|Polish Music Newsletter|
PMC NEWS: STUDENTS IN FOCUS
For the month of July we're continuing our series spotlighting the young Polish artists currently or recently studying at USC's Thornton School of Music. This month, we are truly pleased to present Szymon Grab, a virtuoso organist, who already managed to impress us since he arrived in Los Angeles in January 2006.
Szymon Grab was born in 1980 in Wrocław, Poland. His father, an organist at a parish church in Legnica, was Szymon's first music teacher. Later, he attended the Karol Kurpiński State Music High School in Legnica, first studying piano and accordion. At the age of 13, Szymon began to study organ with Ryszard Rydz, a well-known local organist. Between the years 1995 and 1997 Szymon was a two-time recipient of the Ministry of Culture Scholarship Award, and also received the Artistic Award of the City of Legnica. In 1999 Szymon graduated from the Music High School with a diploma in solo organ performance and moved to Warsaw to study at the Chopin Academy of Music with Professor Andrzej Chorosiński. That same year, at the age of nineteen, Szymon made his official debut at the International Organ Festival in Kłodzko. Szymon attended master classes given by the most prominent European organists and participated in numerous international organ festivals, including Görlitzer Orgelzyklus, the International Organ Festival in Kłodzko, and the Conversatorium Organowe in Legnica. Szymon Grab was a finalist at the 2002 Nijmegen International Organ Competition in the Netherlands, and at the 2003 Anton Heiller International Organ Competition in Italy. In 2004 Szymon graduated with distinction from the Academy of Music in Warsaw and since January 2006 he has been a student of Cherry Rhodes at the University of Southern California. Most recently Szymon made his American debut at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles in a special service commemorating the late Pope John Paul II and the 215 th anniversary of the Polish Constitution (Szymon is pictured at the Cathedral organ above.)
In a recent interview at the Polish Music Center at USC, we asked Szymon how he began his studies in music. Although he is somewhat reticent in speaking about himself, he actually had a very interesting story for us:
My father was a soldier-musician and amateur accordion player. This made him quite popular with the ladies in our small town and, as a young boy I was very impressed by that. So, at the age of 6, I began to study piano and accordion, following in my father's footsteps. When I was 10, my father became organist for our parish church in Legnica, and this is the first time when I saw close-up the instrument that eventually became my musical passion. I studied piano and accordion for about 12 years, and switched to organ when I was 15. There was a very practical reason for it—because I was a small-framed boy, I had to play a small-sized accordion. Changing the instrument and becoming organ student opened many new horizons for me! As soon as I finished the Music High School in Legnica, I was invited to audition for an admission to the prestigious organ program at the Academy of Music in Warsaw. The exam was a competition and I did very well, so I was accepted. By 2004 I graduated with a diploma of concert organist.
Our next question was how Szymon ended up in Los Angeles. It turned out that that situation was rife with serendipity.
The option to study in the United States came about because many years ago I met two prominent American organists, Cherry Rhodes and her husband, Ladd Thomas. They came to Poland to play a concert in Legnica in 1998. I was actually assisting in their performance, which usually means pulling the appropriate stops and maybe turning pages during the concert. But the historical organ at the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul had several problems, including pipes that didn't work at all, and bellows that worked only intermittently. I had to pull out several pipes out and fix numerous last-minute mechanical problems, even just before the concert began. Of course my white shirt and hands were thoroughly blackened by soot. I was also covered with cobwebs that were spread all over the inner parts of the instrument. Still, the concert went ahead as planned, and was a great success. Cherry and Ladd were very impressed with what I was able to do for them on the spot. They thanked me and, even after returning to Los Angeles, e-mailed me with kind words of thanks for my professional help. After that I thought that I could write to them at USC and explore a possibility of studying here. But, at first, I wasn't ready to leave home and decided to spend some time working as piano accompanist and music tutor in Legnica. Only after a year of doing this kind of work I decided to apply for a scholarship here.
Finally, we asked Szymon about his impressions of USC, his teacher, and his repertoire.
My graduate studies at USC with Prof. Cherry Rhodes are mainly concentrated on the romantic and contemporary repertoire. There is some music by the Baroque-era masters—Bach, Buxtehude or Clerambault—that we've also worked on. The opportunity to work with Prof. Rhodes is for me an amazing musical experience, since she is an expert on the European and American school of organ performance. During the late 1960s and early 1970s she lived in Europe for several years and studied with such 'organ celebrities' as Karl Richter, Marie-Claire Alain, or Jean Guillou (she had the great honor of being Guillou's assistant at the church of St. Eustache in Paris ). About the same time she won the 1966 International Organ Competition in Munich and thus became the first American to win such an honor. Today, Cherry Rhodes is universally acknowledged as an expert on the legendary French virtuoso organist and composer, Jean Guillou. Right now I'm working with Prof. Rhodes on Guillou's brilliant Toccata Op. 9. It is great fun and a challenge, since Prof. Rhodes is very demanding in terms of sound quality in organ performance. She expects clean articulation and careful selection of sound color, even with the full registration. These aspects of organ playing are often neglected by many organists since the instrument is thought to be 'inexpressive.' In the coming months I'm looking forward to expanding my early music repertoire and performing a lot of concerts for a great variety of American audiences.
SENATE RECOGNIZES PADEREWSKI
U.S. Senators Hagel, Mikulski, Durbin, Murkowski, and Voinovich submitted a resolution honoring the late Ignacy Jan Paderewski to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where it was accepted and passed. The resolution recognizes the accomplishments of Ignacy Jan Paderewski as a musician, composer, statesman, and philanthropist, and commemorates the 65th anniversary of his death on June 29, 1941."Whereas Paderewski wished his heart to be forever enshrined in the United States, where his lifelong struggle for democracy and freedom had its roots and was cultivated, and now his heart remains at the Shrine of the Częstochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania..."
KOVACIC TO LEAD LEOPOLDINUM
Austrian violinist, Ernst Kovacic, was appointed the Artistic Director of the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra in Wrocław. He will officially take charge in January 2007. Kovacic is the third internationally renowned artist to hold a directorial position in Wrocław, the other two being Paul McCreesh, new director of Wratislavia Cantans festival, and Jacek Kaspszyk, the first conductor of Wrocław Philharmonic . Kovacic's contract includes planning 12 concerts and leading at least half of them.
Ernst Kovacic was born in Austria and studied in Vienna. He has worked with ensembles in Vienna and at the same time developed a prominent international solo career. He is a laureate of competitions in Geneva, Barcelona and Munich.
The Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra was established in 1978 by Tadeusz Strugała. Artistic Director Karol Teutsch established the group's unique image of being led by the ensemble's primary musician rather than by a separate conductor, a tradition which was later continued by Jan Stanienda and Zbigniew Szufłat, giving the ensemble a special touch.
“MUSICA CLAROMONTANA” SERIES
The first three publications released by Polish Music Editions (PWM) in cooperation with the Jasna Góra monastery were recently announced by the largest Polish music publishing house. Missa Pastoralis by Marcin Józef Żebrowski, Psalmy Nieszporne by father Eryk Brikner and Missa F by Józef Elsner are included in the first part of series presenting the musical output of the monastery and treasures of its vault. The scores are published in very limited editions (about 200 units) due to very specialized projected customers and nature of the scores. The scores include an introduction in Polish and English as well as facsimiles of the original manuscripts. You can find these new scores in music bookstores around Poland as well as buy it online directly from PWM at www.pwm.com.pl , or their US representative Theodore Presser .
KACZMAREK'S NEW ORATORIO
The Oratorio 1956, finished just recently by Oscar winning Polish composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, was commissioned by the government of Poznań to commemorate the deadly demonstrations that took place there in June of 1956. This monumental work requires a 120 piece orchestra, a 200 piece choir and 3 soloists. The composition consists of four movements entitled: Poranny Polonez [Morning Polonaise], Trend dla Romka [Threnody for Romek], Poznań – Budapeszt , and Jednym Tchem [In One Breath].
Kaczmarek's inspiration came from historic texts, including memoirs of the participants and of the victims. The composer also included a tribute to similar events in Budapest in October 1956, which were a direct result of Polish protests, by including one of the National Hungarian Songs with words by Sandor Petrofi.
The work was premiered by the Poznań Philharmonic under Michał Nesterowicz, the men's and boy's choir “Poznańskie Słowiki”, the Poznań Boy's Choir and Adam Mickiewicz University Choir. The solo parts were performed by sopranos Elżbieta Towarnicka and Agnieszka Tomaszewska, with folkloric vocals by Sussan Deyhim. The concert took place on June 28, 2006 on the Mickiewicz Square in Poznań.
REMEMBERING W. ŁABUŃSKI
Łabuński in 1963, unknown photographer
The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) Conservatory of Music celebrated its 100th anniversary with an April weekend of celebrations marking its founding in 1906. The centennial's observances paid tribute to one of its former Polish faculty members and directors Wiktor Łabuński (1895-1974) with the announcement of the establishment of a scholarship in his name as part of the Conservatory's centennial scholarship fund.
W. Łabuński joined the school's piano faculty in 1937 and then became the conservatory's director in 1941, a position that he held until 1958. Łabuński came from a musical family. His older brother Feliks (1892-1979) became a well-known composer who, following in the footsteps of his younger brother, also immigrated to the United States, settling in Cincinnati. His father-in-law was the famous conductor Emil Młynarski, the first conductor of the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra (1901) and later a faculty member of the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (1929-31). His wife Wanda was also a pianist, and his sister-in-law Aniela was the wife of still another musical giant—pianist Artur Rubinstein.
Łabuński helped educate and train hundreds of pianists and composers, many who became well-known performers and composers or respected piano teachers themselves. One his former students, Colombian pianist Blanka Uribe, Professor Emeritus at Vassar College, won an honorable mention at the 1965 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw.
To establish a permanently endowed scholarship in Łabuński's name it is necessary to raise $10,000. So far, $1,000 has been collected. Contributions to the Wiktor Łabuński scholarship fund may be made by credit card (MasterCard, Visa and Discover), or by check payable to "UMKC Conservatory of Music" with "Wiktor Labunski Scholarship" written on the memo line of the check or noted in an accompanying letter and sent to: Linda Robbins, Director of Conservatory Development, 4949 Cherry Street, Kansas City, MO 64110, USA.
For more information, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
BLECHACZ'S CONTINUED SUCCESS
Rafał Blechacz has signed a five year contract with Deutsche Grammophon, one of the world's largest recording companies specializing in classical music. During the contractual period, Blechacz will record three albums, two of which will consist of works by Chopin. The first CD will be released next year. Blechacz is only the second Polish artist, after Krystian Zimmerman, to be signed with this prestigious recording company.
At the beginning of June, Rafał Blechacz went to visit the Steinway factory in Hamburg to pick a practice grand piano. The instrument, estimated to cost ca. 70,000 Euro, was funded by PKN Orlen, the Polish Refining Company.
MARIAN SAWA SOCIETY
To commemorate the 1st anniversary of the death of Marian Sawa, the Polish organist and composer, a society in his honor was created in Warsaw. The society's main focus will be the promotion of compositions by this great Polish composer, many of which are not published. The society will try to make these works available in print. Another field of activity will be promoting Sawa's music through concerts and scholarly sessions, bringing together music historians and theoreticians. The administration of the society consists of: Marietta Kruzel-Sosnowska (chairman), Marcin Tadeusz Łukaszewski (vice-chairman), Piotr Grinholc (treasurer), Leszek Mateusz Gorecki (secretary), Jan Bokszczanin (member of the board).
Marian Sawa was born in 1937 and died in 2005. He graduated from the State Music Conservatory in Warsaw, having studied composition and organ with Kazimierz Sikorski and Feliks Rączkowski respectively. As an organist he worked with the greatest names in the Polish music scene and recorded for Polskie Nagrania, DUX, Veriton, Polskie Nagrania Edition, Polonia Records, MTJ, Acte Préalable and also Polish Radio and Television. He performed all across Poland and also abroad. His compositions, especially for organ, are considered some of the best in the literature and have received many awards and honors.
The official website address for the society is www.mariansawa.org.
The 53rd session of the Tribune Internationale des Compositeurs UNESCO took place between June 6 and 9 in Radio France Headquarters in Paris. The composition of Polish composer Wojciech Widłak, Wziemięwzięcie , was ranked among the top 10 scores submitted and was put on a special international “recommended for performance” list. The competition was stiff, with over 60 scores sent in by 29 international radio stations. Wojciech Widłak was born in 1971 and studied composition at the Kraków Music Academy with Marek Stachowski and organ with Jan Jargoń. He continued his education at the Danish Royal Music Academy with Hans Abrahamsen. Currently he is an adjunct professor at his alma mater. His pieces have been performed and/or given awards at many festivals and competitions in Poland and abroad.
2006 ZKP AWARDS
The recipients of this year's ZKP Awards are:
Zbigniew Bagiński , for his outstanding creative output, as well as his work for the Polish Composer's Union [ZKP] and Polish music circles. Since 1974 Bagiński has been connected with the F. Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw and since 2004 he is the chair of the composition department.
Alicja Jarzębska , for her outstanding contributions to the field of musicology, especially research on the 20 th century music. Jarzębska is the director of the Musicology Institute of the Jagiellonian University.
The ZKP award was established in 1949. To date the recipients include, among others: Zygmunt Mycielski, Witold Lutosławski, Tadeusz Szeligowski, Michał Spisak, Tadeusz Baird, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Krzysztof Penderecki, Stefan Kisielewski, Jerzy Maksymiuk and Krzysztof Knittel.
The awards will be presented during this year's Warsaw Autumn Festival in Warsaw.
PWM OCHLEWSKI COMPOSITION COMP.
On June 20, the jury of the Tadeusz Ochleski Composition Competition, led by Krystyna Moszumańska-Nazar, announced the winners of this year's edition. The subject of the competition was a piece for trumpet solo. The first prize was awarded to Jarosław Płonka for Konstrukcja w Metalu [Construction in Metal]. An honorary mention went to Robert Kosek for Hejnał . Both compositions will be published by PWM .
BAIRD COMP. FOR YOUNG COMPOSERS
The final concert and awards ceremony of 47th edition of Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers was held in Warsaw on June 22, 2006. The jury, consisting of Zbigniew Bargielski (chairman), Szabolcs Esztényi, and Krzysztof Knittel, decided to divide the first place award ex- aequo between two compositions: The Rest is Silence by Dariusz Przybylski and Son'tasy 2.1 by Adrian Foltyn . Honorary mentions were received by Daria Jabłońska for Euklaz and Grzegorz Pieniek for Uroboros . The final concert was performed by pianists Katarzyna Kowalik and Bartłomiej Zajkowski, and percussionists Magdalena Kordylasińska and Miłosz Pękala.
NORWID AWARD NOMINATIONS
The C. K. Norwid Award was established by the government of Mazowsze to honor special achievements in promotion and expanding the cultural life of the region. This year marks the fifth edition of the awards.
The lifetime achievement award will go to Tadeusz Konwicki for his literary output. The nominations for the remaining categories are as follows:Literature
FESTIVALS IN POLAND
FESTIVAL “ŁAŃCUCH III”
The third edition of the “ Łańcuch” [Chain] festival, dedicated to Witold Lutosławski, took place between June 20 and 27 in Warsaw. It was organized by the Witold Lutosławski Society with the idea of giving perspective to his musical output by presenting it in juxtaposition with other 19 th and 20 th century composers. The central stage for the festival was the Warsaw Philharmonic concert hall. The music was performed by many great artists from Poland and abroad and included: NYYD Ensemble from Ukraine, the CIKADA string quartet from Norway, as well as Bartosz Koziak, laureate of the Lutosławski International Cello Competition.
A new facet of the festival this year is cooperation with the “La Voce” vocal competition in Germany and the Oistrach International Violin Competition in Ukraine. As a result, the winners of these events will be performing at future festivals. This year the winners were singer Felicitas Fuchs and violinist Soyoung Yoon, who prepared Lutosławski's Partita and Subito especially for this festival performance.
For the detailed program of the festival please visit: www.pwm.com.pl
CHOPIN RECITALS IN ŁAZIENKI KRÓLEWSKIE
The cycle of Sunday piano recitals in Łazienki Królewskie park continues this year. The recitals take place every Sunday at 12:00 pm and 4:00 pm by the Frederic Chopin statue.
The July calendar is as follows:
Sunday, July 2
Sunday, July 9
Sunday, July 16
Sunday, July 23
Sunday, July 30
THREE BAROQUES FESTIVAL
This festival dedicated to baroque music will take place in Wrocław between July 14 and 23 and Kliczków Castle on July 12, 2006. In addition to the festival's orchestra-in-residence, Arte dei Sonatori, the audience will hear excellent international soloists, including: French harpsichordist Aline Zylberajch, Swedish soprano Maria Keohane, flutist Bolette Roed from Denmark, conductor and keyboard player Martin Gester from France, flutist Alexis Kossenko from France, German theorbo and lute player Andreas Arend and Danish keyboard player Allan Rasmussen. The tickets are on sale right now at all major ticket retailers in Poland. The complete program of the festival and artist information as well as some more interesting facts are available on the official Polish website at: www.3baroki-wroclaw.pl
CONCERTS & PERFORMANCES
JAN KIEPURA ANNIVERSARY
Jan Kiepura was arguably the most famous Polish tenor who successfully performed on Broadway, with Metropolitan Opera, and on the stages in Vienna, Milan, Berlin, Munich, Paris, Buenos Aires, Brussels, Budapest, Prague, Brno, Havana, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Poland. He sang in English, German, French, Italian and Polish. He died of a heart attack at the age of 64 in Harrison, NY on August 15, 1966.
IAMIC CONCERT IN GÖTEBORG
The International Association of Music Information Centers ( IAMIC ) is an international society which brings together agencies specializing in classical music information. The Polish Music Information Centre (library arm of the ZKP, or Polish Composers' Union) is a member of this association. On June 20, a special concert was presented of pieces that had been submitted by all member organizations and selected by a Swedish jury. The Polish candidate, Lutosławiana (2000) by Alina Błońska , was among those performed.
The full program consisted of:
BLECHACZ SUPPORTS ALMA MATER
Rafał Blechacz, the winner of the 15th International Chopin Piano Competition, performed a special recital to support the Feliks Nowowiejski Music Academy in Bydgoszcz in its efforts to raise money for new buildings. He performed a full set of works by Frederic Chopin, giving each piece his own fresh interpretation. The recital took place in the building currently occupied by Opera Nova, which will vacate it very soon—the Music Academy, among others, is one of the front runners in the bidding for the new space. The Academy's current auditorium is too small to accommodate the over 400 students enrolled in the school. The decision regarding the building will be made before the end of June.
NYDAI ART NIGHTS
On Sunday, June 25 at Club Europa in New York City, there was a p erformance by the Bartosz Hadala Quartet. Bartosz Hadala is a Polish-born jazz pianist, trained at Berklee and Western Michigan University. The group delivered an outstanding performance of the leader's originals as well as jazz standards presented in a strictly acoustic, very imaginitive and intimate manner. Also featured was a g uest performance by students of Bozena Konkiel's KOBO Music Studio: Simona Kormanikova - 16 years old, Izabela Jaroszynska - 17 years old, and Mariusz Gorz - 15 years old.
10 NEW POLISH RADIO RELEASES
Polish Radio in cooperation with Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage have released a 10-CD set that kicks off a series called “Media with culture”. The goal of the cooperation is to release Polish music missing from the record market and to promote Polish music and culture, especially contemporary. Among the released albums are:
Since 1997, when Polish Radio started releasing recordings, they produced over 400 titles released in their three main series: “Polish Conductors”, Music of Our Times” and “National Works”.
NEW ALBUM BY MAŁAS-GODLEWSKA
One of the most widely known Polish sopranos, Ewa Małas-Godlewska released a new record on June 12, 2006. Entitled Sentiments, the album consists of the greatest hits from film and jazz repertoire, as well as original songs by Krzysztof Herdzin and Adam Sztaba. The vocal soloists are joined by the Polish Radio Orchestra. The album features such famous tunes as: Rosemary's Baby – Krzysztof Komeda, When I Fall In Love – Nat King Cole, and Somewhere – Leonard Bernstein.
STOJOWSKI COLLECTION UPDATE
Concert program of Sigmunt and Luisa Stojowski, July 1937
In 2005, the Polish Music Center at USC received a generous donation of manuscripts, sketches, correspondence, and published scores of music by Zygmunt (Sigismond) Stojowski (1870-1946) from the composer's family. Now known as the Stojowski Collection, this new addition to the PM archive consists of 32 boxes of varying sizes. During the summer of 2005, the Stojowski Collection was appraised by a specially hired expert. Although study copies will remain in the Polish Music Center, the originals will reside permanently in Special Collections at the Doheny Library on the USC campus. In the coming months, as the Collection's detailed inventory is being made, we will continue publishing the contents in our Newsletter, informing our public of this important legacy left by a fascinating and undeservedly forgotten composer. All inquiries regarding the Stojowski Collection should be directed to the Polish Music Center at USC via e-mail to: email@example.com . The following is our report on the contents of Box IV of the Stojowski Collection.[MZ]
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LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (1)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (2)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (3)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (4)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (5)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (6)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: VARIOUS DOCUMENTS (7)
LUISA STOJOWSKA: PRESS CLIPPINGS & OTHER CORRESPONDENCE
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Copyright 2006 by the Polish Music
Send your comments and inquiries to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Assistant Editor: Daniel Kamiński Contributions from: Joseph A. Herter, and Marek Żebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute, Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
PWM, Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre, PAP, ZKP,
infochopin.pl, Grammophon Magazine, US Embassy in Poland.
Formatting by Krysta Close 6/30/06