|Polish Music Newsletter|
POLISH RENAISSANCE HOLIDAY CONCERT
A concert of “Musical Gems of the Polish Renaissance and Early Baroque” will be presented by members of the Wessex Consort, with friends from the Holborne Consort and soprano Krysta Close, on January 17th at 3:00 p.m. at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills (505 N. Bedford Dr.). Featuring both secular works and sacred music on the Christmas theme of Mary and Child, this concert will present the most important Polish composers and music collections of the period. This concert is collaboration between the Polish Music Center at USC, the Wessex Consort, and Jacek Urbaniak, Artistic Director of the Orchestra of the Golden Age in Poland.
A reflection on this year's Paderewski Festival
Once again this November, the quaint town of Paso Robles hosted its annual Paderewski Festival. Four days of concerts and special attractions scheduled for 12-15 November 2009 fittingly commemorated Paderewski’s ties to California’s Central Coast.
The Los Angeles-based Denali String Quartet raised the proverbial curtain of the musical celebrations on Thursday night. Held in the stunningly beautiful and recently-opened Function Room of the Vina Robles Winery, the concert featured works by Villa-Lobos, Górecki, and Brahms. The Quarteto popular by Villa-Lobos opened the program, demonstrating Denali’s lively and intuitive approach to this exotically-flavored music by Brazil’s preeminent composer. Rhythmic discipline and subtle coloring of each movement gave the listeners a chance to admire Denali’s strengths as an ensemble. These qualities were even more dramatically demonstrated in a truly spellbinding performance of Górecki’s First String Quartet. The moments of eerie calm and ferocious intensity that alternate throughout this piece were given an extraordinary reading. Passion and depth coupled with matchlessly accurate teamwork added up to an unforgettable musical experience for the listeners. Brahms’ charming String Quartet, Op. 51 no. 2 followed after the intermission. Here the Denali members—violinists Sarah Thornblade and Joel Pargman, violist Alma Fernandez and cellist Timothy Loo—demonstrated their admirable musicianship by evoking a warmly romantic glow in the two middle movements, and by dispatching the opening and closing Allegro movements with just the right mixture of sweetness and dash. Long applause from the audience led to several curtain calls for the group.
Cass Winery—the site for the revived Paderewski Festival since 2006—hosted pianist William Koseluk on the Friday night Cass Recital Series. The barrel room (pictured at left) was filled to capacity for a challenging program of selections from Lyric Pieces by Grieg, and Paderewski’s Piano Sonata, Op. 21. Koseluk’s approach to the well-known music by Grieg proved that, with sensitive touch and unusual pacing, the listener can still be surprised in rediscovering the charm of these little gems. Paderewski’s Sonata—a work of great sweep and considerable difficulty—gave Koseluk a chance to demonstrate his profound understanding of late Romantic piano literature. His pacing and the innate sense of rhetorical statement were perfectly matched with the abundantly dense and dramatic content of this rarely-performed work. The surging themes of the first and last movement were invested with magisterial noblesse; the middle movement provided a peaceful respite that nicely balanced the Sturm und Drang of the opening Allegro con fuoco and the Allegro vivace finale. Koseluk’s affinity for nineteenth century piano literature was solidly confirmed by his choice of a Liszt encore, demanded by an enthusiastic audience response.
Saturday afternoon of the Festival is traditionally reserved for the finalists in the annual Paderewski Youth Piano Competition. This year, seven young talents were presented at the Ballroom of the historic Paso Robles Inn. Introduced individually by Frank Mecham, San Luis Obispo County Supervisor and a great supporter of the Paderewski Festival, they performed wide-ranging repertoire selections from Bach and Mozart to Beethoven, Liszt, Chopin, Rachmaninov, and Paderewski. Rory McClish gave a stylish reading of Mozart’s D major Rondo and was followed by Marilyn Anderson’s solid performance of Rachmaninov’s G minor Prelude. 12 year-old Gianna Zufall—the youngest contestant this year—charmed the audience with her interpretation of Mozart’s D minor Fantasy and Chopin’s D-flat Waltz, Op. 64. Beethoven’s G minor Bagatelle, Op. 119 was just a warm-up for Jordan Adams, who then launched into Liszt’s Orage with gusto more typical of a veteran of concert stage. Hyun-Jee Kim demonstrated a wholly mature understanding of the opening movement of Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata and followed it with a virtuoso performance of Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 no. 4. Kevin Chen came next with a delicate reading of Paderewski’s Nocturne, Op. 16. Mr. Chen’s subsequent interpretation of Chopin’s Andante and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op. 22, was very intimate in overall concept and geared for a small salon rather a house filled with an admiring audience. Daphne Honma closed the youth concert with a sparkling performance of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in G major, a swift and stylish dispatch of Paderewski’s celebrated Menuet, Op. 14, and closed on a dramatic and sweeping rendition of Chopin’s Scherzo, Op. 39. The overflowing audience gave the finalists a well-deserved standing ovation at the end, when they were presented with medals and cash prizes by the Paderewski Festival Board Director, Joel Peterson.
The Paderewski Gala concert was held at the same venue—the Paso Robles’ Inn Ballroom—only a few hours after the youth concert. Hubert Rutkowski, a young Polish-born virtuoso, presented a fascinating and unusual program of works by Chopin, Fontana, Gottschalk, Paderewski, and Leschetizky. It was an evening of romantic music by composers whose lives intersected in many significant ways. Fontana was a childhood friend of Chopin and the editor of his compositions after Chopin’s death. As it turned out, he was also a fabulous pianist and a fascinating composer. His sojourn in Cuba in the late 1840s led to Fontana’s encounter with local folk music. Rutkowski’s fiery performance of Fontana’s La Havane, Op. 10, delighted the Paso audience. Gottschalk—another dazzling pianist, a friend of Chopin and the first American composer of worldwide reputation—was represented by La Gitanella, Op. 35, a delicate work with filigree passages that shone under Rutkowski’s nimble hands.
Two compositions by Paderewski—a de rigueur requirement for the Festival program—opened the second half of Rutkowski’s Gala presentation. The Nocturne, Op. 16 and Cracovienne fantastique, Op. 14, received a careful and convincing reading. The concluding series of shorter works by Teodor Leschetizky—a piano pedagogue who was instrumental in Paderewski’s success as a virtuoso proved to be both a delight and discovery. Rutkowski—who has devoted a good part of his career so far to rediscovering Leschetizky’s forgotten oeuvre—chose Ballade venitienne, Op. 39, Six Meditations, Op. 19, and a trio of musical homages—to Schumann, Czerny, and Chopin—from Leschetizky’s cycle Contes de jeunesse, Op. 46. All of these selections required great musicianship, sterling technique, and a varied and discriminating touch. These conditions were more than met by Rutkowski, who expertly handled the cantabile lines with direct and subtle rubato and dispatched the bravura passages with panache and nonchalance worthy of the greatest piano virtuosos of the past. Rutkowski’s admirable dash and glitter in Leschetizky’s Toccata (an homage to Czerny, who these days is remembered only as the etude-sergeant) drove the audience to break out in a spontaneous applause. The combination of Leschetizky’s masterful and complex pianistic texture and refined harmonies draped over debonair passagework and Rutkowski’s admirable ease in handling them will long remain in the memories of that night’s audience. The artist’s recording for Acte Prealable Records that featured some of the evening’s concert offerings was eagerly snapped up by the public clearly longing to hear more of Leschetizky’s music interpreted by such able hands.
In addition to impressive artists, the 2009 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles also attracted many distinguished visitors from the political world. The Friday and Saturday concerts were attended by the delegation of Polish diplomats from the Consulate of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles. Consul General Joanna Kozińska-Frybes (pictured at right, holding a collection box from the former estate of Ignacy Jan Paderewski) and Małgorzata Cup, Consul for Culture and Press were joined by John Petkus, the Honorary Consul of Poland in Las Vegas, the latter travelling to Paso with his wife and daughter. Mayor of Paso Robles, Duane Picanco, Mayor Pro Tem Fred Strong, and Council Members John Hamon, Nick Gilman, and Ed Steinbeck also attended the Festival concerts.
Besides terrific performers and interesting program choices, the youth and gala concerts also benefitted from a noble-sounding Steinway concert grand, provided for the Festival by Sherman Clay Pianos of Santa Clara and personally delivered to Paso Robles by Dave Dumont. Thanks to him and the generous sponsorship of this distinguished Steinway dealership that supplied pianos for Paderewski’s tours of the West Coast, three magnificent Steinway grands came to Paso for the Festival—the 9-foot D, the 6’10” B and the 5’11” O. They were displayed in the Victorian lobby of the Ballroom and made available for tryouts to the interested members of the public.
Considering Paderewski’s pioneering achievements in viticulture on the land he once owned in Paso Robles (pictured at left), the Festival dedicated to him would not be complete without numerous receptions and tastings featuring delightful Central Coast wines. Guests arriving for concerts at the Vina Robles and Cass Winery were greeted with wine, hors d’oeuvres and special pricings for a wide variety of products these two wineries produce. Pear Valley Vineyards hosted a wine reception on Saturday right after the Youth Competition concert. Other wine sponsors of the Festival included Epoch Estate Wines, Hope Family Wines, Tablas Creek Vineyard, and the Vinoteca Wine Bar. Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Paso Robles Inn, the Optimist Club and the Exchange Club were also among this year’s Festival sponsors. Other Festival partners include Cuesta College—North Campus, where the Youth Piano Competition is hosted annually, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and a number of local merchants and civic leaders.
Another important attraction of this year’s Festival was the Paderewski memorabilia exhibit, expertly laid out in the newly-renovated Carnegie Library right across from the Paso Robles Inn. Paderewski’s personal items, photographs, letters, and concert programs were culled from the Paso Robles Collection at the Polish Music Center, USC, and brought for the occasion from Los Angeles. They were augmented by a number of posters, articles, and documents from previous festivals that are held in the archives of the Festival organizers in Paso. Docents, including some of the most distinguished citizens of the town and members of Paso’s Historical Society, were on hand to guide the visitors and provide additional commentary on Paderewski and his strong ties to this Central Coast community.
Just like last year, the Paderewski musical celebrations on Saturday were integrated into Paso’s traditional Elegant Evening event. Merchants all around the City Park opened their doors and served refreshments to the citizenry dressed in Victorian costumes, who enjoyed an evening stroll around the historic downtown. The Paso Robles Inn dining room provided a special prix-fixe menu of Polish delicacies and the fashionable Vinoteca Wine Bar held a brilliant wrap party for concert patrons after the Gala Concert. Good weather, great wine and beautiful music certainly added up to a perfect fall weekend and a cheerful prelude to the Holiday Season.
Piano instructor and concert reviewer Lyn Bronson has written reviews of several of the concerts of the 2009 Paderewski Festival. View them at Bronson’s website to read reviews of the Gala concert featuring Polish pianist Hubert Rutkowski, the Paderewski Youth Competition Winners’ Recital, and the Festival overall, entitled “A Spirit Reborn in Paso Robles.”
Stay in touch with the Festival
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On Friday, December 4, the World Premiere of a new work by Polish composer Piotr Moss will take place at a castle in Fontainebleau, France. Entitled Le lien entre les jours [The union between days], the composition was commissioned by ProQuartet- European Center for Chamber Music. The work is scored for mezzo-soprano and string quartet with text by the Flemish poet Miriam Van Hee. Performers include mezzo-soprano Andrea Hill and the Ardeo String Quartet.
The first performance of the work in Poland is scheduled for next year’s Poznań Musical Spring Festival. At this performance the performers will include Jadwiga Rappé and the Henryk Wieniawski Quartert.
The World Premiere performance of Suger Maple Cosmica for Flute and percussion by Polish-American composer Michael Gatonska will take place December 7, 2009 at 7:30 P.M. in New York City’s Christ & St. Stephens Church. Suger Maple Cosmica was composed this year. The premiere will be performed by flutist Paul Lustig Dunkel and percussion player Joseph Passaro. Other works on program include Bach, Debussy, Shostakovich, and Piazzolla.
Michael Gatonska studied composition with Krzystof Penderecki, Marek Stachowski, and Zbigniew Bujarski at the Academy of Music in Kraków, Poland, and with Elias Tanenbaum at the Manhattan School of Music. His music has been performed by the Cabrillo Festival Orchestra, the American Composers Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Hartford Symphony, the Pacific Symphony, the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, the String Orchestra of New York City (SONYC), Talea ensemble, the New York Miniaturist Ensemble, and twice he has participated in the Minnesota Orchestra Reading Sessions & Composer Institute. His music has been performed in the United States, Poland, Germany, Colombia, South Korea, India, and Australia. He has received several awards for his compositions, including fellowship and grant awards from the Civitella Ranieri Center, the Kosciuszko Foundation, ASCAP, the American Music Center, Meet the Composer, the American Composers Forum, the Roberts Foundation, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, and the Connecticut Commission on the Arts. Aside from his large-scale compositions, he has written solo works for the pianist/performer Kathleen Supove and for the electric-cellist Jeffrey Krieger. His work entitled Transformation of the Hummingbird was composed for SONYC, and was released on the Albany Records label (TROY941).
NEW ORCHESTRA IN ŁÓDŹ
The city of Łódź has a new orchestra, called the New Art Radio Philharmonic. It is in fact a re-iteration of the Polish Radio Orchestra once led by Henryk Debich at Łódź Polish Radio, which was disassembled many years ago. The orchestra opened the first season of its existence with a concert at the Henryk Debich Concert Studio at Radio Łódź on November 15. The concert was broadcast live by Radio Łódź and will also be re-broadcast by several Polish Radio stations. A CD release of the concert is also planned. The program included works by Mozart, Ravel, Chopin, Ennio Morricone and Wojciech Kilar. In addition to a15 person string section, the orchestra consists of pianist Michał Drewnowski and accordion player Leszek Kołodziejski.
The New Art Radio Philharmonic is a result of cooperation between the Polish Foundation for the Promotion of Musical Culture and Radio Łódź. The musicians of the orchestra come from all over Poland and all of them are also members of other professional ensembles. The orchestra is housed in the Debich Concert Studio in Łódź, where all concerts will be performed and broadcast live. All recordings will also be created on that stage.
The former Polish Radio Orchestra, which later became the Polish Radio and Television Orchestra in Łódź, was created in 1949. It performed extensively in Poland and abroad, for over 40 years under its leader, Henryk Debich. The orchestra performed at festivals in Sopot, Opole, Kołobrzeg and Zielona Góra, recorded 50 albums, and performed soundtracks to over 20 movies. The orchestra disbanded in 1993.
The new orchestra has a slightly different artistic shape. The core of the ensemble is the string section and the accordion. The orchestra is planning four concerts during the 09/10 concert season. The repertoire of the ensemble includes both classical and film music.
The Polish Foundation for the Promotion of Musical Culture was created in 2009 by Arkadiusz Dobrowolski, Michał Drewnowski and Leszek Kołodziejski. The goal of the foundation is to promote musical culture in a contemporary format and at the highest artistic level. The Foundation organizes concerts and musical events in Poland and abroad.
Tata za żelaznej kurtyny [Father from behind the Iron Courtain] is the title of the documentary film about Polish composer, Andrzej Panufnik, and directed by Krzysztof Rzączyński. The movie, which was premiered in the Muranów Cinema in Warsaw, is a production of TVP Kultura. The premiere was co-organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute. The movie was broadcast by TVP Kultura on November 11 and according to the director, there are plans to show the film at the international film festivals.
Andrzej Panufnik, composer and conductor, spent most of his life in Great Britain. He was given a noble title by Queen Elisabeth II. Panufnik left Poland because he could not agree with the communist government dictating or influencing the direction of his music. In the documentary a dramatic biography of Panufnik is presented to his son Jeremy (Jem) Panufnik – who is also a musician, percussionist and currently one of the most recognized DJs in London.
Andrzej Panufnik (bn. 1914 in Warsaw, d. 1991 in London) was a son of violin maker Tomasz Panufnik and violinist Matilda Thones. He studied at the Vienna Music Academy. During World War II he performed in a piano duo together with Witold Lutosławski. After the war, Panufnik moved to Kraków and became the main conductor of the Kraków Philharmonic. Between 1946-1947 he served as the Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic. Panufnik received numerous awards at composition competitions in Poland and the communist government wanted him to be their “poster composer” for promotion abroad. The artist could not agree with the doctrines of the communist government and, unable to further develop his talent at home, he immigrated to Great Britain in 1954. As a reaction result, the Polish authorities prohibited the publication and performances and recordings of Panufnik’s works.
Tata za żelaznej kurtyny combines new material filmed in 2008 with archival films from the WFDiF archives in Warsaw, as well as the private archives of the Panufnik family. The soundtrack includes works by Andrzej Panufnik and Jem Panufnik.
MUSICAL EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Polish Minister of Culture and National Heritage, Bogdan Zdrojewski (pictured at left during his visit to the Polish Music Center), has assembled a team of specialists to help improve musical education in the public school system. Currently the situation is dramatic—students in grade 1-9 have no exposure whatsoever to classical music. The percentage of students who participate in extracurricular musical activities has dropped from 90% in the 1980s to 7% in 2007, partially due to the lack of such offerings in the public schools. Additionally, some 40% of music teachers are re-qualified specialists from other areas.
The Ministry is working on a major project to enhance music education. The project will create a collection of over 20 educational DVDs with music lessons about composers, instruments and repertoire, narrated by popular and well known actors. The set will also include a text book and website access, where the schools will be able to download recordings and other educational media.
To support the push, the Ministry will also create additional educational courses at higher artistic institutions to prepare graduates for work in the field of music education. The first schools to implement the new course will be Warsaw Music University, the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, the Fine Arts Academy in Wrocław and the Fine Arts Academy in Poznań. These courses will furnish students with the knowledge necessary to teach music and art in the public school system.
CHOPIN 2010 NEWS
Ministers inaugurate the Chopin year
The Ministers of Culture of Poland and France—Bogdan Zdrojewski and Frederic Mitterrand—have inaugurated the Chopin 2010 year celebrations to be held in Poland and France. To celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederic Chopin in France there will be marathons of the composer’s music, exhibitions and publication of the French translation of Chopin’s complete correspondences. The calendar of events in the upcoming Chopin year was presented by the ministers at a press conference, accompanied by chairmen of the Chopin Year 2010 committees in France and Poland: Alain Duault and Waldemar Dąbrowski.
Among the hundreds of the planned concerts in France alone, the organizers pointed out a marathon of Chopin’s music—15 uninterrupted hours of the Master’s music performed by 60 different pianists. The marathon will take place in two locations strongly connected to Chopin’s life: Pleyel Hall in Paris and Chateauroux near Nohant, where Chopin wrote considerable number of his works. Pleyel Hall will host recitals by such esteemed artists as Krystian Zimerman, Daniel Barenboim, Nelson Freire or Rafał Blechacz. In February 2010, Chopin’s music will sound in the Champs-Elysées Theatre, with a special guest composer Krzysztof Penderecki. In May of the next year there will be a cycle of concerts by young artists, including the candidates for the 2010 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The musical part of the celebrations will conclude in France with a concert of Mozart’s Requiem in the Paris Conservatory, the same composition that was performed at Frederic Chopin’s funeral in Paris.
In 2010 the complete critical edition of Chopin’s correspondence in French will be published as well as a special audio CD, Chopin for children, which will help familiarize the youngest audiences with Chopin’s life and works. There will be two major biographical exhibitions in Paris: one in the Cité de la Musique, the other in the Musée de la vie romantique. Celebrations will also include screenings of the films dedicated to Chopin by Polish and French directors, including Andrzej Żuławski, Jerzy Antczak, Jaime Camino and James Lapine.
A promo film for Chopin 2010
The film entitled Księżycowa noc [Moonlit Night], which blends the wit and contemplating mood of Chopin’s music and the city of Warsaw, was selected as the winner of the "Visit Chopin in Warsaw" competition. The subject of the competition was a short film invitation to Warsaw, focus on promotion of Warsaw around the world and inviting the foreigners to come and visit Warsaw – the city of Frederic Chopin. The guidelines allowed for the use of Chopin’s music in the production. The jury consisted of actress Magdalena Różczka, journalist Agata Passent, cinematographer Marian Prokop and film director Xawery Żuławski.
The second prize was given to a black-and-white animation entitled Cya in Warsaw, and the third prize went to Visit Warsaw. The competition was organized by the MillionYou film service.
Chopin – Album
The Chopin – Album prepared by Polish Music Editions (PWM) and BOSZ Publications to celebrate the 200th birthday of Frederic Chopin is directed toward a wide range of readers in Poland and abroad. Polish musicologist and Chopin specialist, Mieczysław Tomaszewski, developed the concept for the album and the graphic design was created by Prof. Władysław Pluta.
The text will be supported by rich photographic content including reproductions of archival photographs alongside current day photographs of places connected to the life of Frederic Chopin. The modern photographs were prepared by professional photo artists, and the reproductions will come from National Museum in Warsaw, National Museum in Kraków, National Museum in Poznań, Czartoryski Museum, National Library, Jagiellonian Library, Bridgeman Art Library in London, Tate Gallery and numerous others.
The album in over 360 pages long and contains over 450 photographs. It will be released in December 2009 in two language versions: English and Polish. The album also will be available in German from Schott Music as a special order item.
1st Chopin Competition in Hartford
In honor of the Chopin anniversary, 1st Chopin International Piano Competition in Hartford, CT will be held from February 20-21, 2010. The competition is open for young pianists up to 19 years old in three different age categories. All application materials are due by February 1, 2010.
Details and application form are available at www.chopincompetition.org.
LEOPOLDINUM CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY
At the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, the last months of 2009 are dedicated to celebrating the 30th anniversary of the creation of the ensemble. The orchestra has already performed two concerts (October 18 and November 15) and the last concert of the year is scheduled for December 13.
The final concert of the year will be held at the Wrocław Philharmonic and will feature the director of the orchestra, Ernst Kovacic, performing the solo part in Mozart’s violin concerto. Additionally the orchestra will perform two symphonies by Haydn— no. 104 “London” and no. 82 “Paris”—in observance of the Haydn Year.
The Wrocław Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra was created in 1978. The name of the ensemble comes from one of the most precious baroque architectural antiquities in Central Europe, the Leopold Auditorium at Wrocław University. The first concert of the orchestra took place in April 1979 with maestro Tadeusz Strugała, one of the fathers of the ensemble. For many years Karol Teutsch served as the artistic director of the Leopoldinum. Between 1993-1995, the same post was held by violinist Jan Stanienda. Since January 2007, Austrian violinist and conductor Ernst Kovacic has served as the artistic director of the orchestra.
PADEREWSKI SPEECH AT GEORGETOWN
On November 6, American pianist John Robilette gave a speech at Georgetown University discussing the enormity of the career and influence of Ignacy Jan Paderewski. In addition to being a world renown pianist, Robilette has served as creator and director of the US government’s Artistic Ambassador Program and director of the International Music Initiative. This event was sponsored by Georgetown’s Polish Student Association. The speech began thus…
Read the entire text of the speech HERE.
KRAKÓW OPERA NEWS
Kraków Opera Opens its Doors
On December 12, 2009 The Kraków Opera will host an “Open Doors Day” to celebrate the one year anniversary of the opening of the new hall. The attractions are numerous and include: a tour of the stage, backstage, and wardrobe areas; meetings with artists and employees; and a stage technology showcase. Visitors will also get the chance to vote for the best artist, director and most interesting show as well as feast on sweets and drinks prepared for the occasion.
Free admission tickets will be available at the opera ticket office starting on November 16 at 10 am. For those not lucky enough to get a ticket to tour the theater, there will still be plenty of attractions in foyer of the hall, including exhibitions, film screenings and other surprises.
Vice-director of the Kraków Opera resigns
On a less up-beat note, the vice-director of the Kraków Opera, Andrzej Gurda, has resigned from his post. The resignation was forced by the local government body after it was discovered that Gurda’s son has won a contract for services for the Kraków Opera. In a letter to director of the Opera, Bogusław Nowak, it was expressed that such actions will not be tolerated in an institution financed from the public money. Bogusław Gurda has resigned from his post, even though two legal investigations at the Opera did not prove any inconsistencies or illegal activity.
POLISH TENOR AT BOLSHOI
Young Polish tenor, Rafał Bartmiński, has made his debut with one of world’s most prominent opera theatres—the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The artists performed the part of Tamburmajor in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck on November 25 and 29, led by highly acclaimed director, Dmitri Tcherniakov and conductor Teodor Currentzis.
Rafał Bartmiński is the only Polish singer invited to perform with the Bolshoi this season and the first Pole to sing on this great stage since 2006, when Mariusz Kwiecień performed in the staging of Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Bartmiński was born in Lublin, then studied in Katowice and for many years since has lived in Warsaw. Two years ago he was named the best Polish singer at the International Moniuszko Vocal Competition in Warsaw, where he received the 2nd Prize and several additional honors.
KOSCIUSZKO FDN CONCERTS
Young Polish pianist Patryk Matwiejczuk will present an evening recital on December 17, at 6 p.m.at the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City. A student at the music conservatory in Szczecin, Matwiejczuk has worked with eminent international musicians, and has been performing since the age of 10. Throughout his career, he has held scholarships from many foundations and cultural institutions. His program will include works by Chopin, Bach, Beethoven, and Debussy.
"A Tribute to Chopin" is the theme of a chamber concert at the Kosciuszko Foundation on Sunday, October 18, at 3 p.m. The program includes Chopin’s magnificent but rarely-heard Piano Trio in G minor, Op. 8; as well as his Polonaise for Cello and Piano. The rest of the program features Anton Arensky’s Trio in D minor and Schumann’s Violin Sonata in A minor. Performers include Grigory Kalinovsky, violin; Sophie Shao, cello; and Tatiana Goncharova, piano.
ŁOWICZANIE ANNUAL CONCERT OF CAROLS
On Thursday, December 10, Łowiczanie Polish Folk Dance Ensemble of San Francisco will present its 7th annual Slavic Christmas Choral Concert. The evening eatures a charming and evocative array of richly-varied melodies from Central and East European vocal traditions including those of Poland, Ukraine, Croatia, and Bulgaria. Sung by local choruses and soloists, and performed as instrumentals by the Łowiczanie folk band, the carols will be followed by the popular audience sing-a-long with all the artists.
JAN DŁUGOSZ AWARD FOR CHYLIŃSKA
Musicologist Teresa Chylińska, author of Karol Szymanowski i jego epoka [Karol Szymanowski and his époque], was chosen as the laureate of the 12th edition of the Jan Długosz Competition for authors in Kraków. The award-winning book was published by Musica Iagellonica in Kraków. According to jury member Prof. Leszek Polony, “Such a work happens not once a year, but once a decade.” The three-volume book published in 2008 is an extensive monograph of Szymanowski’s life and work.
Teresa Chylińska (b.1931) studied musicology at the Jagiellonian University. In 1953 she started working as an editor for PWM in Kraków. From the very beginning her musicological research focused on Karol Szymanowski, and she was the editor-in-chief of the Complete Works Edition and Szymanowski’s Correspondence. She has also contributed to the Polish Music Center’s Polish Music History Series, as the author of Vol. 5, Karol Szymanowski: His Life and Works, and the co-editor of Vol. 7, The Songs of Karol Szymanowski and His Contemporaries. Her most recent monograph, now honored by the Jan Długosz Award, serves as the conclusion of a lifetime of research and constant collection of documentation, sources and editions of musical works.
The Długosz Competition was created in 1998 as part of the Book Fair in Kraków, the 13th edition of which took place this year on November 5-8. The award is intended to promote serious and valuable books that are respected by the scientific circles. It rewards authors of works with outstanding research values, which often, by nature, have limited chances of becoming mainstream bestsellers.
The award consists of a statue by Prof. Bronisław Chromy as well as 30,000 pln (ca. $11,000). There were 10 books nominated for the award this year. The jury included: Prof. Władysław Stróżewski (chairman), Prof. Ryszard Nycz, Prof. Jan Ostrowski, Prof. Leszek Polony, Prof. Piotr Sztompka and Prof. Jerzy Wyrozumski. The competition is organized by the Kraków Book Fair and the Polish Book Chamber.
AWARD FOR PENDERECKI
Krzysztof Penderecki has received the Golden Scepter Award on November 29, 2009. The award is given by the Polish Cultural Foundation in Warsaw. The board of the award has given the Scepter to Penderecki for his “lifetime achievement and introduction of old and new Polish music to the mainstream of world’s musical life.” The award includes a monetary prize of 110,000 pln (ca. $40,000) and was presented at a ceremony in the Warsaw University Library.
The Golden Scepter Award was established in 1999 by the Polish Cultural Foundation, and they are awarded to individuals or groups of people for intellectual creativity. Previous musicians who have received this award include composer Wojciech Kilar and opera singer Maria Fołtyn. The award is sponsored by Bank Millennium.
GŁOWICKA CONTINUES TRIUMPHS IN SERBIA
Polish-born composer Katarzyna Głowicka seems to be on a roll after her recent successes at the ISCM World New Music Days and the European Conference of Promoters of New Music. Her piece, entitled Perpetuity for string orchestra and live-electronics, was selected for the 18th International Review of Composers w Belgrade (Serbia), which took place between of November 13-18. Perpetuity was written as a commission from the Society of Promotion of New Music in London. The work was premiered on November 17, 2008 by the BBC Scottish Ensemble during The Sound Festival in Aberdeen. Głowicka’s composition was the only Polish composition in the program of the Serbian festival.
Katarzyna (Kasia) Glowicka’s artistic output embraces musical media of every kind, as she collaborates with stage directors, choreographers, visual artists, musicians and conductors on original works for opera, dance and symphonic orchestra. Her works are distinguishable by their force of expression and colour. They have sought out a unique language which she complements through the use of computer technology, as both musical instrument and compositional tool. She graduated from the Wrocław Academy of Music in Poland under her mentor Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil before pursuing postgraduate studies at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague under Louis Andriessen, and at the Strasbourg Conservatory under Ivan Fedele. Her fervent belief in the new computer medium has taken her to Northern Ireland where she completed her PhD in 2008 at the Sonic Arts Research Centre. Currently she is a freelance musician in the Netherlands and a lecturer of computer music at Royal Conservatory Brussels.
KURKOWICZ/BACEWICZ ON TOP
Polish violinist Joanna Kurkowicz’s recent recording on Chandos Records (CHAN 10533) of Grażyna Bacewicz music for violin and orchestra has been placed #6 on Amazon.com’s list of top 25 "Best Classical Albums of 2009."
This same recording has been nominated for the 2009 Preis der Deutchen Schallplaten Kritik [German Record Critics' Award]. The Award has been in existence since 1963, when it was established to set the "most rigorous standards for supreme achievement" in the field of recording.
In addition to awards, this recording has been receiving laudatory critical praise in some of the industry’s most prominent publications, such as:
SILESIAN COMPOSERS’ COMPETITION RESULTS
The 4th edition of the Witold Szalonek Silesian Composers’ Tribune Composition Competition has concluded. The jury consisting of Paweł Łukaszewski (chairman), Andrzej Dziadek, Ryszard Gabryś and Małgorzata Kaniowska has awarded the following prizes:
The honored works were performed by the Camerata Impuls Chamber Orchestra with conductor Małgorzata Kaniowska at a concert on November 29, 2009, during the 114th Silesian Composer’s Tribune.
POLISH WINNER IN MOSCOW
At the First Moscow Conservatory International Competition for Winds and Percussion, which this year focused on the bassoon and tenor trombone, Polish bassoon player Katarzyna Zdybel was awarded the 2nd Prize ex-aequo with Adrian Keith Morejon from the U.S. in the bassoon category. Zdybel also received the award for the best interpretation of the mandatory work.
Katarzyna Zdybel is a recent graduate of the Chopin Music University in Warsaw and plays bassoon for the Wrocław Philharmonic. Concurrently she is studying in Germany and working on her doctorate at the Wrocław Music Academy.
Please visit www.mosconsv.ru to find out more about the competition.
Organized by the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP), the concerts of the Composers’ Portraits Festival will take place between December 8 and 10 in the Mazovian Center for Culture and Art in Warsaw. Composers featured in this cycler are: Bohdan Riemer (two premiere performances), Grzegorz Duchnowski, Aleksandra Gryka, Eugeniusz Rudnik, Szablocs Esztényi and Dariusz Przybylski.
These concerts are financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage as part of the “Artistic Events” program. Polish Radio Channel 2 is the media patron of the event. Concerts start at 6 pm and tickets are available one hour before the concert.
For more information about the artists and program of the concerts please visit the website of the Polish Composers’ Union, zkp.org.pl.
NOSPR TOUR GREAT BRITAIN
The Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) has performed a two week concert tour of Great Britain starting on November 9. During the tour, the orchestra performed in 12 major cities, including London (Cadogan Hall), Derby, Middleborough, Bradford, Hull and Leeds. The orchestra performed a mixed program of Polish and foreign composers including Frederic Chopin’s Piano Concerto no. 1, Andrzej Panufnik’s Nocturne, as well as Beethoven’s 7th Symphony , Brahms’ 1st Symphony, Rachmaninov’s 2nd Symphony, Bruch’s Violin Concerto, and Elger’s In the South Overture.
Solos were performed by Priya Mitchell (violin) and Mikhail Rudy (piano). All concerts were conducted by maestro Jacek Kaspszyk, a Musical Director of NOSPR. The concert tour was a part of the POLSKA! YEAR project, organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute.
POLISH JAZZ AT LONDON JAZZ FESTIVAL
Polish jazz dominated the first weekend of this year’s edition of the London Jazz Festival. On the program of concerts at the Southbank Centre and Vortex Club were such great names of Polish jazz as: Leszek Możdzer, Paweł Kaczmarczyk with Audiofeeling, and Grzegorz Karnas Quintet.
On November 14, in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Tomasz Stańko Quintet performed a concert promoting their latest CD release, Dark Eyes. On November 16, BBC 3 Radio re-broadcast the concert. Read a review of the concert at www.guardian.co.uk.
In addition to concerts there were also lectures dedicated to the history and current state of Polish jazz entitled "DISCOVER POLISH JAZZ." The lectures were presented by Paweł Brodowski, editor-in-chief of the Jazz Forum Magazine.
The London Jazz Festival is one of the most important jazz festivals in Europe. In addition to presenting the biggest names of jazz, it promotes the most contemporary and original jazz sounds from around the world.
On October 7th, Joanna Kurkowicz and British pianist Philip Fisher were featured artists for the Chandos Records 30th Anniversary Celebration. The event took place in the famous Steinway Hall in New York. They performed works by K. Szymanowski, G. Bacewicz and G. Gershwin.
On November 3rd, Kurkowicz was a guest artist for the First Monday Series in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory. She performed the Suite for two violins by G. Bacewicz with her former teacher, Prof. Masuko Ushioda
CANTORES MINORES PERFORMS
On November 9th, the Cantores Minores boys choir performed at St. John's Cathedral in Warsaw with as a part of a XXVI Exhibition of choirs of the Warsaw Chapter of the Caecilianum Foundation. View a video of their performance of Behold Man by Ron Nelson at www.youtube.com.
Cantores Minores was founded 18 years ago by its American-born-and-trained conductor Joseph A. Herter. In May 2003, Herter was honored by The Polish Ministry of Culture with the award of "Distinguished Cultural Activist". In May 2004, the Polish Singers' Alliance in America awarded Herter with an honorary membership into its organization, the oldest Polonia society in North America. The choir is affiliated with the Basilica Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in Warsaw's Old Town.
NEW ALBUM FROM STAŃKO
Tomasz Stańko’s smouldering Slavic soul music and grainy-toned trumpet finds a new context on “Dark Eyes”. Like his hero Miles Davis, the Polish jazz master also has an impressive record as talent scout and mentor, and his latest ensemble pools young players from the North of Europe. Tomasz has had strong connections to Finland in particular since the early 1970s when he was part of Edward Vesala’s creative circle. Now he welcomes two prodigiously gifted Finns into his group, pianist Alexi Tuomarila and drummer Olavi Louhivuori, both expressive and imaginative players. On “Dark Eyes”, Jakob Bro, the young guitarist heard on ECM on Paul Motian’s “Garden of Eden” is cast most often in the role of subtle colourist, while fellow Dane Anders Christensen, on electric bass throughout, provides the band’s throbbing pulse. The programme features new Stańko compositions, including “The Dark Eyes of Martha Hirsch”, inspired by an Oskar Kokoschka canvas, plus a new version of “Last Song” from Tomasz ECM debut “Balladyna”, as well as “Dirge for Europe” and “Etiuda baletowa nr. 3” from the pen of Krzysztof Komeda. [From the ECM website]
Learn more at www.tomaszstanko.com.
NEW FROM DUX
Szabelski, Górecki, Knapik
Mikołaj Zieleński Opera Omnia Vol. 1: Offertoria Totius Anni 1611
Felix Nowowiejski - Pieśni Morskie II
ROXANNA PANUFNIK CD
Spirit of the Saints
The latest CD of music by Roxanna Panufnik will be released in December by the British company Regent Records. The CD contains recordings of choral music by Panufnik, among them the first recording of her chamber version of the Westminster Mass and a premiere recording of the title composition, Spirit of the Saints. Panufnik also arranged a few traditional Polish Christmas carols, among them Lulajże, Jezuniu.
ARTUR RUCIŃSKI CD
Pieśni i Arie [Songs and Arias]
Baritone Artur Ruciński is a graduate of the F. Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw and a laureate of several international vocal competitions. In 2002, he made his debut on the stage of the National Theatre-Grand Opera in Warsaw in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Since 2001 he has been working with the Warsaw Chamber Opera, with which he has toured Europe and Japan.
ICELANDIC/POLISH FLUTE COLLABORATION
Together in Music: Icelandic & Polish Flute Music
This project was born out of the deep faith that culture is the best means to build mutual respect and dialogue between Poland and Iceland. It is an effect of a long-standing collaboration and friendship between Ewa Murawska and Ashildur Haraldsdottir. The extraordinary intensity of the evolution of the composing thought, the variety of activities led by educated artists, as well as the strong ardour of the amateur music movement are all elements dominating the Icelandic music. Apart from the narrow scope of the folk music, the beginning and development of this art fell in the twentieth century. Earlier, professional activity in the field of composition on the island was virtually non-existent. Polish music of the last century was characterised by creative endeavours built upon the rich legacy of the previous eras, a wide spectrum of content and form, and pioneering composing ideas. Of the Polish composers whose innovative works stand in the foreground of the music of the period, we can name Lutoslawski, Serocki, Penderecki, Gorecki, Meyer etc. [from the website of Spinning Dog Records, Acte Préalable’s US distributor]
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Copyright 2009 by the Polish Music Center
Send your comments and inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński
Marek Żebrowski, Charles Bragg (Paderewski Festival photos),
Joanna Kurkowicz & Joseph A. Herter
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, December 7, 2009.
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