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LOOKING BACK AT THE 2014 PADEREWSKI FESTIVAL IN PASO ROBLES
The annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles was held November 5-9, 2014 in the charming Central Coast town that Ignacy Jan Paderewski once considered his second home in America. Paderewski’s legacy is still felt in the Paso Robles region, which has grown exponentially since Paderewski introduced large-scale Zinfandel and Petit Syrah wine production to this area. And like a modern manifestation of Paderewski’s artistic spirit, the Festival balances international music-making with local engagement and a deep understanding of the past with philanthropic hope for the future.
This year’s Festival began on a distinctly international note, with a Wednesday noon-time concert at Cass Winery performed by this year’s participants in the Cultural Exchange: Michał Niedbała and Paulina Ostrowska from Poland and Olha Pokhvata and Nazar Kozlyuk from the Ukraine. Although young Polish students had previously visited the Festival during even years (students from the Central Coast travel to Poland during odd years), this was the first year that the Board of the Paderewski Festival had the opportunity to invite Ukrainian participants. This new addition cements the three-way linkage between areas intimately tied to Paderewski: his American home on the Central Coast of California, his marital estate in the Tarnów region of Poland, and his birthplace in the former Podolia region of Poland which is now near Khmilnyk, Ukraine.
The inclusion of Ukrainian participants was a miracle of an opportunity for these students and their chaperone, Galia Terentieva, to escape temporarily from a war-torn country. Congresswoman Lois Capps who represents the Central Coast’s 24th District as well as various State Department employees and international music exchange experts helped to secure visas on time, and a groundswell of support from local California sponsors and organizers secured the funding necessary for their travel.
Joint effort by local and international partners not only benefitted the students but also brought rich rewards for the Festival’s audiences. The young pianists presented three different concerts over the course of the Festival—two in Paso Robles, and a third at the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, a new partner venue on the other side of the mountain range—and the content of their programs ranged from Baroque to modern composers from all over the world. Although some works were perhaps unfamiliar—such as the haunting Elegy in G-sharp minor by Ukrainian composer Yuriy Shchurovsky, or the contemporary Fly Free by English composer John Maul—the four young pianists from Poland and Ukraine shone in their heartfelt performances, and were warmly received by the local audiences. Read a full review at www.peninsulareviews.com.
Thursday night’s concert at Cass Winery presented a more local flavor when the North County Chorus of Cuesta College, led by Director Cassandra Tarantino, performed a rousing program that mixed early Polish choral music with modern examples, and holiday music from around the world. Several talented members of the Chorus were highlighted in the middle section of the program—the Trio Amore joyfully presented Mozart and Kenneth Hand sang solo works by Dvořak and Hay. As it was Paderewski’s birthday, the evening closed out with the full Chorus back on stage for an enthusiastic rendition of Paderewski’s only work for choir, Hej, Orle biały! [Hey, White Eagle!], which earned the group and its leader a standing ovation.
On Friday night in the downtown Park Ballroom, the Festival again turned on its international spotlight when two of Poland’s most talented young musicians took the stage. Perhaps inspired by Paderewski’s own penchant for romantic rubato and virtuosic flair, violinist Mariusz Patyra and pianist Krzysztof Herdzin joined forces to present gems of the Romantic virtuoso literature by Paganini, Kreisler, and Wieniawski. Audience member and music philanthropist Charles Bragg said this of the experience: “The piano-violin duo was incredible, especially the violinist! I’ve rarely heard that kind of virtuosity, and I’ve heard a lot of musicians…” Each a musical powerhouse in his own right, the program was certainly geared towards highlighting the astounding skills of Patyra, who in 2001 became the only Polish violinist to win the First Prize in the prestigious Paganini International Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy. However Herdzin’s unquestionable talent shone through in even the most basic of accompaniments, and when he took over the piano to perform his solo Improvisation on Chopin’s Etude, Op. 10 no. 3, it was clear that his true talent lies in a very different but equally impressive realm of repertoire.
Following the last encore in what had seemed like an evening comprised completely of virtuosic encores, a crowd of both out-of-town and local audience members gathered to talk to the performers. The most common expression seemed to be one of awe-struck gratitude, as guest after guest thanked Patyra and Herdzin for bringing their beautiful artistry to Paso Robles. The outpouring was clearly taken to heart by the performers, who praised the generosity and hospitality shown to them during the Festival.
Saturday is always a full day of the Festival, and this year—with its particular focus on familiarizing Festival-goers with Polish culture and engaging the local community—was no exception. The schedule began at 10:00 am with a screening of Impromptu, a delightful 1991 feature film about Chopin’s life in Paris. This was followed by a noon-time dance performance in the Paso Robles Park Gazebo by the L.A.-based Krakusy Ensemble. Krakusy’s enthusiastic dance numbers were interspersed by historical and cultural background provided by Festival Artistic Director Marek Zebrowski and Krakusy choreographer Edward Hoffman. Details such as the origins of different rhythms or the meanings behind certain aspects of the dancers’ elaborate costumes provided a welcome context for the performance at hand as well as other Festival programs, which often feature dance and folk-inspired pieces of music.
Traditionally, the highlight of the Festival Saturday is the afternoon concert of winners of the Youth Piano Competition. This concert is always free and open to the public and, as in past years, the Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn was filled with families and friends of the young artists.
Jane Yang, the Honorable Mention winner in the Junior Division, opened the program with Liszt’s dreamy Liebestraum. Jack Raventos, Third Place Junior Division, gave a spirited reading of Chopin’s Polonaise. Holly Hadsall, a determined and sure-footed pianist in spite of her very young age, gave a brilliant reading of Mozart’s Rondo, which earned her the Second Place Junior Division standing and much applause from the crowd. Kevin Park, winner of the First Prize in Junior Division gave a truly mature and poetic interpretation of Chopin’s Nocturne and the audience rewarded him with prolonged ovation.
The Senior Division opened with Yuan Tao, a Third Place winner, who presented one of Paderewski’s Chants du Voyageur and Durand’s Etude. Kannan Freyaldenhoven presented the opening movement of a Haydn Sonata and Paderewski’s celebrated Menuet, and the Youth Competition Winners’ concert came to a grand finale with Daniel Ha’s performance of Handel’s Chaconne with 21 Variations and Saint-Saëns’s bravura Allegro appassionato. Daniel, who last year won the Junior Division and participated in the Cultural Exchange Program in Poland, solidified his musical standing with an impressive First Place win this year in the Senior Category.
As soon as the young pianists finished their recital, the Elegant Evening celebrations began throughout downtown Paso Robles. This charming and unique tradition brings great crowds of revelers from places near and far to visit the shops and restaurants that open their storefronts and serve refreshments to the elegantly-clad public strolling by. The perambulating crowds are entertained by a variety of street performers, including dancers, musicians, magicians, and other entertainers who keep everybody—from the youngest kids to the most staid of adults—smiling throughout the night.
As the Elegant Evening’s events came to a close, the Paderewski Festival patrons gathered once again in the vestibule of the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom for a glass of wine before the Gala Concert. White wine varieties were provided by Cass Winery, a founding sponsor of the Festival, and the reds by Epoch Wines, the Gala Concert sponsor.
The featured performer for this year’s Gala was the young South Korean virtuoso, Zheeyoung Moon, winner of the First Prize at the 2013 International Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Moon had already charmed the young Competition winners and visiting Exchange students with bubbly personality and excellent technical suggestions during her 2+ hour master class, held in the Park Ballroom the day before. However, it was her Gala performance that stunned the Festival audience. Editor-in-Chief of the Peninsula Review in Monterey and a Carmel-based piano teacher, Lyn Bronson perfectly captured the effect of Moon’s performance in his review, excerpted below:
The 2014 Paderewski Festival concluded on Sunday morning just as it began a few days earlier—with a final recital by the young pianists from Poland and Ukraine. They presented a varied program of music by Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Paderewski, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Poulenc, and others. A festive luncheon for the VIPs and the performers officially closed this year’s Festival. The following day the Ukrainian and Polish visitors with the chaperone decamped for Los Angeles where, serious work finally done, they could indulge in a little bit of sight-seeing. Driving down the Pacific Coast Highway, walking the streets of Hollywood, visiting Walt Disney Concert Hall and Downtown L.A. as well as enjoying a morning surfing lesson in Santa Monica rounded off their California sojourn. Paderewski would surely approve this mixture of music-making and cultural exploration, of forging lasting personal friendships that span generations and continents. Now it’s time to begin making plans for the next Paderewski Festival and the reciprocal visit of Central Coast youth in Paderewski’s Kąśna Dolna estate in Poland in 2015.
During a meeting in Warsaw, composer Joanna Bruzdowicz presented PMC Director Marek Żebrowski with her new CD, “Joanna Bruzdowicz: String Quartet No. 1 ‘La Vita,’ From the Fever World, World”
Żebrowski also met with composer Krzysztof Meyer during his time in Poland and was given several important items related to the composer’s output. First is a Special Issue of the Interdisciplinary Studies in Musicology series (Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM) dedicated largely to Meyer’s oeuvre and compositional technique, which was edited Justyna Humięcka-Jakubowska and Danuta Jasińska. The second donation was a 4 vol. set of CDs on NAXOS, covering all of Meyer’s string quartets as performed by the Wieniawski String Quartet: Vol. 1 – Nos. 5, 6 and 8; Vol. 2 – Nos. 9, 11 and 12; Vol. 3 – Nos. 7, 10 and 13; Vol. 4 – Nos. 1-4.
A final item arrived by mail from Boosey & Hawkes via our good friend Joseph A. Herter, whose scholarship greatly contributed to the re-printing of Homage to Paderewski, a set of solo works for piano. In 1942, Ignacy Jan Paderewski was posthumously honored with a deluxe edition for which many of his friends and pupils, such as Béla Bartók, Darius Milhaud, Bohuslav Martinu or Jaromír Weinberger, specially composed piano pieces. Out of print for many years, this edition was newly printed to mark the 150th birthday of Paderewski in 2010, and is now available in the library of the Polish Music Center.
Thank you all for making these amazing resources available to PMC scholars and visitors!
2014 ANNIVERSAY YEAR
PANUFNIK IN NEW YORK TIMES
On November 28, the New York Times published an interesting article about the life and music of Polish émigré composer Sir Andrzej Panufnik on the 100th anniversary of his birth. Entitled “His Nightmares Starred Communists, Not Nazis – Celebrating Panufnik, a Polish Composer in London” and written by Michael White, the article is a concise retelling of this composer’s exciting, somewhat tragic and often controversial life and career.
White begins thus:
To read the entire article, visit: www.nytimes.com.
RYTERBAND PERFORMED IN POLAND
Another composer who celebrates his 100th birth anniversary this year, Roman Ryterband, was honored with a performance of his music for harp in combination with violin and flute at the prestigious school where he once studied, the Academy of Music in Łódź. Held on November 13, the “Chamber Harp Concert” was a part of the 2nd edition of the Academy’s AŻ Festival (November 7-29, 2014).
The following works by Roman Ryterband were performed: Two images by Aleksandra Gaudynek – harp; Sonata breve by Anna Kłos – harp and Martyna Witych – violin; Two desert scenes for Flute and Harp by Jagoda Pawelec – harp and Katarzyna Zielińska – flute; and Trois ballades Hebraiques by Paulina Żurawik – harp and Dominika Wiśniewska – violin. Other composers on the program were Camille Saint-Saëns, Marcel Tournier and Alberto Ginastera.
[Source: Ryterband family]
The world premiere of Dies Illa—a 2014 Krzysztof Penderecki composition for three soloists, three mixed choirs and orchestra—was given on November 9 at Koekelberg Basilica in Brussels. The performance was conducted by the Estonian conductor Andres Mustonen during the Flanders Festival, where Nikolay Didenko, Johanna Rusanen and Poland’s Angieszka Rehlis appeared as the soloists. Themed “1000 Voices for Peace” to commemorate victims of the First World War, the festival brought together an astonishing 39 choirs—22 from Belgium and 17 from foreign countries that were involved in the war.
PREISNER PREMIERE IN KRAKOW
On October 16 and 17, the premiere of 2014: Here and Now composed by Zbigniew Preisner was performed by the Sinfonietta Cracovia and soloists with spectacular lighting, holographic and sound design at the opening of the highly anticipated new ICE Krakow Congress Centre in Poland. This grand establishment, costing 357.5 million zloty (84.5 million euro), was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Krzysztof Ingarden. The new center is estimated to be able to host three events simultaneously with its theatre of 600 seats and main auditorium of 2,000 seats, which may occur given its already fully-reserved schedule for 2015.
The principal message of Preisner’s new work is the place of human beings in history, modern civilization and their existential transience. Both the music and the libretto written by Ewa Lipska refer to Krakow’s past social and cultural atmosphere, evoked in an unconventional and original manner through the presentation and performance of the music.
RICE BROTHERS IN CALIFORNIA
The newly-established Southwest Council of the Chopin Foundation of the United States will hold its Grand Opening Gala Concert on December 6, 2014. The Rice Brothers—Polish-American brothers Johnny and Chris, who each play both the cello and piano—will present piano and cello performances of accomplished composers whose works bear a strong relationship to the world of Chopin at PAEC in Calabasas, California. Feature their signature program “Chopin’s Heart, Your Heart,” the historical context of the concert will be established by sources as Chopin’s letters and the book which his dear friend, Franz Liszt, wrote shortly after Chopin’s death.
KWARTLUDIUM IN LONDON
On December 12, leading avant-garde Polish ensemble Kwartludium and British electronic artist Scanner will present a program of new works using visual scores at the 2014 Spitalfields Festival in London. Kwartludium has built a reputation for presenting striking new music across Europe and, in this rare London visit, they collaborate with Scanner to explore partially improvised works that respond to visual scores. Wild, dynamic and exhilarating, audiences can expect an evening of shifting moods and dangerous interaction.
The program will include: Jerzy Kornowicz – Gullfoss; Carl Bergstrom-Nielsen – Strategies 3; Regin Petersen – Shapes and sizes; Aleksandra Gryka – ATCGATGATC; and an Open form based on collective improvisation created live by Kwartludium and Scanner.
For the full festival program please visit: www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk .
SINFONIETTA CRACOVIA CELEBRATIONS
One of the first concerts in the inaugural season of the new ICE Congress Centre in Kraków will feature Sinfonietta Cracovia’s program of Viennese classics on December 17, 2014. The program will include Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto and his 29th Symphony, and the “Mercury” Symphony by Haydn. Another interesting item on the program is the Kraków premiere of an Overture by Franciszek Lessel, a Polish-born student of Haydn, whose manuscript is held by the Musikverein in Vienna. Daniel Ottensamer, the first clarinetist of the Vienna Philharmonic, will be the featured soloist in the Mozart Clarinet Concerto.
On December 1 Sinfonietta Cracovia officially concluded its 20th anniversary celebrations. Under Maestro Jurek Dybała the ensemble performed 20 concerts in various often unusual locations, including universities, factories, and local resorts. Called “Daj się zaskoczyć” [Allow yourself to be surprised], this cycle gave Sinfonietta Cracovia the opportunity to meet their public, provide them with new artistic experiences and be inspired by the warm reception they received.
BRAND NEW MUSIC 2014
For a number of years the Katowice Music Academy has organized the Brand New Music Festival. Between the years 2001-2006 the Festival consisted of a conference and a single concert staged for the local composers and theoreticians. Held triennially, since 2009 the Festival began to invite special guests (including Per Norgard and Louis Andriessen) and commission works from young Polish composers (including Sławomir Kupczak, Adrian Robak, Marcin Stańczyk, Dobromiła Jaskot, Karol Nepelski, and Krzysztof Wołek).
Held December 2-5, this year’s Festival concerts features the world premieres of works by Joanna Szymala – Sorgente, Sławomir Wojciechowski – A matter of choice, Krzysztof Gawlas – Hō-ō, performed by the New Music Orchestra (OMN) with Szymon Bywalec, conductor. The special guest of this year’s Festival is prominent German composer, Helmut Lachenmann.
WORLDWIDE TRIBUTES TO JARCZYK
Tributes commemorating Polish jazz pianist and composer, Jan Jarczyk, continue worldwide since his untimely death in Montreal on August 3. Throughout his life, Jan had touched and enriched music-making not only in his native Poland, but also all across Europe, the United States and, finally, in Canada, where he resided for well over two decades.
Earlier this year, on October 7 and 27, two tributes to Jan were staged in Montreal, the first at Centre Culturel Geroges Vanier and the second at the Schulich Music School at McGill, where Jan taught for many years. Retracing his musical and geographical peregrinations, two November concerts honored Jan’s memory: the first in Toronto’s Gallery 345 on November 2 and the other at the Lilypad Jazz Club in Cambridge, MA on November 11.
On Sunday, December 14 at 11 a.m. another Jan Jarczyk memorial concert is scheduled at the Auditorium of the Conservatoire de Musique in Lille, France. Finally, on December 28, a memorial mass is scheduled in Jan’s native Kraków at the historic Old Market Square’s St. Adalbert’s Church [Kościół św. Wojciecha] at 12:15 p.m.
The Los Angeles audiences still fondly remember Jan’s concert at Newman Recital Hall last March, with his arrangements of music by Henryk Wars and Bronisław Kaper, as well as his own compositions. It is good to know that Jan’s music continues to resonate among his friends and family all around the world.
[Sources: press release, lapresse.ca]
KRAKÓW COMMEMORATES STACHOWSKI
November 3 marked the 10th anniversary of Professor Marek Stachowski’s death. A distinguished composer, pedagogue and Rector of the Kraków Music Academy, Stachowski was a significant presence on the Polish music scene. The Kraków Chapter of the Polish Composers’ Union and the Music Academy had jointly organized a series of concerts and lectures commemorating Stachowski’s artistic achievements. An exhibit dedicated to Prof. Stachowski was unveiled on Nov. 20 at the Music Academy foyer and was followed by an evening concert, “Schowski Jazz Impressions” and the Temple Synagogue. Several lectures and discussion panels were held on subsequent days in addition to a number of concerts, art exhibits inspired by Stachowski’s music, and other accompanying events. Most concerts were held at the “Florianka” Hall of the Music Academy and they presented a great variety of solo, chamber and orchestral works by this composer.
The last concert in the series was held on December 1. Pianist Gabriela Szendzielorz-Jungiewicz presented Stachowski’s Extensions I (1971) for piano, Five Small Waltzes for Piano (1998), and Extensions IV (2001). Whilst the 1971 Extensions relied on clusters and long stretches of fortissimo passages sustained with pedal, the 2001 Extensions (notated only in a form of a graphic design) proved to be an exciting and witty happening that involved the pianist (Ms. Szendzielorz-Jungiewicz) aided by two vocalists, Barbara Gładysz-Wszołek and Elżbieta Kolorz. Among pantomime and merry-making on stage, some music was heard from within and without the piano. Exotic percussion instruments were used to create subtle and amusing sounds and, finally, with the “rain-maker” tubes shaking steadily to invoke a downpour, the Steinway grand was carefully covered with plastic foil and the performers sought shelter underneath.
The Five Small Waltzes (1998), on the other hand, delighted with their intelligent and compact design and clever references to well-known waltzes by Chopin, Liszt and Ravel. In particular, it would appear that Valses nobles et sentimentales served at least as a partial inspiration for Stachowski’s charming miniatures; let’s hope they’ll prove as popular and cherished as their progenitors.
The concert ended with Zbigniew Bujarski’s extended and moving Elegos—a funeral chant for cello and string orchestra (2005). The Ilium Ensemble conducted by Maciej Tworek accompanied Jan Kalinowski’s expressive and highly musical interpretation of this beautiful work.
The Polish Music Publishers [PWM] organized an exhibit of selected scores by Stachowski and the current Music Academy Rector, Zdzisław Łapiński, graced the closing concert with his presence. After the concert he thanked all organizers and performers for contributing to this important event in Kraków’s musical life this fall.
POLAND’S INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATED AT USC
Known around the world as “Armistice Day” or “Veterans’ Day,” November 11 is also Poland’s Independence Day, commemorating the restoration of Poland’s sovereignty after World War I following more than a century of partitions. Just like all other Polish diplomatic outposts around the world, each year the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles coordinates several events locally that honor this important anniversary.
This year, the Polish Music Center at USC was chosen to host a concert, featuring two outstanding Polish artists, violinist Mariusz Patyra and pianist Krzysztof Herdzin, in a program largely devoted to music by Polish composers. Opening with Wieniawski’s grand Polonaise de concert, Op. 4, the two soloists set the tone, with brilliance and musicianship competing throughout the concert for the audience’s attention. Thoughtful interpretation of Chopin’s posthumous Nocturne in C-sharp minor provided a moment of intimate reflection before Mr. Patyra took the stage to perform Paganini’s famed Caprice No. 24 for violin solo. His bravura playing was followed by Mr. Herdzin’s intricate and beguiling solo improvisation on Chopin’s Etude Op. 10 no. 3.
With smaller works by Josef Suk, Fritz Kreisler and Antonin Dvořak rounding off the program, the audience remained firmly anchored in the Central European, fin-de-siècle milieu. Paganini’s monumental I Palpiti variations augmented by a Paganini encore closed this highly successful presentation at USC’s Newman Recital Hall. The Honorable Mariusz Brymora, Consul General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and his family were in the audience, alongside a large group of local Polonia, students and fans of Polish romantic-era music.
DUDZIAK NAMED UNESCO ‘ARTIST FOR PEACE’
According to the external news service of Polish radio, thenews.pl:
Urszula Dudziak is a leading figure of the Polish vocal jazz scene. In 1972 her album Newborn Light received maximum score of five stars in the prestigious American Down Beat magazine. In 1979 her solo performances with use of electronic devices earned her the title of the singer of 1979 year in the Los Angeles Times. Her song Papaya (first recorded in 1976) became a smash hit in 2007 in Asia and Latin America.
She made her professional debut in 1958 and then she was invited to join Krzysztof Komeda’s band. In 1964 she started her collaboration with Michał Urbaniak Band and performed with them at some prestigious festivals. Initially, Dudziak performed acoustic jazz and then she became fascinated with music that used voice converters.
From 1981 she worked with the international group Vocal Summit (guests: Bobby McFerrin, Jeanne Lee). She performed and recorded with Gil Evans Orchestra and Archie Shepp Band. With her original program Future Talk prepared with writer Jerzy Kosiński she performed in almost all countries of Europe, North and South America and in Asia
Throughout her career she has also cooperated with artists like Adam Makowicz, Herbie Hancock, Jaco Pastorius, Ron Carter, Michael Brecker, Flora Purim, Nina Simone, Carmen McRae, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sting or Lionel Hampton.
KURCZEWSKI PRIZE FOR ŁUKASZEWSKI
Paweł Łukaszewski—well-known composer, conductor, choirmaster, and 2011 Paderewski Lecturer—is this year's winner of the Jerzy Kurczewski Prize. The artist was chosen for his outstanding achievements in the field of choral works, which have been presented at over 100 festivals in Poland and abroad, and were recorded on 70 CDs. The award ceremony will take place in 2015.
This award is given to artists in areas where Kurczewski was active, namely conducting and composition, with particular emphasis on repertoire for choir or vocal in general. In 1945 Kurczewski founded one of the most famous Polish choirs—the "Polish Nightingales" in Pozńan.
The Jerzy Kurczewski Prize has been awarded since 1999, with such esteemed honorees as: Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Stefan Stuligrosz, Andrzej Koszewski, Wojciech Kilar, Krzysztof Penderecki, and Krzysztof Szydzisz.
COMPOSERS’ PORTRAITS: HENDRICH & SZOSTAK
Since 1988 the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP) had organized a cycle of concerts presenting contemporary Polish composers. This year’s 24th edition of the series presented concerts on December 1 and 2 featuring works by Paweł Hendrich and Zdzisław Szostak. Leading Polish artists are invited to participate in presenting seminal works by each composer to the public, which also has a chance to discuss the music with the composers. These concerts are also recorded for the Polish Radio archives.
The December 1 concert featured chamber music by Paweł Hendrich, including Drovorb for clarinet, French horn, violin, viola and cello (2013), Kioloik for flute solo (2012), Accant for solo accordion and computer (2014), Ertytre for solo cello (2013) and Emergon for winds, brass, percussion and piano (2011).
Zdzisław Szostak’s works were presented on December 2, including Improvisation and Dance for solo guitar (2002), Scherzo and Tarantella for flute and piano (2009), Scherzo and Tocattina for bassoon and piano (2006), Recitativo e berceuse for violin and piano (2010), Introduzione e quasi valse for cello and piano (2010), and Adagio and Rondino for trombone and piano (2011). All concerts were held at the Mazowiecki Instytut Kultury in Warsaw.
MUSICA MODERNA SESSIONS
The 65th session of Musica Moderna was held November 26—December 6 in Łódź. Professor Deborah Bradley-Kramer from Columbia University in New York City and Jarosław Płonka from the Kraków Music Academy were special guests along with the Warsaw-based INTEGRO Ensemble.
Professor Bradley-Kramer inaugurated the festivities with her Nov. 26 lecture and the Festival began with a Nov. 29 concert at the Łódź Music Academy Concert Hall. During the first half of December works by young composers—students at the Academy—will be presented at a number of concerts held in a variety of venues in town, including churches, music school auditoria, and other civic spaces.
WARSAW PHIL RECORDS FOR WARNER CLASSICS
WEINBERG: VIOLIN CONCERTO & SYMPHONY NO. 4
The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra releases its first CD 'Warsaw Philharmonic: Weinberg Symphony No. 4 & Violin Concerto' in the Polish market under its exclusive four-year contract with Warner Classics. The album was recorded in the orchestra’s home, National Philharmonic Hall, conducted by its Music Director Jacek Kaspszyk, and featuring a violin solo by the Russian-born virtuoso Ilya Gringolts in Weinberg's Violin Concerto in G minor.
Mieczysław Weinberg was one of the twentieth century's most powerful and prolific composers, whose music has been rediscovered over the past few years. Coming from a musical family, Weinberg debuted as a young pianist at the age of ten and studied under the direction of Karol Szymanowski. He soon was forced to flee from anti-Semitism and the Nazis in 1943 and began composing music in Moscow. However, Weinberg was not safe in Russia for long and was arrested by the Soviet Union in 1953. Luckily, he was released after Stalin’s death from the support of his acclaimed colleague Dmitri Shostakovich. Despite his perilous and arduous life, Weinberg composed 27 symphonies, 17 string quartets, 28 sonatas for various instruments, 7 operas and soundtracks for 65 films, plays, and productions before his passing in 1999.
Listen to excerpts of the album here.
JAZZ IN POLISH CINEMA
Jazz in Polish Cinema: Out of the Underground 1958-67
This box set is a treasure-trove of rare and previously unissued classic jazz film soundtracks written by a pair of legendary Polish composers and pianists—Krzysztof Komeda and Andrzej Trzaskowski.
Among the first time ever released tracks on 'Jazz in Polish Cinema - Out of the Underground 1958-1967' is the soundtrack to the celebrated Night Train [Pociag], with a score by Trzaskowski (it is based on the swing band leader Artie Shaw's "Moonray" theme, with vocals by acclaimed Polish jazz vocalist Wanda Warska). As well released for the first time in its entirety is Andrzej Wajda's Innocent Sorcerers, containing a classic jazz score by Komeda and previously unissued tracks in any format featuring the great Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko.
'Jazz in Polish Cinema' also contains both previously unheard and rare releases featuring the likes of Don Cherry, Gato Barbieri, Zbigniew Namyslowski and Michał Urbaniak. The CDs are high quality remasters, the large majority of which have been transferred direct from the original master tapes with additional rare 'alternative' versions of tracks from the film scores also included.
The box set also contains a deluxe illustrated 80-page bound booklet that examines in depth a fascinating and highly significant period in Polish cultural history. The booklet is annotated by the UK's leading jazz magazine Jazzwise journalist Selwyn Harris (the producer and curator of the set) with an introduction to Polish jazz during the post-war period by the respected Polish jazz author-composer Adam Slawinski, writer of the original liner notes for Komeda's pioneering studio album Astigmatic.
Jazz on Film Records officially released the album on November 17 of Jazz in Polish Cinema following a successful concert on the previous Saturday at the London Jazz Festival that included an introduction by the box set producer Selwyn Harris and a brilliant short 'live' solo piano set by the leading young Polish pianist Marcin Masecki. Masecki’s personal interpretations of a selection of soundtrack themes by Krzysztof Komeda from the box set (including Le Depart, Innocent Sorcerers and Knife in the Water) segued perfectly into a rare big screening of Polanski's Knife in the Water and ended with Q&A with Selwyn Harris hosted by Michael Brooke.
This album and the concert were supported by the Polish Cultural Institute in London.
MAGDALENA FILIPCZAK DEBUT CD
Magdalena Filipczak: Essence of Violin
Magdalena Filipczak is regarded by critics and eminent musicians as one of the most outstanding young Polish violinists of her generation. Now resident in London, she makes her debut solo recording on the Audio-B label with a compelling recital focusing mostly on English and Polish composers.
‘Essence of Violin’ features Magdalena Filipczak, with Polish pianist Agnieszka Kozło and Swedish guitarist Martin Fogel, performing a highly attractive and well-balanced programme of music by Britten, Elgar, Lutosławski, Piazzolla, Saint-Saëns (arranged by Ysaÿe), Szymanowski and Wieniawski. Her playing is superb throughout and the recording will no doubt introduce her to many new admirers.
Among her many competition successes, Magdalena Filipczak was the winner of the 2008 IV Heino Eller International Violin Competition in Estonia where she was also awarded special prizes for the best interpretation of Bach and the best concerto performance in the final (playing Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto).
Born in Poland, Magdalena Filipczak began violin lessons at the age of five. In 2004 she came to London to study with Krzysztof Śmietana at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama on a full scholarship. In addition to her violin playing, she studied classical singing with John Evans at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
STAŃKO IN LONDON
On Thursday November 20, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and his New York Quartet (comprised of pianist David Virelles, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver) shared the stage at Barbican Hall with Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda at the London Jazz Festival. It was a performance of inspirational playing, feisty improvisation and formidable themes derived from Stańko’s acclaimed ECM double album, Wisława– dedicated to the celebrated poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska.
Ivan Hewett of the London Telegraph writes:
NOWAK ENHANCES RITE OF SPRING AT IU
On October 29, Maestro Grzegorz Nowak joined the Indiana University Symphony Orchestra at the IU Jacobs School of Music for a “Behind the Score” performance of Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. Directed by violin professor Jorja Fleezanis—also the Henry A. Upper Chair in Orchestral Studies at IU—the “Behind the Score” program is intended to provide young musicians with significantly deeper knowledge of well-known works of music than is normally provided during the regular round of pre-performance rehearsals. Many of the lectures given to the orchestra members are also open to the public, thereby concurrently developing the cultural knowledge of community members and concert audiences as well.
This year’s “Behind the Score” lectures were given by: musicologist Gretchen Horlacher, about Stravinsky’s musical language and rhythms; ballet department chairman Michael Vernon, on a critical background of Rite as a ballet; and Russian music and Stravinsky scholar Richard Taruskin from UC Berkeley, on a broad history of the piece as both ballet and concert favorite.
Although Maestro Grzegorz Nowak had served as a last minute replacement on the conductor’s stand, according to reviewer Peter Jacobi, no one was disappointed with the substitution. Below is an excerpt from Jacobi’s article, entitled “All involved in ‘Behind the Score’ enterprise deserve kudos”:
[A] dazzling performance [was] led by guest conductor Grzegorz Nowak, who was called in after project co-instigator Cliff Colnot fell ill. The Polish-born Nowak is principal associate conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in London and artist-in-residence at Florida International University in Miami. He came with an extensive professional background, and it showed.
The combination of Maestro Nowak’s conducting skills and briefings for students resulted in a riveting performance. Not many long-established professional orchestras could have improved upon what one heard. The hundred or more musicians on stage — from Nowak to violinist Fleezanis (seated inconspicuously at the rear of the first violin section) and to the percussionists in the rear — were in the zone. The wild and shifting rhythms, the severe dissonances, the mounting energy and explosive thrusts, the sudden nervous quiets, the bursts of drum-delivered, brass-supported salvos, the individual and mysterious solos, and the grand sweeps of an orchestra in artistic heat: all the elements above, fully mastered and thrillingly exhibited, were part of this extraordinary performance.
[Sources: press release, blogs.music.indiana.edu]
POLISH MUSIC: THE OPEN BORDERS GENERATION
From November 5-16, 2014, Polish and American musicians joined forces in venues in Chicago and Louisville to present music by a selection of Polish composers born in the 1970s. This generation of artists can be called the Open Borders Generation—the first generation of artists to live their entire professional lives following the end of Communism in 1989. Poland's newly open borders allowed these young musicians to continue their education abroad, broadening their experiences and exposing them to a large multidimensional range of musical cultures. Access to new technology allowed for experimentation with new aesthetics and new mediums. This is why the music of this newest generation of Polish composers is characterized by a multitude of individual musical languages, the courage to speak in one's own voice, a consciousness of creating an independent aesthetic and an awareness of the advantages and risks of their artistic choices.
The concerts presented four artists from Poland and two Polish composers currently living and working in the United States. The project was curated by the composer and performer Krzysztof Wołek, who is currently Professor of Music Composition and Director of the University of Louisville New Music Festival in Louisville, KY. He will be joined by composer and soprano Agata Zubel, composer, improviser and pianist Cezary Duchnowski and composer and improviser Paweł Hendrich at the University of Louisville New Music Festival from November 5 to 9. They will perform together at the Electronic and Improvised Music Concert and Agata Zubel will also perform her own Cascando for soprano and chamber ensemble with the University of Louisville performance faculty. Each composer will give master classes and lectures to University of Louisville students. After the festival, they will be joined by pianist Małgorzata Walentynowicz, winner of the Gaudeamus Interpreters Competition, to perform three concerts with the Illinois Modern Ensemble of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, conducted by Stephen Taylor, on November 12, 14 and 16.
The program of these concerts featured: Not I by Agata Zubel, performed by the composer herself; 151 242 333 for violin, cello and live electronics by Cezary Duchnowski; Emergon for large ensemble and electronics by Paweł Hendrich; Minotaur for horn and electronics by Ewa Trębacz; and Motions, Stases for piano and large ensemble by Krzysztof Wołek. All these compositions have been commissioned and performed by highly respected contemporary music ensembles at the most important new music festivals around the world.
Although the November concerts showcased only a small number of artists selected from dozens of equally talented composers born in the 1970s and currently active in the Polish contemporary music scene, the high quality and varied landscape of their work demonstrates how changes in the political and social environment can bring about a creative transformation and greater individualism in art. The concerts provided a fascinating insight into the artistic and creative potential of a generation of composers who will shape the future of the Polish and international contemporary music scene in the coming decades. These and other composers in this group are highlighted in the “Generation ‘70” project organized by the Polish Music Publishers (PWM).
These concerts were presented by the Polish Cultural Institute New York and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago in partnership with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute, the University of Louisville, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, Constellation in Chicago, and the Kosciuszko Foundation. Media partnership provided by Louisville Public Media.
POLISH JAZZ IN LONDON
This year’s London Jazz Festival featured several of Poland’s leading jazz musicians during its international lineup, including: pianists Marcin Masecki and Leszek Możdżer, trumpeter Tomasz Stańko, vocalists Sylwia Bialas and Alice Zawadzki, from November 13-22. This prestigious festival holds concerts throughout the city’s major venues.
A leading figure on Poland’s independent music scene, the music of pianist Marcin Masecki (above left) veers from jazz and free improv through the dance and brass band sounds of his native country, to re-interpreting classical music in often unusual settings. On November 14, he teamed up with British jazz pianist Alexander Hawkins, creating musical fireworks on the stage of Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room. On November 15, Masecki played a short solo set reflecting his inspiration from Krzysztof Komeda’s music—this marked the release of a definitive box set entitled Jazz in Polish Cinema (Out of the Underground 1958-67) by Jazz on Film Records, and served as an introduction to the screening of Roman Polański’s 1962 film Knife in the Water (with a score by Komeda) that followed the concert and CD launch.
Called “uncategorizable, beautiful – a real force to be reckoned with” by BBC Radio 2, Polish singer and violinist, songwriter and composer Alice Zawadzki (above center) performed on November 19 in Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room. Her concert included songs from her debut album, China Lane, as well as some brand new songs—revealing influences from New Orleans soul and gospel, her classical training and improvised music. Zawadzki also lent her unique voice to the concert fronted by the Engines Orchestra and the Phil Meadows Group on November 22 at Kings Place.
On Thursday November 20, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko (above right) and his New York Quartet—comprised of pianist David Virelles, bassist Thomas Morgan and drummer Gerald Cleaver—shared the stage at Barbican Hall with Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda. It was a performance of inspirational playing, feisty improvisation and formidable themes derived from Stańko’s acclaimed ECM double album, Wisława—dedicated to the celebrated poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska.
Ivan Hewett of the London Telegraph writes:
Also at the Festival was the multi-national and “astoundingly accomplished” (Daily Telegraph) trio led by Polish pianist Leszek Możdżer (right) with bassist Lars Danielsson and percussionist Zohar Fresco. On Friday November 21 in Cadogan Hall, the trio of Możdżer/ Danielsson/ Fresco shared the stage with expressive Polish vocalist Sylwia Bialas and her recording colleague, Israeli percussionist Asaf Sirkis. The concert brought the contemporary spirit of European jazz to the Festival.
Bob Weir of the UK’s Jazz Journal said of the November 21 concert: “Możdżer’s piano playing is breathtaking—classically trained and Chopinesque in parts but always infused with powerful jazz sensitivity.” Read the full review at www.jazzjournal.co.uk.
Finally, on November 22 at the Polish Jazz Café POSK, virtuoso violinist and saxophonist, composer and arranger Michał Urbaniak returned to the London stage after a formidable career that included work with Komeda’s ground-breaking Polish quintet in the early 60s, a long association with vocalist Ursula Dudziak, and collaborations with Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Marcus Miller—not to mention a telling contribution to Miles Davis’ classic electric album, TUTU. He was joined on stage by guitarist Femi Temowo, bassist Otto Williams, drummer Troy Miller, and longtime collaborator Xantoné Blacq on keyboards and vocals.
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