed members of the New York Philharmonic, London Symphony and Berliner Philharmoniker. During the second round, YouTube viewers had their vote and narrowed the 200 selected by the professionals to 90 musicians who will participate in the performance of Tan Dun’s Internet Symphony in the Carnegie Hall in New York. Among the chosen members of the orchestra is one Polish musician, Paweł Czarny from Mielec, a violist.
The concert will take place on April 15 at 7:30pm on the Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage of Carnegie Hall in New York. For more details and to purchase tickets, visit www.carnegiehall.org.
SHANGHAI QTET ROCKS PENDERECKI
The Shanghai Quartet has been taking its U.S. premiere performance of Penderecki’s String Quartet No. 3 “Leaves for an Unwritten Diary” around to several American universities in February and March. See the Quartet’s website, www.shanghaiquartet.com, for more concert details. Below is an excerpt of a review by Will Cordeiro in the Cornell Daily Sun:
Read the entire review here: cornellsun.com.
KOSMALA FAMILY PERFORMS IN OC
Although their musical careers have taken them across the globe, members of the Kosmala family are just as happy to be performing together near home in Southern California. Three generations of the family—including world famous violist, Jerzy Kosmala, his daughter, violinist Weneta Kosmala, and his granddaughter, Kasia Kosmala-Dahlbeck (pictured at right)—have performed several times in the string section of the Orange County Mormon Choral Organization’s orchestra. It might seem unusual to find a musician of such high caliber performing with a volunteer group like the OCMCO, but the draw of musical enthusiasm and a warm atmosphere has kept the Kosmala family coming back. Read an article entitled “Family, orchestra find unity in music” about their most recent performance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center on March 21st in the Orange County Register.
Photo: Paul Bersebach, The Orange County Register.
BLECHACZ IN PARIS
Rafał Blechacz was rewarded with a standing ovation at his March 27 concert in Paris. Blechacz’s recital at the Champs-Elysees Theatre consisted of works by Bach, Mozart, Szymanowski, and Chopin. Blechacz gave three encores before the audience would let him leave the stage. After the concert, in true star fashion, Blechacz signed copies of his latest album of classical sonatas, which was just released in France.
Blechacz is hailed around the world as one of the most talented pianists and the successful sales of his Deutsche Gramophone recordings are evidence of his status. Of course the event that opened all the doors for Blechacz was winning the Grand Prix of the 2005 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, arguably the most important piano competition in the world.
This article was originally published in Ruch Muzyczny, vol LIII No.5 (March 8, 2009), pp. 42-43. Reprinted by permission.
Zygmunt Stojowski: Suite for Orchestra, Spring, Prayer for Poland
This recording has appeared thanks to the persistence of Joseph A. Herter, choirmaster at the Archdiocesan Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw’s Old Town and conductor at the Teatr Rozrywki in Chorzow. An American with Polish roots, the longtime Warsaw resident set as his goal the reintroduction of the works of Zygmunt Stojowski (1870-1946) into the mainstream of musical culture (note only Polish).
Stojowski, born in the Kielce area, a student of Żeleński in Cracow and later of Delibes and Paderewski in Paris, left his country at seventeen. From 1905 until his death he lived and taught in the United States. Herter has published a monograph of the composer and has rediscovered a number of his works. He persuaded the British pianist Jonathan Plowright to promote Stojowski’s piano concertos.
Now he has dusted off three large form pieces found in the Polish Music Centre in Los Angeles and in the Philadelphia Free Library recorded here by the ensembles of the Podlaski Opera and Philharmonic Orchestra of Bialystok. His efforts have produced handsome dividends as the disc contains utterly unknown but excellent musical rarities. The recording of the Bialystok Choir under the direction of Violetta Bielecka and the city’s Philharmonic conducted by Marcin Nalecz-Niesiolowski has achieved a highly artistic result.
The Suite in E flat major for full orchestra was composed by Stojowski at age 20 (1890-91). The first movement (Theme varie) contains five variations on the Polish Marian hymn Witaj, Krolowo nieba (the Polish Salve Regina). The first sounds intoned by the hushed clarinet and bassoon delicately underpinned by the strings and sweeping into the processional Andante at once cause the listener to prick up their ears. In the reiteration this duet is beautifully entwined with the viola and violins.
Niesiolowski is careful to maintain the clarity of the subject in the subsequent variations and avoids excessive tempo changes, holding rather to the letter of the tempo markings – for example, the first variation marked piu mosso, poco, and in the last – allegro, molto moderato, etc. The conductor calmly leads us through the series towards the wonderful Fugato finale, in which the hymn chorale gleams in the full flower of a large symphonic tutti. This concept is supported by a recording technique with a broad dynamic scope rare in Polish records. The brass plays exquisitely with soft and supple phrasing.
The second movement Intermede polonaise, marked tempo di mazurka,with its quiet elegance is more like a reminiscence or echo of a salon dance than a true rendition of its melodic and rhythmic figurations. Similarly, in movement three, Reverie et Cracovienne, the krakowiak is not stylized but rather signaled (or as suggested in the title, appears in a dream), though always with joyous verve and delicious instrumentation. It brings to mind the techniques used by Ravel thirty years later (!) in La valse (1920), that is to say music about the waltz rather than a waltz itself. The conductor ideally understands the intention of a tale of the songs and dances of the fatherland that Stojowski held so freshly in his memory. Through concealing and exposing important episodes and colorful sound splashes Niesiolowski maintains an unflagging tension. He also demonstrates the narrative talent of the Polish composer.
Stojowski had already matured and was surrounded by the aura of French music thus his youthful Suite is not organized around contrasting units typical of the form, but in varied orchestral images associated with the symphonic poem style. According to Herter, the work was admired by Brahms and Tchaikovsky – a higher recommendation would be difficult to find.
The same painterly talent imbues the simpler structure of the cantata for choir and orchestra Wiosna (Spring) op. 7 of 1895. It is based on the same text from the IV Ode of Horace used by Debussy in his Printemps of ten years earlier (nominated for the Prix de Rome). Stojowski’s work enjoyed a far greater popularity and was frequently performed. In this recording of the Podlasia ensembles the “book-end” sections of the piece intoxicate the listener with impressionistic color – both in the sound of the orchestra, smaller than in the Suite, and of the treble voices of the choir – the tenors are slightly lacking in richness of tone…
When the text (in this recording in French and unfortunately poorly articulated) moves on to a description of the night, Venus, nymphs dancing, Vulcan’s fire and the forge of the Cyclops the music changes radically. Here we have the lively dances not of nymphs but of full blooded, almost brawny maidens. The Cyclops rings out a percussion of real anvils and under Niesiolowski’s baton sudden spirited gusts almost (but just almost) herald The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky.
The cantata Modlitwa za Polske (Prayer for Poland) op.40 for soprano and baritone solo, mixed choir, organ and orchestra composed in 1915, with its sincere message, the portent of Zygmunt Krasicki’s hymn-like text, and its musical values far exceeds what is commonly referred to as “occasional” music. Stojowski once again roams with the text. The prayerful, cohesive choral invocation “Krolowo Polski, Krolowo Aniolow” (Queen of Poland, Queen of the Angels” which, following an orchestral introduction, opens and closes the cantata contains the appropriate pathos. But when soprano Marta Wroblewska (somewhat tremulous…) expresses pain and despair the tonal centers shift precariously, and with the words “this world has disintegrated” the choir singing them also breaks into separate voices. The drama of the metaphor of Poland resurrecting like the Son of God through the intercession of Mary finds here, both in the performance and in the music itself, the right expression.
Stojowski deepens and clarifies his intent in the orchestral and organ interludes, broadening and narrowing the texture of this monumental score in a natural manner. The whole is integrated, the diction clear, and the sound recording – not easy in cases involving large and different acoustical groups – is flawless. This is indeed a very good and oh! how very Polish record.
* * * *
Malgorzata Komorowska is a musicologist at the The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. She is the author of a long-awaited scholarly biography on the legendary Polish soprano Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska, who was a colleague of Zygmunt Stojowski, entitiled Marcella Sembrich-Kochańska: Życie i Śpiew (publ: ERRATA, Warsaw 2008, 398 pages + CD). Research for this book (pictured at right) was made possible thanks to a travel and research grant given by the Kosciuszko Foundation, Inc. in New York in 1994. Her new book, Za kurtyna latPolskie teatry operowe i operetkowe---1918-1939, was released on March 26, 2009.
WŁODEK PAWLIK SOLO CD
“When I reach back into the memories of albums I have recorded, it occurs to me that the solo ones are becoming somewhat of my specialty. ‘Grand Piano’ is the fifth solo album, a result of fundamentally thought out decision to record the unique process of creating live music. I have decided to depart from the previous arrangements of the album’s repertoire or character. I allowed myself to be carried by my intuition and imagination. Consciously, I refused to give titles to consecutive improvised ‘compositions’ since it would be a deceiving process, reversing the logic of the registration free of common, literary-formal connotations. Instead of titles I used a numerical order, and gave the listeners the freedom of imagination unbound by extra-musical suggestion.
Piano impressions registered during the two night recording sessions are a projection of spontaneous reactions occurring during improvisation. It is the only, unique dialog with the instrument, of which I am a huge admirer since my early childhood. ...Night is the time when my thoughts are free from the nervous convulsions of day to day life – it allows calming, contemplation, awakens dreams… it is an escape from the waterfalls of empty words… The Piano, for me, is the closest medium, giving irrational feeling as if I was with a dedicated old friend, understanding and expressing esthetic needs of the moment, when his black and white keys and steel strings are ready for the contact with fingers. It is then, in subtle combination of human touch with matter built for making sound, that the act of procreation occurs, from which the Music phenomenon is born.” Włodek Pawlik
For more information about the album and to hear samples, please visit www.wlodekpawlik.com
[Source: Press release]
DOROTA MIŚKIEWICZ NEW ALBUM
Dorota Miśkiewicz – “Caminho”
The non-Polish title of the newest CD of Dorota Miśkiewicz is surely a reference to the participation of Guello, a percussionist from Sao Paolo, Brazil. The Brazilian approach to rhythm colors all of the songs on the album, even those that are not in the samba or bossa-nova tradition.
The CD contains two beautiful duets with Grzegorz Turnau and Grzegorz Markowski. Several tracks benefit from the piano art of Marcin Wasilewski and guitarist Marek Napiórkowski, who is also a co-composer of several tracks and the producer of the album. The sound of the album is natural, with only non-synthesized instruments including guitars, Hammond organ, Rhodes piano, woodwind quintet, etc. The lyrics were provided by Grzegorz Turnał, Michał Rusinek, Karolina Kozak and Dorota Miśkiewicz.
Please visit www.dorotamiskiewicz.com to learn more about this talented Polish singer and listen to samples from the new album.
[Source: Press release]
NEW FROM DUX
Felix Nowowiejski - Missa Pro Pace, Missa Stella Maris
PENDERECKI ON NAXOS
Krzysztof Penderecki: Utrenja
According to the Naxos website, “Penderecki’s Utrenja was inspired by the Orthodox liturgy for Holy Saturday with its focus on the lamentation of Christ’s death and the Easter Sunday morning service commemorating the Resurrection. The composer remarks that ‘Utrenja is a combination of pure, a cappella vocal writing and orchestral effects (for strings and percussion) very much connected with electronic music’. Enthusiastically received by audiences, it stands beside his Polish Requiem (8.557386-87) and St Luke Passion (8.557149) as one of the towering masterpieces of modern Polish music.”
POLISH ORGAN MUSIC IN HAMTRAMCK
If Wanda Wilk, the founder of the Polish Music Center, were still alive today, she certainly would be delighted with the news that her hometown of Hamtramck, Michigan is the sight of a festival featuring three organ recitals of Polish music. The venue for the festival is Hamtramck’s imposing 102-year-old landmark, St. Florian Roman Catholic Church at 2626 Poland Street.
Opening the festival on Sunday, April 19, is Polish organist Piotr Rachoń performing a concert of music by such composers as the late Romantic master, Mieczysław Surzyński, and the 20th century composers Marian Sawa, Romuald Twardowski and Feliks Rączkowski. Rachoń, currently on leave as the principal organist at the Warsaw Archdiocesan Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Baptist in Poland, is pursuing a doctorate in music performance at the University of Houston, studying with the famous American organist Robert Bates. Mr. Rachoń program begins at 4:30 p.m.
Further Sunday programs take place on May 17 and June 7 at three o’clock in the afternoon. The former concert features Stephanie Nofar, the organist of Assumption Grotto Church in Detroit, performing the music of Feliks Nowowiejski. The latter recital features David Troiano, the organist of St. Clare of Montefalco Church in Grosse Pointe Park, who is also very well known as a lyric tenor and as choral director.
The concerts will be performed on the church’s restored 1928 Austin organ. Admission to the concerts is free, although freewill donations will be gladly accepted.
BEETHOVEN EASTER FESTIVAL
The 13th edition of the International Easter Ludwig van Beethoven Festival in Warsaw began on March 29 with a concert at the National Philharmonic Hall. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter and Sinfonia Varsovia with Krzysztof Penderecki, conductor, performed an all-Beethoven program to open this latest edition of the award-winning festival.
As always, the festival attracts world class soloists, conductors and ensembles. This year there will be performances by Mariusz Kwiecień, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michał Dworzyński, Konstantin Scherbakov, Leipziger Streichquartett, Erns Kovacic, Arto Noras, the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra, Vitaly Pisarenko, the Tokyo String Quartet, Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte Carlo, Łukasz Borowicz, Rudolf Buchbinder and many, many more.
In all, the festival will host 21 solo, chamber, vocal and symphonic concerts before it ends on April 10. In addition to concerts, there will be exhibitions, lectures and other accompanying events in Warsaw as well as concerts in Kraków, Gdańsk, Łódź and Wrocław. For a complete program of the festival and detailed information about all the events, please visit the official website of the festival: www.beethoven.org.pl.
EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
The 4th edition of the International Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki Early Music Festival will take place in several cities of the Silesia region between April 13 and 30. This year’s edition is dedicated to the works of Henry Purcell and George Frederic Haendel, in celebration of their 350th and 250th birthdays respectively. The festival will also feature the music of its patron, Grzegorz Gorczycki. Artists featured include many international stars of early music performance: the London Baroque Orchestra, Emma Kirkby (soprano), Silesian Quartet, AUKSO orchestra, Haagsche Hofmuziek (Germany), and many others.
For more information about the program, artists and festival events, please visit: www.gorczycki.pl.
BYDGOSZCZ OPERA FESTIVAL
The largest Polish festival of opera will start on April 18 and continue until May 3. The 16th edition of the Bydgoszcz Opera Festival is hosted by Opera Nova and will feature the latest and greatest productions of Polish and foreign opera and ballet companies.
Per tradition, the festival will open with a premiere production by Opera Nova; this year it will be Donizetti’s Elixir of Love directed by Krzysztof Nazar. Some of the other companies featured during the festival include: Nationaltheater Mannheim, Silesian Opera, Grand Theater Łódź, Grand Theater Poznań, and Compañía Antonio Gades, among others.
For more information about the festival, please visit the Opera Nova website: www.opera.bydgoszcz.pl
MISTERIA PASCHALIA FESTIVAL
The 6th International Misteria Paschalia Festival will open on April 6 in Kraków and will last until April 13. The festival, dedicated to early music, will feature many of the world’s most recognized names, including: Concerto Italiano, Il Giardino Armonico, Europa Galante, Venice Baroque Orchestra, I Sonatori de la Gioiosa Marca and Cappella della Pieta de' Turchini from Italy; French ensemble Le Poème Harmonique; and the multinational groups Les Trompettes de Jericho, La Capella Reial de Catalunya, and Hesperion XXI. Additional artists from Israel, Armenia, Greece, Iraq and Morocco will be featured.
The program this year is focused on different settings of the Stabat Mater sequence, including the best known versions by Pergolesi and Vivaldi to lesser known settings by Bonocini or Salvatore. For complete information about the festival, please visit www.misteriapaschalia.pl.
GDAŃSK MUSIC FESTIVAL
The second edition of the Gdańsk Music Festival will take place between April 18 and 26 in Gdańsk. Polish composer Elżbieta Sikora will serve as artist-in-residence and director of programming. This year’s festival has attracted numerous international star performers, such as: Jerzy Maksymiuk (conductor), Isabelle Perin (harp), Piano Duo Genova & Dimitrov, Wojciech Rajski (conductor), Łukasz Długosz (flute) and many others.
For more information about the festival and for a detailed program of events, please visit gdanskifestiwal.pl.
BORN THIS MONTH:
Copyright 2009 by the Polish Music Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński
Contributions from: Marek Żebrowski,
Joseph A. Herter, Vincent P. Skowronski,
Kenneth Requa, Maja Trochimczyk, Irene Kellner
Andrew Jezierski & Małgorzata Komorowska
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, PWM,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, April 8, 2009.
Updated April 13, 2009
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