|Polish Music Newsletter|
February 2016, Vol. 22, No. 2. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
2015 - YEAR IN REVIEW, PT. 2
(June - December)
In 2015, the Katowice-based ensemble Camerata Silesia—one of the best chamber choirs in Europe today—celebrated 25 year of excellence. In September they performed three concerts with the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra in Katowice (NOSPR)—featuring pianist Leszek Możdżer (Sept. 5), guitarist Paco Peña (Sept. 12) and the London Baroque Orchestra (Sept. 6)—which included the following premieres: Krzysztof Baculewski – Refren, Marcin Rupociński – Psalm 96, Sabina Myrczek – Psalm 117, Joanna Wnuk-Nazarowa – Psalm, Przemysław Scheller – Judica me Deus, and Paweł Tomaszewski ‒ Psalm.
The International Festival Wratislavia Cantans (Sept 6-19, Wrocław) celebrated its 50th anniversary, Maestro Tadeusz Strugała’s 80th birthday and 60 years of his artistic activities, and the NFM Orchestra’s 70th anniversary.
On December 10, Sinfonia Varsovia presented a special concert at the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw in celebration of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s 15th anniversary. The orchestra was joined by horn soloist Stefan Dohr performing the World Premiere of Voyski’s Horn Concerto by Chinese composer Dai Bo with conductor Maciej Tworek. Krzystof Penderecki also conducted his own Sinfonietta per archi.
In honor of the 90th birthday of Polish composer, pianist and pedagogue Andrzej Nikodemowicz, the Lublin Section of the Polish Composers’ Union hosted a recital in the Chamber Hall of the Institute of Music of the Maria Skłodowska-Curie University on Dec 10. The program was comprised of classical repertoire by Chopin and Liszt, performed by Michał Drewnowski.
On June 15, 2015, the winners of the 56th edition of the Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers were announced: 1st Prize ($2,500) – Aleksandra Kaca for Smugi cienia for harp, piano and cello and Honorable Mention – Monika Dalach for Tick! - Time (Time is ticking) In memoriam H.M.G. for cello, harp and harpsichord. The jury consisted of Jerzy Bauer - chairman, Zbigniew Baginski - secretary, Krzysztof Baculewski and Sławomir Czarnecki.
On June 24, Ewa Podleś was awarded the coveted Prix Prestige Lyrique l'Orphée d'Or 2015 from the Académie du Disque Lyrique in Paris for two live recordings on the DUX label: Ewa Podleś & Garrick Ohlsson: Live at The Fryderyk Chopin University in Warsaw, and World Opera Stars: Ewa Podleś live with Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra. Other Polish musicians recording on DUX were also honored: the Sinfonia Viva Orchestra and the Poznań Chamber Choir with soloists – Prix Hector Berlioz for Oratorio la morte di San Filippo Neri, and pianist Mariusz Rutkowski, tenors Karol Kozłowski, Dariusz Stachura and Tadeusz Szlenkier, and mezzo Anna Radziejewska – Prix Gerald Moore for Oskar Kolberg composer Vol. 2: Songs.
On Oct 8, renowned Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman received an honorary doctorate from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, in recognition of his popularization of Polish composers in concerts around the world and his spectacular victory at the Chopin Competition 40 years earlier.
On October 14, the Minister of Culture and National Heritage Prof. Małgorzata Omilanowska decorated 23 persons with Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals for Merit in Culture “Gloria Artis.” Amongst those honored were composer Krzesimir Dębski and pianist Jerzy Marchwiński, who both were awarded Silver Medals for Merit in Culture.
The finalists in the 13th Tadeusz Ochlewski Composers' Competition, organized by the Polish Music Publishers (PWM Edition, Kraków), were: Krzysztof Ratajski for Rebounds for 5-part children choir (First prize); Szymon Godziemba-Trytek for A Wonderer’s Song for 3-part children choir (Honorable mention); and Atrament by Piotr Stawarski and Kolebany i Obertas by Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska (recommendations for publication)
On October 20, 2015, the winners of the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition were announced by the 17-person jury, led by Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń: 1st prize (30 000 €) - Seong-Jin Cho(SK); 2nd prize (25 000 €) - Charles Richard-Hamelin(CAN); 3rd prize (20 000 €) - Kate Liu (US); 4th prize (15 000 €) - Eric Lu (US); 5th prize (10 000 €) - Yike (Tony) Yang(CAN); 6th prize (7 000 €) - Dmitry Shishkin(RUS); Honorable Mentions (4000 €) Aljoša Jurinić(CRO), Aimi Kobayashi(JAP), Szymon Nehring(POL), and Georgijs Osokins(LAT).
On November 11, the winners of the fifth edition of IMiT’s “Koryfeusz [Coryphaeus] of Polish Music” award were announced: Personality of the Year: composer Paweł Mykietyn; Music Event of the Year: opening festival of the new NOSPR studio in Katowice by the National Polish Radio Symphonic Orchestra; Merit Award: composer and conductor Stanisław Skrowaczewski. Entitled “Polish Parade,” the gala concert celebrating the winners included works by Henryk Wars, Władysław Szpilman, Jerzy Wasowski, Włodzimierz Nahorny and Włodek Pawlik and featured an impressive list of international soloists
Video game soundtracks contribute greatly to a game’s success in terms of setting its tone and atmosphere for consumers, and the action role-playing video game “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” won over 300 awards in 2015, including “Game of the Year” at the Global Game Awards. The incredible award-winning score of the video game was written by Polish composer Mikołaj Stroiński.
The first Grażyna Bacewicz International Violin Competition was held in Łódź from December 9-13, 2015. The Competition was open to violinists of all nationalities with no age limit. The following prizes were awarded: 1st prize (ex aequo) – Anne Luisa Kramb & Sławomira Wilga; 2nd Prize – Mateusz Makuch; 3rd prize (ex aequo) – Robert Łaguniak & Amelia Maszońska; and Distinction: Roksana Kwaśnikowska. Diplomas for outstanding pianists were also awarded to: Michał Francuz, Hanna Holeksa, Wojciech Kubica, Marcin Sikorski, Krzysztof Stanienda, and Wojciech Wołoszyn.
The UK premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Seven Gates of Jerusalem inspired a four-day festival of Polish culture held at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. The Seven Gates: a Journey of Discovery festival (June 23-26) was filled with works by Polish composers from Szymanowski to Zubel and accompanied by film screenings and works inspired by Polish music.
The Karol Szymanowski Music Days Festival (July 25-August 2) focused this year on Szymanowski’s connections to the Ukraine, where his family’s estate once stood. Highlights were a performance of the two-piano version of Szymanowski’s ballet Harnasie by Joanna Domańska and Andrzej Tatarski (as recorded on DUX 0576) and book promotions with Szymanowski scholar Teresa Chylińska, as well eight different concerts held in the most important landmark buildings in Zakopane.
After 10 years of working together, the Kwadrofonik Ensemble—pianists Emilia Sitarz and Bartłomiej Wąsik and percussionists Magdalena Kordylasińska and Miłosz Pękala—organized the first edition of the Kwadrofonik Festival (September 4-6) at the Polish Radio studios in Warsaw. Conceived as a fresh take on the presentation of contemporary music, it featured Garage Ensemble from Germany and Asamisimasa from Norway, as well as works created by the most interesting international composers, directors and video artists of Generation X and Y.
At the opening of the International Montreal Jazz Festival on June 26, former members of the "12 piece orchestra" and other Canadian colleagues and friends played a tribute for pianist and composer Jan Jarczyk, who passed away on August 3, 2014. Jarczyk’s music also sounded again in Poland during a special memorial concert at the 20th Jubilee Summer Kraków Jazz Festival at Piwnica pod Baranami (June 26–July 31).
For over half a century, the Music Festival in Bydgoszcz (Sept 12 – Oct 4) has closely adhered to its stated aim of promoting Polish music and featuring the greatest artists of the present day. The Festival opened on September 12 with the performance of Paderewski’s massive “Polonia” Symphony then continued with works by Chopin and concerts featuring Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, one of the most original composers of our times, and Krzysztof Penderecki, who continues to redefine the image of Polish contemporary music. In addition, works by Mieczysław Karłowicz, Wojciech Kilar, Witold Lutosławski, Piotr Perkowski, Kontanty Regamey, Karol Szymanowski, Alexandre Tansman, Mikołaj Górecki and Marta Ptaszyńska were heard.
The 4th edition of the Neo Arte – New Music Spectrum Festival featured premieres of compositions from Paweł Szymanski (Poland), Ye Xiaogang (China), and Gabriel Paiuk (Argentina) entitled ‘China-Poland-Argentina’ and a monographic concert of works by Paweł Mykietyn.
After only four editions, the “Discovering Paderewski” International Festival (Nov 5-15, Lviv Opera House) has already become one of the most important cultural events in Ukraine. This year’s program included Polish Folk Song and Dance Ensemble “Mazowsze,” composer and Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki (who conducted received a Doctor of Honoris Causa degree from the Mykola Lysenko Lviv National Music Academy), pianist Adam Wodnicki, conductor and cellist Andrzej Bauer, and the DagaDana ensemble.
The giant 2nd edition of the Ignacy Jan Paderewski International Festival (Nov 6-12, Warsaw) was organized by the Ave Arte Foundation and featured choral pieces performed by the Academic Choir of the University of Warsaw, fragments of Paderewski’s opera Manru performed by soprano Katarzyna Laskowska and tenor Rafał Bartmiński, and a "Paderewski - Jazz Inspirations" program of songs by Paderewski and Stojowski prepared by Krzesimir Dębski, as well as performances by piansts Wojciech Kocyan, Albert Diaz, Xavier Muta, and Melodie Zhao and the Sinfonia Iuventus and Sinfonia Varsovia orchestras, among others.
A significant portion of program of the 2015 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival [HCMF//] (Nov 20-28) was devoted to the extremely lively Polish contemporary music scene, featuring works by Agata Zubel (b. 1978), Jagoda Szmytka (b. 1982), Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988), Zbigniew Karkowski (1968-2013), and Eugeniusz Rudnik (b. 1933), as well as performances by Zubel, sound artist Robert Piotrowicz, psychedelic-folk group Księżyc, and experimental musician Tomasz Mirt.
The Pracownia muzyki tradycyjnej [Traditional Music Laboratory] of the Institute of Music and Dance in Warsaw was founded on June 17 during the conference Przekaz międzypokoleniowy w kulturze tradycyjnej i rola państwa w tym zakresie [Transgenerational transmission in traditional culture and the role of the state in this area] at the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw.
On June 18, at the XXXVIII General Assembly of the Polish Composers' Union (ZKP), internationally renowned composer Krzysztof Penderecki received the first ever title of Honorary President of the Polish Composers' Union. During this General Assembly marking the 70th anniversary of the Union, Mieczysław Kominek was elected president of ZKP, replacing outgoing ZKP President Jerzy Kornowicz who has served since 2003.
With its 26th issue, Glissando Magazine explored the concept of soundscape—our acoustic environment and the world as a vibrant composition, where every sound is a component of the infinitely complex and intricate wholeness—by delving into how we listen, perceive, assign different meanings, imitate, play with, and shape our sonic habitat. This 184-page issue is a collection of 35 texts, of which the New Music in Eastern Europe section is entirely in English.
Contemporary works by several young Polish composers were uploaded to Youtube. These links feature recordings plus musical scores, to facilitate learning and performance of such excellent pieces as: Krzysztof Wołek — Un Claro del Tiempo, Cezary Duchnowski — Parallels, Agata Zubel — Cascando, Tymoteusz Witczak - Cztery Jesienne Haiku, Mateusz Ryczek - 28 days of Moon, and Mateusz Ryczek - Hidden Light
On September 4, 2015, the much-anticipated Narodowe Forum Muzyki [National Forum of Music, or NFM] in Wrocław celebrated its inauguration with performances by the Choir of Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny, the Baroque Orchestra, the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, the Symphonic Orchestra, and the pianist Piotr Anderszewski, among many others.
2nd edition of the “Quick course in contemporary music for everybody,” an open educational project, was presented at the Centre for Contemporary Art at the Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw (October 8-10). The first course had a theme of “Old and Not Old Contemporary Music” (or “From Gregorian Chant to 21st Century”) and featured workshops, rehearsals and concerts performed by lecturers and participants.
Young Polish composer, singer and percussionist Agata Zubel was featured in an article by Ginanne Brownell Mitic, entitled “Agata Zubel, Contemporary Music’s Multiple Threat,” in the prestigious New York Times on October 28.
Anne Strakacz-Appleton died in Sacramento, California on July 31 at 93 years old. She was the only child of Sylwin Strakacz, a career diplomat and longtime secretary to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, as well as Paderewski’s goddaughter, and she grew up in the household of the great pianist and politician. Widow of Louis B. Appleton, Jr., she leaves daughters Amy, Louise and Marguerite and four grandchildren.
On August 3, Adam Walaciński—composer, music critic, retired professor and vice-president of the Music Academy in Kraków—passed away at 87 years old.
The Polish and Taiwanese-Canadian duo of Barbara Misiewicz (cello) Grace Mo (piano) performed program entitled “C H O cello P I N” on August 18 at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
London’s Barbican Centre hosted two important Polish programs in 2015. First, a ‘Total Immersion’ day devoted to composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki hosted by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on October 3, with three concerts of chamber, choral and orchestral music and a discussion with musicologist Adrian Thomas about “Henryk Górecki: Polish Pioneer.” Then on November 24, pianist Simon Trpčeski played a program of Chopin.
OCTAVA ensemble, one of the most interesting vocal groups of the young generation in Poland, presented an exclusive a cappella program entitled “Polish Pure Sounds” on Oct 9 in Chicago, featuring works by: Mikołaj z Krakowa, Grzegorz Gerwazy Górczycki, Mikołaj Górecki, Mikołaj Zieleński, Bartłomiej Pękiel, and more.
In November, the Ensemble KNM Berlin presented two portrait concerts at Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin, Germany featuring young Polish composers: “Pol(s)ka & Kontext mit Wojtek Blecharz” & “Pol(s)ka & Kontext mit Jagoda Szmytka.”
Stanisław Skrowaczewski returned to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Royal Festival Hall on October 31, shortly after his 92nd birthday. Shortly thereafter, the Maestro also celebrated with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, an orchestra with which he has been connected since 1978.
Paderewski Symphony Orchestra in Chicago celebrated the 155th birth anniversary of its patron with a Paderewski Gala at Symphony Center's Orchestra Hall on November 8. The program featured the composer’s own Piano Concerto, with soloist Igor Lipiński, and the monumental Vivace from his Symphony in B Minor.
On Dec 4, Polish musicians Michał Urbaniak and Grażyna Auguścik came together for a concert at the Copernicus Center in Chicago. Although both have lived and performed in the US for most of their careers, collaborating with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world, it was their first concert together ever.
An all-Polish concert, entitled “The Ubiquity of Sound” [Wszechobecność], was performed by the Lutosławski Quartet (Bartosz Woroch and Marcin Markowicz – violins, Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola, and Maciej Młodawski – cello) and the Lutos Air Quintet (Jan Krzeszowiec – flute, Wojciech Merena – oboe, Maciej Dobosz – clarinet, Alicja Kieruzalska – bassoon, and Mateusz Feliński – French horn) with Rafał Łuc – accordion and Maciej Koczur – conductor on Dec 17 in the Sała Czarna of the new National Music Forum in Wrocław. The program, will include new works by Paweł Hendrich (b. 1979): Pteropetros – concerto for accordion, wind quintet and string quartet; Paweł Szymański (b. 1954): Five pieces for string quartet; Rafał Augustyn (b. 1951): Rondeau; and Wojtek Blecharz (b. 1981): A bright empty square for woodwind quintet.
The annual Paderewski Festival Cultural Exchange Program provides annual opportunities for young musicians from California’s Central Coast, Poland’s Małopolska region and the Vinnytsia region in the Ukraine to further their piano studies and perform together, as well as learn about each other’s countries and cultures. This year’s exchange, based at Kąśna Dolna in Poland, was greatly expanded to include excursions to include Radziejowice Palace, Żelazowa Wola and the Fryderyk Chopin Museum in Warsaw. Read a full recap of the 2015 here.
Adam Bala, Director of the Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation, and Marianna Humetska, Artistic Director of that organization’s “Discovering Paderewski” International Festival, visited the Polish Music Center and participated in a fundraiser for the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles in early August. Greater collaboration between these organizations was discussed and has already borne fruit.
This year’s Paderewski Lecture-Recital was a collaboration between the PMC and the USC Thornton Baroque Sinfonia ensemble, headed by Director Adam Knight Gilbert. The program featured rarely-heard vocal and instrumental masterpieces of the Renaissance and early Baroque in Poland. In the process of researching this program, Gilbert and his Baroque Sinfonia team discovered such a wealth of exciting repertoire within the PMC library that they plan to feature Polish music on several more concerts in the next few years.
Thank you to all donors who supported our online “30 for 30” fund drive! We raised over $6,000 – doubling our initial goal, and greatly increasing the impact on our ability to serve our community of scholars, performers and lovers of Polish music. Many of those who gave were new donors, especially students whose studies had been enhanced by our vast resources, and we are so grateful to know that the work we do is impactful and appreciated. Thank you for launching us into the next 30 years of the Polish Music Center!
The 2015 Paderewski Festival (Nov 5-8) once again delivered a great variety of concerts with fascinating music, great ambiance provided by historic venues and charming wineries, and world-famous performers. As Polish flags waved over the streets of Paso Robles, this small town on the Central Coast of California was transported back to the time when Paderewski owned over 3,000 acres of land in the area and transformed both the cultural and agricultural landscape. For four days, such artists as the City of Angels Saxophone Quartet, Motion Trio, Thomas Pandolfi, winners of the 2015 Youth Piano Competition and participants in the 2015 Cultural Exchange Program delighted audiences with rich musical programs and informative spoken interludes.
The manuscript of Jan Jarczyk’s composition, The Bad Time—The Better Times, was donated to the PMC in September by Susan Mendez-Diez, Jan’s first wife.
In September, Frank Harders-Wuthenow, Promotion Executive at the distinguished publishing houses Boosey & Hawkes | Bote & Bock, sent us a large package of CDs with fascinating and rare recordings of music by Polish composers published by EDA Records—selections from that the Poland Abroad series and the En hommage series, Elegy for the Jewish villages, and Complete Piano Sonatas by Krzysztof Meyer— as well as Music by Laks, Słowiński and Pstrokońska-Nawratil (DUX 0737)
This fall, the PMC hosted a 6-week residency for scholar and archivist Robert Górski, in the latest installment in a 5+ year partnership between the Central Directorate of the Polish National Archives (NDAP) in Warsaw and the PMC. This ongoing partnership is co-funded by the NDAP, the PMC, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland. Mr. Górski is perhaps the world’s leading expert on the current contents and location of all of the various parts of the Paderewski that have been scattered around the world since Paderewski’s death, and many exciting discoveries were made as he worked to fit the PMC’s collection into the larger context of all extant Paderewski archives around the world.
In late November and early December, PMC Director Marek Zebrowski was in Poland and Germany, stopping in Warsaw, Pułtusk, Julin, Gorzów Wielkopolski, Kraków, Kąśna Dolna, Berlin and Gdańsk, to meet with a number of government officials and leaders of various civic organizations, as well as colleagues in music publishing, libraries, music schools and universities. Director Zebrowski’s visit was related to the PMC’s operations in Los Angeles as well as to the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and its Cultural Exchange Program, for which Zebrowski serves as Artistic Director.
The opera Czarodziejska Góra [The Magic Mountain] was given its world premiere on June 26 at the Malta Festival in Poznań, Poland. This joint work of four creators—composer Paweł Mykietyn, director and actor Andrzej Chyra, playwright Małgorzata Sikorska-Miszczuk and visual artist Mirosław Bałka—the premiere featured an all-star cast of singers including Agata Zubel, Urszula Kryger, and Jadwiga Rappé.
During the Karol Szymanowski Music Days Festival (July 25 – Aug 2) in Zakopane, there were two premieres: Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska’s String Quartet ‘Mater Dei’ and Mikołaj Górecki’s Trio Concerto for clarinet, horn, piano and strings.
World premieres of pieces by Andrzej Czajkowski – Sonata for viola and piano and Paweł Szymański – Sonata for viola and piano were performed by Maciej Grzybowski (piano) and Krzysztof Chorzelski (viola) on August 17 at the Witold Lutosławski Studio of the Polish Radio during the Chopin and His Europe Festival.
On August 23, the Baltic Philharmonic performed the world premieres of pieces by Polish composers Paweł Pudło - War Horns (the ten French horns concerto) and Paweł Łukaszewski - Arioso for flute and organ. Entitled "Stars present World Premieres," the concert featured renowned soloists from around the world.
On September 4, the World Premiere of Wojtek Blecharz’s Counter-Earth, commissioned by the Bendigo International Festival of Exploratory Music (BIFEM) for clarinetist Aviva Endean, was performed in Australia.
The 58th International ‘Warsaw Autumn’ Festival of Contemporary Music [Warszawska Jesień] happened in Warsaw from September 18-26, 2015. Held annually with only two exceptions since 1956, this unique festival presents the newest music from Poland and beyond, serving as a true witness to music history. World Premieres of Polish works given in 2015 were: Lidia Zielińska – Symfonia koncertująca (Sept. 18), Zygmunt Krauze – Idylla 2 (Sept. 20), Paweł Hendrich – Pteropetros, (Sept. 23), Michał Pawełek – Ephreia(Sept. 23), Szymon Strzelec - L’Atelier de sensorité (Sept. 24), Jagoda Szmytka - LOST (Sept. 25)
The World Premiere of the revised version of Lella, a secular oratorio originally composed in 2011 by Joanna Bruzdowicz, was given during the 15th International Festival of Music in Catalonia (Aug 20-23, Céret, France), for which Bruzdowicz serves as the Artistic Director. It was conducted by the composer, with mezzo-soprano Liliana Górska in the lead role and the Neo Quartet from Gdańsk serving as the core of the small instrumental ensemble.
On October 24, the LutosAir Quintet performed the World Premieres of two new pieces by young Polish composers: Wojtek Blecharz - Hour/Plateau for wind quintet, space, light and video (2015) and Piotr Ślęczek - A Song of the New Order (2015). The concert was held in the Manggha Muzeum during the HMG Festival in Warsaw.
On November 4, the last known composition of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Sanctus Adalbertus, had its World Premiere in Kraków at the ICE Congress Centre. The Górecki premiere as well as the premiere of the celebratory Fanfara by Paweł Mykietyn, which was composed especially for this occasion, crowned the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of PWM Edition. Performers: Wioletta Chodowicz - soprano, Artur Ruciński - baritone, the Polish Radio Choir and Kraków Philharmonic Choir, and Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra with Jacek Kaspszyk - conductor.
Olimpia z Gdańska [Olympia of Gdańsk], a new opera by Polish composer Zygmunt Krauze, will be presented by the Opera Bałtycka in Gdańsk in its World Premiere performance on November 20. The main performers are Anna Mikołajczyk (Stanisława), Jan Monowid (Robespierre), and Monika Ledzion (Olimpia). At right, the composer watches rehearsals with Director Jerzy Lech in the background.
A new choral piece by Paweł Łukaszewski—Veni Sancte Spiritus for Two Unaccompanied Mixed Choirs, dedicated to the memory of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki—was performed by the orchestra and choir of the Kraków Philharmonic for the first time on October 2 at an oratory concert at Kraków Philharmonic Hall.
The Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP)continued to celebrate its 70th anniversary with its annual concert series, Portraits of Composers, focused this year on works by two contemporary Polish composers – Piotr Komorowski and Sławomir Zamuszko. On Dec 7 at the Mazovia Institute of Culture, the World Premiere of two of Komorowski’s works—Sonata for cello and piano and Hidden World for accordion and electronics—were performed by Stanisław Miłek (accordion), Julia Samojło (piano), Tomasz Strahl (cello), Łucja Szablewska-Borzykowska (mezzosoprano), Flute O’Clock and the Opium Quartet.
The world premiere of Pawel Przezwanski’s latest piece, Immer-ten-sion for orchestra and live electronics, dazzled audiences on December 11. Inspired by the contrast drawn between two domains—the cosmos and human existence—the composition was performed by violinist Jan Mráček and the Kalisz Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra during the Amber Road Festival in Kalisz.
In collaboration with William Smialek, former PMC Director Maja Trochimczyk wrote the 2nd Edition of Frédéric Chopin: A Research and Information Guide for the Routledge Music Bibliographies Series (ISBN 978-0-415-99884-0). is an annotated bibliography concerning both the nature of primary sources related to the composer and the scope and significance of the secondary sources which deal with him, his compositions, and his influence as a composer.
The multimedia lexicon Fryderyk Chopin. Life of the creator (National Chopin Institute, Warsaw), by the eminent Chopin scholar Mieczysław Tomaszewski, is an exceptional source of knowledge about the most outstanding Polish composer and is the fruit of many years of research into Chopin’s life and work. The elaborate structure of the lexicon comprises dozens of multi-layered screens, designed in detail by the author, filled with facts from the composer’s life, excerpts from correspondence, quotations and interpretations regarding his music, musical analysis of selected works and a voluminous Chopin bibliography.
In October, the English-language version of Helena Paderewska: Memoirs, 1910-1920 was published by Hoover Institution Press (ISBN: 978-0-8179-1864-4). Edited by Maciej Siekierski, curator of the Hoover Institution Library & Archives at Stanford University, these personal memoirs written by the wife of Ignacy Jan Paderewski give an insider’s view of how the world renowned pianist used his personal fame and charisma to gain access to the top political leadership of France, Britain, and the US and became an eloquent spokesman for the then-occupied country of his birth, as well as Prime Minister after its re-unification.
The Symanowski Companion (Ashgate Publishing) constitutes the most significant and comprehensive reference source to the composer in English. Edited by two of the leading scholars in the field, Paul Cadrin and Stephen Downes, the collection consists of over 50 contributions from an international array of contributors, including recognized Polish experts such as Teresa Chylińska.
'Dream Lake' (CDAccord ACD216) was released by Polish soprano Agata Zubel and Finnish pianist Joonas Ahonen. The disc includes Andrzej Czajkowski’s Seven Shakespeare Sonnets and Witold Lutosławski’s Chantefleurs et Chantefables.
The twin series of symphonies and string quartets stand at the center of Krzysztof Meyer’s achievement as one of the most renowned composers of our time. His mastery of the chamber medium is revealed in the two works—Piano Quartet, Op. 112 and Piano Quintet, Op. 76—performed on this recording by Piotr Sałajczyk, piano, and the Silesian String Quartet (NAXOS 8.573357)
Deutsche Grammophon released a much-anticipated recording of pianist Krystian Zimerman and conductor Sir Simon Rattle performing Witold Lutosławski’s Piano Concerto (a piece the composer dedicated to Zimerman) and Symphony No. 2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker.
In November, the album “Jewish Polish Composers - The Survivors” (Harp & Co. CD5050-37) was released, featuring works for flute with violin, harp and/or viola by Roman Ryterband, Mieczyław Weinberg, and Artur Gelbrun. Organized by harpist Rachel Talitman, the recording also includes performances by Daniel Rubenstein – violin, Marcos Fregnani-Martins – flute, and Pierre Henri Xuereb – viola.
Called “a sonic broom” that “sweep all before them,” Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki and former Artistic Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic, Antoni Wit, again came together as the powerhouse duo for another successful Naxos recording. This latest album features two works that are separated by 35 years—Magnificat (1973/74) and Kadisz (2009)—during which time Penderecki made a decisive break with the post-war European avant-garde. (Naxos 8.572697)
Camerata Vistula and cellist Anna Wróbel recorded “Choralis Passeris – Polish Music for Cello and Strings” (DUX 1220) with works by Krzysztof Herdzin, Mieczysław Karłowicz, Witold Maliszewski, and Piotr Wróbel.
Polish violinist Kinga Augustyn has a new CD, which was recorded live in her adopted home of New York City at the DeMenna Center for Classical Music with pianist Evan Solomon. It's called "The Romantic Violin Recital" and it indeed consists of beautiful, romantic and virtuosic pieces for violin and piano both by Polish composers such as Chopin and Wieniawski, as well as international favorites.
Polish Night Music, the musical collaboration between American filmmaker David Lynch and PMC Director, concert pianist and composer Marek Zebrowski, was released in a heavyweight vinyl LP pressing edition on Nov 13. This album was previously released only as limited-edition, now out-of-print CD in 2008. Read a review of this project at www.theguardian.com.
The release of I.J.Paderewski – Pieśni [Songs] (DUX 1246) filled an important gap in the catalogue of Paderewski’s vocal works. On it, soprano Anna Radziejewska and tenor Karol Kozłowski with pianist Agnieszka Hoszowska-Jabłońska recorded the complete repertoire of Paderewski’s songs for voice and piano.
Founded in 2007, the 2011 Polityka “Passport” Award winning Meccore String Quartet resides among the elite of chamber music ensembles in the world, and October 23 marked the debut of Meccore’s latest CD of Szymanowski & Debussy (Polskie Nagrania/Warner Music Poland).
The 27-year old virtuoso pianist Aleksander Dębicz demonstrated his prodigious musical gifts on his Cinematic Piano CD (Warner Music Poland), exploring various genres of film music and combines them with jazz-inspired improvisational approach and the classical piano tradition to truly astounding effect.
Michał Szymanowski is one of the most promising Polish pianists of the young generation, and he has released his album Piano Recital (CDAccord ACD219, Nov 2015) featuring works by Chopin, Paderewski, Szymanowski and J. Wieniawski
On December 27, vocalist and violist KaroliNa (Karolina Naziemiec) released her new album, Songs of Hope(Rhombus Records), at Vitello’s Restaurant in Los Angeles. She was joined on stage for one set by her fellow recording artists: Tom Ranier – piano, Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz – bass, Larry Koonse – guitar, Alan Kaplan – trombone, Bob Sheppard – saxophone.
PWM AT PMC
From the time Polish Music Center was launched in the mid-1980s, Polskie Wydawnictwo Muzyczne [PWM Editions]—Poland’s largest music publisher—was on our side as one of our great friends and supporters. PMC’s founder and first director, Wanda Wilk, had established a wonderful and productive relationship that continues to blossom for 30 years. A substantial part of our library, including books and scores, came to us from PWM over the past decades.
Thus, it was a real pleasure to welcome the top brass of PWM to the PMC on their recent visit in Los Angeles. Director General Adam Radzikowski and Editor-in-Chief Daniel Cichy stopped by for a tour of PMC on January 15. After being shown around and introduced to our staff, they were shown the most recent archival collections of donated manuscripts and memorabilia relating to Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Zygmunt Stojowski, Bronisław Kaper and Henryk Wars. Thereafter, the PWM delegation toured the PMC Manuscript Collection, housed in the Special Collections at the Doheny Library (pictured at left). Special Collections Archivist Claude Zachary welcomed Director Radzikowski and Dr. Cichy and opened a Feuchtwanger Reading Room lounge for the visitors. Several tables were laid out with manuscripts by Lutosławski, Baird, Bacewicz, Meyer, and other leading contemporary Polish composers, and the PWM delegation carefully studied these rare documents at length, marveling at the strength and breadth of the PMC’s Manuscript Collection.
A quick tour of the USC campus followed, with the Thornton School of Music, the Paderewski monument, and the film school on the itinerary. After lunch the visitors returned to PMC headquarters in Stonier Hall to discuss upcoming joint initiatives that include a planned publication of Lutosławski’s biography in English and PWM’s reissue of selected works from Zygmunt Stojowski’s catalogue held at PMC.
Later that weekend, Mariusz Brymora, Consul General of the Republic of Poland, hosted Dir. Radzikowski, Dr. Cichy and Polish artists performing at Disney Hall on January 19—Łukasz Borowicz, Paweł Mykietyn and Agata Zubel—at an exclusive dinner party at the residence. Officials from the LA Philharmonic and representatives of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute were also on hand. On this occasion PMC was represented by Assistant Director Krysta Close and Marek Zebrowski who, together with the hosts, toasted a very productive and successful visit of Polish musicians and Polish music promotors in Southern California.
MORE IN THE RYTERBAND COLLECTION
The daughter of composer Roman Ryterband, Diana Eisele, stopped by the PMC on January 25 to deliver another installment in the Roman Ryterband collection. This latest addition is likely to be the final delivery of classical compositions by the Ryterband—future additions will be focused on his popular music and personal items.
OTHER RECENT DONATIONS
From violinist Kinga Augustyn (1 CD):
From singer Grażyna Auguscik (1 CD):
PADEREWSKI FESTIVAL BOARD MEMEBER HONORED AS ARTS PHILANTHROPIST
From the Paso Robles Daily News (January 2, 2016):
PENDERECKI PREMIERE IN GDAŃSK
The project "Penderecki - a cappella" was initiated by the Polish Chamber Choir in 2011, when they began their exploration of the wonderful contemporary choral works of Krzysztof Penderecki. On January 30, 2016, the choir presented a Monographic Concert of Krzysztof Penderecki, during which ten of his works were performed by the choir under the direction of conductor Jan Łukaszewski. Penderecki himself attended the concert to witness the Polish premiere of Psalm No. 3 and the world premiere of Christmas pastorale My też pastuszkowie [We the Shepherds].
ANDRZEJ KWIECIŃSKI PREMIERE
On January 21, the Lutoslawski Quartet (Bartosz Woroch and Marcin Markowicz – violins, Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola, and Maciej Młodawski – cello) performed three different string quartets in the Red Hall of the new National Forum of Music in Wrocław. The program included Andrzej Kwieciński’s String Quartet,and that of their patron, Witold Lutosławski, as well as that of Dmitri Shostakovich. The contrast between 20th and 21st century Polish music was accented in this concert as well as the individual composer’s style and technique.
MARCIN GUMIELA PREMIERE
Co-organized and co-financed by the Institute of Music and Dance, the 21st edition of the International Days of Religious Film “Sacrofilm” Festival took place at the Stylowy Film Culture Centre in Zamość, Poland. During the opening event of the Festival on January 30, Marcin Gumiela’s Concerto for Accordion and Orchestra was premiered by the Karol Namyslowski Symphony Orchestra, featuring solo accordionist Stanisław Milek and conducted by Tadeusz Wicherek. The concert also included music from Robert Wichrowski’s documentary film Ostatnia Droga [The Last Road].
The general opinion is that anyone can criticize others. A deeper reflection and careful assessment reveals that the phenomenon of musical critique is a rare ability. Even more rare is the ability to make an original judgment in such a way that it attracts attention of casual readers. The KROPKA Polish Music Critic Competition seeks to evaluate and promote the critics who devote themselves to music by placing their work among the most important elements of today’s reality – ones that allow us to discern and actively participate in it. Now in its second edition, KROPKA [Period] is a competition, which – despite its name – has nothing to do with termination. The aim of the competition is to show criticism as a process, work that is done not only by established career critics but also by young, developing authors, and by those who have gained experience in the field. KROPKA is open to authors who work in Poland as well as those who write about Polish music abroad, whether in academic journals or online, in zines or opinion magazines.
To take part in the competition please send your papers to email@example.com. The deadline is February 22, 2016.
Results will be announced on April 15, 2016, followed by an award ceremony on May 12, 2016 at PWM, the Polish Music Publishing House in Kraków. Competition regulations and more information can be found at fundacjameakultura.pl/kropka.
Prizes (statuettes and diploma) will be awarded in three categories:
- First Prize for the best text about music published in 2015 – three equivalent awards will be given in this category.
- Distinctions: for a debutant, i..e., a person who has not completed studies related to music and does not work professionally in the field of journalism; and for a blogger or a person who maintains a Polish weblog about music
- Special Award for a text on Polish music published outside the country.
Other awards introduced for the 2015 edition:
- Piotr Metz Individual Award for article about popular music
- Editor in Chief of PWM House Award
- Foundation MEAKULTURA Award for outstanding achievements in the field of music criticism
First Prize is intended to honor and bring to a wider audience individuals who are important for Polish music criticism and who are often undervalued or simply unknown outside a small circle of listeners of one type of music. The aim of the competition is the development of appropriate models for music criticism by promoting authorities in this field and increasing the level of criticism, which, in popular media, is often written by incompetent people. The purpose of the competition is also drawing attention to young authors for whom it is often very difficult to find their place in this environment. KROPKA provides an excellent opportunity for the young generation of critics to demonstrate their skills to a wider audience.
The Distinctions are a chance for enthusiasts of criticism to test their abilities and to confront with other authors. Their achievements will be evaluated by the outstanding specialists in the field of music critic. Blogging is becoming an increasingly popular way of sharing opinions about music as well. However, it is often marginalized in the general perception—KROPKA seeks to change this perception and show appreciation for this form of expression.
The Special Award is addressed to authors who do not have Polish citizenship and publish articles beyond the Polish border. This category is supposed to present the achievements of foreign musicologists and journalists who have devoted their work to researching and promoting Polish music in the world, and knowledge about them in our country is often minimal.
The KROPKA Organizing Committee is made up of Polish scientists, doctoral students and outstanding students of the humanities. The Jury consists of remarkable personalities that shape the most important events of cultural life in Poland. KROPKA is organized by the Meakultura Foundation and supported by the Polish Society of Authors and Composers ZAiKS.
All critical writers, as well as related institutions and companies, are invited to participate in and support KROPKA, in order to raise the level of music journalism for all.
[Sources: press release, fundacjameakultura.pl/kropka]
BALTIC PHILHARMONIC IN CALIFORNIA
The Filharmonia Bałtycka [Baltic Philharmonic] is making an extensive tour of the United States this winter, beginning with an appearance in Florence, Alabama on January 14 on the campus of University of Northern Alabama. The program featured Wagner’s Overture to The Flying Dutchman, Rimsky-Korsakoff’s Scheherazade, and Wieniawski’s Violin Concerto No. 2 with soloist Jarosław Nadrzycki. The concert was led by Bogusław Dawidow.
The orchestra will also perform in Huntsville and Anniston, Alabama as well as in many cities in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, and Kansas. By March 9, the musicians will be in California and are scheduled to perform at the Cohan Performing Arts Centre at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, where the featured soloist, Marcin Koziak, will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. The Baltic Philharmonic will also appear at the Marin Center in San Rafael on March 12, the Harris Center in Folsom on March 13, the Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa on March 15, and the McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert on March 16.
The tour then continues to Las Vegas, Grand Junction, and Beaver Creek in Colorado before the orchestra returns to Poland on March 20. Besides Maestro Dawidow, other conductors appearing with the Baltic Philharmonic include Ernst van Tiel and Massimiliano Caldi.
[Source: press release/tour calendar from producer Andrew S. Grossman]
PANUFNIK PREMIERED IN SPAIN
The Spanish premiere of Andrzej Panufnik’s Lullaby [Cación de cuna] will be performed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia and conducted by Maestro Antoni Wit in Santiago de Compostela this month. The program also consists of Karlowicz’s Violin Concerto in A Major as well as Dvora’s Sinfonia No.8 in G Major for violin, which will be performed by violinist Alexandra Kuls.
Thursday, February 4, 2016 | 9:00 p.m.
La Batuta de Antoni Wit
Avda. Burgo das Nacións, s/n
15705 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Tickets & Info: rfgalicia.org
NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL FOR KULENTY
Polish composer Hanna Kulenty has a new official YouTube channel. Here visitors will find full versions of nearly all of her compositions, performed by such excellent ensembles as: Kronos Quartet, ensemble ‘de ereprijs’, trumpeter Marco Blaauw, NOSPR, Wrocław Chamber Orchestra “Leopoldinum,” and many more. There are already around 75 works available—categorized by works for symphony orchestra, stage and opera, solo instruments, duo and trio, ensemble, percussion, and quartet and quintet—and new works will be added regularly.
Hanna Kulenty (born on March 18, 1961 in Białystok, Poland) is a Polish composer of contemporary classical music. Since 1992 she has lived both in Warsaw (Poland) and in Arnhem (The Netherlands). From 1980 to 1986 she studied composition with Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Chopin Music Academy in Warsaw. From 1986 to 1988 she studied composition with Louis Andriessen at the Royal Conservatory of Music in The Hague. She participated in several summer courses in contemporary music composition in Kazimierz and Darmstadt, including lectures by lannis Xenakis, Witold Lutosławski, Thomas Kessler and François Bernard Mâche. Kulenty’s compositions are published by the Dutch publishing house Donemus.
In 1985 Kulenty was awarded the second prize of the European Young Composers’ Competition organized in Amsterdam with Ad Unum for orchestra (1985). In 1987 she was awarded the second prize by the Young Composers’ Competition of the Polish Composers’ Union [ZKP] with Ride for 6 percussionists (1987). She was also awarded prizes in the Composers’ Competition from the Warsaw branch of ZKP: Quinto for 2 piano’s (1986), first prize; Breathe for string orchestra (1987), first prize; Cannon for violin and piano (1988), third prize; aaa TRE for viola, cello and double bass (1988), second prize 1989. In 2003 her Trumpet Concerto (2002) won the first prize at UNESCO’s 50th International Rostrum of Composers, for which she received the UNESCO Mozart Medal from the International Music Council. Her compositions Preludium, Postludium and Psalm for cello and accordion (2007) and String Quartet No. 3 - Tell me about it (2008), were respectively chosen among the ten best Dutch compositions of 2007 and 2008 during the ‘Toonzetters’ contest in Amsterdam.
Read Kulenty’s full biography at www.hannakulenty.com
Maestro Grzegorz Nowak continues his busy concert schedule this winter. On February 6-7 Nowak presented three concerts at the Festival La Folle Journée in Nantes, France with Sinfonia Varsovia, conducting works by Field, Knecht, Stamitz, Gang Chen/He Zhan Hao, and Casals, as well as Noskowski’s The Steppes.
On February 18 Nowak leads the Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia in Madrid with the program of Ravel and Mussorgsky, and Brahms’s First Piano Concerto with American pianist Eric Liu, a finalist in the 2015 Chopin Competition in Warsaw. In early March 2016 Maestro Nowak will be in Cagliari, Italy to conduct and all-Beethoven program with Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman as soloist.
More information on Grzegorz Nowak at his newly updated Parker Artists website.
February 6-7, 2016
Maestro Grzegorz Nowak & Sinfonia Varsovia
Festival La Folle Journée
February 18, 2016
Maestro Grzegorz Nowak & Eric Liu
Orquesta Clásica Santa Cecilia
[Sources: press release, parkerartists.com]
mUltimate Chopin is a modern Internet platform presenting all the available sources of the works of Fryderyk Chopin. Developed by Paweł Kamiński, editor of the Chopin National Edition, in co-operation with the editorial team of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute as part of the Digital Heritage program. This application has been especially designed to enable browsing, analyzing and comparing digitalized sources, and offers instant access to commentaries on all the problematic places. System users are able to closely follow the editing process and make their own decisions (e.g. related to the choice of variants) on the basis of the photocopied sources made available.
KRAKÓW PHIL – WEINBERG TRUMPET CONCERTO
Conducted by Charles Olivieri-Munroe, the Kraków Philharmonic will presents a concert featuring Russian trumpeter Sergei Nakariakov on February 12-13. Known as the “Paganini of the trumpet” after an exceptional performance at 13 years old, Nakariakov has traveled extensively to expand his range of classical literature for the trumpet. He has performed in many of the world’s leading centers of music and has collaborated with the world's most fêted musicians, orchestras and conductors. The Kraków Philharmonic program will include Elsana Gabaraeva’s The Magic Pearl, Mieczysław Weinberg's (above) Trumpet Concerto in B flat major, Op. 94, and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 3 in E flat major “Eroica,” Op. 55.
February 12 & 13, 2016 | 7:30 p.m. & 6:00 p.m.
Symphonic Concert with Nakariakov feat. Weinberg Trumpet Concerto
Zwierzyniecka 1, Kraków, Poland
Admission: 25 – 45 zł
Tickets & Info: filharmonia.krakow.pl
4th INTERNATIONAL COMPOSERS COMPETITION
The Centre of Artistic Education at the Gorzów Philharmonic announces the 4th International Composers Competition. The idea of Competition is to promote artistic creation and to support composers’ individual approaches to contemporary music. The Competition aims to popularize the fascinating and rich world of sounds.
The previous three editions (2013-2015) were addressed to young Polish composers up to 35. This year’s fourth edition of the Competition resigns from the age limitation and opens the opportunity for composers of all nationalities to submit their work.
Application submission deadline:
31 MARCH 2016
All works submitted to the 4th International Composers Competition will be rated by the jury comprised of recognized composers and artists: Zygmunt Krauze (Poland) – Chairperson; Edward Artemyev (Russia); Dariusz Przybylski (Poland); and Monika Wolińska (Poland).
More details about the contest can be found in the Competition Regulations at filharmoniagorzowska.pl
RÓŻEWSKA – US DEBUT IN SACRAMENTO AREA
Outstanding Polish pianist and laureate Joanna Różewska will perform for the very first time in the US. The concert is organized by the Polish American Club of Greater Sacramento and will be held at the Club’s Community Hall on March 5. The program will consist solely of Chopin’s works, in celebration of what would be the composer’s 206th birthday.
Różewska was born in 1988 in Siedlce, Poland. She began her piano studies at the age of 8 and, in 2012, she graduated with distinction from the F. Chopin University of Music in Warsaw in the class of Prof. Elżbieta Tarnawska. She has extensively performed Chopin’s pieces as part of her repertoire and in many Polish and international concerts and competitions. She played for the President of Poland, Turkey, the Queen of Norway, the Prince of Wales, the Prime Minister of China and Ukraine, and has received scholarships from the Ministry of Culture, the National Children Fund and the President of Siedlce. In 2012 she received the Young Poland scholarship for CD recording.
Saturday, March 5, 2016 | 6:00 p.m.
Chopin Concert with Joanna Różewska
Polish American Community Hall
327 Main St., Roseville, CA
Admission: General $15; Students $10
Tickets & Info: 916‐425‐7894 or polish‐club.org
PADEREWSKI INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION DEADLINE
Pianists of all nationalities born between 1984-2000 are invited to participate in the Paderewski International Piano Competition (Nov. 6-20, 2016) in Bydgoszcz, the most prestigious piano competition in Poland after the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. The Competition is organized by the Paderewski Music Association to commemorate Ignacy Jan Paderewski, a remarkable pianist, virtuoso, composer, politician and statesman. Laureates of the Paderewski Competition take home prizes totaling 62,000 euros and are also awarded recital opportunities that include the Gala Concert of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA.
Deadline for application submission:
May 15, 2016
UNUSUAL POLISH FOLK INSTRUMENTS
Ligawka. Storytellers and musicians contest in Bukowina Tatrzańska, 1973.
Photo: The Ethnographic Museum / East News. Source: culture.pl
Culture.pl, the website of Poland’s Adam Mickiewicz Institute, recently published an interesting article about the 8 most unusual instruments used in Polish folk music dating back to the 11th century: the ligawka, hurdy-gurdy, cart rattle, devil’s fiddle, suka, burczybas, pedal accordion, and vessel. In contrast to their unappealing names, these instruments emanate stunning sounds through simple mechanisms, not unlike many classical instruments today. Traditionally, several of these instruments were used for religious purposes, like the Ligawka, which was used to signal the coming of Advent, or the cart rattle that was played during Holy Week in place of church bells. Today, they can be heard in Polish contemporary folk music – most commonly, the hurdy-gurdy, the burczybas, and the suka. The pedal accordion, highly popular in the Mazowsze region, can also be cited in Kapela Kurpiowska z Kadzidła’s music among other modern folk groups.
SWIATKIEWICZ RECEIVES PASSPORT AWARD
The 2015 “Passport” Awards were announced on January 12, 2016. This year’s nominees for the coveted award—given annually to scores of professionals by the weekly magazine Polityka since 1993—were the youngest batch in its over 20 year history. During the ceremony, held at the Grand Theatre of the Polish National Opera in Warsaw, many past winners of the award were on hand to announce and support the 2015 laureates.
Harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz received the honor in the 2015 Classical Music category in recognition of his "sensitivity and musical erudition, brilliant interpretations and versatility, which allow him to contribute creativly both as an outstanding soloist as well as in Baroque ensembles in Poland and abroad.” Other artists nominated in the same category were singer Barbara Kinga Majewska and pianist Krzysztof Książek. Awards were also announced in the categories of Literature, Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, Stage, and Creator of Culture.
WINNERS OF 2016 ‘MUSICA SACRA NOVA’
On February 6, 2016 the jury of the 12th International Composition Competition "Musica Sacra Nova" gathered in Cambridge to select winning works out of 30 submitted applications. The jury was: Marian Borkowski (Poland) – chairman, Andrea Angelini (Italy), Vaclovas Augustinas (Lithuania), Don Vincenzo de Gregorio (Italy), Stephen Layton (Great Britain), Jaakko Mäntyjärvi (Finland), Jan Łukaszewski (Poland).
The prizes were awarded in 2 categories. All awarded compositions will be performed and recorded at the "Musica Sacra Nova" Festival in Brauweiler, Germany, and presented at the concerts in Cambridge, Vilnius and Gdańsk.
YMFE SCHOLARSHIPS AWARDS
The results of the Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe 2016 Scholarship Competition in the "string instruments" category were announced on February 8, 2016. The event was hosted by the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań.
The scholarships were granted to:
The presentations of the candidates were evaluated by the jury: Prof. Łukasz Błaszczyk (Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź), Prof. Mariusz Derewecki (Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań), Prof. Zdzisław Łapiński (Academy of Music in Krakow), Prof. Piotr Reichert (Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw), Prof. Leszek Sokołowski (Białystok Campus of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw).
2ND INTERNATIONAL VIOLIN FESTIVAL
The 2nd International Violin Festival, organized by the Toruń Symphony Orchestra, will begin on February 14 this year and will continue until the end of the month. Various concerts, recitals, exhibitions, lectures, film screenings, competitions, and workshops of prominent violinists will be held throughout the festival in Toruń. The opening concert will feature performances by violinist Soyoung Yoon and the Toruń Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Mirosław Błaszczyk.
The entire festival program can be found on violintorun.tos.art.pl.
2ND EDITION OF VOICE AT DUSK
After the success of the first Voices at Dusk festival last year, the Verita Nostra Agency has decided to organize another festival this year, allowing audiences to revel in classical, jazz, and pop music once again. This year, the festival will run for nine consecutive Sundays–a week longer than last year’s edition–and will feature concerts with both well-known and newly composed songs with special arrangements for a dynamic and diverse experience.
The audience can expect to enjoy performances by pianists Maksym Rzemiński, Bogdan Hołownia, and Piotr Wrombel, saxophonists Mariusz "Fazi" Mielczarek and Maciej "Kocin" Kociński, vocalists Jarek Wist and Kuba Molęda, cellist Barbara Piotrowska, and bassist Wojciech Pulcyn.
January 10 – February 7, 2016 | 6:00 p.m.
2nd Edition of Voices At Dusk
3 Mysia Street, 00-001 Warsaw, Poland
Admission is 40 – 160 pln.
Tickets & Info: veritanostra.pl
SZYMANOWSKI & LUTOSLAWSKI WITH LIEBREICH & NOSPR
Szymanowski: Symphony No. 2 / Lutosławski: Livre / Musique funèbre
A new recording of Szymanowski’s Second Symphony and two works by Lutosławski (Livre pour orchestre and Musique funèbre) was just published by Accentus Music in cooperation with the Polish Radio. It features the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] led by Maestro Alexander Liebreich. This is one of the very first recordings made in the new and splendid concert hall of this Katowice-based orchestra.
Reviewing this CD Dorota Szwarcman admitted that although she thought Szymanowski’s Second was “impossible to listen to,” the Symphony “had to find a conductor from Munich in order to discover the beauties of this work that were inspired by Richard Strauss.” As to the interpretation of Lutosławski on this recording, Ms. Szwarcman favorably compared Liebreich’s Livre pour orchestra to the legendary Jan Krenz interpretations and praised the NOSPR strings in their reading of Lutosławski’s Musique funèbre.
PIANO RECITAL BY M. SZYMANOWSKI
Piano Recital: Michał Szymanowski
Michał Karol Szymanowski is one of the most promising Polish pianists of the young generation. He was born in 1988 in Bydgoszcz into a musical family. He graduated with honors from the F. Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, where he studied piano with Katarzyna Popwa-Zydroń and orchestra and opera conducting with Zygmunt Rychert. At present, he continues his piano education as a doctoral student at his alma mater. He is simultaneously developing his skills with Eldar Nebolsin at the Hochschule fur Musik Hanns Eisler in Berlin.
CONTEMPORARY POLAND UNDER THE GREEN UMBRELLA
The Green Umbrella series featuring concerts of contemporary music is one of the Los Angeles Philharmonic’s most attractive calling cards. John Adams, a distinguished composer and creative chair for the series, described the Green Umbrella Series as “… the longest running contemporary music series of any symphony orchestra in the country and, quite possibly, of any [other] organization.”
The January 19 program—supported by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of their “Polska Music” initiative—featured a fascinating cross section of styles and genres, ranging from Krzysztof Penderecki’s Sinfonietta No. 2 for clarinet and strings to the premiere of Agata Zubel’s Chapter 13 for soprano and instrumental ensemble. Spanning the works of the octogenerian Penderecki and the 37 year-old Zubel, the evening’s offerings also included Musique scintillante by Krzysztof Meyer (b. 1943), Quasi una sinfonietta by Paweł Szymański (b. 1954), and 3 for 13 by Paweł Mykietyn (b. 1971).
Meyer’s Musique scintillante provided a very energetic and festive opening for the concert. Scored for an ensemble of 14 players (single strings, winds, piano and percussion), its toccata-like, strongly driven sections alternated with sensuously bluesy brass interludes. Symphonic in scope in spite of relatively modest performing forces, Musique scintillante indeed proved dazzling in its refined sound textures and solid formal construction, delivering a powerful experience for the Disney Hall audience on this work’s U.S. premiere.
Paweł Mykietyn’s 3 for 3 was next in the line-up. It provided lots of contrast with Meyer’s distinctive take on contemporary musical language. Written in 1994 and premiered by Sinfonia Varsovia in 1995, Mykietyn’s three-movement work is scored for almost the same ensemble as Meyer’s piece. Yet, in Mykietyn’s 3 for 3 orchestral textures and color palette were much more diffuse and, as a result, the composer’s approach to atomizing musical thoughts into fleeting fragments (often recalling Bach, whether in spirit or literally) alternated between mesmerizing and commonplace, much to the audience’s amusement.
The LA Philharmonic’s Associate Principal Burt Hara was the soloist in Penderecki’s Sinfonietta No. 2 for clarinet and strings, the work that closed the first half of the concert. Hara’s virtuosity and heartfelt musicianship were on display in abundance, lending much substance to the otherwise rather conventional work from an acknowledged master of the Polish avant-garde in the 1960s and 1970s.
Agata Zubel—both the composer and soloist in Chapter 13, a work commissioned by the LA Philharmonic and world-premiered on this occasion—brought lots of energy interspersed with a strong dose of levity in her playful take on a chapter from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s celebrated book, Le Petit Prince. Translated into the English with texts projected overhead, Zubel’s spirited take on the Prince’s chat with a businessman counting the stars in the sky can be safely counted among many strong points of this composition.
Paweł Szymański’s Quasi una sinfonietta closed the January 19 concert. This work—a precursor and very likely a model for Mykietyn’s 3 for 3 heard earlier in the evening—inhabits the same world of musical quotations which are re-examined by restatements of well-worn musical mannerisms. The overwhelmingly bleak world of Szymański’s music has a peculiar attraction that, alas, also has a tendency to fade with repeated exposure. Nonetheless, the Disney Hall audience gave a very enthusiastic response, clearly demonstrating approval and gratitude for the presentation of music that too infrequently reaches California’s shores. A prolonged standing ovation for the music and the performers—led by the truly excellent and musically unassailable Maestro Łukasz Borowicz—engenders hope that similar concerts will be staged by Los Angeles Philharmonic and other orchestras and ensembles in this part of the world in the near future.
400 YEARS OF VIOLIN MUSIC
On January 29, distinguished violinist Stefan Plewniak presented a program entitled 400 Years of Violin Music, outlining the history and development of violin music, at the National Museum in Szczecin. The program was commissioned by the Academy of Early Music Foundation, for whom Plewniak is serving as artist-in-residence for the 2015-16 season. Plewniak has collaborated in many ensembles, such as Le Concert des Nations in Barcelona, Les Arts Florissants in Paris, and Marguerite Louise France Ensemble, and has performed as a soloist in many festivals across Europe, the United States, and Canada. The concert showcased not only his talents but was also a tribute to violin works by Johann Sebastian Bach, Grażyna Bacewicz, Krzysztof Baculewski, Arcangelo Corelli, Fritz Kreisler, Niccolo Paganini, Antonio Vivaldi and Henryk Wieniawski.
SAVE THE MUSIC
Organized by the MEAKULTURA Foundation, the “Save the Music” campaign had its first press conference on January 27 at PWM Edition in Warsaw, to introduce its upcoming activities, including exhibitions, concerts and fashion shows. The aim of “Save the Music” is to shed light on underrated artists and composers, and to promote music and visual arts, regardless of genre. Already a wide range of outstanding professionals— artists, journalists, and scientists alike—support “Save the Music” and are involved as ambassadors for the program. One of the first events involves a presentation of CONFASHION clothes designed by Kinga Król, and graphic installments by Max Skorwider, featuring the following artists: Frederic Chopin, Hanka Ordonówna, Astor Piazzolla, Maria Callas, John Cage, Frank Zappa, Ella Fitzgerald, Enrico Caruso, Marlene Dietrich, Ludwig van Beethoven, Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, Frank Sinatra and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina.
For more information or how to get involved, visit their website savethemusic.eu.
WITEK INAUGURATES PADEREWSKI CONCERT SERIES
Pianist Przemysław Witek, winner of numerous international piano competitions, performed a program of solo works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff at the Paderewski Music Academy in Poznań. His January 13 recital inaugurated a new series of concerts at the Music Academy that will feature its young piano faculty, including Małgorzata Sajna-Mataczyńska (February 26), Jacek Kortus (March 23), Joanna Marcinkowska (April 2), Piotr Żukowski (April 29) and Piotr Szychowski (May 11).
See an interview with the pianist at wtkplay.pl.
Boguslaw Kaczynski passed away in Warsaw on January 21. He was 73. Not only was he a journalist, music theorist, popularizer of opera and operetta, TV presenter, and author of many TV broadcasts, but Kaczynski was also the founder of the Jan Kiepura European Festival in Krynica and world-famous Music Festivals in Łańcut. Between 1994 and 1998, he also served as the artistic director of ROMA Music Theatre in Warsaw. His successes are highlighted by the amount of admiration and the impact that he has made on overall industry as cited from the external news service of Polish Radio:
“Ewa Iżykowska, rector of the Frederic Chopin Music University in Warsaw, says that Kaczyński’s love of opera began after taking lessons from the great soprano Ada Sari: “One could say that he was the father of the operatic community in Poland; who dedicated his life to promoting classical music and in particular opera [and] Polish singers.”
Sławomir Pietras, former director of several operatic theatres, adds: “His television career led millions of people in Poland to be interested in the art of opera. Perhaps not everyone started going to the opera but they perceived him as an authority, someone who could talk about opera in an attractive way; he was an authority of whom opera directors were afraid, […] there were no compromises with him in art.”
Polish Radio Two's Aleksander Laskowski says: “He was wonderful in what he did because of his charisma, knowledge, eloquence and great charm, which attracted crowds of people to music in an inimitable way... and he knew how to talk to people about music, responsibly. “He knew all of the greatest artists, starting with Luciano Pavarotti. He had the ability to talk to these great people, which also required knowledge. Because artists are finely tuned to any falseness, whether in compliments or plain conversation, and he never struck a false note.”
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Layout Assistance: Thuy Le, Charles Bragg
Translation Assistance: Marek Żebrowski
Grzegorz Nowak, Martin, Majoor, Marlena Wieczorek, Marek Żebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute, PWM,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Formatting by Krysta Close, February 17, 2016.
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