Polish Music Newsletter

August 2014, Vol. 20, No. 8. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California

 Anniversaries  | Awards | Discography | Festivals | News | PMC News  | Performances
| Obituary: Jan Jarczyk | Kolberg & Panufnik & Meyer Year

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OBITUARY: JAN JARCZYK
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THE BLUE NOTE OF SORROW
By Marek Żebrowski

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The music that filled Jan Jarczyk’s heart ever since the day he was born in Kraków in 1947 fell silent on August 3, 2014. Throughout his rich and eventful life, there was a lot of Jan’s music in places around the globe and it resonated deeply with his friends and fans. Just like the title of Jan’s recent CD, Full Circle, his music came Round, Round & Round—to quote another CD title, featuring a lovely string quartet introduction on its opening track, There Is Always Time.

Yes, there is always time—or so it seemed so many years ago when we first met in Boston. It may have been a cold and dreary evening, but the exact details escape me now; they didn’t matter at that brief moment at the end of the 1970s. It seemed like there was time, there will be time, and there was no hurry. Jan was finishing his studies at Berklee School of Music and began to teach there. One additional recital was required before Berklee would grant him a diploma. Besides being a brilliant pianist, Jan was also a great trombone player who needed a pianist to accompany him in that one final. I was still at the New England Conservatory and had rather limited contacts with jazz musicians or members of the Polish community in general. Jan, resourceful and thorough as always, somehow managed to reach my landlady on the phone and requested to be put through. In his rapid-staccato voice he went straight to the point. “I’ve got this recital coming up soon. Need a pianist for a few pieces, including Serocki’s Sonatina for Trombone and Piano. You’ve got to do it.” Jan always spoke hurriedly and—regardless of the language he used— his grammar resembled the telegraphic messages of long ago.

My visit to his Beacon Street high-rise flat in Boston’s Back Bay was the beginning of a long friendship and collaboration on several musical projects. The Serocki (and few other pieces we breezed through for the Berklee recital) was but an introduction to Jan-the-musician and Jan-the-host. His warm-heartedness and hospitality would henceforth be on ample display at least once or twice a week, before I would return home from the Conservatory or from M.I.T., where I had a part-time teaching gig. I was expected, even required, to stop by Jan’s place for a chat, interspersed with rounds of chilled vodka, herring, pickles, and dark rye. Many hours later Jan would insist on the courtesy of accompanying me downstairs and leaving me on the sidewalk, retreating to the lobby of his building only after making sure I departed his Beacon Street address in the approximate direction of my lodgings.

During the next few years, we collaborated on a variety of concerts, where each of us would share half of the program. Held in a variety of venues in and around Boston, some of them were summer outdoor affairs, and they attracted many Polish émigrés whom I befriended only because they were Jan’s sworn fans. Our paths diverged at some point in the late 1980s—Jan moved to Montreal to work and teach there, and I began to spend more and more time in Europe and on the West Coast.

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To my great joy, Jan reached out to the Polish Music Center about four years ago. Invited to perform by the Polish Consulate, together with Andrzej Olejniczak, Janusz Stefański and Darek Oleszkiewicz, Jan appeared at the Italian Cultural Institute in Westwood in a Chopin program arranged for jazz quartet. Once again, it was the same voice on the phone—the same grammar and articulation. Besides concertizing, Jan wanted to visit USC and study our archives, focusing on music by Bronisław Kaper and Henryk Wars—two composers whose collections are among our many treasures. Plans were eventually made for an extended stay and over a year later Jan drove across the continent with his wife, Danielle, arriving here in late winter. Immediately both of them settled to a lovely routine—Jan perused the scores, sketched out arrangements, checked out the recordings, and Danielle graciously joined us at lunchtime in the PMC reading room. A few weeks went by very quickly and, with his tasks completed, in his matter-of-fact way, Jan waved us goodbye and boarded his Mercedes on a long voyage back to Montreal in March of 2013.

As promised, Jan returned to USC exactly a year later for our March 29 concert, featuring his new arrangements of Kaper and Wars as well as his own compositions. His Newman Hall concert was a great success—the overflowing audience included the family of Henryk Wars, and Jan was mobbed at the reception afterwards (read a review of the concert in the April 2014 Newsletter). Many in the audience expected an encore. “I’m totally deflated,” Jan said as soon as he was backstage after an uninterrupted hour and a half of music. “I can’t go back tonight,” he added.

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It took quite some time to wind things down that evening. In between trying to help with bringing all kinds of gear back to the Polish Music Center, Jan finally sat down at the table, munching on the few edibles left from the reception. It was almost midnight. He poured himself a glass of wine and wanted to talk. That’s when I heard that a few months earlier, just before Christmas, Jan was diagnosed with cancer. The experimental drugs were working miracles, he quickly assured me. Nothing has changed—it was still the same Jan, energetic, optimistic, making all kinds of plans for the future. The hospital and doctors at McGill were the best—and he was responding to therapy beyond the wildest expectations of his attending physician. Then there was a retirement party for Jan at McGill on May 15. Jan’s e-mail was laconic and inimitable, “Come and Join the Gang!” A few weeks later, on the phone, he told me matter-of-factly, “Oh. The party was fine. I’m enjoying myself now. Doing a few concerts this summer.”  The birds chirped in the background and city traffic hummed on the other end of the line. Finally, it was spring in Montreal—time to make plans. Jan was going places, just like his memorable CD had announced a decade ago. The music would continue to accompany his life. The harmony—Jan’s sonorous companion and source of inspiration—with its progressions of chords could be always embellished with a melodic flourish or two on the piano. It would round off the sensuous bass line and fit into the groove laid out by the drummer. If there was a sax player—or another soloist—Jan’s handiwork would neatly dovetail into it, just so, without exaggeration. Easy, man—he seemed to say as his hands instinctively covered the keys and conjured up all kinds of magical sounds. We’ve gone full circle now and Jan’s music may have stopped, but his body and soul continue to sing.

For more tributes to Jan, please visit: ottawacitizen.com and www.facebook.com.

 


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PMC NEWS
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THINGS AFOOT AT THE PMC

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Lincoln in his favorite Paderewski onesie at 1 month old

lincolnThe spring and summer of 2014 has turned out to be a busy season for PMC, with all kinds of new and exciting developments. On February 12, the Polish Music Center family gained a new member: Lincoln Robert Requa. This healthy and good-natured young fellow is the first born son of PMC Assistant Director Krysta Close and her husband, Kenneth Requa. Already, Lincoln and his entourage have paid several visits to the PMC and found the place quite agreeable for playtime and naps. Obviously, the study of books and scores will come later, in due course. Throughout the ages, libraries have proven to be excellent places for siestas for countless generations of students, and we’re quite happy to observe that Lincoln is already exhibiting the signs of a budding music scholar!

 

Another big arrival—closely related to the one above—was that of Natalie Kozłowski (pictured below at left), a USC English Literature student, who helped with the day-to-day operations of the Polish Music Center during Krysta’s maternity leave. Thanks to Natalie, telephone calls and e-mail inquiries didn’t go unanswered, paperwork was filed, mail collected, and stories for the monthly Newsletter were gathered each month in anticipation of the monthly rush to publish it all online.

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In this tricky task of converting the plain text to HTML and formatting the PMC Newsletter to its familiar graphic guise, Natalie was greatly helped by Chuck Bragg (pictured above at right), our longtime volunteer wizard of the web. Chuck has generously donated lots of his free time to making sure that the PMC Newsletter is correctly uploaded and properly displayed on our website. Advising us on database design and maintenance, Chuck also managed to convince his wife, Alice (an USC alumna) to volunteer in such critical PMC tasks as record entry and library materials processing. With Krysta on leave from mid-February to mid-May, there were a few tense moments where FTP uploading protocols for the Newsletter did not function as expected. On one such harrowing occasions, it took a lot of clever tinkering on Chuck’s part (with telephone assistance from Krysta) to set everything aright and deliver on schedule the news of the latest developments in Polish music to our worldwide readership.

 

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Still more excitement followed in late May when Krysta returned to her desk and we welcomed yet another PMC collaborator to the library. After a few years of negotiations and meetings between the PMC and the National Archives in Warsaw, we entered into a partnership with the Archives and jointly sponsored the visit of Monika Płuciennik, a Gdańsk-based archivist who specializes in processing unusual music collections. With her wide experience and expertise, Monika settled into a 6-week exploration of the PMC archives. During her visit here, Monika created databases with specific categories applicable to two very rare PMC collections: the Bronisław Kaper Collection of film scores and the Henryk Wars [Henry Vars] Collection of symphonic music. Monika’s great knowledge of procedures and nomenclature was most helpful to the PMC staff, since proper recording of our collection and listing it online to researchers worldwide is our ultimate goal. The first phase of our cooperation with the National Archives in Warsaw marks the beginning of a long journey that will lead to a detailed cataloguing of the entirety of our holdings to be made available online via the Archive’s website. More meetings with the National Archives in Warsaw are scheduled later this fall, when subsequent steps in this process will be discussed. 2014_panufnik.jpg

With so much going on, the summer months went by very quickly and we’re already looking forward to several events being prepared for the coming months. Two concerts in early October will celebrate the centenary of Sir Andrzej Panufnik. On October 5, the PMC will present its annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital, featuring the composer’s widow, Lady Camilla, delivering the lecture, “Andrzej Panufnik—the Man behind the Music.” Following her presentation, several of Panufnik’s chamber works, including the Piano Trio, Five Vocalises - Hommage à Chopin, and String Quartet No. 2, will be presented at the Alfred Newman Recital Hall. A few days later, on October 9, Maestro Carl St. Clair will lead the Thornton Symphony Orchestra in performance of two of Panufnik’s orchestral works—Tragic Overture (1955) and Harmony (1989)—at USC’s premiere performing venue, Bovard Auditorium.

Looking forward to November, the PMC will co-organize and coordinate the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, held this year November 5-9. In addition to many interesting concerts featuring world-class performers, young students from Poland (and possibly also from the Ukraine) will come to perform during the Festival on as a part of the biennial Cultural Exchange Program. Performances by the Polish folk dance group, Krakusy, film screenings and exhibits will also accompany this year’s Paderewski Festival, which becomes ever more popular with the public each year. Back in Los Angeles, Poland’s Independence Day will be celebrated on November 11 at USC’s Newman Recital Hall with a violin and piano recital presented by Mariusz Patyra and Krzysztof Herdzin. These two outstanding artists will present a virtuoso program, spotlighting some of the best-loved music by Chopin, Wieniawski and Paganini.

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More details will follow in the Newsletter online and in other Polish media outlets in the coming weeks. As always, we look forward to seeing as many of our fans and supporters as possible at all of these events—most of them are free of charge!

 

KOLBERG & PANUFNIK & MEYER YEARS

MEYER AT 70

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2013 was an anniversary year for Krzysztof Meyer, who celebrated his 70th birthday last August. In recognition of Meyer’s admirable accomplishments as a composer, many concerts and festivals throughout Europe commemorated the occasion with a slate of concerts devoted to Meyer’s opus.

First and foremost, two of Meyer’s operas were premiered in Poland: Gracze [Players] in January 2013 in Gdańsk, and Cyberiada in May 2013 in Poznań. The first is Meyer’s completion of the unfinished score by Shostakovitch. Meyer’s opera Cyberiada was written to a libretto by Stanisław Lem and recognized with the Grand Prix by Prince Pierre of Monaco in 1970. It was performed in Germany on a few occasions in the 1980s, but its staging in Poznań was a Polish premiere. The manuscript of Cyberiada is housed in the Polish Music Center’s Manuscript Collection at USC.

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Manuscript of Cyberiada
Photo credit: Vladimir Paperny

During the 2013-1014 season, Meyer was composer-in-residence for the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. Four of his major works—Sinfonia da Requiem for Chorus and Orchestra (to texts by Adam Zagajewski), Mass for Choir, Organ and Orchestra, the Clarinet Quintet and the Second Sonata for Cello and Piano were heard during that season from the Warsaw Philharmonic stage.

Meyer’s song cycle for soprano and orchestra to texts by Paul Verlaine received its world premiere in Duesseldorf, and the Bayerischer Rundfunk presented Meyer in June in a special evening program, highlighting his work. The Fourth International Shostakovich Music Festival in Gohrisch, Saxony, placed Meyer’s works along those by Shostakovich and Britten during a weekend of concerts in late September 2013.

For a few years now, Meyer’s music has appeared on the NAXOS label and the company’s recently-completed project included a recording of all thirteen of Meyer’s string quartets as performed by the Wieniawski String Quartet: String Quartets, Vol. 1 - Nos. 5, 6 and 8 (Naxos 8.570776); String Quartets, Vol. 2 - Nos. 9, 11 and 12 (Naxos 8.572656); String Quartets, Vol. 3 - Nos. 7, 10 and 13 (Naxos 8.573001); and String Quartets, Vol. 4 - Nos. 1, 2, 3, 4 (Naxos 8.573165). Upcoming NAXOS releases will feature Meyer’s Piano Quartet and Piano Quintet.

The Music Academy in Poznań honored Meyer’s birthday with a book, containing articles by several noted musicologists about the composer and his prolific catalogue of works. The publication of this volume was a fitting tribute to Meyer’s teaching activities that spanned nearly half a century. Busy as always with composing, Meyer divides his time between his residences in Germany and Poland and is currently working on a composition for organ and orchestra, commissioned by the Łódź Philharmonic and scheduled for a world premiere in February 2015.

[Sources: email communication, naxos.com, ilharmonia.pl, ]

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SEASONS OF PANUFNIK

Already in full swing, the 2014 Panufnik Centenary celebrations are moving into festival mode for the summer, then leading towards the birthday month of September and the autumn season. Performances in the Americas will continue the tradition of American orchestras playing a prominent role in the history of works by Andrzej Panufnik: his Sinfonia Elegiaca was first performed in 1957 by the lady camilla panufnikHouston Symphony under Leopold Stokowski and his Sinfonia Votiva received its first performance in 1982 by the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa. Other orchestral works premiered in America include Harmony, Katyn Epitaph, Symphony No. 10, Arbor Cosmica, and the Bassoon Concerto. In 2014, the Chicago Symphony and Riccardo Muti opens its season with Concerto in Modo Antico (October 2), and the St. Louis Symphony and John Storgårds perform Landscape (October 24). As a part of the Paderewski Lecture-Recital series in Los Angeles, the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California will feature Panufnik’s widow, Lady Camilla (pictured at left), in a talk on her late husband’s life and music, and a chamber concert with mezzo-soprano Juliana Gondek, the Eclipse Quartet, and pianists James Lent and Nic Gerpe will follow the lecture (October 5). then four days later the Thornton Symphony Orchestra will perform Panufnik’s Tragic Overture and Harmony at USC (October 9). Later in the fall in Brazil, the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Stanislaw Skrowaczewski will perform Tragic Overture (November 6).

Events in the UK also continue apace. Orchestral performances this summer include Kirill Karabits conducting Heroic Overture with the Bournemouth Symphony, part of a Panufnik feature at the Cheltenham Festival (July 2, 9), and Sinfonia Elegiaca at the Edinburgh Festival with the young players of the I, Culture Orchestra (August 17). The Presteigne Festival includes six Panufnik works including Sinfonia Concertante and Landscape (August 22). Panufnik’s birthday on September 24 brings a special centenary concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, which in 1957 offered the émigré composer his first conductorship after his dramatic escape to the West. The program includes the Piano Concerto that Panufnik premiered with the orchestra, here with Peter Donohoe as soloist, and Sinfonia Elegiaca which received its UK premiere with the CBSO under his baton. The birthday also marks the launch of a major conference in Warsaw about the composer’s music led by his biographer, Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska. Then on November 30, Kings Place presents the Panufnik 100: A Family Celebration. This festival is a day of chamber music, films and talks, including all three quartets performed by the Brodsky Quartet, concluding with a Warsaw Cabaret.

panufnik-centenary2014.jpgThe largest Polish celebration featuring 16 of his works will be held at the International ‘Chopin & His Europe’ Festival in Warsaw. The highlight of the Festival is an all-Panufnik program including his Symphony No. 10, Violin Concerto and Arbor Cosmica with Sinfonia Varsovia and Jerzy Maksymiuk (August 27). Autumn events in Poland continue with the London Symphony Orchestra and pianist Piotr Anderszewski under Maestro Antonio Pappano performing Symphony No. 10 within the opening celebrations for the new NOSPR concert hall in Katowice (October 18), repeated the following day at the Barbican in London. Kraków plays host to three days of concerts and a conference led by Ewa Siemdaj (October 23-26), and chamber events run throughout the autumn around the country presented by the Institute of Music and Dance.

In terms of recordings the Panufnik centenary has seen the completion of CPO’s major survey of the composer’s symphonies and concertos conducted by Łukasz Borowicz, and a historic recording of the Bassoon Concerto conducted by the composer on the Heritage label. New discs of chamber music and songs are on the Chandos, Naxos, BIS and Signum labels (see details in the next article below). Books in preparation include an English translation of Beata Bolesławska-Lewandowska’s Panufnik biography from Ashgate Publishing and Panufnik’s autobiography Composing Myself translated into Polish (Panufnik o sobie) from Marginesy and in a new English edition supplemented by Panufnik’s other writings on music from Toccata Press.

For a full listing of centenary events visit www.boosey.com/panufnik or www.panufnik.com.

[Sources: press release, boosey.com. Photo: Marek Zebrowski]

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NEW PANUFNIK RECORDINGS

naxos_8_573164.jpgPanufnik & Lutosławski: String Quartets
Andrzej Panufnik: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 /Witold Lutosławski: String Quartet
Tippett Quartet
Naxos 8.573164 (August 2014)

2014 is the centenary year of Andrzej Panufnik and, while his orchestral music has received attention, his innovative string quartets remain neglected. Bittersweet harmonies characterise the First Quartet. The Second Quartet, whose subtitle ‘Messages’ refers to the mysterious sounds of telegraph poles vibrating in the wind, is notable for its motivic coherence and emotional intensity. The Third Quartet, subtitled ‘Wycinanki’, a reference to paper cutouts familiar in Polish rustic art, ends with one of Panufnik’s most moving statements. Lutosławski’s dramatic and experimental String Quartet was written when he was at the forefront of the European avant-garde. [from naxos.com

Reflections: the Solo Piano Works of Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik
Andrzej PANUFNIK: Twelve Miniature Studies (1947, rev. 1955/64); Hommage à Chopin (1949, rev. 1955), arr. Roxanna Panufnik; Pentasonata (1984); Modlitwa [Prayer] (1990/99), arr. Roxanna Panufnik; Reflections (1968); Roxanna PANUFNIK: Second Home (2003, rev. 2006); Glo (2002)
Clare Hammond, piano
BIS-2003 (SACD, May 2014)

Andrzej Panufnik (1914-1991) once wrote ‘Music gets its eternal beauty from an ideal balance of emotion and intellect.’ Although Panufnik is primarily known as a composer of symphonies and large-scale orchestral pieces, his three original works for solo piano perfectly illustrate this credo. Spread out over almost four decades, they are all highly crafted, displaying the composer’s self-professed ‘life-long fascination’ with mirror forms and symmetrical patterns. In Panufnik’s music such workman-like, not to say cerebral, concerns never become a self-indulgence, however – although ordered according to the circle of fifths and a strict scheme in terms of dynamics and articulation, each of the Twelve Miniature Studies from 1947 has its own highly individual mood and expression, and although Pentasonata from 1984 in almost every aspect – metre, tonality and overall structure – is governed by the number five, the composer fully succeeds in his stated aim: ‘to achieve a balance between heart and mind, intellect and emotion’. The young British pianist Clare Hammond is greatly involved in events for the Panufnik Centenary in 2014, and has devised the present disc as her first release on BIS. For it, she has chosen to include two works that might be described as ‘posthumous collaborations’ between the composer and his daughter Roxanna Panufnik, herself an acclaimed composer. Modlitwa (‘Prayer’), originally a vocal piece, was one of Panufnik’s last compositions, which Roxanna expanded in 1999, and later has made instrumental arrangements of, the most recent one being for piano. Hommage à Chopin consists of arrangements for solo piano made in 2013 of three of the five vocalises for soprano and piano that Panufnik composed in 1949, based on folk music from the region of Mazowia, where Chopin was born. Polish folk music also appears in Roxanna Panufnik’s Second Home, which expresses her sentiments for her father’s Polish homeland. Second Home is complemented on this disc by another composition by Roxanna Panufnik, the brief and atmospheric Glo. [from www.bis.se]

Dreamscape: Songs and Trios by Andrzej & Roxanna Panufnik
Andrzej PANUFNIK: Love Song; Dreamscape; Piano Trio; Roxanna PANUFNIK: Mine Eye; Sweet Love Remember’d; That Mighty Heart; Virtue; Around Three Corners
Heather Shipp (mezzo); Subito Piano Trio
Signum SIGCD380 (May 2014)

A unique programme of works by father and daughter. Sir Andrzej Panufnik was a leading Polish composer of the 20th Century, and his daughter Roxanna has made a name for herself in her own right as a contemporary composer in the 21st. This disc, programmed by Roxanna to combine works by both herself and her father, explores the parallels between their two musical languages and forms a touching tribute to Andrzej from his daughter. [from www.prestoclassical.co.uk]

[Sources: naxos.com, bis.se, prestoclassical.co.uk]

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KOLBERG IN SONG

kolberg centenary.jpgThe Twelfth Summer Lieder Festival at Wilanów Palace featured a performance of Kolberg’s songs at an evening concert on July 5. The beautiful atmosphere of this formal royal residence on the outskirts of Warsaw provided a splendid background for the recital featuring songs by Chopin, Moniuszko, and Szymanowski in addition to a selection of songs by Oskar Kolberg. The program was presented by Iwona Kowalkowska (soprano), Wojciech Maciejowski (tenor), and Andrzej Tatarski (piano).

More information about the event at: www.kulturalna.warszawa.pl

[Sources: email correspondence, kulturalna.warszawa.pl]

 

NEWS

ŁUKASZEWSKI WORLD PREMIERE

lukaszewski-pawel.jpgCommissioned by the 2014 Presteigne Festival, the Requiem for soprano, baritone, mixed choir and orchestra (2013-2014) of Paweł Łukaszewski will be premiered on Sunday, August 24 at 7:45 p.m. in St Andrew’s Church in Presteigne, Wales, UK. The premiere will be performed by Rachel Nicholls (soprano), Christopher Foster (baritone), the Joyful Company of Singers and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra under George Vass.

According to Łukaszewski:

Requiem for soprano, baritone, mixed choir and orchestra (2013-2014) is the second link of the Officium defunctorum cycle and a continuation of the funeral theme taken up in Vesperae pro defunctis (1995) and Salve Regina (2010).

This about 55 minute long opus comprises of ten parts: Requiem aeternam, Kyrie, Psalm 23, Alleluia, Pie Jesu, Sanctus, Agnus Dei, Lux aeterna, In paradisum and Libera me. Almost every part is dedicated to recently deceased people who, for various reasons, were close to me, among whom I would like to mention Wojciech Kilar, John Tavener, Wiesława Krodkiewska, Cardinal Józef Glemp, Otto Stock and family members: Leszek Łukaszewski, Andrzej Patrzyk and Michalina and Zenon Michalski.

During funeral rites the dead are commended to God's keeping, the hope of the living is strengthened, the belief that all the baptised will be resurrected with Christ is declared, the prayers for the departed to cross death into life are recited. Therefore the message behind the funeral liturgy is the hope of eternal life, the profession of the belief in the resurrection and another encounter in the Kingdom of Heaven. From the heavenly Jerusalem angels will come to meet the soul and they will lead them to Paradise, where they will be greeted by the martyrs to the accompaniment of angelic choirs.

My Requiem is an attempt to introduce the greatest mystery of our faith.

[Source: pwm.com.pl]

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POLES IN EDINBURGH

Traditional Scottish songs performed by Poles will resound throughout the interiors of Edinburgh's medieval churches during evenings this summer. The Polish Song of the Goat Theatre ensemble returns to Scotland following their great success presenting Songs of Lear in 2012. Their new project is entitled Return to the Voice, and it features a guest appearance by legendary jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek. Audiences in the Festival City will also experience concerts of Poland’s unique I, CULTURE Orchestra, whose 111 young members will join more than three thousand artists from 40 different countries during the rich program of the International Edinburgh Festival.

Below is more information about these two events from culture.pl:

The Return to the Voice project is supported by the talent and sensitivity of jazz vocalist Anna Maria Jopek and a Corsican artist, Jean-Claude Acquaviva. Grzegorz Bral, the founder and director of Song of the Goat theatre explains how the archaic musical scales from Na H-Eileanan siar and the growingly rare Gaelic language are employed in the piece in a completely new way.

This intimate performance dedicated to tradition and forgetting will be presented at a very significant moment for the Scottish people. Return to the Voice showings come two months before a referendum in which the Scots are to decide about their possible independence. The world premiere of a piece supported by Culture.pl takes place on the 6th of August at the St.Giles Cathedral, and showings run through to the 25th of August. Apart from the Song of the Goat Theatre, there will also be performances of contemporary Polish dance. Anna Nowicka will present her solo piece The Truth is Just a Plain Picture, said Bob at Dance Base, and Agata Maszkiewicz will also show a solo project titled Polska.

2014 marks the passing of 100 years since the outbreak of World War I. Artists invited to perform at the Edinburgh International Festival will refer to the history of relations between culture and political conflict. During a press conference, the artistic director of the event Jonathan Mills reminded of the long time presence of Polish artists in Edinburgh, calling the collaboration an honour.  He also explained that with this year's theme, there appears the chance of "transgressing the political in favour of the human".

Participants of the I, CULTURE Orchestra project admit that playing at the Scottish festival is a sign of recognition and a great honour for them. In Edinburgh, they will perform alongside the Royal Scottish Chamber Orchestra, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and the London Philharmonic. A gala concert of the ICO takes place on the 17th of August, with young musicians from Poland and the Eastern Partnership countries performing Andrzej Panufnik's Sinfonia elegiaca, and Symphony No. 7 ( Leningrad) by Dmitriy Shostakovich.  Kirill Karabits, a prominent conductor of Ukrainian origin, leads the ensemble, with young pianist talents Alice Sara Ott and Simon Trpceski on solo. After Szymanowski and Lutosławski which had a strong presence in the 2012 EIF programme, this year will also resound with music from Polish composers Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and the aforementioned Andrzej Panufnik.

To learn more about the I, Culture Orchestra and its 2014 tour, see the next article below.

[Source: culture.pl (Edited by Anna Legierska, translated by Paulina Schlosser)]

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I, CULTURE ORCHESTRA 2014

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Established by Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute in 2011, the I, CULTURE Orchestra (ICO) is an ensemble of outstanding young musicians from Poland and the Eastern Partnership member states – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. Members audition and are chosen anew each season, and this year’s ensemble of 111 artists was announced in April 2014.

The mission of the I, CULTURE Orchestra is to foster positive change in the cultural and social development of the countries of Eastern Europe and Southern Caucasus through enterprises of the highest artistic quality. Above all, the I, CULTURE Orchestra is an exquisite ensemble, but it is also an initiative of enormous social potential, a laboratory of civic education, cooperation and understanding which transcends every division.

The Orchestra’s success has been founded on the universal principles of solidarity, integration and friendship. As an educational project, the ICO enables young talents to change their perspective on their respective artistic surroundings and hone their skills under the supervision of eminent instrumentalists of some of the world’s most prominent orchestras.

As a part of its mission, the ICO holds at least one annual residency and conducts one annual international tour each year, and the following are scheduled for 2014:

RESIDENCY

27 July – 9 August 2014, Gdańsk, Music Academy/Baltic Philharmonic

CONCERTS

5 August 2014, Gdańsk, Poland: Chamber Music Concert, St John’s International Culture Centre

7 August 2014, Gdańsk, Poland: Frédéric Chopin Polish Baltic Philharmonic

Andrzej Panufnik – Sinfonia Elegiaca (Symphony No.2)
Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 „Leningrad

10 August 2014, Kassel, Germany: Kultursommer Nordhessen, Kongress Palais – Stadthalle

Gara Garayev – Two Images from „Seven Beauties“
Franz Liszt – Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat major
Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 „Leningrad

12 August 2014, La Roque d’ Antheron (Nantes, France): 34e Festival International de Piano

Antonín Dvořák – Slavonic Dance No.1 Op. 46
Franz Liszt – Piano Concerto No.1 in E-flat major
Aram Khachaturian – „Spartacus” Suite

17 August 2014, Edinburgh, Scotland: International Edinburgh Festival, Usher Hall

Andrzej Panufnik – Sinfonia Elegiaca (Symphony No.2)
Dmitri Shostakovich – Symphony No. 7 in C major, Op. 60 „Leningrad

23 August 2014, Stockholm, Sweden: Baltic Sea Festival

Gara Garayev – Two Images from „Seven Beauties“
George Gershwin – Rhapsody in Blue
Aram Khachaturian – „Spartacus” Suite

[Source: orchestra.iam.pl, culture.pl]

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FOREIGNER’S GUIDE TO POLISH JAZZ

The Adam Mickiewicz Institute has recently published “A Foreigner's Guide to Polish Jazz.” In this ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style article, readers are given many ways to digest the complex and glorious history (and present) of jazz in Poland. The article was adapted from Cezary Lerski's article "Polish Jazz - Freedom at last" by Wojciech Oleksiak, who provided editing, comments, a foreword, a listener's profile and the last two paragraphs.

The jazz adventure begins thus:

The prolific history of Polish Jazz may seem inaccessible for foreigners: so many characters, so many musicians and various streams of jazz music. If you want to get started on Polish jazz and discover the story of Komeda, Stańko or Seifert, try out Culture.pl’s Foreigners Guide to Polish Jazz.

Polish Jazz is approaching its 100th anniversary. What makes the history of Polish Jazz so unique is its role in the quest for democracy and political freedom during the communist period and its being deeply rooted in Polish traditional culture. In the 20th century, jazz was in the avant-garde of democratic processes in Poland and was strongly linked with all genres of art that struggled for artistic independence. The difficult circumstances of the communist period and the need to redefine its position after the political transformation left no space for stagnation.

To read the entire article, visit: culture.pl

[Source: culture.pl]

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DANCING TO CHOPIN (BY WAY OF BRITTEN)

From the Boosey & Hawkes website:

The lost score of Benjamin Britten’s orchestration of Les Sylphides was recently rediscovered and revived by American Ballet Theater, and is now available on hire from Boosey & Hawkes for other ballet companies.

chopin-pastel.jpgMichel Fokine’s classic one-act ballet, with its orchestrations of music by Chopin, dates back to 1908 when it was premiered at the Maryinsky Theatre with scenery by Alexandre Benois. Following performances by the Ballets Russes in Paris it soon became a mainstay of the 20th century repertoire, yet was often disfigured because of its orchestrations.

Starting with orchestrations by Glazunov, and then by a selection of living composers including Stravinsky, it was not until 1936 that Roy Douglas made a stylistically coherent orchestration that is often still used today. American Ballet Theater brought the piece into its repertoire in 1940, supervised by Fokine, and the following year commissioned Britten to create a new orchestration for a fee of $300. This version was premiered in February 1941 and the season programme described how “the sharp, incisive qualities of the music of Mr. Britten corresponded in our opinion to what the music of Chopin required”.

The Britten orchestration was employed by American Ballet Theater until at least the 1970s but then attribution to the composer disappeared as alternative orchestrations were re-introduced. The hunt for the missing version was prompted by dance historian David Vaughan and he and ABT conductor David LaMarche were excited to discover an unmarked score that matched what could be heard on an historic archive recording. Then a set of parts, one of which was topped with “Arr. by Benjamin Britten”, was found at the ABT’s warehouse in New Jersey and verified by the scholars at the Britten-Pears Foundation.

ABT revived the Britten orchestration for the composer’s centenary last November when Les Sylphides returned to the company’s repertoire after a ten-year absence to open a triple bill of non-narrative pure dance works. The New York Times reviewer described the soundworld of the Britten scoring: “Beautifully varied in instrumental colour, it brings both fragrancy and muscle to Chopin’s familiar pieces.” ABT also toured Les Sylphides to the Kennedy Center in Washington DC in April and plans to retain the Britten version going forward.

[Source: boosey.com]

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POLES AT IKIF IN NY

Baczewskamagdalena.jpgGrzegorz Niemczuk

Two Polish musicians taught and performed at the 16th edition of the International Keyboard Institute & Festival hosted by the New School for Music at Mannes College in New York City: Grzegorz Niemczuk and Magdalena Baczewska.

Thursday, July 17:

6:00pm Prestige Series Concert: Magdalena Baczewska

Friday, July 18:

3:00pm Master Class - Goldmark Hall - Magdalena Baczewska

Sunday, July 20:

12:00 pm Lecture by Grzegorz Niemczuk: The History and Interpretation of the Mazurka through Chopin and Szymanowski

Saturday, July 26

12:00pm Lecture by Grzegorz Niemczuk: The Piano Concerto by Andrzej Panufnik on the 100th Anniversary of his Birth - Goldmark Hall (FREE)

8:30pm Masters Series Concert: Gala Concert – Magdalena Baczewska performs Chopin’s Nocturne in F Sharp Major, Op. 15, No. 2

 [Sources: polmic.pl, ikif.org]

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‘THREE POLONAISES’ IN L.A.

rybak-agnieszka_organ_sm.jpg
Agnieszka Rybak

On August 17, an “Organ Concert of Three Polonaises” featuring organist Agnieszka Rybak will be held in commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Warsaw Rising at Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church in Los Angeles. Program: M.K. Ogiński – Polonez a-moll „Pożegnanie Ojczyzny”; H. Purcell – Trumpet Tune; L. Boellmann – Suita Gotycka op. 25  „Modlitwa”; F. Chopin – Polonez A-dur Op. 40 Nr 1  „Wojskowy”; F. Chopin – Mazurek F-dur Op. 68 Nr 3; F. Chopin – Etiuda Op. 10 Nr 12 “Rewolucyjna”; S. Mercadante – Rondo Russo z Koncertu Fletowego e-moll Op. 57 cz. III; W. Kilar – Polonez z filmu „Pan Tadeusz”; A. Rybak – Suita Powstania Warszawskiego 1944 [Suite of the Warsaw Rising in 1944]

This concert organized by Our Lady of the Bright Mount Parish with concert master Janusz Piotrowski.

Sunday, August 17th, 2014 | After noon-time Holy Mass (around 1:00 pm)
Our Lady of the Bright Mount Church
3424 West Adams Blvd., Los Angeles, CA
Admission: FREE
Info: polandconnected.com

[Sources: press release, polandconnected.com]

 
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AWARDS

SEIFERT JAZZ VIOLIN COMPETITION

bartosz_dworak.jpgLaureates of the 1st International Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition—held as part of the Summer Jazz Festival in “Piwnica pod Baranami” on July 16-19 in Kraków, Poland—are as follows:

Zbigniew Seifert (1946-1979) was one of the most eminent Polish jazz musicians and a man of incredible musical talent. His untimely death did not let him fully develop his musical abilities and interrupted a promising worldwide career.

This competition is open to musicians representing different musical styles, techniques of performance and types of compositions. The institutions that co-organize this competition hope that it will help discover musical individualities as great as Seifert himself. We expect exciting musical experiences, artistic surprises and plenty of emotions related to the presentation of music written by artists of the young generation.

The founder and initiator of the International Zbigniew Seifert Jazz Violin Competition is Małgorzata Jantos, PhD, Chair of the Board (COB) of the Zbigniew Seifert Foundation.

[Sources: polmic.pl, seifertcompetition.com]

 
FESTIVALS

CHOPIN AND HIS EUROPE

chopin-i-jego-europa2014.jpgThe tenth edition of the ‘Chopin and His Europe’ Festival will be held in Warsaw from August 15-31, 2014, under the motto “From Chopin to Grieg and Panufnik.” Over the course of the 17 days of the Festival, masterpieces of nineteenth-century repertoire will resonate with those of twentieth-century composers. A highlight of this year’s Festival will be the performance of 16 compositions by Sir Andrzej Panufnik, whose 100th birth anniversary is celebrated throughout 2014, including at all-Panufnik program on August 27.

Polish composers and Polish musicians are featured on nearly every program of this rich Festival. To see a full listing of concerts and performers, visit: chopin.nifc.pl.

nifc-logo.gifThe International Music Festival “Chopin and his Europe” was established in 2005 and immediately recognized as a major artistic event. During the first 3 years of its existence the Festival managed to find its place and play a leading role among the most important events promoting Polish culture abroad. The main purpose of the Festival is to present the music of Fryderyk Chopin in a broad cultural context and is organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute.

[Sources: muzyka.onet.pl, efa-aef.eu, mkidn.gov.pl, chopin.nifc.pl]

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TRANSATLANTYK FESTIVAL

Transatlantyk International Film and Music Festival

The 4th annual Transatlantyk International Film and Music Festival will be held in Poznań from August 8-14, 2014. The Festival features outstanding films and music from all around the world, hundreds of screenings and numerous concerts, as well as legendary and young artists, representatives from all film and music professions. Transatlantyk is intended to be a new artistic platform aimed at building a stronger relationship between society, art and the environment through music and movies. It strives to inspire discussions on current social issues. Founded and directed by Academy Award-winning composer Jan A.P. Kaczmarek, Transatlantyk is intended to be both Glocal (local in actions and identity, while at the same time global in terms of understanding the consequences and context of its actions) and Open.

At this year’s Festival, professor and feminist activist Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak will receive the 2014 Transatlantyk Glocal Hero Award. Also, winners in the Transatlantyk Film Music Competition and Transatlantyk Instant Composition Contest will be revealed.

[Source: transatlantyk.org]

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‘LETNIA FILHARMONIA’ FESTIVAL

AUKSO orchestra

The fifteenth edition of the “Summer Philharmonic” concerts is scheduled in two installments this year. The first was held in Wigry—the picturesque lakeside resort in the northeast of Poland—from July 25 until August 2. The second, scheduled for August 8-10, will take place in Pieniny, the mountainside resort in southern Poland.

The honorary guest of the Festival, Lady Camilla Panufnik, will travel from Great Britain to attend concerts honoring the centenary of her husband’s birth and share with the Festival audiences some of the details of her life with Andrzej Panufnik.

The ensemble-in-residence is the AUKSO orchestra, led by Maestro Marek Moś (pictured above). It is worth noting that some fourteen years ago, this ensemble was a student orchestra that spent an intensive two-week retreat in Wigry that led to the launching of AUKSO’s successful performing career. Pianist Janusz Olejniczak and cellist Andrzej Bauer were invited as guest soloists for this edition of the Summer Philharmonic Festival. They will be joined by younger, up-and-coming artists, including pianist Aleksandra Świgut, violinist Janusz Wawrowski, and cellist Marcin Zdunik.

Panufnik’s Cello Concerto, Violin Concerto and Suita Staropolska [Old Polish Suite] will be performed alongside Beethoven’s Triple Concerto, Chopin’s Piano Concerto Op. 21, Schumann’s Cello Concerto, and other works—both chamber and solo—presented in concerts and recitals. Free master classes for pianists with Aleksandra Świgut and Janusz Olejniczak are also planned. More information about the Festival, visit the website of POLMIC, who also serves as the media patron of this year’s Summer Philharmonic.

[Source: polmic.pl]

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SUMMER FESTIVAL IN NEW TOWN WARSAW

summerfest-nowemiasto2014.jpg

The 7th edition of the Letni Festiwal Nowego Miasta [New Town Summer Festival] is taking place around Warsaw from July 26 – August 10. Works by Polish composers such as A. Panufnik, M. Małecki, F. Chopin, S. Madelka, K. Szymanowski, K. Kurpiński, and Wł. Słowiński are featured. Performers include the Festival’s organizers, Warsaw Camerata and conductor Paweł Kos-Nowicki; Morpheus saxophone quartet; Cezariusz Gadzina – saxophone; Piotr Iwicki and Milo Kurtis – percussion; La Tempesta early music ensemble; Filharmonia Przedszkolaka; and Kwartet Wilanów. During the Festival, programs held in traditional concert venues are interspersed with outdoor concerts and guided walks around the New Town area. Admission to all concerts and guided walks are free.

[Sources: polmic.pl, lfnm.pl]

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SOLIDARITY OF ARTS

This year’s Solidarity of Arts Festival will be held in Gdańsk from August 8-30, 2014. Although comprised of several events celebrating various artistic mediums, the main musical event of the Festival is always the “+” concert, which features one major international jazz superstar plus a lineup of their favorite musical colleagues. Considered Poland’s biggest jazz show of the year, it will take place on August 16 on three purpose-built stages near the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk. This year’s multi-talented host is the brilliant US bassist and vocalist and a 3-time Grammy Award winner Esperanza Spalding. The line-up of this year’s “Esperanza+” concert includes the following truly remarkable international musicians:

  • probably the greatest living jazz composer Wayne Shorter;
  • the musical icon of both acoustic and electronic jazz Herbie Hancock;
  • probably Brazil’s most famous musician of all time Milton Nascimento;
  • bass guitar’s (and Solidarity of Arts’) legend Marcus Miller;
  • two-time Grammy winner and Mr Hancock’s long-time collaborator, percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington;
  • brilliant vocalist (both jazz and world music), one of West Africa’s most important cultural ambassadors Oumou Sangaré;
  • a jazz-funk band forever faithful to the afro-cuban rumba tradition The Pedrito Martinez Group;
  • great frame drum- and percussion specialist, Leszek Możdżer’s long-time collaborator Zohar Fresco;
  • renowned Canadian trumpet player Ingrid Jensen;
  • avant-garde Argentinian jazz pianist and composer Leo Genovese;
  • two long-time collaborators of Marcus Miller: saxophonist Alex Han and drummer Louis Cato;

as well as a group of world-class acts from Poland:

The concert, as well as its live telecast on TVP Kultura, will start at 9 pm CET, and will deliver plenty of memorable moments for jazz fans from Poland and abroad.

August 16, 2014 |Doors open 7:00 p.m., Concert at 8:30 p.m.
ESPERANZA+

Polish Baltic Philharmonic courtyard, 1 Ołowianka Street
Gdańsk, Poland
Tickets: Polish Baltic Philharmonic box office
Info: www.solidarityofarts.pl

Another important musical event of this year’s edition is the “United Through Music Concert,” held on August 24 in the Polish Baltic Philharmonic concert hall. Performers for this concert are: Jonathan Brett – conductor, Janusz Olejniczak – piano, Jan Lisiecki – piano, Yaryna Rak – soprano, and the Polish Baltic Philharmonic Orchestra. The program consists of: Myroslav SKORYK – Melody La-minor; Fryderyk CHOPIN – Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21; Maurice RAVEL – Piano Concerto in G major; Henryk Mikołaj GÓRECKI – Symphony No. 3, Op. 36 “Symphony of Sorrowful Songs.”

August 24, 2014 | 7:00 p.m.
United Through Music Concert
Polish Baltic Philharmonic courtyard, 1 Ołowianka Street
Gdańsk, Poland
Tickets: +48 58 3206262 or go to bilety24.pl to book/buy tickets (PLN 20-60) 
Info: filharmonia.gda.pl

[Sources: press release, filharmonia.gda.pl]

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WARSZAWA SINGERA

The 10th edition of the Warszawa Singera [Singers’ Warsaw] Festival of Jewish Culture is just around the corner. This annual celebration of music, theatre, film, literature and visual arts will be held from August 24 – September 1. The Yiddish culture will be back in cantors' songs, klezmer sounds, outdoor concerts, Jewish paper-cutting workshops and Hebrew calligraphy. We will move to the world so vividly described by Isaak Beshevis Singer. The honorary guest of the festival will be I.B. Singer's son – Izrael Zamir.

Every year, the most eminent representatives of the Jewish culture come to Warsaw from around the world: Israel, USA, Sweden, Holland, France, Belgium, Canada, Denmark and Hungary. During this year’s jubilee edition, the audience will have the opportunity to take part in a real artistic feast. The All Saints' Church will host the trumpet virtuoso, Tomasz Stańko featuring the Kroke band and American musicians. The cantor Yaacov Lemmer will sing in the Nozyk Synagogue. Israeli cantor Dudu Fisher, known from his creation in Les Miserables, and the Canadian jazz pianist and composer Ron Davis will perform. At the request of our audience, Joshua Nelson will come back to Warsaw. Also, theatre geeks will find a few interesting proposals. Actors from France and Romania will perform some excellent shows (The Jewish Theatre from Bucharest will stage Yentl based on Sz. An-Ski's The Dybbuk Between Two Worlds, adapted by Szmuel Shohat for Habima - the National Theatre from Israel). Several small theatre forms will be presented by, among others, Karolina Kirsz (adaptation of Touch the Water, Touch the Wind by Amos Oz) and Paweł Paszta.

The festival's grand finale concert, held in Grzybowski Square, will be performed by The Other Europeans and the stars of this year's Festival. The Other Europeans is a world famous group of 14 distinguished musicians connected with the Yiddish and the Lautari cultures. Connecting tradition and modernity, presenting culture of the pre-war Jewish shtetl and the contemporary art inspired by the Jewish motives, Singer's Warsaw Festival has been demonstrating, for several years, that the Jewish culture is very rich and can fully embrace contemporary world.

[Source: festiwalsingera.pl]

 

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PERFORMANCES
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OPERA REVIEW: TRANSCRYPTUM
By Cindy Bylander

[Article originally published in Musical Opinion Quarterly, April-June 2014.
Used by permission of the author]

In May 2013, the Grand Theatre/National Opera in Warsaw presented the first installment of Projekt P [Project P], which brings together “the hottest young Polish creators” in order to develop genre-shattering new operas. In the case of the first installment, it was Wojtek Blecharz’s Transcryptum and Jagoda Szmytka’s Dla głosów i rąk [For Voices and Hands] that were premiered. American musicologist Cindy Bylander wrote an in-depth review of Transcryptum for Musical Opinion Quarterly, which is excerpted below.

Blecharz's contribution, in particular, was highly unusual for its rejection of nearly everything that is typically expected of an opera, even those that have emerged in the 21st century. His reinterpretation of the essential components of the genre—libretto, staging, drama, music—bore homage to its recent predecessors yet challenged the very definition of such works. His attempt to reinvigorate the genre by changing the relationship between audience and participant engaged all involved in unexpected ways.  For example, what Blecharz calls the libretto existed only in printed form and consisted of snippets of text to be read by audience members at an appointed time during the production (Ex. 1). Instead of a dramatic narrative, fragmentary recollections of a horrific event were introduced, their meanings obscured by the transient nature of each segment. All participants wore drab gray or black clothing rather than distinctive costumes reflective of each character’s role. Written for seven instrumentalists, vocalist, dancer, and actor, the score contains few notated pitches. Sung texts, which Blecharz has lamented as the most artificial part of opera,1 are largely avoided, as are conventional means of instrumental performance. Traditional acting is also absent, although theatrical gestures are indicated at times in the instrumental parts. Video and sound projections either accompanied the live music or formed standalone offerings. The sole trained singer, mezzosoprano Anna Radziejewska, did not have a central role, even though Blecharz wrote the piece with her in mind. In another twist, Blecharz filled the roles of both composer and director, collaborating with experts in lighting, video and set design.

Ex. 1: Libretto excerpt provided by the composer.
© Wojtek Blecharz. Used with permission.

What ultimately distinguished Transcryptum from its peers and predecessors, however, was its staging.  Blecharz has described the piece as both an opera and an “opera-installation.” It is site-specific, for he exploited the acoustical and visual possibilities of a variety of spaces within Warsaw’s opera building.

Transcryptum, for all of its innovative characteristics, also adopted certain attributes of its predecessors. Stockhausen's expansion of operatic activity into public space was taken a step further by Blecharz's nearly complete avoidance of traditional performing areas. As in Stockhausen's Licht, the instrumentalists in Transcryptum are frequently the main attraction, appearing alone or as part of a duet or trio (they perform together only for the closing piece).  Reminiscent of Lachenmann's Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelhölzern, they are identified only by generic titles such as “mother.”2 Displaying a deeper indebtedness to Lachenmann as well as to Penderecki, Cage, and others, Blecharz's music consists almost entirely of extended performing techniques and prepared instruments. Such writing is the norm for the composer's output to date, for which the 32 year old has already garnered awards, commissions, and critical acclaim.3 

Blecharz's fascination with both timbral qualities and the physical aspects of producing tones is reminiscent of Lachenmann’s musique concrète instrumentale, described by the German composer as music ‘in which the sound events are chosen and organized so that the manner in which they are generated is at least as important as the resultant acoustic qualities themselves.’4 Blecharz favors allusions to nature’s sounds, witnessed by audible breathing and panting, striking or tossing sticks onto a steel drum in K'an, the first of six distinct pieces within the opera, (Ex. 2), and rubbing or scratching hands and fingernails on the body, pegs, bridge, F holes, and other parts of an amplified cello in Map of tenderness (Ex. 3).  His attentiveness to the acoustics of each space allowed viewers to hear multiple layers of sound simultaneously.

Ex. 2: K’an, measures 43-52.
© Wojtek Blecharz. Used with permission.

 

Ex. 3: The map of tenderness, measures 58-60.
© Wojtek Blecharz. Used with permission.

The difficulty of presenting Transcryptum elsewhere in its entirety without significant modifications will limit its dissemination and, potentially, the composer’s own emerging recognition in the broader musical world. Set pieces from the opera can be played independently, yet such performances lack any reference to the opera’s dramatic essence.5 Blecharz is not troubled by this situation. Indeed, his fondness for unconventionality undoubtedly factored into his decision to create Transcryptum as a site-specific piece.  Moreover, his exploration of physical space and his affinity for technologically enhanced, multi-media performances attracted the interest of the younger generation, echoing the Warsaw Autumn Festival and Kraków’s Sacrum Profanum in their successful expansion beyond traditional concert venues and programs in recent years.

This production invites a conversation about the definition not only of opera and the implications of its location specificity, but also of the expectations of both audiences and performers at such events. Blecharz's disavowal of many operatic conventions resulted in a production that relies on associations, yet invalidates many of those held by the typical operagoer. Transcryptum obliges viewers to make sense of a tightly scripted, yet seemingly disconnected group of events that occur in unusual spaces and are accompanied by unexpected sounds. Instead of enjoying a cohesive narrative from the relative comfort of an auditorium seat, they are forced to be engaged actively with the unfolding images and sounds. Comprehension is intentionally complicated by discomfort and confusion. Blecharz may have been inspired by Cage, Stockhausen, Lachenmann and others, but his creation is a novel contribution to the operatic genre that bears witness to the talent of a composer whose fame is rapidly spreading in contemporary music circles.

Projekt P is a part of Terytoria [Territories], a series of meetings with contemporary music in which the Polish National Opera seeks to discover and sketch a new image of opera. The genre is changing its definition today, conquering new territories, drawing new meanings, proposing a new aesthetic. The most recent Projekt P creations are Sławomir Kupczak’s Voyager and Katarzyna Głowicka’s Requiem For An Icon—these two chamber operas will be premiered in May 2015.

* * * * *

Notes & Author's biography:

Cindy Bylander received her Ph.D. in musicology from The Ohio State University and currently resides in San Antonio, Texas. She was awarded a U.S. Fulbright grant to conduct research in Poland in the 1980s. She is particularly interested in the compositions of Krzysztof Penderecki, the impact of the Warsaw Autumn Festival and other regional festivals on musical life in Poland, and the roles played by the Polish Composers Union and its individual members as they negotiated the vicissitudes of Cold War cultural policies. Dr. Bylander has presented papers at conferences in the United States and Europe. She is the author of Krzysztof Penderecki: A Bio-Bibliography (Greenwood Press, 2004) and has published articles in Musical Quarterly (2012), Musicology Today (Warsaw University, 2010), "Warsaw Autumn" as a Realisation of Karol Szymanowski's Vision of Modern Polish Music (Warsaw: Polish Music Information Centre 2007), Music of the Twentieth-Century Avant-Garde (Greenwood Press, 2002), Studies in Penderecki, Ruch Muzyczny, Polish Music Journal, and Polish Music Center Essays. Her article on Penderecki's symphonies is forthcoming in Polish Music Since 1945 (Kraków: Musica Iagellonica).

(1) Author’s interview with Wojtek Blecharz, October 10, 2013, San Diego, California.

(2) Andrew Clements, 'Matchless inventions,' The Guardian (23 May 2002), http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2002/may/24/shopping.artsfeatures1.

(3) His Phenotype for prepared and amplified violin (2012) calls for a bow made from 4 sheets of paper held together with scotch tape. Hypopnea (2010) is for detuned accordion.  Blecharz received first prize in the 2007 Tadeusz Baird Young Composers Competition and a Warsaw Autumn Festival commission in 2012. He was also nominated for a Polityka Passport Award in 2012 as one of Poland’s most promising figures in classical music.

(4) "Musique concrète instrumentale, Helmut Lachenmann, in conversation with Gene Coleman  (7 April 2008)," http://slought.org/content/11401/

(5) For ex., K’an and The Map of Tenderness were performed in Warsaw on 3 December 2013. http://allevents.in/warsaw/wojtek-blecharz-portret-kompozytorski-hellyeah/184161071776065

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KILAR JAZZ IN KIELCE

stankiewicz-kuba.jpgPianist Kuba Stankiewicz presented a recital of music by Wojciech Kilar on July 31 at the Świętokrzyska Philharmonic Chamber Auditorium Hall in Kielce. This great jazz pianist presented the audience with twelve of Kilar’s best-known tunes from his many film scores as well as some additional improvisations. Kilar’s film music CD, as interpreted by Kuba Stankiewicz came out last year to a great critical and public acclaim.

[Source: polmic.pl]

 

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DISCOGRAPHY
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NEW JAZZ FROM PŁUŻEK

pluzek_firstalbum.jpgKuba Płużek – First Album
Ciążownik; User Friendy / Tune; Cyra; Lunzyferion, part 1; Lunzyferion, part 2; Lunzyferion, part 3; Pewelka
Kuba Płużek – piano, Dawid Fortuna – drums, Marek Pospieszalski – saxophone, Max Mucha – bass
V Records / Universal 5903111377021

In April, the “First Album” of phenomenal young jazz pianist Kuba Płużek was released. According to the V Records website:

V Records presents the debut album by young jazz pianist Kuba Płuzek, the great hope of Polish and european jazz. In a phenomenal way he merges an instrumental virtuosity with great knowledge of the history and present of improvised music, fearlessly crossing borders of genres (swing, modern and free jazz, pop, blues, even boogie-woogie). Soon, for sure, he will be one of the most sought-after musicians of his generation in Poland and not only.

Kuba Płużek (1988) was born and lives in Cracow, Poland. Despite his young age (and not having completed a formal musical education!) he has already collaborated with greatest of polish artists as Janusz Muniak, Zbigniew Namysłowski, Maciej Sikala, Stanislaw Soyka and Piotr Baron. He has performed at festivals in Poland, Lithuania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, France, Switzerland (Montreux Jazz Festival), Germany and Austria.

“First Album” was recorded in two instrumental configurations: the trio (with Max Mucha on bass and David Fortuna on drums ) and the quartet (with saxophonist Marek Pospieszalski). The band plays exlusively original compositions by Kuba in a style widely understood as the jazz mainstream.

Listen to some of the great music on this album at www.youtube.com.

[Sources: ruchmuzyczny.art.pl, v-records.pl]

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SINFONIA VARSOVIA ANNIVERSARY RECORDING

CD 1: Antoni Szałowski – Overture, Witold Lutosławski – Symphonic Variations, Aleksander Tansman – Polish Rhapsody, Karol Rathaus – Music for Strings, Andrzej Panufnik – Tragic Overture. CD 2: Grażyna Bacewicz – Overture for Symphonic Orchestra, Tadeusz Zygrfyd Kassern – Concerto for String Orchestra, Stefan Kisielewski – Concerto for Chamber Orchestra, Ludomir Różycki – Pietà. Na zgliszczach Warszawy [Pietà. On the Ruins of Warsaw]. CD 3: Mieczysław Weinberg – Violin Concerto, op. 43, Andrzej Panufnik – Symphony no. 2(Sinfonia Elegiaca), Andrzej Czajkowski – Piano Concerto, op. 4.
Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra; conductors: Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kasprzyk and Renato Rivolta; Marcel Markowski – cello; Maciej Grzybowski – piano

In 2014, the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra celebrates its 30th anniversary and, during March and April, the orchestra was in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio in Warsaw for an important new recording project: An Anthology of Polish Contemporary Music, 1939-1945. The timing of this recording coincides with some very important historical dates in 2014: the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising and of Andrzej Panufnik’s 100th birthday. 

The three-CD publication is intended to be unique, encompassing a wide spectrum of works written by Polish composers (including Lutosławski, Panufnik, Bacewicz, Kassern, Rathaus, Różycki and Kisielewski) and promoting Polish music on the international arena. All works by Polish composers are performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra under the direction of renowned conductors: Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kaspszyk and Renato Rivolta.

Financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, this album is non-commercial in nature and its purpose is unique—to promote the culture and history of Poland. It is to be a document aimed at record and multimedia repositories and libraries in schools and music universities. It is also intended to be a gift for persons of merit to the Orchestra, for its friends and for selected guests of the anniversary celebrations.

It will be distributed among others to Polish music libraries and media libraries, music schools, ministerial institutes and Polish Institutes abroad. The album is accompanied by an extensive booklet with texts prof. Michael Bristiger and Dr. Catherine Naliwajek-Mazurka (in Polish and English version).

[Sources: polmic.pl, sinfoniavarsovia.org]

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NEW POLISH MUSIC FROM RPO

rpo_baek.jpgJu-Young Baek Plays Penderecki and Szymanowski
Krzysztof Penderecki: Violin Concerto No.2, ‘Metamorphosen’ ; Karol Szymanowski: Violin Concerto No.1, Op.35 (1916)
Ju-Young Baek – violin; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; Grzegorz Nowak – cond.
RPO

Recorded at London’s Cadogan Hall, this new release is violinist Ju-Young Baek's first recording with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Maestro Grzegorz Nowak.

[source: rpo.co.uk]

 


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ANNIVERSARIES
BORN THIS MONTH:
  • August 4, 1879 - Józef REISS, musicologist, Polish music expert (d. 1956)
  • August 7, 1935 - Monika (Izabela) GORCZYCKA, musicologist (d. 1962)
  • August 8, 1946 - Mieczyslaw MAZUREK, composer, teacher, choral conductor
  • August 8, 1897 - Stefan SLEDZINSKI, conductor, musicologist
  • August 10, 1914 - Witold MALCUZYNSKI, pianist, student of Lefeld
  • August 11, 1943 - Krzysztof MEYER, composer, musicologist
  • August 17, 1907 - Zygmunt MYCIELSKI, composer, writer
  • August 18, 1718 - Jacek SZCZUROWSKI, composer, Jesuit, priest (d. after 1773)
  • August 20, 1889 - Witold FRIEMAN, composer, pianist
  • August 21, 1933 - Zbigniew BUJARSKI, composer
  • August 22, 1924 - Andrzej MARKOWSKI, composer and conductor
  • August 23, 1925 - Wlodzimierz KOTONSKI, composer
  • August 28, 1951 - Rafal AUGUSTYN, composer, music critic
  • August 29, 1891 - Stefan STOINSKI, music etnographer, organizer, conductor (d. 1945)

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DIED THIS MONTH:
  • August 15, 1898 - Cezar TROMBINI, singer, director of Warsaw Opera (b. 1835)
  • August 15, 1936 - Stanislaw NIEWIADOMSKI, composer, music critic
  • August 17, 1871 - Karol TAUSIG, pianist and composer, student of Liszt (b. 1841)
  • August 21 1925 - Karol NAMYSLOWSKI, folk musician, founder of folk ensemble
  • August 22, 1966 - Apolinary SZELUTO, composer and pianist
  • August 23, 1942 - Waclaw WODICZKO, conductor (b. 1858), grandfather of Bohdan, conductor
  • August 27, 1865 - Józef NOWAKOWSKI, pianist, composer, student of Elsner, friend of Chopin
  • August 29, 1886 - Emil SMIETANSKI, pianist, composer (b. 1845)

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Copyright 2014 by the Polish Music Center

Send your comments and inquiries to: polmusic@thornton.usc.edu
Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg

Contributions from:
Wojtek Blecharz, Cindy Bylander, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in L.A.,
Hanka Kolberg, Krzysztof Meyer, Grzegorz Nowak, Marek Żebrowski

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, August 8, 2014.

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