|Polish Music Newsletter|
THE NEW GENERATION DELIVERS
On March 26, the Polish Music Center at USC presented a concert of music by young Polish composers residing in the United States, entitled “Polish Music: the New Generation.” Five of the composers arrived in Los Angeles from such faraway places as Seattle, Washington and Louisville, Kentucky, as well as from the Bay Area and San Diego, and began the weekend with presentations at the USC Thornton School of Music’s Composition Forum. They included Ewa Trębacz (University of Washington), Krzysztof Wołek (University of Louisville), Jarosław Kapuściński (Stanford University), and Wojtek Blecharz with Robert Pierzak, both from UC San Diego. Mikołaj Górecki was the sixth composer invited to participate but could not attend—he was in Katowice, Poland, attending the world premiere of his orchestral work on that same day (more on the Katowice premiere below).
The program opened with Jarosław Kapuściński’s Juicy, a 2005 work for piano and video. The composer was at the keyboard for the LA premiere of this engaging yet accessible work. Visuals of geometrically arranged fruit appeared and disappeared in time with the well-synchronized and rather melodic post-modern piano accompaniment. The dramatic images and the electronic symbiosis between live musician and pre-recorded video set the tone for the evening’s musical challenges and discoveries for both audience and performers. Watch and listen to a clip of Juicy on the composer's website: www.jaroslawkapuscinski.com/work-juicy.html.
Just one of the setups for the evening's program—which involved live and electronic instruments,
live electronic manipulation,
Mikołaj Górecki’s Sonata for Two Pianos, also dating from 2005, received its world premiere performance during the Newman Hall concert. Sara Sumitami and Aurelien Eulert, a duo of two doctoral students from Thornton’s Keyboard Collaborative Arts department, gave this three-movement work a superb and very assured reading. Performing in splendid synchronicity, Ms. Sumitami and Mr. Eulert imbued the outer movements with poetry and color in contrast with white-hot virtuosity in the central Toccata-Agitato second movement. The work was an audience favorite of the evening, ensuring it a likely spot on other programs in Southern California in the near future.
Pianist Yevgeniy Milyavskiy, who is currently pursuing his doctorate at UCLA and has performed on several other PMC concerts in the past, was the soloist in Robert Pierzak’s 2008 work for piano, I’m Underwater. After thanking the Newman Hall staff and professional sound engineers from AV West, without whom the evening’s complicated technical parameters would not have been met, Pierzak introduced his piece simply with an evocative poem. Whimsical and oft-recurring textures gave I’m Underwater a haunting air, and the requirement for the pianist to sing a simple tune in the final minute added to the unusual listening experience.
The next three works on the program were even more evocative and complex. While all three compositions called for impressive extended performance technique on different wind instruments, Arguro and Minotaur also involved live electronics, surround-sound speakers, and computer-assisted performance. Krzysztof Wołek’s Arguro for Flutes and Live Electronics is a very substantial and yet almost primal work that challenges the performer’s abilities to the utmost. Flutist Michael Matsuno, already an accomplished virtuoso despite his young years, approached the work with gusto as he fearlessly plunged into a thicket of unusual sounds and textures and effortlessly displayed both traditional and extended flute techniques. The range of colors and emotions evoked in the semi-darkened space of Newman Hall was truly astonishing, as the live sounds beautifully created by Mr. Matsuno were masterfully manipulated and blended with pre-recorded sounds by Mr. Wołek at the mixing board.
Com/m/a is a 2008 composition for flute and clarinet by Wojtek Blecharz, who was not only a composer on the program but also one of the masterminds behind the concert’s overarching theme. Blecharz’s intense and fascinating piece was a tour de force for flutist Amy Tatum, a former Thornton student and current rising star on the new music scene in Los Angeles, and clarinetist Eric Jacobs, a Thornton doctoral candidate and devoted teacher. Rhythmic complexity, vivid coloristic technique, and substantial virtuosity are required to perform this work. The soloists and the composer were heartily applauded by the audience who was clearly enthralled by the presentation.
Amy Tatum and Eric Jacobs prepare to perform Com/m/a.
Horn virtuoso Josiah Boothby arrived from Seattle together with Ewa Trębacz, the composer of Minotaur, a 2005 work for horn and ambisonics. Ms. Trębacz is a dedicated researcher of sound-spaces and her music is inspired by recordings in various soundscapes throughout the state of Washington, where she is a visiting lecturer in the UW’s Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS). The envelope of sound—waves of French horn recorded in acoustically-rich environments then reproduced in surround sound—served as point of departure for Mr. Boothby, who utilized a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of traditional and eerily unusual sounds that he could produce on his instrument. Involving both composer and performer throughout the compositional process, Minotaur provided an excellent example of a truly collaborative work.
The concert of new Polish music ended with another collaborative effort in the form of live improvisation. Filmmaker David Lynch, a great fan of Polish contemporary music, was the evening’s special guest performer. Seated behind two keyboards, he first read a short and evocative poem that set the mood. Soon, over his mysterious-sounding harmonies and sound effects (including city traffic and echoing footsteps), piano textures of various chords and light passagework performed by pianist Marek Żebrowski unfolded. Over the past several years Mr. Żebrowski and Mr. Lynch have performed these improvisatory collaborations throughout the U.S. and Europe, and their recording—entitled Polish Night Music—was issued in 2008 to critical acclaim. Their joint performance at the Polish Music Center’s March 26 concert was, likewise, greeted with warm applause by the USC audience and provided a fitting end to an evening of musical adventure.
A few members of the audience shared their impressions of the concert as they filed out of the hall. “I was quite impressed with Jarek Kapuściński,” said Dr. Carl Muchnick approvingly. “He was the first composer on the program, who connected the video to the piano [in Juicy], and I admired his ability to adjust the images to the music.”
David Lynch congratulates Jarek Kapuściński.
Dr. Eva Muchnick agreed with her husband, adding, “I liked the way the concert started off with Juicy, and how it got the audience in the mood for something special. With all the horrible news of destruction in the world, it was a joy to hear and experience creation by such young and enthusiastic composers—the surround sound, the video images with the musical composition, and virtually all the pieces were so original. It was also heartwarming and encouraging to see and hear young, uniquely talented musicians from all backgrounds play new Polish music. Bravo to all.”
Susan Requa, a teacher in the LA Unified School District, shared these thoughts: “Having attended many of the Polish Music Center’s amazing concerts, this one was a real break from past experiences. Often, we’re listening to works we’re familiar with, that feel comfortable, and enjoying a particular performer’s interpretation, but this concert brought an excitement in not knowing what would come next! I was constantly guessing at what kind of performance or sounds I would be hearing in the next piece since every note was something new. And the talent that had produced such amazing music was there, so you could discuss the piece you just heard with the composer, learning from their creative minds.”
Noted UCLA oncologist, Dr. Bartosz Chmielowski, also seemed to like the program. “I always enjoy coming to the concerts organized by the Polish Music Center,” he said, “but this event was really special. It was the first time that the names of the composers were not known to me before the concert. It was so interesting and exciting: I could listen to the music composed by a new generation of composers. The music was rich and challenging. I was able to listen to the whole spectrum of the new music: from the brilliant but more traditional Sonata by Mikołaj Górecki, through pieces by Robert Pierzak and Wojtek Blecharz who reinterpreted the use of traditional instruments such as piano, flute and clarinet, to compositions by Krzysztof Wołek and Jarek Kapuścinski that enriched and transformed the music by the use of electronics, and finally to the ephemeral piece for the French horn by Ewa Trębacz that combined live music with prerecorded surround sounds. This concert proved that the new composers speak with their own voice.”
TOAST IJP & SUPPORT YOUNG MUSICIANS
The Paderewski Festival and the Rhone Rangers Association of winemakers in Paso Robles invite lovers of fine wine and romantic music to a special evening at the Pear Valley Winery in Paso Robles on Saturday, April 16. The “Toast to Paderewski” reception will showcase the wines of Rhone Rangers Wineries, and the rich variety of Central Coast wines will be complemented by Polish-themed appetizers provided by Cass Catering. Afterwards a violin and piano concert of all-time favorite Polish virtuoso classics as well as popular music from Argentina and Brazil will follow in a program of compositions by Frederic Chopin, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Henryk Wieniawski, and Krzesimir Dębski as well as brilliant works by Pablo de Sarasate, George Gershwin, and Astor Piazzolla.
The performers—violinist Jerzy Milewski and his wife, pianist Aleida Schweitzer—met studying music in Poland and, since the early 1970s, have resided in Ms. Schweitzer’s native Brazil. Performing regularly as the Milewski Duo, they have been recognized throughout the world for their concerts featuring a broad spectrum of compositions and composers. Both Jerzy Milewski and Aleida Schweitzer are Professors at the Pro-Arte Music Seminary at the University of Rio de Janeiro and at the Federal University of Espirito Santo and have conducted master classes and workshops at West Virginia universities in Huntingdon, Morgantown, and Charleston. Together they are featured in over twenty CD albums, recorded in Europe and South America.
Jerzy Milewski studied violin at the Warsaw Academy of Music and performed with Poland’s National Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra in major concert halls of Europe, North and South America and Asia. Recipient of the coveted Wieniawski Medal from the Polish government, Maestro Milewski has been featured on a number of CD recordings with such legendary artists as Luiz Eça, Paulo Moura, Sivuca, Rildo Hora, Altamino Carrilho, Robertinho Silva, Rafael Rabello, and Francis Hime. He is one of the most famous musicians in Brazil and is universally considered the greatest living spokesman for Brazilian musical culture at home and abroad.
Aleida Schweitzer studied piano, chamber music and composition in Brazil, the Netherlands, and Poland. A pianist and choral conductor, she was given the title of “West Virginia’s Ambassador of Music Among All People,” by governor John Rockefeller IV and received the “Medal of Merit to the Polish Culture” from the Polish Government. Ms. Schweitzer performed with such world-class artists as Jean-Pierre Rampal, Christine Walewska, Boris Pergamenshikov, and Daniel Heifetz, and recorded Bach’s Keyboard Concertos with the Amadeus Orchestra in Poland.
Proceeds from the April 16 event will benefit the Paderewski Festival Exchange Program, which gives young musicians from the Central Coast and Tarnów, Poland the opportunity to study and perform together. The Exchange was initiated by an agreement between the cities of Paso Robles and Tarnów signed in November 2008, intended to explore cultural, educational and business opportunities between the two locales that share historical ties to Ignacy Jan Paderewski. In June 2011 three finalists of the Paderewski Youth Piano Competition in Paso Robles will travel to Poland to perform and participate in master classes alongside Polish students at Paderewski’s former estate in Kąśna Dolna near Tarnów. This year’s exchange program builds up on the first visit of young Central Coast musicians in Poland in 2009 and the 2010 visit of young Polish musicians in Paso Robles. Costs of the program are shared between the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and the City and Province of Tarnów, Poland.
Admission for the Toast to Paderewski is $75 per person, including unlimited wine tasting, or $25 for youth under 21. Tickets may be purchased at www.paderewskifest.com, at any participating Rhone Rangers Winery,
The Rhone Rangers is America’s leading non-profit, educational organization dedicated to promoting American Rhone varietal wines. The almost 200 member wineries Member wineries range in size from 200 cases of production to over one million, and come from California, Oregon, Washington and New York. More information about the Rhone Rangers is available at: www.rhonerangers.org
The Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles is a non-profit organization that sponsors an annual series of concerts featuring internationally acclaimed artists, the Paderewski Youth Piano Competition and Exchange, and other Paderewski-themed events on California’s Central Coast. The 2011 Paderewski Festival will be held November 10-13 in a variety of venues around Paso Robles. More information on the Festival can be found at: www. paderewskifest.com.
WORLD PREMIERES IN KATOWICE
A three-day Festival of “the newest music” was held on March 25-27 in Katowice. Organized by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR], the Festival of Premieres presented a total of seven concerts and almost thirty world premiere performances of works by such well-known artists as Zbigniew Bargielski, Krzysztof Meyer, Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil, Piotr Moss, and Krzesimir Dębski. Just as importantly, music by younger composers—including Aleksander Nowak, Maciej Jabłoński, Justyna Kowalska-Lasoń, and Mikołaj Górecki (pictured at right)—were also featured.
The final concert on Sunday was perhaps the most successful and interesting. Aleksander Nowak’s Płacz dziecinko płacz [Cry Baby, Cry], a two-movement concerto for violin and chamber orchestra, was premiered that evening. Although it uses minimalist techniques, the work is rich in detail and features an interesting interplay of conventional and revelatory orchestral coloring. Although not premieres, the evening’s program held several other impressive performances. Tutto è sciolto for voice and small orchestra by Bronisław Kazimierz Przybylski—featuring the incomparable mezzo-soprano soloist, Urszula Krygier—was a nocturne-like composition that imbued James Joyce’s poetry with a sublime and colorful atmosphere. Virtual Memories for strings by Grzegorz Pieniek was an effective vehicle for a superb interpretation given by the AUKSO Orchestra led by Marek Moś.
Other days of the Festival also featured several noteworthy premieres. Madrygał [Madrigal] for two pianos by Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil followed the ancient formal structure but invested it with many non-standard sound effects that inventively utilized the potential of the instrument. Mikołaj Górecki’s Zan tantemiquico for Orchestra was another successful item on the Festival roster—the title’s reference to dreaming was fully reflected in a contemplative, other-worldly soundscape that was filled with euphonious sounds, encouraging the listener to open up to a new way of listening to music, totally devoid of tension. Maciej Jabłoński’s Fuori for Two Pianos and Symphony Orchestra was another well-received composition; it was brilliantly presented by Emilia Sitarz and Bartłomiej Wąsik, also known as the Lutosławski Piano Duo.
This Festival is primarily a feast for the participating composers. It also provides excellent promotion of the best Silesian music ensembles, with the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra being the most prominent representative. Thanks to the patronage of Polish Radio, these concerts will be carried in the Polish Radio-Program 2 [Dwójka] broadcasts. The Silesian music scene was also represented by such excellent outfits as the AUKSO Orchestra, Camerata Silesia, Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej, or Kwartet Śląski. The soloists featured throughout the Festival also deserve much praise. They include Jerzy Dybała, who masterfully interpreted Stories for Double Bass by Krzesimir Dębski, or Piotr Pławner who performed Aleksander Nowak’s aforementioned violin concerto.
Program director and the founder of the Festival, Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa, referred to the 75th anniversary of the NOSPR and the role that this ensemble had filled in the promotion of contemporary music. This mission continues the course set for the ensemble by its legendary first director, Grzegorz Fitelberg, who was a tireless promoter of new Polish music during the first half of the twentieth century.
KASSERN PREMIERE IN POZNAŃ
The Poznań Opera continues its Year of Women with the premiere of Komedia o niemej żonie [Comedy of a Mute Wife], a two-act musical comedy written in 1953 with texts and music by Tadeusz Zygfryd Kassern (March 19, 1904 – May 2, 1957). The story is based on a stage play of essentially the same title in French, La comédie de celui qui épousa une femme muette by Anatole France. Kassern’s music is strongly neoclassical and similar to his works dating from the 1930s. The singing parts are mostly in a recitative-style with several lively ensemble scenes. The score calls for seven soloists with a piano accompaniment, which was transcribed for orchestra for the April 5 premiere.
WORLD PREMIERE OF PASZTOR/GÓRECKI BALLET
I przejdą deszcze [And the Rains Will Pass] is the title of a new ballet choreographed by Director of the Polish National Ballet, Krzysztof Pasztor, and set to music by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. I przejdą deszcze was premiered at the Teatr Wielki in Warsaw on March 27, 2011. It was performed by the Polish National Ballet, and choir and orchestra of the National Opera were led by conductor Wojciech Michniewski in this world premiere performance.
Mr. Pasztor used Górecki’s psalm Beatus vir, orchestral works like Quasi una fantasia op. 78 and Kleines Requiem für eine Polka op. 66, and parts of Salve, sidus polonorum op. 72, for the ballet. The idea was to convey poetically the various political and social aspects of Polish history in a libretto that took its title from a poem by Kamil Baczyński.
POLISH MUSIC IN ZAGREB
Organized by the International Society for Contemporary Music (ISCM), the World Music Days 2011 are scheduled for April 7-17 in Zagreb, Croatia. Apollo for Baritone and Percussion, a 2010 composition by young Polish composer Dariusz Przybylski, was selected for the April 10 concert, which will feature baritone soloist Marko Mimica.
The 26th Zagreb Music Biennale, happening at the same time, will also feature a performance of Lutosławski’s Trois Poemes and his Concerto for Orchestra with the Choir of the Croat Radio and Television and the Wrocław Philharmonic led by Tonci Bilic on April 8. Penderecki’s Concerto for Horn and Orchestra will be heard on April 15 with soloist Radovan Vlatkovic and the Zagreb Philharmonic under the baton of the composer.
PIATIGORSKY & POLAND
Terry King has written a comprehensive and detailed tribute to his mentor and friend, Russian virtuoso cellist Gregor Piatigorsky. King’s first-hand knowledge and personal experience lends authenticity and accountability to this thoroughly researched biography, and this tremendous work of scholarship is rich in history.
Gregor Piatigorsky: The Life and Career of the Virtuoso Cellist details the relationship between Piatigorsky and several members of the Fitelberg family who were heavily involved in the musical circles of Poland and abroad. These include Grzegorz Fitelberg, Jerzy Fitelberg, Solomon Zakin & Alexander Zakin.
As a young man, Piatogorsky was a cellist for the Bolshoi Theatre—once the most prestigious orchestra in Russia—and his time there coincided with Grzegorz Fitelberg’s term as its conductor. It was here that Piatigorsky first played under Serge Koussevitzky, Alexander Glazunov and then Fitelberg. In 1919, the orchestra was scheduled to present the Russian premiere performance of Strauss’ Don Quixote. Piatigorsky recalled in his memoir and autobiography The Cellist, which was subsequentlyrecounted in King’s biography,that conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg announced the following to the orchestra:
Piatigorsky, together with Mischa Mischakoff later played under the baton of Grzegorz Fitelberg at the Warsaw Philharmonic. When they escaped from Russia to Poland, the duo went to Warsaw to look up their friend Grzegorz Fitelberg, who had conducted the Bolshoi on many occasions and who was a Polish citizen. Fitelberg suggested they see conductor Emil Młynarski who, as the co-founder of the Warsaw Philharmonic and recently appointed director of the Warsaw Conservatory, had many more connections. Fitelberg and Młynarski were instrumental in securing employment and income for the two starving refugees, and both participated in the 1921-22 season.
Jerzy Fitelberg—son of the famous composer/conductor Grzegorz Fitelberg and one of the more prolific modern Polish composers of the first half of the twentieth century—dedicated two cello compositions to Gregor Piatigorsky which Piatigorsky arranged, edited and assigned fingering. These two compositions included the Sonata for Unaccompanied Cello (Omega C1000 1948/Chester) and the Duo for Violin and Cello (Omega Music Publishers).
Pianist Alexander Zakin was Grzegorz Fitelberg’s nephew and one of Piatigorsky’s first friends in his Berlin years. Piatigorsky also knew his father Solomon Zakin (married to Grzegorz’s sister Anna), an assistant conductor and violinist with the Warsaw Philharmonic. They played several recitals together; one was at the Theatre am Bulowplatz for the Volksbunhe series, a reasonably priced concert series aimed at the working class.
A sentimental highlight of the 1959-60 season was a return visit to the White House, hosted by President and Mrs. Eisenhower. Piatigorsky and one of his oldest friends, pianist Alexander Zakin, presented the first ever full recital by a cellist at the White House. Piatigorsky had performed for each administration since Herbert Hoover, but always in mixed programs shared with other artists. According to Zakin’s obituary published in the Los Angeles Times (October 16, 1990):
Read also Zakin's obituary in the New York Times.
Gregor Piatigorsky: The Life and Career of the Virtuoso Cellist also includes the following recollection of the famous violinist Isaac Stern:
Piatogorsky enjoyed the mutual affiliations and collaboration of many other Polish-related composers and musicians of all generations and time periods as is documented this authoritative biography including: Witold Lutosławski, Artur Rodziński, Anton Rubinstein, Gdal Saleski, Aleksander Tansman, and many more.
1 From 1962 until his death in 1976, Gregor Piatigorsky was a member of the faculty of the USC Thornton School of Music. Since 1974, Thornton has had a “Gregor Piatigorsky Endowed Chair in Violoncello,” which the cellist himself occupied from 1974-76, and school’s courtyard features a statue of the bust of the great cellist.
Gary Fitelberg is a Polish-American author, biographer, music historian and musicologist.
* * * *
Read another review for this book by Laurence Vittes in Strings Magazine.
KF CHOPIN COMPETITION
The 62nd Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition is scheduled for April 8 and 9 at 10 am. Preliminaries begin at 10 AM at the Kosciuszko Foundation House, at 15 E 65 Street, NYC, on Friday, April 8; auditions are open to the public, and there is no admission charge. Finals will be held at the Foundation House on Saturday, April 9, beginning at 10 AM. Tickets are $15 and you can purchase them here.
Contestants prepare a representative selection highlighting works of Chopin, Szymanowski, and other Polish composers. Prizes: $5,000/ $2,500 / $1,500 , and first prize winners will perform in concerts at major cities throughout the country.
The Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition was established in 1949, in honor of the hundredth anniversary of the death of Frederic Chopin. The inauguration took place at the Kosciuszko Foundation House in New York City, with Witold Malcuzynski as guest artist, and Abram Chasins, composer and music director of the New York Times Radio Stations, presiding. Over the years, many outstanding musicians have been associated with the competition including Van Cliburn, Ian Hobson, and Murray Perahia.
The Kosciuszko Foundation is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural exchanges between the United States and Poland and to increasing American understanding of Polish culture and history. The Foundation's work reaches audiences throughout the United States, through its headquarters in New York City and its regional Chapters in Chicago, Denver (Rocky Mountain), Houston (Texas), Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Springfield (New England), Buffalo (Western New York State), Ohio (Cleveland) as well as through its National Advisory Council.
Additional information is on the Kosciuszko Foundation's events: www.thekf.org/events/upcoming_events
[Source: Press release]
BLECHACZ & PHILOSOPHY
On April 16, pianist and winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition Rafał Blechacz will perform at the Festival of Science and Art in Toruń. His concert and a debate about the art of interpreting music will be organized by the Mikołaj Kopernik University, the City Council of Toruń, and the Toruń Science Society. Panel discussions on interpretation will include Fr. Prof. Andrzej Szostek (Lublin Catholic University), Prof. Jacek Jadacki (pianist and philosopher at the Warsaw University), Dr Anna Brożek (expert on music and philosophy at Warsaw University), Prof. Władysław Stróżewski (Jagiellonian University), and Rafał Blechacz, who is currently enrolled in Ph.D. studies of philosophy at the Kopernik University.
WIETRZYNSKA IN PALOS VERDES
On Sunday April 10, pianist Maria Wietrzynska will perform a recital during the Rolling Hills United Methodist Church's Second Sundays At Two free concert series. Ms. Wietrzynska’s program will include W.A. Mozart – Piano Sonata in C Major K.330, F. Chopin – Polonaise in F-sharp Minor op. 44, and Grażyna Bacewicz – Piano Sonata No. 2. The sanctuary's acoustics are arguably the finest in Southern California and the venue's idyllic sylvan setting next to the South Coast Botanic Garden makes the concert experience especially pleasant.
Fast-rising young Polish-born pianist Maria Wietrzynska is a top-prize winner in Southland piano competitions, including the Los Angeles International Liszt Competition. She recently performed at the Redlands Bowl as winner of its 58th Annual Young Artists Auditions. As a winner of Beverly Hills Auditions, she performed a brilliant recital on the Manhattan Beach "Previews" series, which she subsequently recorded. Maria is pursuing an Artist Certificate at Azusa Pacific University under Róza Kostrzewska Yoder. She won the Azusa Pacific University's 2009 Concerto Competition and performed Chopin's Piano Concerto No.2 with the APU Chamber Orchestra. In early May 2010, she traveled to Uruguay and performed the concerto again with the SODRE Symphony Orchestra in Montevideo.
DUO KLAVITARRE IN SACRAMENTO
On Sunday April 17, Duo Klavitarre will present a classical guitar and piano concert, featuring an exciting and diverse program of classical and contemporary music from Chopin to tango. The event is hosted by the Polish American Club of Greater Sacramento, in cooperation with the Sacramento Guitar Society.
Duo Klavitarre is comprised of pianist Jolanta Ziemski and guitarist Maciej Ziemski. Both musicians were born in Poland and graduated with awards from the Music Academy in Łódź, where they discovered their romance and a joint love of playing music together. Their duo performances offer strong yet complimentary musical personalities and individual virtuosity, as well as spontaneity and unexpected programming. In addition to performing, they are also the Artistic Directors of the International Guitar Festivals in Grotniki, Poland and Jarosław, Poland. Recordings produced by Duo Klavitarre will be available for purchase at the concert.
[Source: press release]
ANNUAL POLAND BY NIGHT EVENT
On April 13 at 8:45 pm, the Polish Student Alliance of Loyola University Chicago presents an African-American/Polish-American Concert featuring the NGOMA Group and the Lira Singers.
The Lira Ensemble is the only professional performing arts company in the United States specializing in Polish music, song, and dance. The name of the company, "lira," is the Polish word for "lyre," a traditional symbol of music. The Ensemble's performing groups present the music of Poland, sung in the original language, and Polish folk and court dances, with narratives in English. The Lira company consists of The Lira Singers, The Lira Symphony, The Lira Dancers, Lira Piano Quintet, Lira String Quartet, Lira Chamber Chorus, and Lira Children's Chorus - "Dzieci".
The NGOMA Group is an ensemble of brilliant musicians who regularly delight audiences by performing a variety of Blues, Jazz, Pop, Spiritual and African American music throughout the Chicagoland area. The NGOMA Group is well-known for their imaginative arrangements and harmonies. They have spread the spirit and energy of their music for over 10 years.
IWAŃSKA AT PMA
On April 14 in Chicago, jazz singer Agnieszka Iwańska will perform at a fun-filled Polish Museum of America (PMA) fundraising event, Party at the Museum. All ticket proceeds will benefit the PMA Art Gallery Renovation Fund.
The event will also include an opening reception with the artists of PMA's new exhibit, "Adventures of Light: Voytek Glinkowski and His Students." The exhibition will feature intriguing paintings and drawings - poetic light impressions of colorful landscapes, flowers, still life and figure compositions - by the talented Voytek Glinkowski and his students: Beth Boyd, Margaret Boyd, Olga Dolgun, Carole Gilberg, Inna Goldman, Joyce O’Callaghan, Natalia Osipova. Works will be for sale, and 30% of the price will be donated to the PMA Art Gallery Renovation Fund.
[Source: Press release]
AGA ZARYAN IN NY
Gifted vocalist Aga Zaryan conveys the finest of the history of jazz to today's audiences, continuing the traditions of great artists like Shirley Horn, Carmen McRae and Joni Mitchell. Aga was named Jazz Vocalist of The Year in the European Jazz Forum Magazine's yearly Jazz Top readers' poll in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010. Her latest album "Looking Walking Being" was released with a prestigious Blue Note Records label.
On April 8, the Kosciuszko Foundation presents a special concert by Aga Zaryan, an internationally recognized jazz vocalist who has performed in NY jazz venues on numerous occasions—this time she will sing in Polish! Her repertoire will include poetry written during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, from her album “Umiera Piekno.” There will be tunes with lyrics by Czesław Miłosz, Krystyna Krachelska, Jozef Zywina, Anna Swirszczyńska, Father Jan Twardowski, Mira Grelichowska and Elżbieta Szemplińska. The music is composed by pianist Michał Tokaj, a long-time music partner of Aga Zaryan who will perform with her tonight.
While in town, she will also perform a more traditional jazz show at Joe’s Pub in New York's East Village.
[Source: Press release]
MOCART 2010 AWARD
On March 23, the first annual MocArt Awards were presented at a ceremony in Warsaw’s Sobański Palace. Sponsored by RMF Classical Radio, the award winners were chosen by listeners via the station’s website, rmfclassic.pl, in four categories—Man of the Year, Event of the Year, Film Score of the Year, and Product of the Year—. And the winners are…
The four other nominees for the MocArt “Man of the Year” were: Paweł Potoroczyn, director of Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute and creator of POLSKA! YEAR in the UK; Magdalena Sroka, director of the Kraków Festival Bureau (former) and deputy president of Krakow in charge of culture; Jerzy Skolimowski, film director, and Kayah, singer and composer.
KACZMAREK BY MOŻDŻER GOES PLATINUM
In other news about pianist Leszek Możdżer, his recent album Kaczmarek by Możdżer—a unique collection of film music for solo piano composed by Jan AP Kaczmarek and representing ten years of cooperation between the two famous Polish artists—has broken sales records. In recognition of this achievement, Oscar winner Kaczmarek received the platinum award for this extraordinary publication, prepared by Universal Music Poland, at a ceremony in Warsaw. All of the tracks on the album, some of which have never been released elsewhere, were produced by Rafal Paczkowski, who ten years ago introduced the composer to Leszek Możdżer.
MŁODA POLSKA STIPEND
Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage [MKiDN] has announced the winners of the 2011 “Młoda Polska” [Young Poland] stipend. This annual program is designed for Polish artists under the age of 35 who seek to advance in their chosen careers. The categories this year included film, photography, literature, music, visual arts, dance, and theatre. 501 applications were received for this year’s 8th edition of the competition. The total budget of the “Młoda Polska” grants for 2011 amounted to 3,550,000 PLN. [ca. $1.2 million USD].
The “Młoda Polska” grants were distributed to 86 artists, and nearly half of this year’s grantees were for projects in music (41 total). Three of the music grants will cover the applicants’ studies abroad (Yale University in New Haven, London’s Guildhall School of Music, Universität für Musik in Graz, Austria), and three more will receive financing for CD recording projects (works of Chopin, Wieniawski, and Mišnik). The remaining recipients, such as already world reknown musicians composer Aleksander Nowak or violinist Agata Szymczewska, will use their “Młoda Polska” grants mainly for purchasing musical instruments and other equipment related to their craft.
More information about the applicants, including names and details of their scholarships, can be found at: www.mkidn.gov.pl/media/docs/stypendia/2011-mloda-polska.pdf.
“JAZZ NAD ODRĄ” PRIZE
The Grand Prix at the Open Competition for Outstanding Individuality in Jazz held during the 47th Jazz nad Odrą Festival was given to the musicians in the Tuźnik/Kądziela Quartet. Musicians of the quartet include Artur Tuźnik (piano), Maciej Kądziela (saxaphone), Emil Brun Madsen (bass) and Matias Andreasen (percussion). The group received a prize of 25,000 PLN (approximately $8,300 USD) from Rafał Dutkiewicz, President of the City of Wrocław.
The Poznań-based duo of violinist Sandra Haniszewska and guitarist Tomasz Kandulski triumphed at the international guitar competition of the 13th International Guitar Festival “Niccolo Paganini” in Parma, Italy. This is the second win for the violin-guitar duo, following their prize at the international competition in Gorizia, Italy and the receipt of a “Młoda Polska” stipend in 2010.
The guitar competition, which is a section of the Paganini Festival, was held March 18-19 and featured 27 chamber ensembles involving guitar. There were six finalists—three soloists and three chamber music ensembles. The winners included Cristian El Khouri (Italy), the guitar duo Klingberg-Montes (Germany/Chile), and the Haniszewska-Kandulski Duo. Besides monetary prizes, the winners were also offered concert tour opportunities at several festivals in Italy during the 2011/2012 concert season.
The Unsound Festival - New York enters its second phase of performances, workshops, and discussions on April 6, following an exciting week of Unsound Festival New York LABS (April 1-5), which featured collaborations between electronic musicians, post-classical composers, club DJs and more from around the world to substantial critical acclaim. Presented by Fundacja Tone, the Polish Cultural Institute in New York, and Goethe-Institut New York, the Unsound Festival - New York is organized in collaboration with Sacrum Profanum, Unsound's sister festival from Kraków, with support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Krakow Festival Office.
On Wednesday April 6, Unsound presents its largest event to date at Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall: the New York debut of one of Europe's great chamber orchestras, Sinfonietta Cracovia. The evening’s program includes work by Steve Reich, Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, and the USA debut of "We Don't Need Other Worlds. We Need Mirrors - Music for Solaris" - a special Unsound commission from Ben Frost, Daníel Bjarnason and Sinfonietta Cracovia.
The celebrated Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, who died in 2010, was primarily known for his hugely popular Symphony No.3, although his work ranged from radical modernism to the deeply romantic. On Thursday April 7th at the Judson Memorial Church, Festival participants will have a chance to hear Górecki performed by Sinfonietta Cracovia, which had a close relationship to the composer. Norwegian duo Deaf Center will open the evening, fusing electronics and acoustic instruments.
Unsound NY reaches out and creates surprising connections—between artists, across programming, and amongst venues, with a Festival stretching from Lincoln Center to underground spaces in Brooklyn. Unsound Festival New York has something for everyone, from brilliant contemporary classical music to death metal, from modern club sounds to long overlooked innovators. Unsound Festival New York will surprise, delight and challenge. Learn more and view the entire Festival schedule here: unsound.pl/en/festival/program/schedule/unsound-festival-new-york-2011.
BEETHOVEN FESTIVAL: THE ETERNAL FEMININE
The 15th Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival will take place 9-22 April with twenty orchestral and chamber music concerts, held mainly in Warsaw and Kraków, as well as other Polish cities.
The Festival will begin with an exhibition at Jagiellonian University, presenting the first edition of the score of Count Antoni Radziwiłł’s Faust from 1835 and an edition of Schubert’s Gretchen at the Spinning Wheel in a piano transcription by Liszt, manuscripts and prints of works of music and poetry dealing with the subject of femininity, as well as manuscripts and prints containing the works of Polish women composers of the 19th century, including Maria Szymanowska’s Album. The exhibition was designed by Lech Dziewulski.
Festival concerts will feature orchestras from all over Europe, including the Wittenbergische Philharmonie, Lahti Philharmonic, Dresden Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony, Polish National Philharmonic, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Wrocław Baroque Orchestra are scheduled to perform. Many acclaimed soloists, including Rudolf Buchbinder, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Muza Rubackyte, Viviane Hagner, Danjulo Ishizaka, Massimo Mercelli, Ekaterina Semenchuk, Cmailla Philling, Petra Lang, Christine Oelze, Michaela Kaune, Annely Peebo, Serena Benedetti, Neely Miricioiu, Brigitte Fournier, Tove Dahlberg, Iwona Hossa, Agata Zubel, Katia Bray, Thomas Bauer, Tomasz Konieczny, Rafał Bartmiński, Eric Stoklosa, and Gunter Papendell will also appear on stage at the Festival.
A concert performance of Gaetano Donizetti’s Maria Padilla will be presented by Łukasz Borowicz leading the Polish Radio Orchestra and Choir with the Choir of the Podlasie Philharmonic in Białystok. The Festival will feature performances of two of Bach’s Passions (St. John and St. Matthew), as well as Penderecki’s St. Luke Passion. The bicentennial of Franz Liszt’s birth and the centennial of Gustav Mahler’s death will also be celebrated. A full program of the Festival can be found at: www.beethoven.org.pl/en/festiwalewielkanocne/xvwielkanocnyfestiwallvb/program.
EVENINGS WITH SZYMANOWSKI 2011
From March 29-31, the 14th Festival "Evenings with the music of Karol Szymanowski" took place at the Music Academy in Katowice. The formula of the Festival juxtaposes Karol Szymanowski’s compositions with the compositions of his contemporaries—in this year’s case, Manuel de Falla—showing his work in the rich context of world culture. In previous years composers have included: L. Janaček, G. Bacewicz, M. Ravel, B. Bartók, R. Strauss, S. Prokofiev, S. Rachmaninov, Silesian composers, D. Shostakovich, C. Debussy, C. Nielsen and, in 2010, Fryderyk Chopin.
ŚWIĘTOKRZYSKIE MUSIC DAYS IN KIELCE
Three works that are currently in the PWM catalogue are on the program of the 19th annual Świętokrzyskie Music Days Festival held in the city of Kielce from March 25 until April 15. The compositions in question include Three Dances for Orchestra by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Perpetuum mobile by Stefan Kisielewski, and Extended Perception of Echo by M. Chyrzyński. Górecki’s composition was heard on March 25 with the Świętokrzyska Philharmonic conducted by Jacek Rogala. Mr. Chyrzyński’s piece, scored for string orchestra, was given on April 1, with maestro Paul Ghun Kim conducting the aforementioned orchestra. Mr. Kisielewski’s work will be given on the April 8 concert conducted by maestro Rogala.
In addition to concerts, the Festival also features an exhibit about Stefan Kisielewski’s life as a musician and writer, entitled “Kisielewski 1911-1991.” Prepared by PWM in conjunction with its recent book publication, the exhibit will be on display at the Cultural Centre of the City of Kielce from March 25 until April 15. On April 7 Małgorzata Gąsiorowska, author of Kisielewski, will be present at a panel discussion with special guests including Krystyna Kisielewska, Jerzy Kisielewski, Adam Sławiński, Andrzej Kosowski, and Marek Mizera.
GDAŃSK MUSIC FESTIVAL
The first two weeks of April will resonate with concerts in various locations around the Northern Polish port city of Gdańsk during the 2011 Gdańsk Music Festival [Gdański Festiwal Muzyczny]. It will open on April 2 with Verdi’s Requiem, performed at the famous cathedral in Oliwa. On April 3 works by several Gdańsk-based composers will be heard at the Artus Palace in Gdańsk. Pianist and finalist in the 2010 Chopin Competition, Ingolf Wunder, will perform on April 4. Other highlights during the festival include the “Vivaldi 333” concert honoring the 333rd birthday and 270th death anniversary of the composer, a concert of the Slovak Symphony, an Opera Gala presented by the Baltic Philharmonic, a String Virtuoso evening with The Four Seasons by Vivaldi and Piazzolla, a performance by Cappella Gedaniensis, a chamber evening by the Moscow Piano Trio, and two concerts dedicated to music by Franz Liszt (honoring the bicentennial of his birth). The Festival will conclude with an oratorio gala on April 13, featuring C.H. Graun’s monumental “Der Tod Jesu.”
MARCH CONCERTS IN LUTOSŁAWSKI STUDIO
On March 27, the Polish Radio Orchestra and soloists Michał Drewnowski (piano) and Artur Pachlewski (clarinet) led by conductor Monika Wolińska presented a concert entitled “Generacje XIV” at the Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw (pictured at left). The program of works by six composers was organized by Polish Radio-Program 2 [Dwójka], Polish Author’s Association [ZAiKS] and the Polish Composers’ Union [ZKP]. The Concerto inquieto for Clarinet and Orchestra by Maciej Zieliński was featured alongside works by Krzysztof Baculewski, Tadeusz Majerski, Michał Pawełek, Sławomir Kupczak, and Andrzej Dobrowolski.
On March 30, Jerzy Maksymiuk conducted Sinfonia Iuventus the Lutosławski Studio in Warsaw. One of Poland’s most prominent vocalists, Jadwiga Rappé, was the soloist in a work entitled Loneliness composed by Piotr Moss, set to a text by e.e. cummings. Arkadiusz Krupa was the featured soloist in a work Lamento for oboe and string orchestra by Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa. Bach’s Keyboard Concerto in F minor and Jerzy Maksymiuk’s orchestral arrangement of Debussy’s Piano Prelude No. 8 (La fille aux cheveux de lin) completed the program.
SZYMANOWSKI IN CARACAS
On March 20, 2011 the First Violin Concerto op. 35 and the Second Violin Concerto op. 61 of Karol Szymanowski was presented in Caracas, Venezuela at the Sala Simón Bolivar. Also on the program: the Symphonic Poem “Don Juan” Op. 20 of Richard Strauss and the Manuel De Falla’s Suite No. 2 from El Sombrero de Tres Picos. The concert was performed by the world-famous Sinfonica de la Juventud Venezolana Simón Bolivar, with violin soloist Leticia Moreno and conductor Christian Vasquez.
ANOTHER REVIEW OF BLECHACZ IN SF
Theodora Martin, a young but accomplished pupil of pianist Hans Boepple at Santa Clara University, has written an excellent and informed review of the February 22 performance by pianist and winner of the 2005 International Chopin Competition Rafał Blechacz at the Herbst Theater in San Francisco. Blechacz’s impressive program included Szymanowski’s Sonata No. 1, Mozart’s Variations K. 264, Debussy’s L’isle joyeuse, and Chopin’s Ballade No. 1 in G minor, Op. 23 and Ballade No. 2 in F major Op. 38, Polonasies Op. 26, and Four Mazurkas Op. 41. Read the entire review here: www.peninsulareviews.com.
BELL IN LONG BEACH
On Monday Feb 14, multi-Grammy Award-winning violinist Joshua Bell brought his breathtaking virtuosity and tone of rare beauty to the Carpenter Performing Arts Center at California State University, Long Beach. Equally at home as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestra leader, Mr. Bell’s recital program included Brahms' Sonata No. 2, Schubert's Fantasy in C, and Grieg's Sonata No. 2, as well as four encores featuring works by Chopin and Wieniawski. Mr. Bell’s recital partner was world renowned pianist Sam Haywood, whose recent recording on Chopin's own Pleyel piano (pictured at right) cemented his place as a Chopin specialist.
[Sources: audience member, carpenterarts.org]
LUTOSŁAWSKI – OPERA OMNIA 03
Witold Lutosławski – Opera Omnia Vol. 3
The Wrocław Philharmonic and CD Accord present the third album from the "Witold Lutosławski Opera Omnia" series. Works on Opera Omnia Vol. 3 are performed by: Ernst Kovacic (conductor), Nicholas Daniel (oboe, conductor), Lucy Wakeford (harp), Wrocław Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum and the Symphony Orchestra of the Wrocław Philharmonic. The previous two volumes featured chamber music performed by the Lutosławski Quartet (ACD 144), and the second featuring Lutosławski's Symphonies II and IV performed by the Wrocław Philharmonic under the baton of Jacek Kasprzyk (ACD 161).
Komeda the Innocent Sorcerer
Jazz performaces by the Andrzej Jagodziński Trio and friends.
SKOWRONSKI PLAYS! ON YOUTUBE
Many of the prolific recordings made by Polish-American violinist Vincent P. Skowronski—the American representative to the 4th International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow—are now available in video form. See the artist’s page at: http://www.youtube.com/user/daleelashe
Dariusz Przybylski - Works for Orchestra
Below is an excerpt from review of this CD by Dominy Clements of MusicWeb International:
Professor Maria Zduniak, a prominent historian of Polish music, died on March 11, 2011 in Opole at the age of 77. A graduate from the Wrocław Academy of Music with a degree in music theory (1961) and piano performance (1965), she also obtained an art history degree from the Wrocław University in 1967. Since 1961 she was an assistant and later full professor at the Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, serving as dean and vice president during the mid 1980s, and again in the early 2000s at the same school. She was also Director of the History of Silesian Musical Culture Institute from 1996 until 2005. Prof. Zduniak specialized in the history of Silesian music from the past three centuries and was awarded the Chevalier’s Cross in 1989 and Officer’s Cross in 2003 for her research. She authored over 150 papers and articles about music, as well as books, including Muzyka i muzycy polscy w dziewiętnastowiecznym Wrocławiu [Polish Music and Musicians in the 19th Century Wrocław], and Brahms we Wrocławiu [Brahms in Wrocław].
BORN THIS MONTH:
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Marek Żebrowski, Bogdan Komorniczak, Lyn Bronson,
Vincent Skowronski & Gary Fitel berg
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 6, 2011.
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