|Polish Music Newsletter|
December 2010, Vol. 16, No. 12. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
GÓRECKI IN MEMORIAM
HENRYK MIKOŁAJ GÓRECKI (1933-2010)
With the passing of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki on November 12, 2010, Polish music lost a remarkable and important voice that was an essential part of the fabric of Poland’s musical culture. First recognized as one of the most interesting avant-garde Polish composers in the early 1960s, Górecki’s artistic trajectory took an unexpected turn during the following two decades, when he branched off into his own style of deeply spiritual and mystical music. Many years had to pass before the masterpieces he perfected over long periods of time would be accepted and unanimously praised by audiences and critics worldwide. Undisturbed by the prevailing trends in contemporary music and always following his inner voice, Górecki stayed true to his interests, embracing the tradition of religious music and the use of modal harmonies. This same modal harmonic language is also a hallmark of the music from his beloved Tatra Highlands, a region that was his home for several decades.
The Polish MusicCenter at USC hosted this uncompromising artist for a residency in October of 1997. During this “Górecki Autumn,” his by then famousThird Symphony was performed by the Thornton Orchestra under the maestro’s baton.It was one of the most satisfying and remarkable readings delivered by a composer who wasn’t always keen to lead ensembles in performances of his works.His meetings with students and faculty left an indelible mark on the campus and was enthusiastically covered by local press. [For more about Górecki and his 1997 USC residency, please see the Polish Music Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2, Winter 2003]. Since that time, Górecki kept in touch with Polish Music Center’s founders Stefan and Wanda Wilk, who were his personal friends, and at times considered revisiting the hospitable California shores where he had been so heartily welcomed in the late 1990s. Always keenly interested in weather, in every phone conversation he would inquire about the current Los Angeles temperatures and sky conditions, bemoaning the usually the stormy and cool weather of his Polish mountaintop village location.
Górecki with his good friend, singer Andrzej Bachleda, enjoying USC’s campus in 1997
His slowly failing health prevented Górecki from being a prolific composer in his last decades. Although at that point he had devoted himself to chamber music and simpler forms, his unique voice was just as strong and assured as ever. During the past few years he reluctantly had to come down from his mountain to the Silesian capital of Katowice, where he had lived for many years as a young man and then as a professor at the Music Academy, and although he was again honored by the PMC at the 2009 Paderewski Lecture-Recital, the composer never made it back to sunny California. He died on November 12 after a long illness.
Ars lunga, vita brevis might be an appropriate epitaph for Górecki’s earthbound chapter.There is no doubt that, with its widely enduring spiritual appeal,Górecki’s music will always find an audience in those whodesire to reflect on the most fundamental questions the mankind has struggled to answer. Although his life was rich in accomplishment, it will always seem too short for those who wished to hear more of the music that flowed straight from his heart. In this moment of sadness we console ourselves by celebrating Górecki’s legacy, thinking of his artistic honesty, and taking an example from a life in music that is worth celebrating.
[All photos from the PMC Archives]
TRIBUTES FROM AROUND THE WORLD
A sampling of the many other tributes written about Maestro Górecki:
HONORING GÓRECKI IN MUSIC
On December 5, The Polish National Pantheon Foundation and Polish Music Publishers PWM hosted a special concert dedicated to the memory of the late great Polish composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. It was held in the St. Peter and Paul Church on Grodzka Street in Kraków. The program included the famous renaissance song by Wacław z Szamotuł, Już się zmierzcha, as well as Górecki’s string quartet of the same name, the String Quartet No. 1 op.62 (1988). Several of Górecki’s other works were also on the program: his Cantata for organ op.26 (1968) and two works for mixed unaccompanied choir, Zdrowaś bądź, Maryja! Pieśni Maryjne from op.54 (1985) and Totus Tuus op.60.
Many musicians were involved in the performance: the Kraków Filharmonic Choir, the Polish Radio Choir in Kraków, the Choir if the Kraków Music Academy, the Choir if the Papal University Jan Paweł II PSALMODIA, Kwartet DAFÔ, Arkadiusz Bialic (organist), Krzysztof Globisz (speaker ) and several conductors: Teresa Majka-Pacanek, Włodzimierz Siedlik, Artur Sędzielarz, Maciej Tworek, and Stanisław Krawczyński.
The concert was open to residents of Kraków and Małopolska, and broadcast on Polish Radio.On December 6, Górecki—one of greatest composers in the history of Polish music and the world—would have turned 77 years old. On the occasion of the artist's birth Polskie Nagrania has reissued the premiere recording of his greatest works - his Symphony No. 3 "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" for soprano and orchestra, Op. 36. The new release will appear on the market December 14, 2010.
The recording was first made in May 1978 with soprano Stefania Woytowicz and the Polish Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Jerzy Katlewicz. The CD was first issued by Polskie Nagrania in 1993 (PNCD 215).
ANNUAL FUNDRAISING APPEAL
Dear Friends of Polish Music,
Following the ritual of the past several years, we are writing to you today to briefly review our activities in 2010 and to ask you for your continued support.
This year’s two major anniversaries—Chopin’s 200th and Paderewski’s 150th—were celebrated by the Polish Music Center with a Chopin Marathon Concert in March and Paderewski Festival in November. In addition to concerts, we have cooperated with KUSC-FM, one of the nation’s best classical radio stations on producing commemorative programs on Chopin and Paderewski. The 2-hour Chopin Special was aired in February and June, and elicited a very positive response from the audiences all over the country, many of whom contacted the station. Paderewski Festivals in Los Angeles and in Paso Robles held in November were another example of successful collaboration between the Polish Music Center and its many partners and presented a truly extraordinary portrait of this great Polish artist, patriot and statesman.
Such examples represent but a fraction of the activities that we undertake to promote Polish music and continue the mission of the late Wanda Wilk. Her exemplary dedication to Polish music inspires everything we do, and we hope it also inspires your pride in the musical heritage of Poland. With Wanda’s passing in 2009, the Polish Music Center lost not only its patron and founder, but also its largest source of funding.
Over the past few years, the response rate to our annual fundraising efforts has been a rather disappointing 2-3%. Our goal is to engage at least one third of those who read this letter to support our work on behalf of Polish music. In times of general economic difficulties we understand that some are unable to do so. However, please keep in mind that even the smallest amounts given by a large group of donors would enable us to continue producing quality musical events throughout California and beyond, cataloging and digitizing our collection, and publishing books and our monthly Newsletter in the future.
We would like to thank past contributors who have generously shared our vision of promoting Polish music. Since individual donations sustain everything we do, please consider making a donation this year and boost the donor participation rate. Checks can be mailed to: 840 w. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851. Those who wish to donate by credit card can do so online at https://giveto.usc.edu or by contacting the PMC. Please be sure all donations indicate “Polish Music Center USC,” either in the remittance line on your check or “special instructions” section online, to ensure that your contribution is routed directly to our department. As always, we invite you to stop by our library on the USC campus to see first-hand what we are trying to accomplish. Please call us at (213) 821-1356 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit to the Center.
Finally, and most importantly, thank you for considering this year’s appeal. Please accept our best wishes for the Holiday Season!
Marek Zebrowski, Director Krysta Close, Manager
PADEREWSKI CELEBRATED IN CALIFORNIA
In honor of Paderewski’s 150th birthday anniversary, the first two weeks of November 2010 were filled with a variety of Paderewski-themed events in California. The great Polish pianist and composer as well as a prominent statesman and philanthropist was commemorated locally with concerts, lectures, exhibits, and a continuation of a cultural exchange program with the Province of Tarnów in Poland, where Paderewski resided at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Paderewski at 150 Celebration began with the festive opening of “Paderewski: The Modern Immortal,” an exhibit of memorabilia on display at the Treasure Room of the Doheny Memorial Library on the USC Campus in Los Angeles. Arranged by themes—Life in Music, Career in Politics, California Connections, Private Life, and In the Public Eye—the USC exhibit features original documents, correspondence, photographs, and many extremely rare personal items that belonged to Paderewski and his wife, Helena, and are now part of the Polish Music Center’s Paso Robles Collection. Dean Catherine Quinlan of the USC Libraries officially opened the exhibit on Thursday, November 4 and it will run through May 31, 2011.
Later that same evening, the next Paderewski at 150 event on the USC campus took place—the 2010 Paderewski Lecture-Recital, held in the Newman Recital Hall. Honoring today’s greatest figures in Polish music, the Paderewski Lecture-Recital has been held annually since 2002, however this is the first time the event has been devoted entirely to the music of the series’ namesake. This year’s event opened with Dr. Małgorzata Perkowska-Waszek from the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, who presented a fascinating lecture entitled “Paderewski and His Muses” exploring the subject of women to whom Paderewski dedicated his compositions. Dr. Perkowska-Waszek’s latest research into the previously unknown correspondence of young Paderewski provided the assembled audience with a fascinating glimpse into Paderewski’s personal life. Having written dozens of books and articles about Paderewski and served as Editor-in-Chief of the Collected Works of Paderewski, Dr. Perkowska-Waszek is considered the world’s foremost expert on Paderewski’s music and life. In the second half of the evening, British pianist Jonathan Plowright, a specialist in Polish late Romantic piano music, presented a beautiful rendition of Paderewski’s Miscellanea, Op. 16 and Chopin’s towering Fantasy in F minor, Op. 49. Plowright’s recital program appropriately focused on this year’s dual anniversary—Chopin’s bicentennial and Paderewski’s sesquicentennial.
On the afternoon of Friday, November 5 in Doheny Library, a panel of experts gathered to discuss “What Makes a Man Immortal?” for the concluding event of the Celebration events at USC. The panel—including the prominent California historian and USC professor Kevin Starr, professor Nick Cull from USC’s Annenberg School, Dr. Perkowska-Waszek, and pianist Jonathan Plowright—examined all sides of Paderewski’s varied career, from the musical to the agricultural to the political and humanitarian. The panelists provided many fascinating insights into American and European history, California’s rapid development on the cusp of the 20th century, and Paderewski’s role in shaping the political discourse of the times.
November 6 marked the 150th birthday of Paderewski and, quite appropriately, a delegation from Poland representing the ongoing cultural exchange program that links California’s Paso Robles with the City and Province of Tarnów in Poland touched down at LAX. Two young pianists—Marian Michalski (aged 12) and Barbara Doroszuk (aged 14)—arrived that evening to participate in the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. Before the two had a chance to perform for Paso’s audiences, the young musicians were hosted by the McClish family from Morro Bay and the Reed family in Paso Robles. A year earlier in June of 2009, two young pianists from the Central Coast, Rory McClish and Lindsay Reed, had participated in a week of piano workshops and master classes at Paderewski’s former manor house in Kąśna Dolna in the Tarnów region of Poland. Lindsay and Rory worked and performed in concert alongside Marian and Barbara at that time, and last month these young students were given the opportunity for more music-making, courtesy of the joint support of Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and the City and Province of Tarnów.
Polish pianists Barbara Doroszuk and Marian Michalski (in cowboy hats)
The Festival Prelude concert held in the Signature Room of the Vina Robles Winery kicked off the 2010 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles on November 10. The evening featured excellent performances by Marian Michalski and Barbara Doroszuk of works by Paderewski, Chopin, Bach, Haydn, Miśkiewicz, and Moszkowski, which were received by a deeply enthusiastic audience. A brand new Steinway, provided for the Festival by Sherman Clay Pianos and placed in a very attractive space at the Winery, added to the sense of occasion.
The following day, November 11, the Festival continued on Poland’s Independence Day. This date is very significant in the context of Paderewski’s fight for Poland’s independence that led to his homeland being recognized as a free and self-governing republic after World War I. Paderewski’s close friendship with the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson influenced the creation of Wilson’s 14-point plan for the political reconstruction of Europe, which included a claim for Polish sovereignty. Paderewski’s political foresight was demonstrated by arguing for a creation of a Polish Army that would fight along the Allies on the battlefields of World War I. He recruited soldiers from the ranks of Polish-Americans and tirelessly fundraised for the cause. To send his troops to battle in 1917 Paderewski wrote a stirring marching song Hej Orle Biały! [Hey, White Eagle!], which was, in fact, his last composition. This work—in a version arranged for wind band and chorus—was premiered at the Festival Opening Concert on November 11 at the historic Mission San Miguel, a few miles north of Paso Robles. The capacity crowd heard the Paso Robles High School Band, led by Santino Galvan, in a rousing overture that opened the concert, followed by extensive choral selections featuring vocal ensembles from Paso Robles High, directed by Mary Schmutz. The last section of the program was devoted to compositions by Paderewski, including his celebrated Menuet in G major and Legende in A-flat major, both expertly performed by the Midnight Winds. This quintet of LA-based musicians then joined the Paso High School band and combined choirs to close the program with Hej, Orle Biały, Paderewski’s stirring and patriotic tribute to Poland and Polish history.
On Friday, November 12, pianist Jonathan Plowright gave a well-attended afternoon master class at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. A number of students who have been involved with the Festival played selections from their repertoire for Mr. Plowright, who generously shared his insights on music with them and with the audience that included many piano teachers and educators. Central California piano teacher Lyn Bronson recorded his impression of this event in his Peninsula Reviews blog—read the full review here: www.peninsulareviews.com.
The Paderewski Festival in Paso continued its “Paderewski at 150” celebrations on Friday night with a concert in the charming Barrel Room of Cass Winery. The casual yet musically spectacular atmosphere of the evening was set from the beginning with an impromptu opener by Jonathan Plowright, the pianist who had re-launched the Festival in 2006 in that same venue and was returning to headline the 2010 Festival Gala the following day in the Paso Robles Ballroom. The stars of the evening were two of the most prominent Polish musicians, Krzesimir Dębski and Anna Jurksztowicz, who dazzled the audience with a well-chosen selection of film and popular music. Guitarist John Storie shared the stage with the featured artists, providing gentle accompaniment to a very successful evening that was enthusiastically received by an overflow audience that included representatives from the Consulates of Poland in Los Angeles and Las Vegas.
Saturday, November 13, featured three different Paderewski Festival events open to the public: an afternoon lecture by Dr. Perkowska-Waszek, the afternoon recital of young pianists—winners of the 2010 Youth Piano Competition, and the Festival Gala concert at night. Also, VIP passholders of the Festival enjoyed a private tour of Paderewski's former vineyard, now Epoch Estate Wines, hosted by owners Bill and Liz Armstrong. To read more about Paderewski's former land, visit: www.sanluisobispo.com.
At 4 p.m. on Saturday, this year’s seven finalists of the 2010 Youth Piano Competition were heard in the Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn. The winners—Daniel Ha (10-Hon. Mention, Junior Division), Evan Lin (13-3rd Place, Junior Division), Madeline Anderson (13-2nd Place, Junior Division), Gianna Zufall (13-1st Place, Junior Division), Max Eisendrath (17-3rd Place, Senior Division), Kevin Lin (15-2nd Place, Senior Division), and Jordan Adams (15-1st Place, Senior Division)—presented an hour-long program of Bach, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Beethoven, Mozart, Scriabin, Prokofiev, and Paderewski. The historic Ballroom was filled with a very supportive audience of families, friends, and local music lovers. San Luis Obispo County Supervisor, Frank Mecham, served as the host of the event and, together with City Councilman Ed Steinbeck, awarded the medals and cash prizes to the participants after the concert. Several runners-up of the 2010 Youth Piano Competition—Brian Bekker (18), Lindsay Reed (15), Rory McClish (14), and Sydney Haughian (10)—were heard in another concert that afternoon as well, hosted by the Studios on the Park art center just across the City Park from the Inn.
As the sun set, Paso Robles’ annual Elegant Evening festivities had begun. A number of downtown businesses opened their doors to visitors, providing all kinds of entertainment and refreshments for the public strollers, many of them in period costumes. By 8 p.m. on November 13, a huge crowd of music lovers assembled at the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom to hear a Gala Recital by pianist Jonathan Plowright. Please see the full review of Plowright’s stunning yet approachable performance below. An evening of superb music-making was followed by some in the audience with a festive meal of Polish cuisine specialties prepared for the occasion by the Chef of the Paso Robles Inn’s elegant restaurant.
Sunday, November 14 was the last day of the Festival. The sunny and warm weather that held throughout the week provided a splendid accompaniment to a concert and brunch at the Pear Valley Winery, another venue associated with a number of Paderewski Festival events during the past two years. Once again, the two young pianists from Poland gave a dazzling display of their talents to a full house that awarded Marian and Barbara with a long and occasionally tearful standing ovation when the music ended.
Honoring Paderewski’s important 150th anniversary, all concerts and lectures in this year’s Festival were free and open to the public. The 2010 Paderewski Festival in Paso was extensively covered by local press and also by TVP Channel 1, the main public television channel in Poland. Reports from the Festival were broadcasted by TV Polonia all over the world, and shown in the morning news and breakfast program, “Kawa czy herbata.” Since being re-established in 2006, the Paderewski Festival has grown rapidly from one-day event to a five-day celebration of Paso’s most famous resident and property owner. Internationally-acclaimed artists and scholars have given the Festival much prestige, and the current board of directors is already beginning to plan for the Paderewski Festival in November of 2011.
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For more news and reviews of the Paderewski at 150 Celebrations in California, see:
GALA PERFORMANCE REVIEW: JONATHAN PLOWRIGHT
The 2010 Paderewski Festival Gala was held on November 13 in the historic ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn. A capacity crowd was on hand to hear a program of piano works by Paderewski, Busoni and Chopin. The Gala Concert was, in many ways, the highlight of this year’s Festival that celebrated Paderewski’s sesquicentennial with several days of music in a variety of venues in Paso Robles and the surrounding area.
Jonathan Plowright’s artistry was already known to some of the local fans: his 2006 Cass Winery recital restarted the Paderewski Festival after a hiatus of several years. Mr. Plowright did not disappoint the audience then and he did not disappoint his listeners this time either: his program was well-chosen, quite varied, and delivered with great deal of authority and finesse.
Plowright’s pianism is remarkably assured, straightforward, and honest. His gestures at the keyboard are spare, but they create many splendid and truly memorable moments. Before launching into Paderewski’s Miscellanea, Op. 16, the pianist briefly spoke about Paderewski and this set of seven pieces that are, in fact, very rarely performed en suite. The opening Légende in A-flat major provided a perfect opportunity for Plowright to demonstrate his cantabile touch that allowed the melodic line to unfold with simplicity and dignity. Building up to a mighty climax among the thundering bass octaves and chorale-like chords in the right hand, Plowright managed to maintain solemnity and just the right amount of passion that never exceeded the boundaries of good taste. Among the other highlights of the set were the two lyrical morceaux—the Mélodie in G-flat major and the B-flat major Nocturne. Both received the same caring and sensuous treatment with gently flowing lines, unhurried pacing, and heartfelt turns of phrase. The highlight of the set was the most substantial item in the Miscellanea—the Theme and Variations in A major. Here Plowright’s careful voicing, deftly dispatched passagework, and his solid sense of architecture in the toccata-like final variation added to a very satisfying presentation.
After Paderewski’s Op. 16 and still before the intermission, Plowright provided the audience with a rare treat of Busoni’s Ten Variations on the Theme by Chopin. This complex and virtuosic work, with its multiple layers of sound and densely chromatic harmonies, provided yet another opportunity for the pianist to demonstrate his confident handling of Busoni’s extremely demanding composition. Chopin’s C minor Prelude—a generally familiar and solemn chorale—clearly ignited the young Busoni’s fertile imagination and led him to a breathtaking exploration of intricate pianistic textures and vivid sound colors. The interplay of Chopin’s familiar motives with unexpected twists of harmony and register shifts that encompassed the entire keyboard were handled by Plowright with admirable precision, reaching its target in the furious alla breve restatement of the original theme in the final cadence. The audience erupted with applause, the intensity of which reflected the shocking, truncated conclusion of Busoni’s apocalyptic vision of Chopin’s original thought.
Highlights of the second half of the program included an intimate and passionate portrait of Chopin, conveyed by Plowright in a well-chosen selection of large- and small-scale works. The opening Fantaisie in F minor had several highly satisfying moments of grandeur and nobly surging marches after a somber and dark introduction. The two Nocturnes that followed, both dating from Chopin’s early days, gave the audience a taste of the romantic daydreaming of the most refined and delicate kind. The closing Barcarolle—described by Plowright as one of Chopin’s deeply bittersweet works—was delivered with a convincing poise in its lilting melodic fabric and a dignified magnificence in truly moving and spectacular climaxes.
The Steinway concert grand—provided gratis to the Festival by Sherman Clay Pianos from the Bay Area and tuned expertly and also gratis by Brian Alexander—had a particularly resonant bass and very mellow treble. With a program so laden with virtuosic repertoire, most pianists would have struggled to make the instrument shine and deliver as much variety of sound and color as was heard by the audience that night. Revealing his profoundly sensitive side, Plowright decided to treat the listeners to a simple and quiet encore of Mompou’s Secreto, prolonging the poetic spell that had began with the opening note of his Gala Concert program.
CHOPIN & PADEREWSKI YEAR
COMPOSERS' PORTRAITS - PREMIERES
On December 9 during 2010 Composers' Portraits Festival, organized by the Polish Composers' Union [Związek Kompozytorów Polskich, ZKP], two composers will have world premieres of their works: Tomasz Opałka and Ryszard Gabryś. Other composers whose works will be featured at the Festival are Sławomir Kaczorowski, Andrzej Hundziak, Ewa Trębacz, and Miłosz Bembinow. The Festival will be held from December 7-9 in the Mazovia Regional Centre of Culture and Arts in Warsaw.
Tomasz Opałka's piece Advection for chamber orchestra (2010) will be performed by Oliwier Andruszczenko – clarinet,
Wojciech Błażejczyk – electric guitar,
Krzysztof Lenczowski – cello,
Maciej Frąckiewicz – accordian,
Szymon Linette – percussion,
Leszek Lorent –percussion,
Maciej Piszek. – piano,
Marcin Witkowski – violin, and the
Michał Śmigielski – conductor. Other works by Opałka on the
program: Five CloudScapes for solo accordian (2009), x-Pose for na accordian, electric guitar, cello and clarinet (2010), and Myotis for violin, clarinet, cello, percussion and piano (2008).
Two pieces by Ryszard Gabryś will be premiered: Syrinx śląska for flutists (1987/2009) and Bischen for flute and bass (2000). Performers include: Aleksander Gabryś – bass, Agnieszka Kaćma – flute, Patrycja Krzeszowska-Kubit – soprano, Magdalena Lisak and Aleksandra Nawe –piano, and the Camerata Quartet: Włodzimierz Promiński – violin I, Andrzej Kordykiewicz – vioin II, Piotr Reichert – viola, and Roman Hoffmann – cello. Also on the program: An die Musik for soprano and flute with text by Rainer Maria Rilke (1992), Magdalenki for piano (2002, 2010), An die Freude for bass (1999), Rękawiczka Fryderyka for pianos (2009), Dwa postludia romantyczne for soprano and piano with text by Karol Szymanowski (1985) and Es muss sein III for string quartet and bass (2007).
PREMIERES AT LABORATORY FESTIVAL
During The 17th International Festival “Laboratory of Contemporary Music” [Laboratorium Muzyki Współczesnej], many works by Polish composers were given their world premieres. The Festival is hosted by the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic in Białystok from November 23-28. A full, bi-lingual pogram of the Festival is available at www.filharmonia.bialystok.pl.
On November 25, at the first of two concerts dedicated to chamber music, a new composition by Alicja Gronau was premiered. Her string quartet Last of February (2010) was performed by the Aleksander Tansman Quartet: Rafał Dudzik – violin I,
Maciej Grygiel – violin II,
Jakub Grabe-Zaremba – viola, and
Szymon Stępka – cello.
On the next day, two more works by young Polish composers were premiered: Utopia for orchestra (2008) by Paweł Łukaszewski (pictured at right) and Sinfonia concertante for trumpet and orchestra (2010) by Aldona Nawrocka. The concert was performed by the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, conducted by Szymon Bywalec. Soloists for the concert were Tomasz Woźniak, trumpet and Artur Pachlewski, clarinet.
On November 27, composer Marcin Wierzbicki premiered his own piece, Transient Music for electronic media (2010).
The final day of the Festival was devoted to music written for a cappella mixed choir and featured premieres by three Polish composers: Maria Borecka - Rachel (2010), Piotr Tabakiernik – Haga (2010) and Artur Andrzej Cieślak - Dies Irae (2008). These works were performed by the Choir of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic.
The Laboratory of Contemporary Music Festival is presented by the Mazovia Regional Centre of Culture and Arts. The festival features the students of the studio of the esteemed Polish pedagogue, Prof. Marian Borkowski, chair of the Composition Department at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw and Artistic Director of the Festival.
A new rock opera entitled Krzyżacy [Knights of the Cross] will have its premiere on Dec. 30 in Warsaw's Congress Hall. Inspired by the novel by Henryk Sienkiewicz’s most famous novel of the same title written in 1900, Krzyżacy is the first Polish rock opera to be written in years and is being called "the most surprising artistic event of the year."
This original show was created in celebration of the 600th anniversary of the Battle of Grunwald. The action of the story the performance presents takes place at the turn of the 14th and the 15th centuries. The main threads of the novel are: a love triangle between Danusia Jurandówna and Zbyszko z Bogdańca, and Jagienka Zychówna, who is deeply in love with Zbyszko; the political-historic backdrop of the Battle of Grunwald and the extraordinary triumph of the Polish-Lithuanian army in 1410; the conflict of Poles and the Knights of the Cross; and a story of tragic, dramatic lot of Jurand ze Spychowa.
Music for Krzyżacy was written by Hadrian Filip Tabęcki, with words by Jacek Korczakowski. Several well known Polish actors and rock vocalists are featured performers in the show: Arthur Gadowski of the band IRY - as King Władysław Jagiełło, Maciej Balcar of the band Dżem - as Jurand ze Spychowa, Paweł Kukiz of the band Piersi - the role of Konrad von Jungingen, Maciej Silski - in the role Zbyszko z Bogdańca, Olga Szomańska – as Danusia Jurandówna, Cezary Studniak - as Ulrich von Jungingen, and Marcin Kołaczkowski - as Kuno von Lichtenstein. Kołaczkowski also serves as Director. More production details are available at www.muzykabezgranic.pl
POLISH-NORWEGIAN HOLOCAUST OPERA PROJECT
The new opera Fidelio: The Holocaust Memorial Production [Fidelio. Pamięci Holokaustu] is a co-production of the Warsaw-based Beethoven Association and the Music Academy in Oslo, Norway. Based on the libretto and music of Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, the action is transferred from the original setting of 18th-century Spain to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau during World War II. The production is currently touring Poland, with performances in the following cities and venues: Wrocław / Opera Wrocławska (Nov. 22), Lublin / Teatr Muzyczny (Nov. 26), Warszawa / Teatr Polski (Nov. 28), Łódź / Teatr Wielki (Nov. 29), Kraków / Teatr Słowackiego (Dec. 6).
This international production combines the talents of Israeli director Julia Pevzner and Russian conductor Alexander Tsaljuk with the Orchestra of the Beethoven Academy in Kraków, the Polish Radio Choir, and soloists: Katarzyna Hołysz (Poland), Ana Puche Rosado (Spain), Markus Ahme (Germany), Przemysław Firek (Poland), Carsten Wittmoser (Germany), Mateusz Zajdel (Poland), Grzegorz Pazik (Poland). Music direction is provided by Aleksander Tsaljuk of Russia and sets were created by Adam Łucki of Poland.
MYKIETYN PRESENTS AT WARSAW PHIL
Taking example from some of the leading music institutions in the world, Warsaw's National Philharmonic has introduced a concept of a series of concerts dedicated to one selected artist (a kind of composer-in-residence). And in 2010/2011 that artist is Paweł Mykietyn, one of the most sought after composers in Poland today. The idea, which came from the National Philharmonic's director Antoni Wit, includes a series of concerts featuring the works of the composer along with pieces of other composers. Paweł Mykietyn is also responsible for the selection of contemporary music presented at the concerts.
[Source: culture.pl (press release)]
MACIEJEWSKI BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION
On December 11 in the Concert Hall of the Warsaw National Philharmonic, the 100th Birthday of Roman Maciejewski (February 28, 1910 – April 30, 1998) will be celebrated with a performance of his monumental Requiem. Missa pro defunctis. It will be performed by the Symphony Orchestra and Choir of National Philharmonic, with Tomasz Bugaj, conductor, and the following soloists: Iwona Hossa – soprano, Ewa Marciniec – mezzo-soprano, Konrad Włodarczyk – tenor, and Jarosław Bręk – bass.
Roman Maciejewski's Requiem is one of the most astonishing works of Polish music of the twentieth century. Overwhelmed by the enormity of human suffering and the senselessness of war, Maciejewski began to compose his Requiem in 1944 but did not complete the piece for another 15 years. Requiem. Missa pro defunctis is dedicated to the victims of human ignorance, especially to those who have died in wars throughout history.
The concert is dedicated to the Sue Ryder Care Foundation, which supports people with specialist palliative, end-of-life and long-term neurological care needs.
STING & POLISH RADIO AT 85
On December 17, British superstar singer Sting will perform in Warsaw’s Polish Theatre with the Polish Radio Orchestra at a concert marking the 85th anniversary of the founding of Polish Radio, Poland’s national radio service. Below are details of the event from the Polish Radio External Service:
The Polish Radio Orchestra (NOSPR), which also has its 75th anniversary this year, will celebrate 85 Years of Polish Radio again on December 20 in the W. Lutosławski Polish Radio studio in Warsaw. The concert will feature Daniil Trifonov, the 3rd Place Winner of this year’s 16th Chopin Competition. Led by Music Director Jacek Kaspszyk, NOSPR and Trifonov will perform works by H.M. Górecki, S. Prokofiev, and F. Chopin.
For more about all events and broadcasts related to this 85th anniversary, visit: www2.polskieradio.pl/85.
RUTKOWSKI IN MIAMI
On Sunday, December 4, the Chopin Foundation of the U.S. will present a concert by Hubert Rutkowski in Miami. Featured perfomer at the 2009 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, Rutkowski is best known for his interpretations of the music of Theodor Leschetizky and Frederic Chopin, as well as their students.
Pianist Hubert Rutkowski was born in Płońsk, Poland, in 1981. He began to study piano at the age of eight and continued his musical education at the Elsner State School in Warsaw. Afterwards Mr. Rutkowski studied piano with Professor Anna Jastrzębska-Quinn and graduated with distinction from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw in 2005. Mr. Rutkowski also studied chamber music with Professor Krystyna Borucińska and at the same time attended Warsaw University of Technology. Since 2005 he has divided his time between Poland and Germany, where he was attending master classes of Professor Evgeni Koroliov at the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. Mr. Rutkowski has just finished his doctoral thesis, “The Leschetizky Piano School in the Context of his Piano Compositions,” at the Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. He is the founder and President of the Theodor Leschetizky Music Society in Warsaw.
Hubert Rutkowski is a prizewinner of several international piano competitions. He received the First Prize at the Chopin Competition in Hanover (2007), the Second Prize at the Elise Meyer Competition in Hamburg (2006), was a finalist at the Maria Canals Piano Competition in Barcelona (2006), the First Prize winner at the Piano Festival in Warsaw (2000), and the Third Prize winner at the Chopin Competition in Vilnius (1999). Mr. Rutkowski has performed as a soloist and with orchestras, appearing in concerts in Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Italy, Spain, Japan, Cuba, United States, and Cyprus. In the summer of 2004, he performed with the Orchestra Sinfonica Giovanile Internazionale under the baton of Tomasz Bugaj during the Catania Summer Music Festival in Sicily. Over the past several years, Hubert Rutkowski has made archival recordings for the German radio broadcasts, including the SüdWest-Rundfunk and the NDR Rundfunk. His discography so far includes two CDs recorded for the Acte Préalable label—the Julian Fontana disc (2007) and the Teodor Leschetizky disc (2008), which elicited high praise from Gramophone Magazine in June 2009.
The Chopin Foundation of the United States, Inc. was founded in 1977 by Mrs. Blanka A. Rosenstiel as a national non-profit organization dedicated to the support of young talented American musicians in their career development and to making classical music accessible to general public.
LIRA ENSEMBLE NEWS
Based in Chicago, the Lira Ensemble is the only professional performing arts company in the United States specializing in Polish music, song, and dance. The name of the company, "lira," is the Polish word for lyre, a traditional symbol of music. The Ensemble's performing groups present the music of Poland, sung in the original language, and Polish folk and court dances, with narratives in English. The Lira company consists of the Lira Singers—a female vocal ensemble, Lira Symphony, Lira Dancers, Lira Piano Quintet, Lira String Quartet, Lira Chamber Chorus, and Lira Children's Chorus—"Dzieci." The Lira Ensemble is Artists-in-Residence at Loyola University –Chicago.
Lucyna Migala, the artistic director and general manager of the Lira Ensemble, has recently announced a new conductor—Mina Zikri—and a new managing director—Susan Smentek—for the organization. Mina Zikri is a conductor, violinist and teacher who was born in Cairo, Egypt and currently resides in the United States. Mr. Zikri will serve as conductor of the Lira Symphony and the Lira Singers for the winter 2010 concert season, after which he will return to his post as guest conductor for the Cairo Symphony Orchestra in Egypt. Susan Smentek, Lira’s new managing director, is a native Chicagoan. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Speech (Radio/TV/Film) from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and a master’s degree in Voice and Vocal Pedagogy from Northeastern Illinois University. To learn more about these two musicians and the Lira Ensemble in general, visit: www.liraensemble.org.
Upcoming Lira Ensemble holiday concerts:
For tickets call 773-508-7040.
MAGIN INT’L PIANO COMPETITION
Margot Magin and the Festival Organizing Committee have announced that the 14th Miłosz Magin International Piano Competition will be held in Paris from March 17 - 22, 2011. Application must be sent before February 1, 2011.
Founded in 1985 by Miłosz Magin and his wife, this Competition is devoted to the discovery of young international talents and to the promotion of Polish music. It takes place every two years in Paris to increasing notoriety. Composed of 3 degrees of competition without age limit, it is open to both young, unknown pianists as well as professionals. Prizes include 10,000 Euros, CD recording opportunities, and engagements for concerts in France and Poland. Performance repertoire for the Competition includes works by both Polish and French composers, and also provides an opportunity for candidates to submit their own composition.
Born in Łódź, Poland on July 6, 1929, Miłosz Magin showed considerable musical abilities since his early childhood. Student in the piano class of Margerita Trombini - Kazuro and in the composition classes of Kazimierz Sikorski and Jan Maklakiewicz whom he considered as his spiritual father. Meanwhile, he studied violin, cello and ballet.
Miłosz Magin won prizes in several international competitions: the Chopin Competition in Warsaw, The Marguerite Long - Thibaud Competition in Paris and the Vianna da Motta Competition in Lisbon. His brilliant career as an international soloist was suddenly interrupted in 1963, however, due to a serious car crash in which his left wrist was broken. With an infinite courage, he regained his technique and by 1968, he was able to record the complete works of Chopin for Decca, a set received as a revelation and a reference for young pianists (complete reissue on CD by Universal in 2000).
During these years of recovery, he came back to composition which he had already started at the age of 16. Since then, composition became a priority till the end of his life. He left a considerable work : brilliant pieces for piano, four sonatas, collections for young pianists, many concertos ( four for piano, two for violin, one of each for cello and clarinet ), two symphonies, a ballet, vocalizes and orchestral works. He also became a highly sought-after and greatly respected teacher.
He died on the March 4, 1999 of a heart attack during a tour of concerts in Tahiti, and is buried next to Chopin’s tomb at the Père-Lachaise cemetery. An obituary from the British newspaper The Independent can be found here: www.independent.co.uk
SLAVIC CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT
On December 9, California folk groups will present a gloriously varied collection of traditional carols that plumbs the rich traditions of East European Slavic folk and sacred holiday music, celebrating the sublime joy of the Christmas story. Vocals and instrumentals draw on the artistic talents of the Bay Area's Slavic communities, with performers including: Lowiczanie Polish Chorus; Ukrainian Bay Area Carolers Dalmacijo Singers & Slavonian Traveling Band; Bulgarian Koledari Singers; Carolers of Eszterlanc Hungarian Folk Ensemble; Vocal soloists Dalyte Kodzis, Natalia Ukrainska, and Rajna Ledoux; Cellist Pawel Walerowski & Friends; Susan Worland, violinist & Lowiczanie’s Folk Band.
2ND INT’L VIOLIN COMPETITION TORUŃ 2010
This year’s edition of the International Violin Competition Toruń 2010 attracted 29 entries from 10 countries. The goal of the Competition—which was held between November 22 and 29—is to promote young artists and to promote Polish composers. Each violinist must perform a Polish composition written in the 20th century. The laureates will divide 28,000 Euro and numerous concert engagements in Poland and around Europe.
The jury of the competition including—prof. Wanda Wiłkomirska (chairman,Poland), prof. Aleksandr Andriejew (Russia), prof. Marcin Baranowski (Poland), cond. Christoph Mathias Mueller (Germany), prof. Tomotada Soh (Japan), prof. Jan Stanienda (Poland) and Dima Tkachenko (Ukraine)—awarded the following:
TANSMAN COMPETITION RESULTS
Results of the Final Session of the TANSMAN 2010 - VIII International Competition of Musical Personalities Composers Competition were announced on November 19, 2010. There were 278 scores from 50 countries submitted to the competition – 245 of these scores met the Regulations of the Competition and were considered by the Jury. The jury, consisting of Zygmunt Krauze (President) - Poland, Louis Adriessen – Netherlands, Michael Nyman – UK, Ana Lara – Mexico, Hwang-Long Pan – Taiwan, Aaron Jay Kernis – USA, and Jose Manuel Lopez – Spain, announced the following winners:
The formula of the International Festival and Competition of Musical Individuality - TANSMAN 2010 [Festiwal i Konkurs Indywidualności Muzycznych] originates in the neoclassical heritage introduced by Alexander Tansman, one of the greatest Polish composers of the twentieth century. In his work, Tansman combined the universal values of humanism with the traditions of many centuries of European music. He found a unique way of expressing those aspects in the modern forms and musical language of the twentieth century. Therefore, the Festival and its competition is a reflection of the dialogue between past and present, as well as a meeting point for different cultures and their aesthetics.
The artistic variety in Tansman's music exhibits a remarkable journey to the world’s sources of culture and identity. In his music he refers to Greek traditions and to Judeo-Christian roots, in which he recognized his own European heritage, while being open to and influenced by Non-European cultures.
The heart of the Festival is the composer’s competition, and its unique nature has earned the contest worldwide recognition. The primary thrust is the recognition of artistic individuality, regardless of specialty. This allows listeners not only to appreciate the perfection of craftsmanship, but also, and perhaps above all, the composer’s personality and unique voice.
POLISH EXPLORATORY MUSIC
The Polish Exploratory Music Festival in London (November 22-23) celebrated exploratory music and trans-idiomatic improvisation presents some of the most interesting and vibrant musical movers and shakers from the Polish underground. It was held at Cafe OTO in London.
The first day boasted Tomasz Chołoniewski (drums, percussion), Denis Kolokol (voice) and Mikołaj Pałosz (cello) performing Bogusław Schaeffer's "Symphony, Electronic Music", a piece composed in Polish Radio's Experimental Studio in 1964. The old electronic score was performed entirely acoustically by three young musicians from Krakow and Warsaw.
The first day also featured a concert from Łukasz Szalankiewicz - historian, sound desinger and contemporary electronic music composer. Szalankiewicz is a member of the Polish Society for Electroacoustic Music (PSeME) and has participated in many international festivals (in Europe, USA, China and South America), curated sound art events in various festivals and CCA's in Poland. His practice extends to research audiovisuals performance and interactive installations.
The third artist to round up the line-up was Robert Piotrowicz (analogue synthesizer, electronics). Piotrowicz, pictured at right, is a sound artist, composer and improviser, playing contemporary electro-acoustic music and through-composed noise. His main tools as an instrumentalist are modular synth and guitar. He's an experienced improviser, working with world's top artists. He's composed/created numerous solo projects (recordings, performances), interdisciplinary projects (scores for theatre plays, literary and radio projects) and abstract sound installations and participated in many art events around the world. Piotrowicz is the co-founder and curator of the Musica Genera label/festival since 1999 and has many other contemporary sound art festivals and projects in Poland and abroad.
Day two (November 23) featured an act by diverse artists including Emiter, Mikołaj Palosz, Tomasz Choloniewski, and Denis Kolokol who will play improvised solo and duo sets.
Emiter is the solo project of Marcin Dymiter (electronics, guitar, generator, loops, tape) who has previously played in such bands as Ewa Braun, Mapa, and Mordy. He has worked with musicians engaged with jazz, electronics and the avant-garde such as Paul Wirkus, Rosa Arruti, Rob Mazurek, Le Quan Ninh, John Butcher, Axel Dorner, and Andrew Sharpley. He has also composed for off's theaters, works with visual artists and performs live to silent films.
Mikołaj Pałosz is a freelance cellist, contemporary music performer and improviser. He graduated from the Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw with Kazimierz Michalik and Andrzej Bauer. He has won prizes at music competitions including the Penderecki International Contemporary Chamber Music Competition in Kraków and Lutosławski International Cello Competition in Warsaw. He is also a member of Netherlands-based Cello Octet Amsterdam (formerly Conjunto Ibérico) and Warsaw CELLONET Group. His solo album "Cellovator" with contemporary compositions and improvisations has been released recently by DUX label.
Denis Kolokol is a composer and performer of electronic and electro-acoustic music, specialising in interactive music systems. In 2006 and 2007 he was the main person behind the international festival Replica (Almaty KZ) for experimental music. He started his own musical activity in 2006 and has been collaborating with Alexander Chikmakov in the duo theVolume for guitar and computer. As a solo artist he combines non-intersecting and opposing elements: interactive performance with algorithmic composition, granular synthesis with sound poetry, etc. He mainly works with his own voice as a pure material for electronic alterations. The live performances are usually strong and loud, always highly emotional, but playful and not without a sense of humor.
THE POLISH VIOLIN TRADITION
This recording's selections exemplify many of the features found throughout the extensive but largely little known body of Polish violin-keyboard writing. The wide stylistic variety parallels the diversity within Poland's cultural traditions shaped, in turn, by a long history of frequently changed borders and territorial makeup.
Starting long before Poland's culturally progressive "Golden Age" (mid 15th-16th centuries), these connections occurred through trade, religious, intellectual, artistic, marriage and other contacts. As a result, this music, like the rest of Poland's culture, is generally western-oriented but sometimes includes distinctive eastern elements. Folk elements are often equally important. Most obvious is the use of Polish dances, e.g. the mazurka, but dance-related rhythmic figures, or their characteristic accents on normally less-strong beats or rhythmic subdivisions are often transplanted to non-dance settings.
The historical association of Polish folk traditions with fiddles and then the violin itself (long Poland's most popular folk instrument), is so close that Poland's classical violin performance tradition reaching back to c. 1500 can also be considered to be an extension of her much longer folk practice. While the earliest of Poland's many widely-famous violinists date from the 19th century, numbers of Polish violinists were already known for their high level of performing throughout Europe in the 16th century. Likewise, effective keyboard writing on this CD reflects a rich Polish keyboard tradition, sometimes with the composer being either a performing pianist (like Chopin and Paderewski) or able to play the instrument with a high degree of accomplishment (Bacewicz). [from the Albany Records website]
NEW KIELCE PHILHARMONIC CDS
We Are From Here
Włodek Pawlik’s composition We are from here was commissioned by the President of the City of Kielce and was premiered in February 2005 with the Kielce Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Jacek Rogala. Pulse 11 / 8 was written in 2004 for the “Poland in Europe” Festival and dedicated to Polish flutist Jadwiga Kotnowski. It was premiered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw by Kotnowski and the AUKSO orchestra.
This the fourth in the “The Polish Album” series of the Kielce Philharmonic. These recordings are intended to restore the collective memory of Polish music as well as discover what may be the most valuable and yet unfamiliar within the legacy of Polish composers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
The Oskar Kolberg Świętokrzyska Philharmonic of Kielce is based in the Kielce Cultural Centre. It continues the tradition of the Kielce Symphonic Orchestra founded in 1933.
Irena Anders, the second wife of WW II General Władysław Anders, has died in London aged 90.
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Copyright 2010 by the Polish Music Center
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
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Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, December 10, 2010.
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