Polish Music Newsletter

December 2008, Vol. 14, No. 12. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California

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LOOKING BACK ON 2008...

Dear Friends of Polish Music,

Another busy year for the Polish Music Center is coming to a close. Since the beginning of 2008, we have produced several exciting programs in many different locations throughout California. Internationally-acclaimed artists, like Midori (pictured at right with PMC Director Marek Zebrowski), Juliana Gondek, and Nikita Mndoyants performed at PMC-sponsored events. Polish music was featured at a Spring Concert at USC in March, the Constitution Day Concert at UCLA in May, the Independence Day Concert at USC in November, and also at the three-day long Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles shortly thereafter.

In addition to these highlights, we have continued to promote Polish music by facilitating performances for local artists interested in Polish repertoire who used our library resources, publishing our monthly online Newsletter about worldwide events in the field, updating the vast resources on our website, and answering thousands of requests for information on Polish music, folklore and dance from all over the world.

Our manuscript collection of music by such great Polish composers as Lutosławski, Penderecki, Meyer, Bacewicz, and many others is without equal anywhere in the world. In July of this year, we received another unprecedented donation: a very significant collection of Paderewski memorabilia, including photographs, correspondence, and many unique personal items. With the 150th anniversary of Paderewski’s birth coming in 2010, we are preparing a special publication of a book on Paderewski in California, and a travelling exhibit of the most exciting items from the Paso Robles Paderewski Collection.

It is quite clear that all of these activities require significant funds to be realized. As we look forward to seeing you at our concerts, we also look forward to your meaningful financial support of our activities. Polish Music Center is unique in its mission of promoting Polish musical culture abroad. We recognize that in these uncertain times your contribution has a special meaning of a vote of confidence in all of our endeavors.


Just a few of our supporters from Polonia in Los Angeles. Paderewski Monument Unveiling, USC, 4 October 2007. [Photo credit: Doug Spice]

We would like to thank all of our past contributors who have generously shared our vision of promoting Polish music. Since individual donations sustain everything we do, please consider making another donation this year. Given that only a small percentage of the community is involved in supporting the Polish Music Center, we appeal especially to new donors to help in our mission as well. We invite you to stop by our offices on the USC campus to see first-hand what we’re trying to accomplish. Please call us at (213) 821-1356 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit to the Center.

Your contributions can be sent to:

Polish Music Center
USC Thornton School of Music
840 West 34th Street
Los Angeles, CA 90089

Thank you for considering this year’s appeal. We look forward to your continued support. In closing, we would like to wish you and your family a happy holiday season!

Sincerely,

The Polish Music Center Staff

 

PMC NOVEMBER EVENTS

REVIEW:
INDEPENDENCE DAY & PADEREWSKI LECTURE

By Barbara Kraft

The Celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence Day & 2008 Paderewski Lecture-Recital was held on November 10 in the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium. This event, co-organized by the Polish Music Center at USC and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in L.A., honored two outstanding Polish artists well known in the United States for their significant contributions to film music and cinematography: composer Wojciech Kilar and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński.

The evening began with remarks addressed to an enthusiastic, full house by Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska on the spirit of Poland’s self-determination throughout its troubled history and its pride in regaining its independence 90 years ago in 1918.

Wojciech Kilar, the Polish Music Center’s 2008 Paderewski Lecturer, was unable to attend but was ‘present’ via a recorded interview conducted by Krzesimir Dębski in Poland and edited by Marek Zebrowski, Program Director of the PMC.   Speaking about both his film and his concert music, Kilar distinguished between the two, noting that “Film music is functional … A piece of music is like a story, having a beginning, development and an end.  However, in films they are broken down into bits, lasting a few, or a dozen or so seconds, or a few minutes.  In this aspect, it is music which is much easier to write….. when I write a symphony or a mass, I start from nothing.  Literally! …..As far as my own symphonic music is concerned, it can sometimes take years.”   

Celebrated for both his symphonic and film music, the Independence Day concert featured selections from Kilar’s soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (with Andrew Leonard playing the clarinet solo) and The Ninth Gate, the latter hauntingly and beautifully sung by soprano Krysta Close, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady with Sally Rentschler, John L. Robinson, Alison Lowell, and Andrew Leonard on recorders.  These works were performed by the USC Strings conducted by Sharon Lavery, as was Kilar’s evocative Orawa (1986), which brought the program to a resounding end. Orawa was inspired by the traditional harmonies and folk music of the Highlands where, to this day, folk ensembles of string players remain popular.  The Quintet for Winds (1952) was performed by the Midnight Winds and reflects the influence of Nadia Boulanger, with whom Kilar studied in Paris as a young composer.


Playing selections from The Portrait of a Lady on Nov. 10, 2008:
USC Strings with Sharon Lavery conducting,plus recorder players Sally Rentschler, John L. Robinson, Alison Lowell, and Andrew Leonard, and Marek Zebrowski, piano. [Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]

At the conclusion of the concert Counsel General Kapuścińska decorated Janusz Kamiński, the famous Polish cinematographer and two-time Academy Award winner, with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland. Kamiński served as Director of Photography for such celebrated films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Munich, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, Artificial Intelligence, Amistad, Jurassic Park, Jerry Maguire, among others.


Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska bestows upon cinematographer Janusz Kamiński the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, from the President of Poland, and the Diploma of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Promotion of Polish Culture. [Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]

Asked by the Consul General about promoting Polish culture, Kamiński responded, “I’m always attracted to bleakness because Poland was not very beautiful when I was growing up.  I never really think about promoting Polish culture.  Polish culture means to me the country I grew up in and the values of the country.  I was shaped by Polish culture.”

*     *     *     *     *     *

Barbara Kraft is a public relations specialist and producer, writer and narrator of KCRW's hour-long documentary on Segerstrom Hall, “Transforming O.C.” She has contributed to The Hudson Review, The Michigan Quarterly, The Canadian Theatre Review, Ohio University Press, et al. She has just completed a book-length memoir entitled The Death of Anais Nin: Lux Aeterna.

TWO ENJOYABLE EVENINGS OF MUSIC
A Review and Op-Ed by Gary Fitelberg

The Polish Consulate of Los Angeles joined forces with the Polish Music Center at USC to present the 90th anniversary and celebration of Polish Independence Day in conjunction with the annual Paderewski lecture and concert.  The festivities took place on November 10th in Bovard Auditorium on the USC Campus.

Presiding over the official dedications and remarks was the Hon. Paulina Kapuścińska who presented a special retrospective of Poland's history.  Later during this evening of enjoyable music she also decorated Janusz Kamiński, the famous Polish cinematographer and Academy Award winner, with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, as bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Audience members also received a special treat with an interview and concert of music by Wojciech Kilar, the Polish Music Center’s 2008 Paderewski Lecturer. The filmed interview was produced by Marek Zebrowski, Director of the Polish Music Center, and presented the audience with insights into the personality and professional career of this illustrious modern Polish composer.

Mr. Janusz Kamiński receives the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska
[Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]

The evening featured a concert of symphonic and film music by Mr. Kilar, including selections from the scores of Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and The Ninth Gate, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady and Kilar’s chamber compositions Quintet for Wind Instruments and Orawa for String Orchestra. Performers included Midnight Winds, USC Strings, soprano Krysta Close (Manager of the Polish Music Center), and other assisting artists. The ensemble was led by Sharon Lavery, a faculty member of the Thornton School of Music at USC and an internationally renowned conductor.

 In the November 2008 PMC Newsletter, Mr. Zebrowski provided the following historical context for the music performed during this concert: “Wojciech Kilar’s musical career began with his avant-garde compositions in the early 1960s. By the early 1970s, Kilar’s interests and inspiration in the folklore of Tatra Mountains led to a string of very successful orchestral compositions, including Krzesany (1974), Koscielec (1976), and Orawa (1986). At the same time, Kilar also became a film composer, producing over 150 soundtracks to-date for such directors as Wajda, Zanussi, Polanski, Coppola, and others. Recipient of numerous international awards, Wojciech Kilar continues to compose, having turned recently to liturgical music with such masterpieces as Missa pro pace (2001), the Advent Symphony (2005), Magnificat (2006), and Te Deum, which was premiered earlier this fall.”

Kaminski & Kilar are creative geniuses and two giants in their respective fields of cinematography and music.

 Two evenings later in the same hall at the same time was yet another enjoyable evening of extraordinary music and musicians presented by Music Director Michael C. Powers and his USC Thornton Concert Orchestra.

 The program consisted of Chabrier’s Espana, Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 2, and, after the intermission (which seemed much too long to interrupt such carefully blended and interwoven classics and beautiful and enriching deeply moving pieces), Rodrigo’s Six Songs and Concerto de Aranjuez; followed by an awesome and rousing Capricio espagnol by Rimsky-Korsakov. 

If you are ever fortunate to hear this latter piece, hold on to your hats as the electricity and energy level generated in the concert hall might possibly include gusts of strong wind and lightning bolts straight to your soul.  Be forewarned. A mixture shocking and strange, this combination of sounds will surely keep you alive, awake and delightfully amazed.  It was noteworthy one which shall never be forgotten, and well-worth a standing ovation.  More well-seasoned veterans could do no better justice to the piece.  Powers was born to conduct.

As this very special concert performance took place right on the heels of the celebration of Poland’s 90th Anniversary of Independence, it is highly recommended by the author to the brilliant conductor Michael C. Powers to expand for the future and include the Spanish-style Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 19, by Karol Szymanowski as arranged by Grzegorz Fitelberg in this repertoire.  Another alternative might possibly include the Szymanowski work together with the symphonic poem Episode at a Masquerade by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz as arranged, completed, and orchestrated by Grzegorz Fitelberg and Song of the Falcon by Grzegorz Fitelberg I strongly urge Mr. Powers to do so in collaboration with the Polish Music Center at USC and Director Marek Zebrowski.

*     *     *     *     *     *

Gary Fitelberg is a music critic and historian

PADEREWSKI FESTIVAL GALA IN PASO ROBLES

The historic Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn resonated with music on Saturday, November 15, the closing day of this year’s Paderewski Festival. Expanded to a three-day offering of concerts, lectures, film screenings, it began with a November 13 performance by the Midnight Winds at the North County Christian Church. The varied program featured works by Bacewicz, Barber, Chopin, Kilar, Paderewski and Ravel was well-received by the opening night audience.
Rudolfas Budginas presented an entertaining piano performance at the Cass Winery on Friday, November 14, infusing the well-known works of Bach, Schubert, Chopin and Liszt with his own, “classics-lite” take. Winery owner, Steve Cass, dressed in a smartly-tailored Victorian white suit (reminiscent of Paderewski’s outfits worn during his visits to Paso), gave an engaging and historically accurate account of the life of Paso Robles’ most famous resident.

The Festival’s last day, Saturday, began with a free screening of the 1937 feature film, Moonlight Sonata, in which Paderewski played one of the main speaking roles and performed a 20-minute recital of works by Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, and his own Menuet. A large crowd then visited Paderewski Memorabilia Exhibit at the City Hall, brought to Paso by a Paderewski expert and collector, Christine Smith.

At 4 p.m. the capacity crowd filled the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom to hear the winners of the 2008 Paderewski Youth Piano Competition. The concert began with a 10-year old Andrew Toh, who received an Honarable Mention. His assured performance of works by Scarlatti and Burgmueller elicited a warm applause from the audience. The Third Prize Winner, 14-year old Lindsay Reed, presented a lyrical interpretation of a short piano piece by Grieg and a stylish reading of Haydn’s Sonatina. Evan Lin, the 11 year-old Second Prize Winner (and also a laureate of last year’s Competition), gave a very musical and confident performance of Mozart’s well-known Sonatina and the Midnight Rhapsody by Melody Bober. Rory McClish, the First Prize Winner, gave a spirited performance of Bach’s Invention and followed it with equally brilliant presentation of Beethoven’s Sonatina. The concert ended with Frank Mecham, Mayor of Paso Robles, and Rachel Hamilton, the Youth Piano Competition Coordinator, handing out medals and prizes to this year’s winners.

The Festival highlight was a Gala Concert performed by Nikita Mndoyants, the 19-year old First Prize Winner of the 2007 Paderewski International Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland. This concert was the pianist’s West Coast premiere. He presented a demanding and beautifully executed program of music by Paderewski, Chopin, Beethoven, Babadjanian, and Liszt, as well as his set of variations on the Paganini’s celebrated theme.


Mndoyants playing at the 2007 Paderewski International Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland

Nikita’s beautiful touch and flawless technique were already evident in a group of Paderewski’s piano miniatures and three Mazurkas by Chopin that opened the program. Beethoven’s last Sonata, a towering challenge musically and technically, followed and the audience was treated to a rare and inspired interpretation. Nikita’s exceptional insight into the music and his exceptional understanding of Beethoven’s complex form, coupled with his poetic insight was, in many ways, a highlight of the evening. After the intermission, the audience heard Chopin’s Polonaise-Fantaisie, which, under Nikita’s fingers, became an evocative description of Poland’s national dance that combined majesty and melancholy in equal measure. Six Pieces by the Armenian composer, Arno Babadjanian, gave Mndoyants an ample opportunity to demonstrate the rhythmic drive and highlight the virtuosity inherent in this modern composition. Mndoyants' own Variations on a Theme by Paganini gave the audience a taste of the young virtuoso’s compositional skills. The well-known theme received an imaginative and virtuosic treatment, demonstrating Mndoyants’ firm grasp of the variation technique and an innate sense of pianistic texture and color. The concluding Sixth Hungarian Rhapsody by Liszt with its bravura octave finale brought down the house with the audience acknowledging Nikita Mndoyants with a well-deserved standing ovation. Two encores—a Nocturne by Tchaikovski and a Waltz by Chopin—concluded this brilliant evening, celebrating and commemorating Paderewski’s ties to the Central Coast region.

[MZ]

 

NEWS

GÓRECKI – SCOTTISH/WELSH PREMIERES

In the last few months, as a part of their newest dance work, Falling Light, the Janis Claxton Dance group has facilitated the Scottish and Welsh premieres of the 3rd String Quartet “Songs Are Sung” by Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (pictured at left). The premieres took place on October 17 and 18 in the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and on November 15 at the Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff. Falling Light also uses J.S. Bach’s Partita No 2 and an original composition by the Australian new music ensemble, Waratah. The music was performed by the Edinburgh Quartet.

Australian choreographer Janis Claxton, who is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, said the following to the Welsh press regarding the Górecki Quartet: “I’m particularly excited about the third piece, Songs Are Sung, which will include the Welsh premiere of acclaimed Polish composer Henryk Gorecki’s Third Quartet. This is an exquisite score which embodies the agony and ecstasy of the human condition in almost every note. The work will include the full company of six female dancers all of whom contribute to the making of the piece drawing from individual and group responses to the music.”

[Sources: www.walesonline.co.uk, thescotsman.scotsman.com]

LASOŃ PREMIERE

A new work by Aleksander Lasoń was premiered on November 23 in Katowice during the Ars Cameralis Festival. The composition titled Called Back for solo voices and string orchestra was commissioned by Marek Moś, director of the Aukso Chamber Orchestra and performed together with the Hilliard Ensemble. Lasoń dedicated this work to his late wife and used several texts by poet Emily Dickinson.

The concert also featured Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Pärt’s Most Holy Mother of God and Raskatov’s Obikhod.

[Source: www.pwm.com.pl, www.esil.pl]

KULENTY NY PREMIERE


On December 5-6, the Kronos Quartet will give the New York premiere of Hanna Kulenty’s String Quartet No. 4 “A Cradle Song.” The performance will take place in Zankel Auditorium of Carnegie Hall.

Kronos Quartet will also perform A Cradle Song in the following venues in the future: 

[Source: kronosquartet.org]

PENDERECKI OFFICIAL WEBSITE

This new website, dedicated entirely to Krzysztof Penderecki, is administered by the Ludwig van Beethoven Society. It is one of the many ways that Krzysztof Penderecki is being celebrated on his 75th birthday. The website was long overdue for a composer of Penderecki’s fame. The new web address is: www.krzysztofpenderecki.eu. The portal is not just a temporary website for the  birthday celebrations of the composer. It will stay open, and will serve the reader with all kinds of information about Krzysztof Penderecki and his concert and publishing plans.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

PENDERECKI BIOGRAPHY

Bunt i Wyzwolenie [Mutiny and Liberation], a monograph about Krzysztof Penderecki, will be released on December 3. The long-awaited biography was written by Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski, musicologist, music theoretician and long time Director of Polish Music Editions [PWM]. The biography will be published in two volumes as part of the “Polish Composers of the 20th century” series, and publication of Volume 2 is planned for 2009.

The celebration of the release will take place at the Kraków Music Academy on December 3. Both Mieczysław Tomaszewski and Krzysztof Penderecki will be present for a discussion moderated by Teresa Małecka. Once released, the book will be available online from PWM as well as major book stores around Poland.

[Source: www.pwm.com.pl]

WITOLD LUTOSŁAWSKI STUDIES

The first volume of a new periodical—Witold Lutoslawski Studies, 2007 (No. 1)—has been published by the Witold Lutoslawski Center at the Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University, Kraków.  The publication is available entirely online at:  www.muzykologia.uj.edu.pl.

Articles in this volume are: "Witold Lutosławski Center at the Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University" (Stanisław Hrabia); "The Diary of the Life, Works and Activity of Witold Lutosławski" (Stanisław Będkowski); "Witold Lutosławski and the European Musical Tradition" (Jadwiga Paja-Stach);  “Inspiration from the Music of the Masters and from Folklore in the Works of Lutosławski. Exhibition in the Witold Lutosławski Center” (Jadwiga Paja-Stach); and  "Publications on Witold Lutosławski by Members of the Staff and Ph.D. Students of the Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University since 1999" (Stanisław Hrabia).

GÓRECKI-PENDERECKI FESTIVAL

A special festival has been organized to celebrate the 75th birthdays of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Krzysztof Penderecki. The Festival is comprised of six concerts, featuring works from all of the creative periods of these two innovative composers. Organized by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice, an ensemble with a long standing history of co-operation with both composers, the festival started on November 28 and will last until December 9.

Invited guest ensembles include the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, Aukso Chamber Orchestra and Camerata Silesia Choir. Soloists include Rafał Kwiatkowski – cello, Iwona Hosa – soprano and Beata Bilińska – piano, among others. Conductors include Massimilliano Caldi, Wojciech Michniewski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Krzysztof Penderecki, Marek Moś, Włodzimierz Siedlik and Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl and www.nospr.org.pl]

KAMINSKI/KACZMAREK FILM SCREENING

The Polish American Film Society presents Director/Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski’s holiday-themed film, Hania (2007, 96 min.) at the Laemmle Music Hall Theatre on December 12 – 18, 2008. Already a two-time Academy Award winner, Mr. Kaminski was recently honored by the Polish Consulate of L.A. with the receipt of the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland, and the Diploma of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Promotion of Polish Culture. Hania also features music by Academy Award-winning Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek. See the Laemmle website for details about the movie and how to purchase tickets.

Showtimes (December 12 - 18)
Friday: 5pm, 7:30pm, 10pm
Saturday: 2pm, 4:30pm: 7pm (sold out), 10pm (sold out)
Sunday: 2pm. 4:30pm, 7pm (Q & A with Janusz Kaminski), 10pm
Monday – Thursday: 5pm, 7:30pm
Laemmle Music Hall Theatre (9036 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, 90211)

HENDRICKS IN WARSAW

Barbara Hendricks will give a recital at St. John’s Cathedral in Warsaw on Friday, December 12 at 8:00 pm. The world-famous soprano will sing a program of African-American spirituals and Christmas carols. This holiday concert is an annual event organized by Stołeczna Estrada, and details are available on the organization’s website: www.estrada.com.pl/hendricks.

Hendricks, who is a former laureate of the Kosciuszko Foundation's Marcella Sembrich Voice Scholarship Competition, brings the 2008 Sembrich Year to a glorious close by appearing in concert in Sembrich's native land. The year 2008 marks the sesquicentennial of Sembrich's birth. 

ANDERSZEWSKI IN THE US

Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski will give two recitals in the U.S. this month.  First he will perform in Carnegie Hall’s Keyboard Virtuosos I series on December 3 in New York, and then in Chicago on December 7 during the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Bank of America Great Performers piano series. His program will feature selections from Bach’s Partitas and English Suites (the last of the keyboard suites he composed), as well as music by Janácek’s In the Mists, Schumann’s Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op. 26, and Beethoven’s Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, Op. 110. Read more about this highly praised performer at his website, www.anderszewski.net.

NEW PRESIDENT FOR THE KF

As of November 21, 2008, Mr. Alex Storozynski has replaced Mr. Joseph Gore as the President of the Kosciuszko Foundation. Mr. Storozynski, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, clearly has a strong interest in the historical significance of T. Kosciuszko, as evidenced by numerous articles in the New York Daily News and the New York Sun, as well as his book, The Peasant Prince. Read more about Alex Storozynski in English or po polsku.

POLAND, JAZZ & POLITICS

CNN has recently reported on the popularity of jazz in Poland, and how that form of expression has been inextricably linked to Polish politics. Read this report, entitled “Poland: Jazz and all that politics” here: edition.cnn.com

USC CHAMBER MUSIC MARATHON

The music of Polish/German composer Moritz Moszkowski will kick off the final night of USC’s annual Chamber Music Marathon. Thornton School of Music students Brooke Parker, violin, Naomi Florin, violin, and Jonathan Ong, piano will perform Moszkowski’s Suite, Op. 71. The Chamber Music Marathon takes place at the end of every Fall semester, and is a testament to the love of chamber music (and the endurance) of both the performers and their audiences. This year’s Marathon runs from Monday, December 1 through Wednesday, December 3, and features non-stop music by various student groups from 5:30 p.m. until about 10:30 p.m. in the Alfred Newman Recital Hall.

USC Thornton Chamber Music Marathon
December 1-3, 2008 | 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (end time varies by day)
Alfred Newman Recital Hall
3616 Trousdale Parkway, Los Angeles, CA

MARKOWICZ RECITAL

In honor of the 40th Anniversary of the artist’s arrival in New York, the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland is presenting a piano recital by pianist Roman Markowicz.  This event, entitled “New York, 1968-2008: A Sentimental Musical Journey” will be held at the Consulate on December 16 at 7:30 p.m.  The Consulate is located at 233 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016.

Roman Markowicz, born in Poland, was educated at the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw, as well as at the Manhattan School of Music and The Juilliard School in New York City. Among his mentors were such eminent pianists as Maria Wilkomirska, Artur Balsam and Ania Dorfman. In 1968 political circumstances forced Mr. Markowicz and his family to leave Poland and resettle in the United States, where as a scholarship student he continued his musical education. Currently he divides his musical activities between performing, music education and music criticism. He is a sought after soloist and chamber musician, and in that capacity he has performed all over the United States, as well as several European countries. He recently partnered with renowned Polish contralto Ewa Podleś for recitals in Spain.

[Photo and biographical information from the Kosciuszko Foundation]

POLISH CHOIR IN ISRAEL

Kraków-based choir Kantorei Sankt Barbara will help celebrate the Polish-Israeli Year in Israel. On December 25 the choir will start their tour of Israel with concerts at the Haifa University, YMCA Auditorium in Jerusalem Art Museum in Tel Aviv and Silesian Church in Nazareth. The Kantorei choir is the only ensemble from Kraków promoting Polish culture during the Polish-Israeli Year celebrations. To find out more about the past and current events of this special year please visit www.poland-israel.org.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

bar

CANTORES MINORES IN STRASBOURG

On December 16, the treble section of the Cantores Minores choir is taking part in an all-Berlioz concert with the Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Claire Gibault. The concert marks the end of the French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s tenure over the European Union. A special children's chorus of 200 children from EU capitals has been formed for the concert, and Cantores Minores will represent Warsaw. The concert takes place at the Schweitzer Auditorium in the Palais de la Musique in Strasbourg

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SLAVIC CHRISTMAS CHORAL CONCERT

The 6th annual Slavic Christmas Choral Concert in Berkeley will be held on December 11 at 7:30pm in the historic Berkeley Hillside Club.  Featured artists for the evening are the Łowiczanie Polish Carolers, Ukrainian Bay Area Carolers, Dalmacijo Singers from Croatia, and the orchestra Łowiczanie Kapela, with vocal soloists Dalyte Kodzis, Anna Samborska, and Lily Storm and instrumentalists Pawel Walerowski and Susan Worland.

The evening will provide a gloriously varied collection of traditional carols that plumbs the rich traditions of East European Slavic folk and sacred holiday music, celebrating the sublime joy of the Christmas story. Vocals and instrumentals draw on the artistic talents of the Bay Area's Slavic communities.

6th annual Slavic Christmas Choral Concert
December 11 | 7:30 pm
Berkeley Hillside Club
2286 Cedar Street, Berkeley
(510) 575-7514 or (415) 285-4336
Information: dance@polishfolk.org

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POLISH CAROLS IN CHICAGO

LiraThe Lira Ensemble, which specializes in Polish music, will present the first-ever “Concert of Polish Carols” at Holy Name Cathedral on Sunday, January 4, 2009 at 3pm - after Christmas, in keeping with Polish tradition. The Lira Symphony and the Lira Singers will perform some of the most beloved and most popular Polish carols. The performance includes ancient and traditional carols, carols in contemporary style, as well as a collection of carols arranged by Witold Lutoslawski, one of the most renowned composers of the 20th century. A few American carols will complete the program.

The concert includes a guest appearance by classical saxophonist David Pituch who has performed across the US and Europe and appeared with major orchestras including the Boston Symphony, the Warsaw Philharmonic and the Berlin Radio and TV Orchestra.  He holds a doctorate from the Northwestern University School of Music and was awarded a Fulbright grant to study music in Poland, where he returned in the 1980’s to serve as professor of saxophone at the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw. Dr. Pituch has been a long-time member of the Advisory Board of the Lira Ensemble.

The concert, conducted by Paul Dijkstra - Lira’s distinguished conductor - will be narrated in English by Lucyna Migala of WCEV/1450am who is artistic director and general manager of the Lira Ensemble.  Ms. Migala will share some Polish holiday traditions and will offer a bit of the history behind the music performed.

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POLAND: AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY

A revised edition of Poland: An Illustrated History by Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski is now available from Hippocrene Books. Poland's remarkable quest for representative government, one of the oldest in modern Europe, is presented here against the backdrop of a millennium of history rich in cultural, political, and social events. These topics - complimented with polish art, literature, music, architecture, and folklore - are intimately described in this concise volume, which also includes 50 photos, illustrations, and maps. See other books of Polish interest at Hippocrene Books as well.

 

AWARDS

PENDERECKI HONORED IN FINLAND

Krzysztof Penderecki has been awarded the Commander of the Order of the Lion of Finland by the president of Finland, Tarja Kaarina. Penderecki was decorated during a ceremony in the Embassy of Finland in Warsaw on November 24. Penderecki received the medal in recognition of his efforts to bridge the cultural traditions of Poland and the rest of Europe, and his support of Finnish culture. It is also well known that Penderecki is very fond of Finnish flora and has even included some examples in the gardens of his Lusławice mansion in Poland.

Penderecki’s ties to Finnish culture are quite strong. He has conducted in Lahti several times, recorded with the Tapiola choir, and performed at the Naantali festival. One of his latest works, Sonata for cello solo, is dedicated to the Finnish cello virtuoso Arto Noras, and will be premiered at the Naantali festival in 2009. Penderecki is also the recipient of the 1983 Sibelius Award given by the Wihuri Foundation.

[Sources: wiadomosci.polska.pl]

KILAR AWARDED

The great Polish composer of film and symphonic music and honoree at this year’s Paderewski Lecture-Recital (see Oct 08 Newsletter), Wojciech Kilar, has received the Phoenix Award.  This award is reserved for people involved in culture and art who, in their creations, reach to the roots of the Christian faith. The award is given by the Polish Association of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and was presented during the annual convention in Poznań.

The Order of Malta, in its initial form, was established in 1099 and came to Poland in 1187. Throughout its history, the order became less of a military organization and more of a humanitarian one, helping war and natural disaster victims and establishing hospitals and care centers around the world. The presence of the Maltan Order in Poland was interrupted in 1832, when the Prussian government closed their hospital in Poznań. The order came back in 1989 and is currently supporting hospitals, care centers, voluntary fire stations, and medical equipment rental centers.

Wojciech Kilar is one of the greatest living Polish composers. Wojciech Kilar’s music, especially in recent years, is deeply spiritual and rooted in Christian faith. It is his dedication to and promotion of Christianity that was behind the Maltan Order’s choice to honor him with Phoenix Award.

[Sources: www.pwm.com.pl and muzyka.onet.pl]

GÓRECKI HONORED BY KATOWICE

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki has received the Honorary Citizen of Katowice award. The city council has decided to honor this famous Polish composer for staying faithful to his city, despite many life changing successes. The award ceremony took place on November 29, during the second day of the “Górecki & Penderecki Festival,” which was organized by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in celebration of the 75th birthdays of both composers.

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was born on December 6, 1933 in Czernica near Rybnik (Silesia). He studied composition with Bolesław Szabelski at the State Higher Music School in Katowice. For many years he was on the faculty of his alma mater, and between 1975-1979 he served as Dean of the school. Although he was the laureate of many international composition competitions throughout his career, Górecki gained international fame with his 3rd Symphony “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs,” written in 1975 and released 18 years later, sold over 1 million copies world-wide.

He holds honorary doctorates from many acclaimed academic institutions, including: Kraków Music Academy, Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University, Lublin Catholic University, University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Victoria University, Catholic University in Washington and University of Montreal.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

HONORARY DOCTORATE FOR PENDERECKI

Krzysztof Penderecki has received an honorary doctorate from the Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk. The award was part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the school. After the ceremony, Penderecki conducted the Academy’s symphony orchestra in a concert featuring Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony and Penderecki’s own Concerto Grosso for three cellos and orchestra.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

POLISH FLAUTIST AWARDED

Polish flautist Łukasz Długosz has won Second Prize at the 8th Jean-Pierre Rampala International Flute Competition in Paris. This is one of the most important and renowned flute competitions in the world. This year there were 95 entrants from all around the world, and Łukasz Długosz was the only Pole in the competition. The international jury was chaired by Phillippe Bernold. The First Prize of the competition was won by Seiya Ueno from Japan.

[Source: polmic.pl]

AWARDS FOR SKUBISZEWSKI

Cezary Skubiszewski, who is very active in the Australian film industry, has received the Australian Performing Rights Association Award for his score to the documentary film, Night. Skubiszewski also served as the Music Director of the awards ceremony. Not only was the music for this film written by the Polish composer, but the score was also recorded in Katowice by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR). Skubiszewski was also nominated for the same award in the Best Original Song category, for the movie Free Falling 2.

Earlier this year, Skubiszewski received the Australian Film Institute Award for his soundtrack to La Spagnola and last year the same award for Bootmen soundtrack. He is also the recipient of Australian Composers Award and New York Critics Award. You can view his IMDB profile at www.imdb.com.

[Sources: muzyka.onet.pl and film.onet.pl]

EWA MICHNIK / EMI HONORED

Ewa Michnik, director of the Wrocław Opera, and EMI Records have become the first recipients of the Polish Golden Muse Award.  This Award was established by the Polish Music Society to honor people, artists and companies especially dedicated to promotion of Polish culture worldwide. The statues of the “Golden Muse,” designed by the sculptor Marek Stankiewicz, were presented on November 16, after the final concert of the Polish Music Festival at the Kraków Philharmonic.

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

TANSMAN COMPETITION RESULTS

The 7th International Competition of Musical Personalities, which honors the great Polish composer Alexandre Tansman, concluded on November 9, 2008 in Łódź, Poland. The Jury consisted of: Zygmunt Krauze (Poland) – chairman, Robert Aitken (Canada), Jean-Marc Fessard (France), Madeleine Mitchell (Great Britain), Wojciech Michniewski (Poland), Jerzy Nalepka (Poland), Humberto Quagliata (Uruguay/Spain), Antoni Wierzbiński (Poland), and Andrzej Wendland (Poland). The jury gave the following awards:

  • Grand Prix – Julien Hervé, clarinet (France)
  • 2nd Prize – Flavio Sala, guitar (Italy)
  • 3rd Prize – Dawid Jarzyński, clarinet (Poland)
  • 4th Prize – Maxima Sitarz, violin (Poland)
  • Special Award for the best performance of the work by Alexander Tansman – Jarosław Nadrzycki, violin (Poland)

For more information please visit the official website of the competition.

[Source: polmic.pl]

JERZY KURCZEWSKI AWARD

The vocal ensemble “Affabre Concinui” was awarded this year’s Jerzy Kurczewski Award. The Jerzy Kurczewski Award was established in 1999 and is the only Polish award dedicated to artists in the choral field. Krzysztof Penderecki is the honorary patron of the award and the award is funded by the marshal of the Wielkopolskie region. The board of the award is chaired by Krzysztof Meyer, Polish composer and professor of the Hochshule für Musik in Cologne and member of the Poznań chapter of the Polish Composer’s Union (ZKP).

The award is given to artists with outstanding achievements in the fields of conducting, composition, and vocal/choral art. Jerzy Kurczewski was the director of one of the most famous Polish boy choirs, “Polskie Słowiki” [Polish Nightingales], which during its 56 years of activity has performed over 2,200 concerts and recordings. Currently the choir is operating as the Poznań Boys Choir. Previous recipients of the award include Jan Łukaszewski, Włodzimierz Siedlik, Father Stanisław Adamczyk, Andrzej Koszewski, Anna Szostak, Henryk Wojnarowski and Stefan Stuligrosz.

Affabre Concinui – The Polish Chamber Singers was established in 1983 in Poznań. The members of the ensemble are former members of two world famous Polish boy’s choirs directed by Stefan Stuligrosz and Jerzy Kurczewski. The ensemble has represented Poland at the World EXPO expositions in Seville (1992), Hanower (2000) and Aichi (2005), and also at the Polish Culture Festival in Taiwan, Polish Culture Week in Beijing and Algiers, at the World Economic Furun in Davos and concerts during the Atlanta Olympic Games. The name of the ensemble comes from Latin and translates as “ideally harmonized.”

[Source: muzyka.onet.pl]

HONORARY PEARL FOR WALEWSKA

According to an article on the Polish Market Magazine website, “The results of the 6th edition of the Pearls of the Polish Economy competition were announced at a gala event at the Royal Castle in Warsaw on November 21, 2008. The ranking is co-organized by Polish Market Economic Magazine and the Institute of Economics of the Polish Academy of Sciences (INE PAN). Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Economy Waldemar Pawlak and President of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Professor Michał‚ Kleiber were honorary patrons of the event…

[Honorary Pearls] are awarded to prominent Poles who might be referred to as the ambassadors of Polish values… People like the famous opera singer Małgorzata Walewska, [winner of the Honorary Pearl in the culture category] who sings in Vienna, in the US, anywhere in the world where people appreciate music, or historian Norman Davies, who writes about history in the way everyone can read. The stereotype is that business only concentrates on material things. It’s not true. Today’s event is an example that business supports culture. It supports people who have talent and who need the support of business. Businessmen enjoy culture. Together it fits very much’ Minister [Elżbieta] Jułczyk-Ziomecka said.”


PERFORMANCES

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SKROWACZEWSKI

During the weekend of October 30- November 1, fellow Poles Stanisław Skrowaczewski, conductor, and Ewa Kupiec, piano, performed together with the Minnesota Orchestra. The Minnesota Orchestra’s website describes the event best: “Our beloved force-of-nature conductor laureate, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, celebrates his 85th birthday with a concert showcasing one of the most beautiful pieces ever written for piano, as well as a remarkable young talent, Ewa Kupiec.”

The birthday concert opened with the conductor’s own composition, Music At Night, followed by Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E minor, Op. 11, and ended with Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra, the iconic use of which in the classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey gave the evening’s concert its title.  According to reviewer William Randall Beard, special to the Star Tribune, “Billing this week's Minnesota Orchestra concerts as ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ is demeaning to the music and condescending to the audience. Fortunately, the musicians did not participate in the marketers' dumbing-down of classical music. With the orchestra's conductor laureate Stanislaw Skrowaczewski on the podium, one is guaranteed a thought-provoking and deeply entertaining event.” Read the entire review here: www.startribune.com.

Maestro Skrowaczewski has been a member of the Minnesota’s Orchestra's artistic staff since 1960—first as music director and subsequently as conductor laureate—and has led at least one set of subscription concerts during each of the orchestra's past 48 seasons. In addition to his long relationship with the Minnesota Orchestra, he has served as music director of the Wrocław, Katowice and Kraków Philharmonics and the Warsaw National Orchestra in Poland, and has served as principal conductor for the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester and the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony in Tokyo (current). In 2004, Stanisław Skrowaczewski served as the Polish Music Center’s Paderewski Lecturer – the Maestro is pictured at right signing the guestbook in the PMC library during his visit.

[Sources: www.huliq.com, www.minnesotaorchestra.org]

ZIMMERMAN & LUTOSŁAWSKI

On October 30 and November 1, Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman gave a rare performance with the San Francisco Symphony and Herbert Blomstedt, conductor, at Davies Symphony Hall.  On the program was Bruckner: Symphony No. 2 in C minor and Lutosławski: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra

In his review of the concert, Joshua Cosman of the San Francisco Chronicle provides important historical background to the connection between Zimerman and Lutosławski: “Winning an international competition is a fine thing, I suppose. The real prize, though, comes when one of the greatest living composers hears you play and is inspired to write you a masterpiece. It happened to pianist Krystian Zimerman, whose 1975 victory at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw eventually led Witold Lutoslawski to compose his Piano Concerto. It's a work of intricate beauty and powerful energy, and its blend of ferocity and expressive tenderness is a tribute not only to Lutoslawski's imagination but also to the fervor of Zimerman's keyboard artistry.” For more historical and musicological insight, as well as the rest of the review, please visit: www.sfgate.com. Another review of the evening is also available at: www.insidebayarea.com.

POLISH THEME AT CARNEGIE VOCAL RECITAL

On November 1st at Zankel Auditorium at Carnegie Hall in New York City, a talented ensemble of performers came together to perform an eclectic program that was colored with Polish influences. The works performed were the World Premiere of Michael Ward-Bergeman’s Treny [Laments], which is based on the laments of 16th Century Polish poet Jan Kochanowski; 4 songs by John Dowland: Come Again, Sweet Love – Can She Excuse my Wrongs – Weep You No More, Sad Fountains – Now I Needs Must Part; Osvaldo Golijov’s Lua Descolorid; and a Polish folk song-inspired composition, David Bruce’s Piosenki [(Popular) Songs], set to the children’s poems of Polish poet Julian Tuwim.

The performers for the evening were Dawn Upshaw (Soprano), Evan Hughes (Bass-baritone), Stephen Prutsman (Conductor and Piano), Michael Ward-Bergeman (Hyper-Accordion), and Ensemble ACJW: Elizabeth Janzen (Flute), Carol McGonnell (Clarinet), Eric Reed (Horn), Nathan Botts (Trumpet), Anna Elashvili, Owen Dalby (Violins) , Meena Bhasin, (Viola) Claire Bryant (Cello), Kristoffer Saebo (Bass), Jared Soldiviero (Percussion). For more information about the performers, please visit www.carnegiehall.org.

Harry Rolnick, a reviewer with Concertonet.com, opens his review of the concert with these words:  “In the final Polish song of this ecstatic recital, the stolid bass-baritone Evan Hughes picked up a four-foot-long thick stick decorated with bells, and stomped it repeatedly on the floor or dangled it with the bells jingling. And as he and Dawn Upshaw sung, the untranslatable words (Trumf, Trumf! Misia Bela!!) and the entire chamber orchestra wailed and trilled and the klezmer clarinet warbled and the drums drummed, not only this scrivener but everybody in the packed Zankel Auditorium wanted to thump and jingle along with Mr. Hughes and the now foot-stamping orchestra.” Read the entire review here: www.concertonet.com. Another review is also available at www.nytimes.com.

Above: Evan Hughes, Dawn Upshaw, and composer David Bruce
From www.davidbruce.net

SZYMANOWSKI/KUPIEC IN NEW ZEALAND

Polish pianist Ewa Kupiec and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra in New Zealand performed a program entitled “Fantastic Symphonies” on November 13 at the Auckland Town Hall. Featured on the program was Szymanowski’s Symphony No. 4 “Symphonie Concertante,” Op. 60, as well as Debussey’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.  The conductor was Lionel Bringuier. This performance was broadcast live on the RNZ concert station.

LECTURE-RECITAL BY IWANEK

On Saturday, November 15, Polish composer Igor Iwanek presented a lecture /performance of his piano and chamber works at the Kaji Aso Studio. It was a unique opportunity for the audience to come close to and understand what goes into the creation of music. Performers included Vito Giacalone – alto saxophone, Maja Tremiszewska – piano, and Igor Iwanek – piano. The evening culminated with a performance of his prize-winning work of the 2008 Kaji Aso Composition Prize for alto saxophone and piano.

CHIBA PLAYS LUTOSŁAWSKI

On November 15 at Bethany Chicago United Church of Christ in Chicago, Saori Chiba and Paul Dykstra presented a two-piano recital. The program included works for two pianos by Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Witold Lutosławski and Sergei Rachmaninoff. Saori Chiba regularly performs and records with Polish violinist Vincent Skowronski.

JADE TRIO HONORS PENDERECKI

The Jade String Trio made its Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series debut on Sunday, November 16. The program included a 75th-birthday tribute to Poland's master composer, Krzysztof Penderecki, with his Trio for Strings (1990), as well as the music of Beethoven, Kodaly, Gliere, and arrangements of Chinese folk music.

The Jade Trio has been praised for its "impeccable ensemble, tonal cultivation and unerring taste..." (The Strad). Based in New York City, the ensemble was formed in 1999 by three highly accomplished Asian-American musicians—Wei Tan, violin; Ching Jen Juhl, viola; and David Marc Tagle, cello—all graduates of leading conservatories. Since then, they have concertized widely in the U.S., China and the New York metropolitan area. Their performances at Bargemusic and Merkin Hall were highly praised, and they have been featured in live radio broadcasts on WNYC and WBAI. In addition to concerts, the Trio is in demand for its educational workshops and performances.

WARSAW GHETTO MUSICAL

Imagine This is a musical based on the experiences of ordinary people trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto during WWII, and it is playing at the New London Theatre right now. According to Michael Billington of The Guardian, though, the concept of a musical with such a tragic subject is inherently flawed:  “If this show ultimately fails, it is not for want of trying, but because of the discrepancy between form and content: the romantic sentiment and uplift inherent in the musical sit uneasily with a story of not just heroic resistance but starvation, suffering and the death of more than 100,000 Polish Jews.” Read the entire review here: www.guardian.co.uk.

BRAHMS PROJECT - KURKOWICZ

On Saturday, November 29, acclaimed Polish violinist Joanna Kurkowicz and pianist Doris Stevenson presented a violin and piano recital at Barge Music, known as New York City's floating concert hall. Called the “Brahms Project,” the program included all of the sonatas for violin and piano composed by J. Brahms. These masterful sonatas—composed in 1879, 1886, and 1888—contain some of Brahms’s most personal and expressive music.

LUTOSŁAWSKI IN CHICAGO

During the last weekend in November, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra presented a concert filled with both nostalgia for old favorites and a flair for newer flavors, as well as a penchant for the number 4.  The program consisted of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4, Haydn’s Symphony No. 44 “Mourning,” and Lutosławski’s Symphony No. 4.  Featured performers were Murray Perahia, piano, and Bernard Haitink, conductor.

According to John von Rhein of the Chicago Tribune, “The Lutoslawski Fourth Symphony, the Polish master's final work, represents both a tightening and easing of his musical grammar over his previous symphony, which the CSO premiered in 1983. Its musical argument is developed over an orchestral palette replete with pungent instrumental detail and luminous sonorities. The musical shapes and gestures move in waves, like the tides, their rigor softened by the subtle use of aleatoric procedures. This brilliantly crafted music literally reveals something new every time you hear it. It benefited from Haitink's incisive attention and the atmospheric playing of his orchestra.” Read the entire review here: www.chicagotribune.com.

GRELLA-MOZEJKO AND MUJIRUSHI

The newly formed local Avant-garde multi-media performers of Ensemble Mujirushipresented their first formal concert on November 29 in the Stanley A. Milner Library Theatre in Edmonton, Canada. This ensemble specializes in the performance of contemporary conceptual and graphic scores, which more often than not resemble abstract paintings. Because they were "nameless," the group adopted the Japanese moniker Mujirushi (literally "no name").

The four original members of the ensemble are all local musicians-performers. Polish-Canadian composer and educator Piotr Grella-Mozejko, who initially conceived of the group and became its wellspring, is pianist and keyboardist. Performance artist Gerry Morita, the Artistic Director of the Mile Zero Dance Company, provides visual dance interpretations of the music. Musician, educator and writer Jerry Ozipko performs on acoustic and electric violins, while composer, performer and educator Charles Stolte rounds out the quartet on saxophones. For the upcoming concert, the ensemble will be adding a fifth performer – the brilliant mezzo-soprano and actress Michelle Milenkovic.

The program included works composed by the classics of the Avant-garde: Earle Brown, Ferdinand Kriwet, Udo Kasemets, Roman Haubenstock-Ramati and Sydney Wallace, as well as pieces by the performers themselves, especially composed for this performance.

Piotr Grella-Mozejko’s composition Interplace/interplays was also recently performed by the St. Crispin's Chamber Ensemble on November 16 in Muttart Hall at Alberta College.    

 

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DISCOGRAPHY
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UPPER SILESIAN ‘LAMB OF GOD’
A CD Review by Joseph A. Herter

Agnus Dei: Early and Modern Polish Sacred Music
The Silesian Philharmonic Choir - cond. Waldemar Sutryk
DUX 0676

In November, DUX Recordings in Warsaw released a new choral CD featuring the Silesian Philharmonic Chorus under the direction of the talented choral conductor Waldemar Sutryk. Entitled Agnus Dei, the CD’s a cappella compositions come from two periods: Renaissance and Contemporary. Composers representing the former are Mikołaj Zieleński, Mikołaj from Chrzanow and Wacław from Szamatuły, while the latter period features the music of Poland’s current “Big Three” in classical music— Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Wojciech Kilar—as well as Józef Świder, Andrzej Koszewski, and Koszewski’s former student Marek Jasiński.

Three of the composers programmed on this CD received their musical training in Katowice: Górecki, Kilar and Świder. Located in the southwestern part of Poland, Katowice is the capital of Upper Silesia, the center of Poland’s coalmining and steel mill industries. Certainly no coalmining town in America could boast of a professional chorus of such high caliber as that of the Silesian Philharmonic Chorus.

During this past year I was able to hear a performance of Rachmaninov’s seldom performed cantata for chorus and orchestra, The Bells,in Katowice’s Philharmonic Hall. Here the 50-plus choir was in its best form. The Katowice concert hall has a fairly small seating of just over 400 seats. Thus, when you place 150 musicians on stage the volume of sound has a tendency to be overwhelming.  Although we never get that sensation with the recording, we also do not ever hear a true pianissimo or sotto voce, except the beginning of the Świder’s Cantus Glorianus. So when encountering their interpretations of the minimal music of Górecki and Kilar, without the magical dynamics in the choir, the music becomes dreadfully monotonous. They might consider using terraced dynamics in the future.

The choir is good and the sound of the women in particular is wonderful. The tenors are well trained, although you will hear a throaty tenor sticking out once or twice. The basses, however, sound like strong Russian Orthodox choristers. This is wonderful for the Koszewski piece, but, for example, I would prefer cleaner “Roman Catholic” bass entrances and lighter melismatic passages in Zieleński’s Viderunt omnes. The choir performs one work in English, Jasiński’s Psalm 100. Their English is convincing, but they experience some difficulty with the consonant “r” when it appears in such words as Lord or world, and singing rapid rhythms on repeated words with diphthongs such as joy, joy, joy. Perhaps the composer is more to blame for that than the ensemble is.

There is an egregious error of omission in the conductor’s biographical note. For some reason Mr. Sutryk has chosen to leave out any information about his association with the city of Szczecin. His biography states that he first graduated from the Academy of Music in Poznań, but it does not mention the fact that, for the most part, those studies took place at the academy’s branch in Szczecin under the late Jan Szyrocki, one of Poland’s most outstanding choral conductors of the second half of the 20th century. During his studies Sutryk was the vocal coach for the tenor section in Szyrocki’s choir, the Szczecin Polytechnic Chorus, and, for at least two years conducted the Polytechnic’s alumni choir, Collegium Maiorum. In fact, with the exception of Kilar’s Agnus Dei, all the pieces on this CD were at one time in the repertoire of the Szczecin Polytechnic Chorus.      

*          *          *          *          *

Joseph A. Herter is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s School of Music in Ann Arbor. After travelling to Poland on a Kosciuszko Foundation grant in 1974, he relocated there and is very active as a teacher and writer as well as a choral and orchestral conductor. Mr. Herter is the founder and conductor of Cantores Minores, the Warsaw Archdiocesan Cathedral Boys’ and Men’s Choir. He is a regular contributor to Polish and American musicological publications and the author of PMHS Vol. 10, Zygmunt Stojowski: Life and Music.

MORE NEW ON DUX

Krzysztof Penderecki Music for Chamber Orchestra
Jakub Haufa - violin, Jerzy Klocek - cello, Albrecht Mayer - English horn, Artur Paciorkiewicz - viola, Sinfonia Varsovia – cond. Krzysztof Penderecki
Seven Gates of Jerusalem, Chanconne in memoria del Giovanni Paolo II (2005), Agnus Dei from “Requiem” A version by Boris Pergamenschikow for string orchestra (1994), Intermezzo for 24 strings (1973), De profundis from “Seven Gates of Jerusalem” (1998), Serenade for string orchestra (1996-1997), 3 Pieces in Baroque Style after sound-tracks to “The Saragossa Manuscript” for string orchestra (1963), and Sinfonietta per archi (1992)
Penderecki Special Edition Series
DUX 0678

Stanisław Moniuszko Masses
Rafał Bartmiński - tenore, Andrzej Białko - organ, Marta Boberska - soprano, Jarosław Bręk - bass, Agnieszka Rehlis - alto, National Philharmonic Choir, Henryk Wojnarowski – conductor
Latin Mass in D flat major (1870), Funeral Mass in G minor (1871), and St. Peters's Mass in B flat major (1872)
DUX 0657

Mikołaj Zieleński. Offertoria et Communiones Totius Anni (1611)
Andrzej Białko - organ, Emma Kirkby - soprano, Capella Cracoviensis , Stanisław Gałoński – conductor
Anima Nostra, Ave Maria, Video Caelos Apertos, Desiderium Animae Eius, Deus Firmavit, Ego sum pastor bonus, Elegerunt Apostol, Inveni David, Responsum Accepit, Iustus Ut Palma Florebit, Laetentur caeli, Confundantur Superbi, Posuisti Domine, Reges Tharsis, Gustate Et Videte, Terra Tremuit, Principes Persecuti Sunt, and Tui Sunt Caeli
DUX 0681

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KULENTY MEETS MILF

kulenty milfThe soundtrack of the film Nieruchomy Poruszyciel [The Unmoved Mover], the latest film by Polish film director Łukasz Barczyk, will be released on December 6, 2008 on the Rework label. The music for the soundtrack was created by Polish composer Hanna Kulenty and reworked by the techno-hip/hop artists milf. The film was released in theaters on November 14.

[Sources: www.hannakulenty.com, www.stopklatka.pl]

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CHOPIN REMIXED

Astigmatic inspired by Chopin
Various artists

On this album, which was released on November 24, Chopin serves as an inspiration for some outstanding electronic music artists. The project includes remixes created by very well known European DJs, including Kosma (member and producer of Jazzanova), Daniel Wang (Environ/Balihu), Munk (Gomma), The Glimmers (Diskimo/Fabric), Amazing Clay (Man Recordings), Krazy Baldhead (Ed Banger), Joel Martin (Quiet Village, !K7) and Maximilian Skiba (Gomma/King of Kong) young but already respected Polish producer and composer. A very interesting element on the album is a duet of one of the most known Polish Djs, Mr Krime, with Aga Zaryan, who recites fragments of Chopin’s letters in three languages: Polish, French and English. All tracks were prepared especially for the Astigmatic project

The CD was released on Cosmopolis label, with help from the City of Warsaw. You can purchase this item from record stores in Poland as well as several Polish internet record stores like Merlin or Rock Serwis. As the release becomes more popular it will hopefully make its way to the US.

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P. LACHERT RECORDINGS

Since 2002, the Foundation for Friends of Contemporary Music of Gdansk [Gdańska Fundacja Tworców i Wykonawców Muzyki Współczesnej], in collaboration with the Polskie Radio Gdańsk, have produced 18 CDs of Maestro Piotr Lachert’s chamber music pieces.  These recordings cover primarily his Piano Sonatas. The Foundation for Friends of Contemporary Music of Gdansk is directed by the pianist Justyna Philipp.

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KARŁOWICZ ON BEARTON

Mieczysław Karłowicz: “Rebirth” symphony
Mieczysław Karłowicz: Symphony in E Minor Op. 7 “Rebirth”
Sinfonia Varsovia; Jerzy Maksymiuk, conductor
Pearls of Polish Music Series
BeArTon CDB042.1944342

Excerpts from a review by Peter Joelson on Audiophile Audition, November 16, 2008: “The 'Rebirth' refers to Karlowicz’s own rebirth after experiencing early disappointments, and the first movement opens in gloom and despondency to reflect this. The wind chorales imitate organ music, the solo trumpet, the soul reacting against its fate. Hints of happiness foretell what is to come but the overwhelming atmosphere of struggle returns to end the movement. The second is lyrical and peaceful, the third a mad whirligig of depicting the rushing of human life. The final movement has its climax as a hymn of rebirth and very effective it is, too. … The Sinfonia Varsovia is an excellent orchestra and Jerzy Maksymiuk conducts with authority in a rather more expansive reading than Noseda’s with the BBC Philharmonic on Chandos… There is something quite uplifting about this work, in the way Mahler’s Third can affect the listener, and I recommend this issue enthusiastically.”

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NEW FROM POLISH RADIO

Łukasz Kuropaczewski – Polish Music
Łukasz Kuropaczewski, guitar
PRCD 1239

This is the fifth CD of guitarist Łukasz Kuropaczewski. The album contains works by Alexander Tansman, written originally for guitar, and Folk Songs written originally for piano by Witold Lutosławski and arranged for guitar by José de Aspiazu.

 

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ANNIVERSARIES
BORN THIS MONTH:
  • 3 December 1896 - Boleslaw SZABELSKI, composer (d. 1979)
  • 5 December 1899 - Boleslaw WOYTOWICZ, composer (d. 1980)
  • 6 December 1933 - Henryk Mikolaj GÓRECKI, composer
  • 11 December 1876 - Mieczyslaw KARLOWICZ, composer (d. 1909, under an avalanche in Tatra mountains)
  • 14 December 1789 - Maria SZYMANOWSKA, composer, virtuosa pianist (d. 1831, of cholera). Read her biography: PMHS Vol. 9
  • 18 December 1907 - Roman PALESTER, composer, broadcaster (d. 1989)
  • 23 December 1830 - Adam MINCHEJMER, composer and conductor (d. 1904)
  • 24 December 1859 - Roman STATKOWSKI, composer, teacher (d. 1925)
  • 29 December 1902 - Henryk VARS , film and popular music composer (d. 1978)
DIED THIS MONTH:
  • 3 December 2004 - Marek STACHOWSKI, professor, composer, and administrator at the Music Academy in Kraków (b. 1936)
  • 11 December 1945 - Seweryn EISENBERGER, pianist (b. 1899)
  • 20 December 1834 - Maurycy MOCHNACKI, music critic, writer, pianist (b. 1804)
  • 21 December 1938 - Arnold LUDWIK, violin maker (b. 1873)
  • 21 December 2005 - Ryszard SIELICKI, pianist and composer (b. 1916)
  • 23 December 1885 - Artur BARTELS, pop singer (b. 1818)
  • 23 December 1869 - Julian FONTANA, close friend and musical associate of Chopin (b. July 1810)
  • 24 December 1898 - Eugeniusz PANKIEWICZ, pianist and composer (b. 1857)
  • 26 December 1945 - Stefan STOINSKI, music ethnographer, writer, conductor (b. 1891)
  • 29 December 1913 - Jadwiga SARNECKA, pianist, composer, poet (b. 1877)
  • 31 December 1944 - Marian Teofil RUDNICKI, conductor, composer (b. 1888)

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Copyright 2008 by the Polish Music Center

Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@thornton.usc.edu
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński

Contributions from: Marek Żebrowski,
Barbara Kraft, Joseph A. Herter, Gary Fitelberg,
Vladek Juskiewicz, Piotr Grella-Mozejko and Daniel J. Kij


Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, American Record Guide,
PWM, Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish American Journal, Poland.pl,
PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza, CNN


Formatting by Krysta Close, December 4, 2008.

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