|Polish Music Newsletter|
2016 - YEAR IN REVIEW, PT. 1
(January - June, 2016)
The Witold Lutosławski Festival "Chain XIII" (January 31 - February 13, 2016) was held in Warsaw, featuring five symphonic and chamber music programs and celebrating the important anniversaries of two great Polish maestros: Jan Krenz (90 years) and Jerzy Maksymiuk (80 years). On February 6, the world premiere of Lutosławski’s Interludes for oboe and bassoon, which the composer worked on throughout the war, was presented by a stellar group of chamber musicians from Warsaw.
On March 16, the world premiere of Missa Solemnis ad Honorem Sancti Joannis Pauli II by Marta Ptaszyńska took place in Warsaw, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Warsaw University (now called the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music). The composition was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s book entitled Meditations.
The Polish Arts and Culture Foundation (1966-2016) celebrated its 50th anniversary this year from April 30 to May 13, with several events co-organized in honor of its Founder, the late Mme. Wanda Tomczykowska, and the 50 remarkable years of promoting Polish culture in the Bay Area and beyond that she launched by starting the PACF.
The Festival of Seven Trends and Concert of Seven Premieres (June 19-26, 2016 ) celebrated the 70th anniversary of ZKPand featured seven commissioned works by seven composers representing seven generations. Maestro Wim Boerman and his ensemble, Orkest de ereprijs, gave the world premieres of solo concertos by the following composers with their corresponding soloists: Piotr Tabakiernik (b. 1986) – Andrzej Bauer (cello); Paweł Hendrich (b. 1979) – Leszek Lorent (percussion); Aleksander Kosciow (b. 1974) – Agata Zubel (soprano); Jarosław Siwiński (b. 1964) – Zdzisław Piernik (tuba); Tadeusz Wielecki(b. 1954) – Frank Peters (piano); Zygmunt Krauze (b. 1938) – Zygmunt Krauze (detuned piano); Zbigniew Penherski (B. 1935) – Paweł Gusnar (saxophone).
On January 9, opera singer Mariusz Kwiecień and musicologist Alistair Wightman received the 2015 Karol Szymanowski Foundation Annual Award. The jury members (Teresa Chylińska, Agnieszka Chwiłek, Zofia Helman – chairperson, Witold Karol Juchniewicz, Eugeniusz Knapik and Zdzisław Szakiewicz) awarded Kwiecień in recognition of his interpretation of the role of Król Roger [King Roger] and promoting Karol Szymanowski’s opera worldwide, whereas Alistair Wightman received the award for his publications and studies on Karol Szymanowski's compositions.
On January 12, the coveted “Passport” Awards for 2015 were announced. Harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz received the honor in the 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.”
The Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe 2016 Scholarships in the "string instruments" category were announced on February 8, 2016 at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Student winners from around Poland were: Amelia Maszońska (violin), Maciej Kułakowski (cello), Sławomira Wilga (violin), and Aleksander Daszkiewicz (violin).
In February, Polish composer Piotr Moss was promoted to title of Officer in the “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. A resident of Paris since 1981 and a holder of the title of “Chevalier” in the same order since 2000, Moss has long been recognized by the French government for his contributions to French culture.
On March 31, Pawel Gancarczyk received the 23rd edition of the Prix des Muses award in Paris, an honor given annually by the Foundation Singer-Polignac, distinguishing the best French-language books on jazz, and classical and traditional music. His book, La musique et la révolution de l’imprimerie explores the impact of invention of printing in the 16th century on musical culture and production as a new medium.
Polish-Canadian mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sądej won first prize in the Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Competition in May. The memorial scholarship was established in 1979 by Virginia Fletcher Hawk, in memory of her daughter Susan, and has been awarded annually to outstanding vocalists.
The 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition took place on May 9 – 14 in Warsaw and awarded Salome Jicia (Georgia) - 1st prize in female category and Andrzej Filończyk (Poland) - 1st prize in male category. Juror Peter Mario Katona, casting director at the Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, said the 2016 edition gathered singers presenting an extremely high level of performing ability.
120 violins from 23 different countries participated in the 13th International Henryk Wieniawski Competition in May. The first prize and Grand Prix was awarded to Ji Hwan Park (South Korea). Among the winners was also a Polish luthier Krzysztof Krupa, who was awarded second prize ex aequo.
On June 14, the 2016 winners of ZKP’s Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers were announced at the Warsaw headquarters of Polish Music Publishers PWM. They were: GRAND PRIZE: Trobey Pastora by Jakub Szafrański and Honorable Mentions: Jako cień są nasze dni[Our Days are Like a Shadow] by Marek Raczyński, Reis Gloriasby Wojciech Trębicki, ...w okropnościach widzenia nocnego... [...in the horrors of the night…] by Michał Malec, and Carmen Perpetuum by Aleksandra Chmielewska. The winning compositions were performed by proMODERN vocal sextet.
The album Szymanowski & Debussy (Warner Music Poland, Sept 2015) performed by Meccore String Quartet won the Supersonic Award from Pizzicato classical music magazine (Luxembourg), which acknowledged Meccore as one of the best string quartets in Europe.
On June 2 in Paris, the Academie du Disque Lyrique gave its annual “Golden Orpheus” Awards. Two of the 2016 laureates were performed by Polish musicians from the catalog of DUX—one of Poland’s premiere recording labels: Prix Hector Berlioz for the best recording of sacred music: Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried Missa Solemnis in B minor cum Veni Sancte Spiritus, et Offertorio Graduate (1830) (DUX 1229); and Prix de la SACD for the best interpretation of contemporary music: real life song feat. Joanna Freszel – soprano (DUX 1239)
The Baltic Philharmonic made an extensive tour of the US last winter, beginning on January 14. The orchestra performed thoughout Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and California.
Organized by the MEAKULTURA Foundation, the “Save the Music” campaign had its first press conference on January 27 at PWM Edition in Warsaw.The aim of “Save the Music” is to shed light on underrated artists and composers, and to promote music and visual arts of all genres.
On February 29, Contempo presented their “Focus on Europe” program in Chicago, including such Polish works as Agata Zubel – Not I, Tadeusz Wielecki – The Thread is Spinning, and Marta Ptaszyńska – Mosaics. Members of eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet were joined by soprano Agata Zubel and Tadeusz Wielecki, director of Warsaw Autumn Festival. Critic John von Rhein wrote a review of the concert for the Chicago Tribune.
For their third tour of the US, the Meccore String Quartet went coast to coast –visiting California, Idaho, Alabama and Florida. Their repertoire included works by Szymanowski, Beethoven, Haydn, Ligeti and Sibelius.
Held in South Korea from March 29-April 3, the 2016 ISCM World Music Days Festival included the following Polish music: Five Miniatures for orchestra by Elżbieta Sikora (above left) and Three Polish Dances: Mazur, Kujawiak, Oberek for brass quintet and organ by Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska (above right).
Opera director Mark Weiss stages his final production of Krzysztof Penderecki's Czarnamaska (Black Mask) for the Baltic Opera on March 20 in Warsaw. On April 3, a new production of Penderecki's Ubu Król (King Ubu), directed by Waldemar Zawodzinski, will be premiered at the Silesian Opera in Bytom.
Karol Szymanowski: Correspondence, Volume 1: 1902-1919 - the first volume of a series devoted to the composer’s letters in English translation - was published (e-book only). Edited by Dr. Alistair Wightman, there are 401 letters in the first volume, dating from the composer’s student years in Warsaw.
The extraordinary stories and accomplishments of 170 Polish musicians whose presence in Philadelphia influenced music in America have been published in a new book From Paderewski to Penderecki: The Polish Musician in Philadelphia by Paul Krzywicki.
At the Polish cultural program in China organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Inst and the Polish Institute of Beijing, audiences in Bejing, Tiajin, Wuhzen and Harbin experienced Polish theatre, dance and opera productions, as well as classical and contemporary music. Among others, the concert series featured Sinfonia Varsovia under the baton of Krzysztof Penderecki with the exceptional piano soloist Jan Lisiecki and Mieczysław Weinberg's opera The Passenger directed by Sir David Pountney.
Pianist Adam Golka was on tour in the US during the month of April. Several concerts featured other Polish musicians as well, and the month ended on a high note with a performance in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.
The first edition of the TRZY - CZTE – RY! [Three-Four-Go!] Festival was held in Warsaw from May 17-June 9, under the subtitle of “Contexts, Contrasts and Confrontations” and spotlighting the most recent trends in contemporary music. Works by works by Chopin, Lutosławski, Panufnik, Baird, Serocki, Szymański and Mykietyn as well as compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Ravel, Bartok, and Ligety were performed by some of Poland’s top musicians, including: Szymanowski Piano Trio, Meccore Quartet, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Camerata Silesia
Bogusław Kaczyński 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.
Jann Castor (born Wiesław Ruciński), an outstanding Polish rock musician, guitarist, composer, arranger, poet, sound designer and film editor, died in Hollywood on April 21 after a long illness. He was 61 years old.
Polish composer Hanna Kulenty has a new official YouTube channel where 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.
mUltimate Chopin is a modern Internet platform presenting all the available sources of the works of Fryderyk Chopin. It was 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.
In conjunction with the Contemporary Poland celebration at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the PMC convened with important members of Poland’s musical circles—including maestro Łukasz Borowicz, composer and soprano Agata Zubel, composer Paweł Mykietyn, IAM Polska Music manager Ewa Bogusz-Moore, Los Angeles Philharmonic Artistic Administrator Nate Bachhuber, PWM Director General Adam Radzikowski and PWM Editor-in-Chief Daniel Cichy—to discuss future collaborations.
The PMC Archive’s Ryterband Collection grew again significantly with a January 25 donation from the family, including manuscripts of Piece Sans Titre and Two Desert Scenes, as well as many letters, notes and photos.
Paso Artsfest has announced its honoree for the 2016 event. Steve Cass, owner of Cass Winery and the driving force behind the Paderewski Festival and a new symphony event, was feted by friends and family at the festival’s annual fundraiser, “Sweet Art,” on Feb. 9. Sweet Art is the single largest source of funds for the festival outside of sponsorships. Since 2009, the Sweet Art fundraiser has raised over $145,000 for the festival.
On April 2, the PMC presented a monographic concert of the newly re-discovered music of Polish Jewish composer Roman Ryterband (1914 - 1979), including: Three Preludes for Piano (1945), Suite Polonaise for piano (1944), Sonatina for Guitar (1978), Two Desert Scenes for harp and flute (1975), Two Images for Harp Solo (1943), Piece sans titre (1952) for two solo flutes, and Double Flute Quintet (1961) [World Premiere]. Performers were pianist Tadeusz Domanowski, guitarist Tomasz Fechner, and duoKYaria (Ko Ni Choi - harp and Yoon-Hee Jung - flute) with Dan Fellows - viola, Yong Mi Choi - flute, Hee-Seung Lee - harpsichord, and Coleman Itzkoff – cello.
The Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation in Warsaw published the “Good Practice Handbook on Management of International Musical Projects,” a research project conducted by Katarzyna Renes. This handbook discusses good management practices for people dealing with international musical projects in Poland and Ukraine, in comparison to the North American system of cultural management. Rene included PMC as an organizer of events on the highest level.
Participants in the 2016 Paderewski Festival Youth Cultural Exchange continue to flourish. Thanks to a fruitful relationship with the Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation, 2016 Exchange students from Ukraine and Poland were invited to participate in piano workshops held February 20-21 at Lviv Conservatory and perform in concert at Lviv Philharmonic’s Chamber Auditorium on February 22.
On July 2, the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles presented its first PASO POPS Independence Day Concert at the new Paso Robles Horse Park, with performances by the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Paderewski Competition winner Daniel Ha, and Youth Symphony members, led by Pasadena Symphony conductor Bruce Kiesling
Many aspects of the PMC, including its Polish Music History Series publication and the Manuscript Collection and Composers’ Archives, were featured around the world during the summer including at the Book Expo America (Chicago, May 11-14) and the International Association of Music Libraries’ Annual Congress (Rome, July 3-8)
On January 19, the LA Phil New Music Group presented "Contemporary Poland" at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Featuring conductor Łukasz Borowicz and soprano Agata Zubel, the program included five visionary Polish composers: Krzysztof Penderecki, Paweł Mykietyn, Krzysztof Meyer, Pawel Szymanski and Agata Zubel (World Premiere: Chapter 13). The concert was organized in a partnership with USC Polish Music Center, PWM and Polska Music Program.
As part of their "Penderecki - a cappella" project initiated in 2011, the Polish Chamber 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. Works included the world premiere of Christmas pastorale My też pastuszkowie [We the Shepherds].
Spanish premiere of Andrzej Panufnik’s Lullaby was given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia and conducted by Maestro Antoni Wit on February 4 in Santiago de Compostela. Violinist Alexandra Kuls performed the solo in Karlowicz’s Violin Concerto in A Major on the concert as well.
On March 24, the Baltic Neopolis Orchestra gave a concert at Radialsystem V in Berlin entitled “Mosaic – Impressions – Poland,” which featured the premiere of Adam Bałdych’s work of the same title. The program also included works by such renowned Polish composers as Grażyna Bacewicz, Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Panufnik, Wojciech Kilar and Paweł Łukaszewski.
The 30th anniversary edition of the Musica Polonica Nova Festival was held between April 8-16, 2016 at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław. The Festival consisted of 11 concerts as well as meetings with composers, journalists and music critics. The program included world premiere performances many new works by Polish composers, including: Zygmunt Krauze, Agata Zubel and Przemysław Scheller.
Warsaw Music Encounters (May 7-13) celebrating "Early Music - New Music” presented world premieres of works by Krzysztof Baculewski, Zbigniew Bagiński and Iwona Kisiel.
The "KODY" [Codes] Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music (May 11-14, 2016) in Lublin, Poland featured the world premiere of two new works by Polish composers who were commissioned by the Festival: a three act cross-genre piece RÊVE RAVE co-composed by Jagoda Szmytka and Wojtek Mazolewski, and the new opera Ivy Snowstalkers of Ancient Apron by Piotr Kurek
Amongst the many amazing compositions performed during the Gorzów Philharmonic Orchestra’s Kilar Contemporary Music Festival (May 12-26) were the world premieres of Wojciech Błażejczyk – Sonet 46 and Maciej Zieliński – That time of year, performed by proMODERN vocal sextet, and Dariusz Przybylski – Heureusement for symphony orchestra (2016), performed by Gorzów Philharmonic where Przybylski served as Composer-in-Residence during 2016.
The 7th edition of the Tauron Musica Electronica Nova Festival (May 19-22, 2016) was held for the first time in its new home at the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wrocław. It included two world premieres: Piotr Roemer & Szymon Stanisław Strzelec – Duet for symphony orchestra and electronics, commissioned and performed by the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, and Agata Zubel – Double Battery for instrumental ensemble and augmented sound space, commissioned and performed by Ensemble intercontemporain.
On June 3, the premiere of the Fourth Symphony Paweł Łukaszewski took place in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Białystok. Soloists for the premiere were soprano Anna Mikolajczyk-Niewiedział and baritone Maciej Nerkowski, performing with the Choirs and Orchestra of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, under the baton of Wojciech Michniewski.
On January 22, Nonesuch Records finally released its much-anticipated 7-disc retrospective of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, including his final composition, Symphony No. 4 “Tansman Episodes,” as well as all other Nonesuch recordings of Górecki works—Lerchenmusik; Symphony No. 3; String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, and 3; Miserere; Kleines Requiem für eine Polka; Harpsichord Concerto; and Good Night.
Released on January 29, the album ‘MAKSYMIUK | Sinfonia Varsovia’ (Warner Music Poland) reveals the history of an unusual artistic friendship, and displays the quintessence of the style and repertoire of the charismatic Maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk celebrating his 80th birthday with his beloved orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia.
Deutsche Grammophon released Martha Argerich: The Complete Recordings also including her interpretations of music by Fryderyk Chopin and Witold Lutosławski in January.
A new recording of Szymanowski’s Second Symphony and two works by Lutosławski (Accentus Music ACC30349) was released, featuring performances by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] led by Maestro Alexander Liebreich. This is one of the first recordings made in the new and splendid concert hall of this Katowice-based orchestra.
The Violin Futura Project was developed in 2005 by Polish violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk to create and reinvent solo violin repertoire. His Violin Futura album, released in February 2016 by Navona Records (NV6028), features music by more than thirty international contemporary composers and Szewczyk himself.
Tansman: Complete Music for Solo Guitar (Brilliant Classics) is a 2-CD set containing recordings by guitarist Cristiano Poli Cappelli of works by Aleksander Tansman released in February 2016.
A new album of choral music by Polish composer Rafał Augustyn was published by CD Accord (ACD212): Augustyn: Choral Music (sub iove), featuring the Cantores Minores Wratislaviensis with soloists Agnieszka Drożdżewska, Monika Michaliszyn and Joanna Rot.
Krzysztof Penderecki released his album Penderecki Conducts Penderecki. Volume 1 (Warner Music, available on www.empik.com) in co-operation with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. The recording features his Dies Illa for 3 soloists, choir, and orchestra; Hymn to św. Daniiła for mixed chorus and orchestra; Hymn to św. Wojciecha for mixed chorus and orchestra; and Psalmy Dawida for mixed chorus and percussion.
DUX Records published several particularly interesting new albums featuring rarely-heard Polish music: Kazimierz Serocki: Complete works for Solo Piano (DUX 1284) with pianist Adam Kośmieja; Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Songs (DUX 1246) with Karol Kozłowski, tenor, Anna Radziejewska, mezzo-soprano and Agnieszka Hoszowska-Jabłońska, piano; and 20th Century Polish Music for Clarinet (DUX 1258) with clarinetist Mariusz Barszcz.
CD Accord’s new album of Polish choral music Choral Concert: National Forum of Music Choir (De profundis) (ACD221) features music by notable Polish composers including M. T. Łukaszewski, A. Koszewski, M. Bembinow, M. Jasiński, R. Twardowski, J. Świder, M. Zieliński, A. Bielerzewski, P. Łukaszewski and Ł. Urbaniak.
SPOTLIGHT ON PMC IN POLAND
During late November and most of December, PMC Dir. Zebrowski travelled around Poland giving concerts, master classes and lectures. He also conducted numerous meetings with various government organizations, foundations and educational institutions with which the PMC has cooperated during the past year and will again in years to come.
Visiting Bydgoszcz marked yet another year of truly wonderful cooperation between the PMC and the Paderewski Music Association under the leadership of Director Henryk Martenka. Dir. Zebrowski presented at the Awards Ceremony and Winners’ Concert of the 2016 Paderewski International Piano Competition held at the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall in Bydgoszcz on November 20, and personally handed an invitation to the phenomenal First Place winner, Hyuk Lee (right), to appear in the 2017 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, CA. Also on that occasion, Dir. Martenka gifted to the PMC the 2016 Paderewski International Piano Competition catalogue, listing all of this year’s participants and their repertoire, as well as a special publication featuring manuscripts of piano music in the Collections of the Prussian State Library in Berlin and the Jagiellonian University with a detailed description of a Paderewski Exhibit (in Polish and English) alongside many rare photographs.
A few days later Marek Zebrowski was in Poznań, following on the invitation extended by Prof. Janusz Stalmierski at Poznań Music Academy. At noon on November 23 Dir. Zebrowski spoke at the Academy’s Senate Chamber to students and faculty about the PMC and its unique collections. Following the lecture and Q & A, Dir. Zebrowski was presented with books and brochures depicting the artistic and scientific events scheduled at the Poznań Music Academy during the academic year 2016-2017. Prof. Stalmierski also generously donated to the PMC a CD and a DVD featuring his Violin Concerto-Nabożeństwa majowe, world-premiered in Poznań in 2010 as well as The Mother of Masters, a DVD documentary about Prof. Jadwiga Kaliszewska, a longtime professor and chair of the Violin Department at the Academy in Poznań. In addition to these gifts, Prof. Stalmierski also presented the PMC library with a book authored by Poznań Music Academy Rector, Halina Lorkowska: Ignacy Jan Paderewski—człowiek i dzieło [Ignacy Jan Paderewski—the Man and his Work].
Also in Poznań, Dir. Zebrowski met with composer Barbara Kaszuba, who gave several scores of her compositions to our library. These include Kalejdoskop na fortepian (1993), Dwa utwory for accordion (1995), Nas-troje for violin, cello and accordion (1997), Skrzyp-ak for violin and accordion (2000), Tanezzo for accordion (2002), Na wierchowej polanie for chamber orchestra (2002), and Sześć etiud for accordion (2003).
Moving on from Poznań to Gdańsk, thanks to an invitation from Prof. Krzysztof Olczak (left) at Gdańsk Music Academy, Dir. Zebrowski addressed the faculty and students on November 25 on the subject of PMC’s history and manuscript collections. Just like in Poznań two days earlier, there was much interest among the audience—and many questions—about the PMC and its exceptional place in the world of Polish music. We are also very grateful for the gift of three CDs featuring prof. Olczak’s compositions for accordion performed by Prof. Olczak and Prof. Elżbieta Rosińska published by Soliton Records; an Astor Piazzola CD with performances by Grupa5U, also on Soliton Records; and a Gdański Festiwal Muzyczny CD with works by Hermann Schroeder, Janusz Bielecki, Frank Martin, Cecile Chaminade and Łukasz Woś, published by All Muses Recordings.
The next city on the PMC itinerary after Gdańsk was Warsaw, where on December 1, Dir. Zebrowski spoke at the conference of Polish Music Libraries at the Warsaw University Library. The presentation on PMC’s history and our manuscript collection was a perfect fit for the conference topic that included handling, cataloguing, and maintaining the composers’ archives. It was also a perfect opportunity to personally connect with representatives of several music libraries from across Poland, sharing and learning from their experience in addressing the needs of special collections.
While in Warsaw, Dir. Zebrowski met with Director Wojciech Woźniak and his staff at the National Archives to discuss continued cooperation in 2017 on cataloguing and scanning of our Paderewski Collection as well as the additional funding for work that Mr. Robert Górski from the Archives conducted at the PMC during the month of December 2016.
Around the same time several rehearsals were held all across Warsaw with the Royal String Quartet in preparation for a concert at Teatr Nowy, one of the events of the 2016 Kwadrofonik Festival. The Royal String Quartet was preparing Marek Zebrowski’s score for David Lynch’s short animation film, Fire, which would be accompanied live by the Quartet at the December 3 event. The Quartet also prepared selections from Joanna Bruzdowicz’s string quartet, La Vita, and performed it live to fragments of Agnès Varda’s film, Vagabond, at that concert. It was quite a treat for an overflowing audience on this wintry Warsaw night. Joanna Bruzdowicz, a composer residing in France and a 2003 Paderewski Lecturer at USC, used the opportunity of meeting with Dir. Zebrowski in Warsaw to present the PMC with a CD featuring the world premiere recording of Bruzowicz’s Lella—Oratorio Profane, recently issued by Acte Préalable.
Every performing artist knows that playing concerts is impossible without having access to an instrument. Fortunately, Steinway & Sons has a lovely showroom in Warsaw on Ordynacka Street. Thanks to their dedicated and solicitous staff led by Marcin Fidos, Dir. Zebrowski was able to fit in several hours of much-needed practicing during his week in Warsaw, having at his disposal excellent instruments from the Steinway showroom floor.
One of the concerts that required much careful preparation came to pass thanks to an initiative by Krzysztof Kur and Narodowe Centrum Kultury. Their Second Annual Festival “Polska Muzyka Odnaleziona” gave the PMC an opportunity to present Polish premieres of music by Henryk Wars, Zygmunt Stojowski and Roman Ryterband on December 4, 2016, at the Royal Łazienki Palace. American songs of Henryk Wars (known as Henry Vars in the US) as well as two of Wars’s solo piano works were performed by baritone Tomasz Rak with Marek Zebrowski at the piano. Cellist Jan Kalinowski and pianist Marek Szlezer (known worldwide as the Cracow Duo) performed Stojowski’s sweeping Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op. 18, while the Warsaw-based pianist Julia Samojło performed a selection of Roman Ryterband’s 24 Variations for Piano, a monumental piano work dating from 1942.
We are also extremely grateful to Mr. Kur for several truly regal gifts to the PMC library that include a handsome and unique prints from his personal collection relating to January 1863 Uprising in Poland with two catalogues extensively describing these items. Mr. Kur also donated to our library a rare publication on the activities of the Traugutt Philharmonic Orchestra commemorating the orchestra’s 25th anniversary, as well as three CDs featuring rare recordings of music associated with uprisings in Poland in November 1830, January 1863 and August 1944.
2016 marked another year of cooperation between the Province of Tarnów, the PMC and the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. In early November young pianists from Poland and Ukraine came to perform at the Festival in Paso, with the Province of Tarnów underwriting travel costs for a Polish student and a chaperone. Continuing with the Exchange Program calendar, starting on December 7 Marek Zebrowski spent three days at Paderewski’s former estate of Kąśna Dolna, conducting master classes for young pianists from across southern Poland’s Małopolska Region. Over two dozen students and several piano faculty members participated in the event that ended with a December 9 concert at the manor house by twelve young pianists selected for the occasion. The two best Polish pianists from this group will be selected to participate in a week-long Exchange Program that includes master classes and performances in June 2017 at Kąśna Dolna alongside their counterparts from California’s Central Coast and Ukraine’s Podole Region.
Kraków-based pianist Marian Sobula travelled to Kąśna Dolna in December to meet with Dir. Zebrowski and discuss the Kraków Piano Festival, a concert and festival organization that is headed by Mr. Sobula. We are also very grateful for Mr. Sobula’s gift of a CD presenting Sławomir Zubrzycki’s performance on his "Viola Organista” instrument to the PMC.
After spending several days in Tarnów and its environs, Dir. Zebrowski moved for several days to Kraków, taking up residence at the Kraków Music Academy at the invitation of the Academy’s cello and piano faculty, Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer. From December 11-16 Kraków Music Academy celebrated the fifth edition of their annual Dni Muzyki Festival, dedicated this year to Mieczysław Karłowicz. The Festival opened with a gala concert at Kraków Philharmonic Hall that featured Karłowicz’s Violin Concerto, Op. 8 and his symphonic poem, Odwieczne Pieśni, Op. 10 as well as Alexander Tansman’s dynamic III Symphonie-Concertante. During the scholarly session that began December 12 at the Academy, Dir. Zebrowski presented a lecture entitled “Paderewski at the Piano,” illustrated with documents held in the PMC’s Paderewski Archive: the Paso Robles Collection. While in Kraków, Dir. Zebrowski also gave a master class for piano students and led a workshop on improvisation at the Academy. The highlight of the PMC’s presence in Kraków was the December 13 chamber music concert at the Florianka Hall with the resident string quartet, featuring piano quintets by Gabriel Fauré and Tadeusz Majerski, with Marek Zebrowski at the piano. After duly celebrating the successful completion of all these tasks with the indefatigable Cracow Duo and their accomplices, as a parting gift Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer presented the PMC with their latest recording, Memories featuring works for cello and piano by Chopin, Chajdecki, Chyrzyński, and Tansman, among others.
The year 2016 also featured extensive and highly beneficial cooperation between the Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation in Warsaw and the PMC. Thanks to lots of hard work by the Foundation’s President, Mr. Adam Bala, we were able to complete several important initiatives that increased the visibility of PMC at the highest levels of Polish government. Thus, the PMC presented lectures about Paderewski at the Polish Senate in mid-June and again in mid-December (watch the December session at www.youtube.com) and, jointly with Mr. Bala’s Foundation, carried out 3 days international piano workshops for students from Poland and Ukraine at the Pułtusk Castle in late June. The Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation was also instrumental in obtaining from the Wspólnota Polska Organization funds for Ukrainian students travelling to California on the Paderewski Festival Exchange Program in late October that enabled two young pianists to perform at the 2016 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles held November 1-6.
Mr. Bala’s assistance and resources also extended to organizing an unprecedented concert of young Polish, Ukrainian and Lithuanian pianists at the Belvedere Presidential Palace in Warsaw on December 19. Attended by the highest representatives of the Polish Senate, including Deputy President Maria Koc, this was a truly memorable event for all participants, headlined by the Lviv-based pianist, Marianna Humetska. Humetska performed solo and chamber works by Chopin (joined by string players from Lviv) and Paderewski’s rarely-heard songs with Aneta Łukaszewska. The Belvedere evening was capped by a spirited interpretation of Paderewski’s 4-hand Tatra Album, performed with Marek Zebrowski.
Katarzyna Renes—a close business partner and Mr. Bala’s right hand—was also the organizer-in-chief, program coordinator and manager of the Kwadrofonik Festival, held from December 2-3 at the Nowy Teatr in Warsaw. The Festival opened with the “Takt der Arbeit” concert, featuring Felix Kubin and percussion duo Miłosz Pękała and Magdalena Kordylasińska, who were joined by guest artist Hubert Zemler. Later the same evening there were three works by Nicole Lizée—Hitchcock Etudes, Kubrick Etudes, and Lynch Etudes—performed by pianists Eve Egoyan, Emilia Sitarz and Bartek Wąsik.
The December 3 concert of the Kwadrofonik Festival featured works by Wojtek Blecharz, Joanna Bruzdowicz and Marek Zebrowski in performance by the Royal String Quartet, who accompanied live video presentations by Agnes Varda and David Lynch. This rare audio-visual spectacle was crowned with the Kwadrofonik Ensemble’s fascinating performance of the Industrial Symphony No. 1—a musical/visual collaboration between Angelo Badalamenti and David Lynch. It was a great honor and fantastic opportunity for the PMC to participate again in this year’s edition of the Kwadrofonik Festival and share the stage with such groundbreaking avant-garde artists and performers.
At long last, after the last concert in Warsaw in late December, Dir. Zebrowski met with composer and conductor Krzysztof Teodorowicz, a longtime friend and collaborator on the Henry Vars radio broadcast project. Mr. Teodorowicz donated to the Polish Music Center a CD of his arrangement of Christmas Carols, “Kolędy,” recorded by the Warsaw Singers. Since a lot of inquiries to PMC involve folk songs and carols in particular, this item will be a great addition to our library!
Between all of the concerts and rehearsals, Dir. Zebrowski gave interviews regarding the PMC and its collections to two different TV stations – both on Dec. 2. For our readers in Europe, the Kulturalni.pl program can be viewed at kulturalnipl.tvp.pl and the Halo Polonia program is available at halopolonia.tvp.pl. Unfortunately, however, these interviews cannot be accessed in N. America because of licensing restrictions.
Finally, on the eve of his departure for Los Angeles, Dir. Zebrowski stopped by the office of Anna Czajka, a conservation specialist working at the Archiwum Główne Akt Dawnych [The Central Archive of Historical Records] in Warsaw’s Old Town district. Ms. Czajka spent twoweeks in July of 2016 at the PMC, where she worked on preserving the extensive assortment of photographs and nitrate negatives from the Paso Robles-Paderewski Collection (pictured at right). Thanks to her expert advice, in the coming months the PMC will receive special envelopes and other custom-made boxes from the State Archives in Warsaw, which will protect and better preserve our unique holdings.
Ms. Czajka also presented the PMC with several unique books relating to cataloguing, preserving and restoring such varied collections as our Paderewski, Stojowski, Vars and Kaper collections, among others. The titles received from Ms. Czajka include O opiece nad kolekcją, a publication outlining how to care for a collection (with a chapter authored by Ms. Czajka); Poradnik dla archiwisty instytucji polskiej na obczyźnie [A Manual for an Archivist in Polish Institutions Abroad]; Odkwaszanie zbiorów biblitecznych i archiwalnych w Polsce [Deacidification of Collections in Polish Libraries and Archives]; Obrazowanie cyfrowe zbiorów fotograficznych [Digital Imaging for Photographic Collections]; and Tracking the Reel World—A Survey of Audiovisual Collections in Europe. In addition to these very valuable gifts, Ms. Czajka also presented the PMC with a bilingual catalogue of an exhibit organized by her Archives, entitled Archival Treasures 1155-1939—The Saints, the Blessed and the Eminent Churchmen, published in 2016 to coincide with the 1050th anniversary of the Baptism of Poland and a brochure on the Polish Constitution, The Constitution of May 3 (1791)—The First Modern Constitution in Europe Adopted Democratically. Needless to say, all of these titles are priceless additions to our library and will serve as a guide for years to come as we, together with the State Archives in Poland continue our cooperative project in cataloguing, preserving and digitizing the PMC collections.
To all who hosted, organized and assisted Dir. Zebrowski or endowed the PMC with gifts and far-reaching support during this important trip, we extend a heartfelt “Thank You!” Dziękujemy!
NATIONAL ARCHIVES COLLABORATION CONTINUES
The PMC had a surprise and welcome visitor in December. Thanks to continued support from the National Archives in Warsaw, archivist and Paderewski specialist Robert Górski was able to return to Los Angeles to continue his work on our Paderewski Archive: the Paso Robles Collection. During his two-week stay, Dr. Górski continued the process of arranging and describing the photographs in this Collection, and trained PMC employees how to scan photos correctly with the best settings and resolutions. With this knowledge, he and members of the PMC staff scanned 661 photographs in very high resolution, as well as the written information from the back of photographs, such as dates, names or photographic processing companies. This information will be the basis of a digital photo archive, which eventually will be made available online for scholars around the world.
ZEBROWSKI AND HOEFS AT LARGE IN L.A.
On January 11, PMC Director Marek Zebrowski and internationally renowned cellist Lars Hoefs performed the inaugural concert of the 3rd edition of the Villa-Lobos International Chamber Music Festival at the Pasadena Presbyterian Church. Entitled “Hommage à Chopin,” their program included Chopin: Etude Op. 25 No. 7 (arr. Franchomme); Villa-Lobos: Mazurka-Choro (arr. D. Ashbridge); Villa-Lobos: Hommage à Chopin; Chopin: Nocturne in C-sharp minor (arr. Zebrowski); and Chopin: Introduction and Polonaise Brillante.
Next month, this exciting duo will perform another program, this time entirely comprised of music by Chopin. On February 11, Zebrowski and Hoefs will kick the 2017 season of the L.A. Musical Salon Series with an “Evening of Chopin” at the Bel-Air Restaurant.
DAYS OF NEW MUSIC 2017
The 7th edition of the "Days of New Music" Festival will be held between January 18 – 22 in Gdańsk. The theme of this year’s event will be based on two ideas: exploring aspects of collective collaboration vs. individual compositional process, and presentation of music by avant-garde artists. Since its very beginning, the festival has focused on presenting unconventional music open to all kinds of experimental, contemporary and avant-garde art that define new music as a genre. It especially aims to develop new forms, content and ways to attract listeners who are not particularly familiar with contemporary music trends.
This year’s program features various collaborative and individual premieres, including: Radar by Polish drummer Krzysztof Topolski (Arszyn) and Robert Skrzyński (Micromelancolié) (Jan 18), vlna by Polish violinist and composer Olga Wojciechowska and Serbian guitarist Vukasin Djelic (Jan 19), Preemptive Musical Offerings to Satisfy Our Future Masters by German artist Adi Gelbart (Jan 21), Meshes and The First Time in Poland by German electronic duet Joasihno, and collaborative works by NeoQuartet and Kwartludium (Jan 22) as well as electro-acoustic duo Pękala and Japanese artist Asuna Arashi (Jan 20).
A new work by composer Marek Chołoniewski called Wiatrofale, which combines multimedia elements with music, will have its premiere on January 23-25 in the cities of Radom, Kraków and Kielce in Poland. It will be performed by the Symphony Orchestra of the Kolberg School of Music in Radom, under the baton of Przemysław Zych. Artur Lis will provide video mapping to the composition and Piotr Madej will provide sound projection. The composition was commissioned by the Fundacja Muzyczna „Harmonie i hałasy” [Harmonies and Noises” Music Foundation], and the events are sponsored by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage as a part of “Kolekcje” program, realized by IMIT.
‘COMPOSING COMMISSIONS’ ANNOUNCED FOR 2017-2018
In October 2016, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage launched the 6th edition of its highly sucessful “Composing Commissions” program for the 2017-2018 artistic season. This program is implemented by the Institute of Music and Dance (IMiT) and creates opportunities for musical creation and performance throughout the year. The very long list of the 2015-2016 winners can be found as a PDF at imit.org.pl.
The Composing Commissions regulations are available on the website of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage under the Ministry Programs 2017 bookmark (see www.mkidn.gov.pl) and on the websites of the Institute of Music and Dance (composingcommissions.pl and imit.org.pl).
The goal of the program is to support contemporary music by commissioning new piece and creating conditions conducive to their permanent presence in public space. The core task of the program is to increase the role of new music as a vital medium of social communication, and to include contemporary compositions in the process of transformation of contemporary culture, among others by contextualizing them through a redefinition of the notions of high culture, the role of the artist and the audience, or the impact of new media and technologies on musical language and reception. Another fundamental objective behind the program is to utilize the latest musical compositions as a tool of cultural and artistic education; to popularize contemporary music among non-professionals, including children and the youth; and to facilitate their contact with composers, as well as the creative process, from the idea through the composition and performance of a music work, thus challenging the stereotypical understanding of contemporary music as a hermetic concept.
KF TUITION SCHOLARSHIPS
The Kosciuszko Foundation Tuition Scholarships support American students of Polish descent for graduate studies at colleges and universities in the United States. Scholarships ranging from $1,000 to $7,000 are awarded on a competitive basis for one academic year. Funding is for full-time studies during the academic year of September 2017 - May 2018. All fields and majors are eligible for scholarship funding. Awards are limited to only two tuition scholarships per individual during the period of his/her studies.
The deadline for the application and all supporting materials is January 17, 2017. Submissions must meet all the scholarship requirements and be submitted online, via email to Addy@thekf.org, and via UPS to the following address:
Scholarship recipients will be notified on or about May 25, 2017. More information about the scholarship can be found at the following link: thekf.org.
[Source: press release]
2ND SZYMANOWSKI INT’L STRING QTET COMPETITION
The Karol Szymanowski Music Society is very proud to announce that the 2nd Karol Szymanowski International String Quartet Competition will take place in Katowice from September 18-23, 2017. Organized by the Karol Szymanowski Music Society in collaboration with the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, the competition is open to string quartets of all nationalities with cumulative age of the quartet members not to exceed 120 years. None of the members of the quartet may be over 35. Age eligibility is determined as of the opening day of the competition (September 18, 2017).
The deadline for sending applications is June 30, 2017 (determined by postmark date). Applications should be sent to the following address:
Winners will be determined by the international jury, made up of: Arkadiusz Kubica of the Silesian Quartet Katowice (Artistic Director of the Competition), violinist Peter Schuhmayer of the Artis Quartet Vienna, violist Marek Czech of the Royal String Quartet, and cellist and composer Mats Lidstrom of the Royal Academy of Music in London.
COMPETITION: A MUSICAL ABOUT PADEREWSKI
In celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence, the Adam Mickiewicz Institute announces a competition for a treatment of a musical play drawn from the life of Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
The pianist and composer (1860-1941) became the highest paid artist of his time. As a touring pianist, he crossed the US 30 times travelling in a private Pullman carriage, and embarked on journeys across Australia and Africa. A superb orator in 7 languages and an astute politician, he achieved the highest honour of becoming a signatory to the Treaty of Versailles as the first Prime Minister of independent Poland. An advocate for US intervention after the outbreak of World War 2, Paderewski sailed to America yet again, but was taken ill in New York City, where he died. He was buried at the Arlington Cemetery in Washington D.C. by special decree of President’s Roosevelt’s, who memorialized the artist’s remarkable life by calling him a Modern Immortal.
Winner of the competition receives a cash prize, travel to Warsaw, and the possibility of a full book commission and staging in the US. There will also be cash awards for 2nd and 3rd place entries (First Prize: $5000, Second Prize: $3000, Third Prize: $1000). The competition will be judged by musical theater professionals chosen by the Institute.
L.A. LIVE FILM SCORING COMPETITION DEADLINE
The Los Angeles Live Score Film Festival features short films with original scores performed live-to-picture. The 2017 festival is presented in collaboration with Helix Collective, the Academy of Scoring Arts and the New York Film Academy. The best short films will be selected by nomination of our festival partners and our independent judging panel. Awards for Best Picture and Best Musical Score will be presented at the close of the festival.
Selected film composers will be paired with a winning filmmaker to create an original score for the festival, and awardees are given free studio time to have the music recorded, edited, and set to picture for release. The film will also be screened with the score performed live by the renowned performance and recording ensemble, Helix Collective. The screening will include an interview with the filmmakers and composers and a Meet-and-Greet.
Now in its fourth year, LALSFF’s goal is to highlight the role of collaboration between composers and filmmakers. Acting like a talent agent, the festival brings experts in the two disciplines together. At the screenings, filmmakers and composers hear and see the work of new colleagues, meet new collaborators, and establish working relationships with each other. Additionally, Helix Collective proves that it is possible to get talented experienced film musicians to play and record for independent films on an accommodating budget.
"CREATORS – SOURCES – ARCHIVES” MUSICOLOGICAL CONFERENCE
The Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw will be a host of the 1st Musicological Conference "Creators - Sources - Archives" on January 25-26, 2017. It is organized as part of the cycle of conferences entitled “Polish Music Abroad,” which is devoted to Polish musicians who live(d) abroad and whose output is kept in foreign libraries and archives. During this event, participants will discuss various opinions and present research conducted by the leading Polish scholars, who represent such institutions as the Institute of Art of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw University, Jagiellonian University, Academy of Music in Wrocław, Bydgoszcz and Gdańsk, National Library, PWM Edition and Archivum Helveto-Polonicum in Freiburg. Works by prominent Polish composers Andrzej Panufnik, Aleksander Tansman, Roman Palester, Mieczysław Weinberg, Roman Statkowski, Karol Rathaus, Zbigniew Bargielski, Konstanty Regamey, Witold Szalonek and Wanda Landowska will also be examined as part of the conference program.
PENDERECKI ON GUITAR
One of the leading classical guitar players in Poland today, Łukasz Kuropaczewski (above left) is not only an active concertizing musician but also a teacher at the Academy of Music in Poznań and a great driving force of cultural life in Poland, especially amongst guitar enthusiasts. What separates him from other players is his ambition and lack of hesitation to participate in even the most challenging projects, which he has proven many times over by premiering works by Mikołaj Górecki or Krzysztof Meyer’s Triptych Sonata for solo guitar and Concerto for Guitar, String Orchestra and Timpani.
Kuropaczewski’s newest project surrounds the towering figure of Krzysztof Penderecki (above right), and it derives from Kuropaczewski’s inspiration to meet and work with the composer. Kuropaczewski currently plays three pieces by Penderecki, all of which are transcriptions made in cooperation with the composer. The first of them, Cadenza, was originally written for solo viola and a video recording of the transcription was recently published on YouTube. It is also the piece which started the cooperation between Kuropaczewski and Penderecki. Kuropaczewski says:
KRÓL ROGER IN SYDNEY
The Sydney Opera House will present Król Roger [King Roger] by Karol Symanowski from January 20 – February 15, 2017. This co-production with the Royal Opera House was first performed in Covent Garden and was "rapturously acclaimed" by critics who described Kasper Holten's arresting staging as a "major artistic triumph" (The Telegraph, UK). Andrea Molino conducts a cast led by Saimir Pirgu as the Shepherd, Lorina Gore as Roxanna and Michael Honeyman as King Roger. Organized in collaboration with the Adam Mickiewicz Institute as part of the Polska Music program, the performances will be sung in Polish with English surtitles.
Szymanowski's intoxicating, iridescent music is rarely heard on the opera stage, so don't miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear a 20th-century Polish masterpiece.
ANNIVERSARY OF MARIAN SAWA
Organized by the Marian Sawa Society, the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music will host a special concert in Warsaw to commemorate the 80th anniversary of composer Marian Sawa’s birth. The concert featuring Sawa’s chamber compositions, will be performed by pianists Maria Gabryś, Marcin Łukaszewski and Urszula Świerczewska, violinist Jolanta Sosnowska, soprano Dorota Całek and a string quartet consisting of students of Prof. Andrzej Gębski (Zuzanna Budzyńska - violin, Victoria Borkowska - violin, Anna spider - viola, Nicholas Burzynski – cello).
PENDERECKI MONOGRAPHIC CONCERT
On January 18, a concert devoted to music by Krzysztof Penderecki will be held at the Academy of Music in Gdańsk. The program includes Penderecki’s chamber works, such as Three Miniatures for violin and piano, Capriccio per Siegfried Palm for cello, Duo concertante for violin and double bass and Sonata No. 2 for violin and piano. The compositions will be interpreted by the Academy’s lecturers and performers of the Polish Baltic Philharmonic: pianists Bogna Czerwińska-Szymula and Paweł Rydel, violinists Karolina Piątkowska-Nowicka, Anna Wandtke, Piotr Kwaśny and Andrzej Kacprzak, cellist Tadeusz Samerek, double bassist Sebastian Wypych and clarinetist Andrzej Wojciechowski.
KONIECZNY MONOGRAPHIC CONCERT
On January 22, the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice will present a concert featuring songs and film music entirely by Zygmunt Konieczny, under the baton of Paweł Przytocki. The program will consist of the composer’s most popular movie themes, including excerpts from Pornography and Jasminum dir. by J.J. Kolski, as well as new arrangements of his songs to words by J. Tuwim, K.K Baczyński, A. Osiecka, M. Białoszewski, M. Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska and other authors. These works will be performed and interpreted by the orchestra alongside soprano Agata Zubel, cellist Andrzej Bauer, pianist Bartek Wąsik and electronic instrumentalist Cezary Duchnowski to create a unique, enriching and poetic experience for the audience to enjoy.
Sunday, January 22, 2017 | 7:30 p.m.
The Grand Theatre in Łódź will present the premiere of a new production of Stanisław Moniuszko’s Halka on January 21, to celebrate the anniversary of the stage production as well as the 50th anniversary of the theatre, which opened on January 19, 1967. The Polish opera will be directed by Jarosław Kilian, conducted by Wojciech Rodek, and performed from January 21 – 29.
The first version of Halka, with a written libretto by Włodzimierz Wolski, was completed in 1848. In 1858, its revised version comprising 4 acts was premiered. Moniuszko’s adaptation of the work is described as "a successful combination of features of Italian, French and German opera with elements typical for Polish folklore and music tradition, [leading it to become] an expression of Polish national identity. In order to understand this opera story about an abandoned girl, we have to set it in the right context – of a social discord, which at Moniuszko's time led to the Gallician slaughter. Halka is a young woman suspended between two worlds: of the immoral nobility and vengeful highlanders. There are no unambiguously bad or good characters here. It is not a tearful melodrama. It is a cruel parable of human loneliness.”
KARŁOWICZ ALBUM PROMOTION
A special symphonic concert dedicated to Mieczysław Karłowicz will be held on January 10 at the Philharmonic in Szczecin. The concert will promote the Szczecin Philharmonic’s recent album release "Karłowicz. Filharmonia. Szczecin," featuring Karłowicz’s Violin Concerto, Op. 8 and A Sad Story, Op. 13, recorded by Szczecin-born violinist Bartłomiej Nizioł and Łukasz Borowicz. Furthermore, the event will conclude the series of artistic events paying homage to the 140th anniversary birth of the Philharmonic’s patron. The program will consist of Karłowicz’s Lithuanian rhapsody, Op. 11 and Violin Concerto in A major, Op. 8 performed by the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Nizioł under the baton of Kaspar Zehnder.
PENDERECKI EUROPEAN MUSIC CENTER INAUGURATION
As part of tradition, the inaugural concert of the 2017 season of The Krzysztof Penderecki European Music Center will be held on January 8, 2017, at 7 p.m. in Lutosławice. The concert program will be performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, featuring the II Symphony of Krzysztof Penderecki (also called the “Christmas Eve” Symphony) and the VII Symphony of Antonín Dvořák, which is considered to be the most valuable work of the Czech composer.
The guest of honor at the opening concert will be the patron of the center – Krzysztof Penderecki, who will also conduct the performance of one of his pieces. The conductor of the rest of the concert will be Maciej Tworek, the adjunct of the Kraków Academy of Music. In 2002, Tworek started his conducting cooperation with Penderecki. The result of their work is the preparation of the ensembles from the National Opera to give the European premiere of the VIII Symphony conducted by the composer.
POLISH BALTIC PHILHARMONIC CARNIVAL SERIES
Between January 7 and February 25, the Polish Baltic Philharmonic will present a cycle of special Carnival concerts every Saturday evening in Gdańsk. During one of these magical evenings (Jan 28), composer and violinist Krzesimir Dębski will perform along with his friends of the Zagan Acoustic ensemble (Andrzej Wojciechowski - clarinet, Paweł Zagańczyk - accordion, Joachim Łuczak - violin and Jarosław Stokowski - double bass). The concert will be led by Krzysztof Dąbrowski and features music by Dębski (Country in E, Bojan Duke of Dingac), Viatcheslav Semionov (Bulgarian Suite) and also young Polish composers such as: : Paweł Zagańczyk (Winter), Maciej Zimka (Highland Roll), Piotr Słopecki (The Dance of Life) and Anna Maria Huszcza (nagaZ).
After the concert, the concert hall will transform to a dance hall where guests will be invited by Sergei Kryuchkov and the Riverboat Ramblers to dance in the rhythm of jazz and swing. Attendees will also be treated to a special dinner menu prepared for this occasion.
FRIENDSHIP CONCERT WITH TRIO ARTUS IN LA
In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, on January 25 the Whizin Center and the Sigi Ziering Institute together with the Consulates of Poland, Germany and Israel present “A Friendship Concert with Trio Artus” in Los Angeles. Trio Artus is comprised of Esti Rofe – flute, Krzysztof Kaczka – flute and Perry Schack – guitar, and they will be joined by pianist Jasna Popovic at the American Jewish University.
[Sources: press release, eventbrite.com]
80TH ANNIVERSARY PMA CONCERT
The Polish Museum of America (PMA) presents a special evening commemorating the historic 80th anniversary of its opening on January 22. Founded in 1935, the PMA is in the heart of Chicago’s historic Polonia, in the national headquarters building of the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America. Designed by John Flizikowski, this 1913 structure was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013 and noted for its significance in the history of Polish-American settlement in Chicago. Treasures from 16th century Polish Kings to 19th century American Presidents are part of the collection, including many artifacts from the 1939 New York World’s Fair Polish Pavilion, which could not be returned to Poland due to the outbreak of the Second World War. Today, the PMA stands a representative venue in the United States of Polish culture, history and presence in North America.
[Source: press release, ceeres.uchicago.edu]
SZCZEŚNIAK/AUGUŚCIK CONCERT IN CHICAGO
On January 21, Mietek Szcześniak will present an evening of light and sunny Brazilian music featured in his newest album entitled “Nierówni” [Unequal/Uneven] at the Holy Trinity Church in Chicago. Alongside special guest and vocalist Grazyna Auguscik (right), the concert will be performed by a specially arranged string quartet (violin – Mark Agnor and David Belden, viola – Loretta Gillespie, cello – Jill Kaeding) and other instrumentalists (vocals – Mieczyslaw Szczesniak and Paulinho Garcia, percussion – Geraldo De Oliveira and Heitor Garcia, piano – Leandro Lopez, bass – Jack Zara).
Szcześniak’s album is largely influenced by the poetry of priest Jan Twardowski; it aims to evoke emotions articulated with laughter and crying, as in Twardowski’s poems, as well as the free expression of song and dance. The track “Spoza nas” [From Outside of Us] is a reflection of the poem “Wiersz z banałem w środku” [A Poem with a Ciché Inside] and has become Szcześniak’s most popular radio and greatest hits song. His unparalleled artistic talent represents the most unique and refined aspects of music amongst Polish soloists, and has attributed to his large success.
ALBUM PREMIERE IN GDAŃSK – LABORATORIUM PIEŚNI
Laboratorium Pieśni is a group of female singers from Poland. Using traditional, polyphonic singing they perform songs from all over the world, especially Ukraine, the Balkans, Poland, Belarus, Georgia, Scandinavia, as well as many other places.
The newest album performed and arranged by Laboratorium Pieśni is entitled “Rosna.” This magical journey though forests, fields, villages, seas and rivers features 13 traditional songs from different countries and regions—including Ukraine, Belarus, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Kosovo and Poland. The haunting voices are accompanied by shaman drums, the shruti box and other ethnic instruments. To purchase “Rosna,” visit laboratoriumpiesni.bandcamp.com.
Album premiere concerts were already performed in Warsaw and Kraków in 2016, and on January 27 the group will perform again at the Shakespeare Theatre in Gdańsk – see concert information below.
In Polish Catholic tradition, the Christmas spirit is continued throughout the month of January. Following those customs, the CONSONANS ensemble will present a holiday concert at the Chopin Theater in Chicago on January 14. The program will consist of both Polish and American carols and Christmas songs, performed by vocalist Barbara Panecka alongside Consonans ensemble members (Piano - Jurek Jablonski; Trombone - Darek Macioch; Bass - Richard Armandi; Percussion - Johnathan Wenzel).
[Source: press release, chopintheatre.com]
SHAKESPEARE AT THE BOWERS MUSEUM
On December 10, 2016, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana announced the opening of their exclusive exhibition—“As She Liked It: The Shakespearean Roles of Madame Modjeska.” The exhibition pays homage to William Shakespeare on the 400th anniversary of his death by exploring the incredible life of one of his greatest interpreters, the legendary Polish actress Madame Helena Modjeska (1840‐1909), and her passion for Shakespearean works. The permanent collection features more than 60 objects that span across the time period from Modjeska’s early years as a stage actress in Poland, her arrival in Anaheim, CA, her renaissance traveling the American theater circuit, and her final years in her Shakespearean dream home, Arden.
Madame Helena Modjeska (Modrzejewska)—born Helena Opid in Kraków, Poland—is especially remembered for her interpretation of Shakespeare's female roles, which appeared equally if not more prominently than male characters. Her phenomenal career lasted over a period of five decades, during which she portrayed a variety of roles in more than 3,600 performances throughout Europe and the United States. Modjeska eventually settled in Santiago Canyon near the Bowers Museum, in a home she called Arden as a reference to her favorite Shakespearean play As You Like It.
The exhibition is going on now and currently has no end date. The Bowers Museum is at 2002 North Main Street in Santa Ana, CA. Admission: Adults $15-13; Seniors & Students $12-10; Children & Santa Ana residents FREE (Sunday only). Tickets & Info: (714) 567-3600
PADEREWSKI COMPETITION IN BYDGOSZCZ
In collaboration with the Nowowiejski Academy of Music and the Paderewski Pomeranian Philharmonic as well as the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, the City of Bydgoszcz, and the Cuiavia-Pomerania Region, the Board of the Paderewski Music Association has organized the 10th International Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz. Held November 6-20, 2016, this world-class event recurs every three years. During the Award Ceremony at the Pomeranian Philharmonic Hall on November 20, the President of the Paderewski Music Association, Prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń and Director of the International Paderewski Piano Competition, Henryk Martenka, announced this year’s winners.
According to the long-standing agreement with the International Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, the first place winner is also invited to perform at the Paderewski Festival held annually in Paso Robles, California. It is our great pleasure to announce that Mr. Hyuk Lee will appear at the 2017 Festival in Paso Robles with a Gala Recital on Saturday, November 4. This very young and brilliant pianist is a talent to watch and his solo evening in California will also mark his American debut.
2017 GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
The nominees for the 59th Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced on December 6, 2016. Polish classical music and musicians were well represented on the list (see below, which focuses primarily on music from the US. The 2017 Grammy Awards will air live on CBS on Sunday,February 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET. James Corden will host the event, whichwill take place at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Szymanowski: Król Roger (Opus Arte)
Antonio Pappano, conductor; Georgia Jarman, Mariusz Kwiecień & Saimir Pirgu; Jonathan Allen, producer (Orchestra Of The Royal Opera House; Royal Opera Chorus)
Penderecki Conducts Penderecki, Volume 1 (Warner Classics)
Fitelberg: Chamber Works (Chandos)
XIV OCHLEWSKI COMPOSITION COMPETITION WINNERS
This 14th edition of the Tadeusz Ochlewski Composition Competition resulted in two ex aequo special prizes by the decision of the jury. The honorable distinctions were awarded to Marcin Antkowiak for his Connexion and to Aleksander Słyz for the piece Glossy.
The main theme of this year’s competition was a piece for the double bass and electronic layer. The members of the jury – Aleksandra Gabryś (Head of the Jury), Jurek Dybał, Grzegorz Frankowski and Daniel Cichy, deliberated on December 19. The first prize was not given out, while Antkowiak and Słyz received equal prizes. According to the competition rules, award-winning pieces will be added to PWM Catalogue, published and publicly performed as its aim is to promote young composers.
MKiDN CREATIVE SCHOLARSHIP FOR WIECZOREK
Marlena Wieczorek, president of MEAKULTURA Foundation and chief editor of meakultura.pl, has received a creative scholarship from The Minister of Culture and National Heritage for her work The Lexicon of Polish Emigrant Composers (1918-2000).
The project aims to document and popularize knowledge about the artistic heritage and life of Polish emigré composers. The Lexicon is comprised of two parts: thematic articles and an encyclopedia. The research topic of the first part will be conducted in synthetic and innovative way, through the prism of various contexts—artistic, social, political, biographical and geographical. In the second part, we will find an alphabetical index of notes dedicated to film, pop, and classical works as well as the biography of their composers. Installments will be presented on meakultura.pl, and when the project is finished, it will be published in the form of a book. This is the second creative scholarship to be received by Marlena Wieczorek.
XXV NOSPR LAURELS GALA
On January 5, 2017, the XXV Laurels Gala of Skill and Competence will be held at the National Symphony Orchestra of Polish Radio (NOSPR) in Katowice. This year, Piotr Beczała will join the circle of winners and will perform under the baton of the excellent conductor Marc Piollet. The program includes Recitativo of Stefan and the famous Aria z kurantem from The Haunted Mannor by Stanislaw Moniuszko as well as pieces by Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Dvorak.
Piotr Beczała is one of the most recognizable lyrical tenors of our times and a regular guest at leading world operas. The Polish artist is valued not only for the beauty of his voice, but also for his deep dedication to every character played by him. He has performed a rich concert repertoire with the most distinguished orchestras and conductors of the world.
Between January 5 – 7, the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) will hold its 74th annual meeting at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver to discuss the winners of its annual awards. The meeting is held in association with the American Historical Association's 131st Annual Meeting on the subject of "Historical Scale; Linking Levels of Experience.” Award recipients will be recognized at a specialreception the evening of January 7 at the Polish Club in Denver.This year, the following prizes were awarded in artistic categories:
To view the full list of 2016 PAHA award winners and their accomplishments, visit pahanews.blogspot.com.
[Source: press release]
SEONG-JIN CHO RECORDS FOR DG
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No 1. Ballades
In November 2016, the first studio recording of Seong-Jin Cho, First Prize winner of the 2015 International Chopin Competition, was released on the prestigious Deutsche Grammophon label. Cho is joined on the recording by the London Symphony Orchestra and their newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor, Gianandrea Noseda.
Jeremy Nicholas reviewed this new album for Gramophone Magazine, and the following is an excerpt from that review:
Watch Cho’s performance of Chopin's Ballade No.1 In G Minor, Op.23 from a live solo recital at the Yellow Lounge here: youtube.com.
NEW RICHARD-HAMELIN CHOPIN CD RELEASED BY NIFC
Charles Richard-Hamelin: Chopin (Blue Series)
To open its series of portraits of the most interesting characters from the most recent edition of the Chopin Competition, the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Warsaw (NIFC) presents a double album by Charles Richard-Hamelin—the winner of the 2015 Second Prize, as well as the 2015 Krystian Zimerman Prize for the best sonata performance. The release contains a complete set of the solo works performed by the pianist at his recitals during the first three rounds.
The Blue Series is an exceptional series of recordings that has been produced by NIFC since 2010, presenting musical portraits of the most interesting personalities from the Fryderyk Chopin International Piano Competitions in Warsaw over the years.
Below is an excerpt from a Gramophone review of this disc by Patrick Rucker:
Richard-Hamelin has bold, original ideas about the music he plays, the emotional reservoirs to back them up and the technical equipment to convey them without distraction. Surely this is a young pianist of whom we will hear a great deal more, and very soon.
[Sources: Gramophone newsletter, gramophone.co.uk]
HERDZIN ON DECCA
Herdzin K - Suita na tematy polskie / Suite on Polish Themes
Known primarily as a brilliant jazz musician, pianist, conductor, composer and arranger, Krzysztof Herdzin explores the neo-classical aspects of traditional Polish dances in his latest release, “Suita na tematy polskie / Suite on Polish Themes.” Recorded in collaboration with the renowned British chamber orchestra Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, Herdzin was able to fulfill a life-long ambition to record at Abbey Road studios, conducting an album of his own compositions for string orchestra. This is the first time in history that a Polish composer has established close cooperation with an outstanding orchestra as a standalone conductor.
The bulk of the record focuses on the sophisticated harmonies of impressionistic and neo-classical styles associated with Polish folklore with extended tonality, although the piece Trzy Korony (Three Crowns) was written with the Academy’s particular sound in mind. Herdzin also cites popular tunes in his compositions being inspired by champions of Polish music: Karol Szymanowski, Grażyna Bacewicz, Tadeusz Baird, Wojciech Kilar, Shostakovich, Prokofiev and the French group Les Six. The CD tracks have been made available for sampling on the composer’s website, www.herdzin.com.pl, as well as iTunes.
SZPILMAN’S SONGS RE-VISITED
Wendy Lands – Władysław Szpilman Piosenki Songbook
Originally recorded in Los Angeles as the companion CD to the Roman Polanski-directed movie The Pianist, the 2003 album Wendy Lands Sings The Music Of The Pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman has recently been repackaged by Polish Radio and released for the first time in Poland. The Pianist won Oscars and Golden Globes but, more importantly, it told Wladyslaw Szpilman's holocaust story of losing his entire family but surviving the horrors of the Nazi death camps. Szpilman was able to return to Warsaw after the war where he became a celebrated composer, pianist and the director of the Popular Music Department at Polish Radio (or Polskie Radio).
According to singer Wendy Lands, the songs on the album are Szpilman's original compositions, but the lyrics were written by some of the finest songwriters in North America. Produced by John Leftwich (who also worked with Carmen McRae, Rickie Lee Jones, Melody Gardot), the sound of the album is also very American—rootsy and jazzy.
[Sources: Boosey & Hawkes press release, wendylands.com]
REVIEW: BECZAŁA AT THE BROAD STAGE IN L.A.
Piotr Beczala, a rapidly rising star in the opera world, gave an all-opera recital in Santa Monica to the delight of a nearly sold-out house at the Broad Stage on December 12, 2016. He was accompanied by a 43-member opera orchestra – perhaps a bit of overkill in a 500-seat house. But no matter; the orchestra played magnificently.
Mr. Beczala began with De’ mei bollenti spiriti (La Traviata/Verdi) which he sang with a pure and very natural-sounding voice, with Italian “tears” used with discretion but in all the right places. Next came one of the best-known tenor arias by Verdi, Celeste Aida (Aida). Although this aria begins with fire, it ends on a pianissimo high B-flat, a real test of the voice. Many tenors, particularly in a large opera house, don’t do the note justice. Here in a more intimate setting, Mr. Beczala pulled back and was able to sing pianissimo without breaking. It had a bit too much falsetto to be perfect, but now we are splitting hairs.
Next came another Verdi piece, Quando le sere al placido (Luisa Miller), a more production-line Verdi aria that didn’t give Mr. Beczala much scope. He made up for this with the final piece of the first half, Recondita armonia (Tosca/Puccini). This beautiful legato aria is not technically demanding, but it does require good tone and good breath control. For a professional like Mr. Beczala, it was a hanging curve ball and he hit it out of the park.
The second half began with L’anima ho stanca (Adriana Lecouvreur/Cilea). Then came the Flower Song from Carmen (Bizet), an aria like Celeste Aida, in that many try it and many fail, and for the same reason. After much passionate singing comes a pianissimo rising passage and a very soft close (Et j'étais une chose à toi ….. Carmen, je t'aime!). Done properly, it’s the most romantic passage one can imagine. Fumbled, it turns the aria into porridge. Mr. Beczala did it more than properly – he did it beautifully.
The following aria was Pourquoi me réveillier? (Werther/Massenet). Again Mr. Beczala was completely at home with passion and romance, but as the aria ends fortissimo, he received his biggest ovation of the night.
For the last scheduled aria he chose Vidino divná přesladká (Rusalka/Dvorak). This was the first and only time he ventured out of the Western European repertoire, which is disappointing. Surely one of the Verdi arias could have been replaced with something by Moniuszko?
An enthusiastic audience prevailed on Mr. Beczala for three encores: one from Countess Maritza (Kalman), E lucevan le stelle (Tosca/Puccini), and a deep dive into the schmaltz mines with Wien, nur du allein which to my surprise was written by Rudolf Sieczyński, born in Austria but of Polish ancestry. So Mr. Beczala did manage to give a little Polish touch, albeit far away south of the Danube, to the evening. He also demonstrated a real talent for the Viennese operetta style – I heard echoes of Fritz Wunderlich in those numbers.
Now, how are we going to get Mr. Beczala to sing with the Los Angeles Opera?
KNAPIK AND OTTOWA CLASSICAL CHOIR CELEBRATE 10 YEARS
The Ottawa Classical Choir celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2016 and presented a very special concert minor at the Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica in Ottawa on November. Co-Founder and co-Artistic Director of the Choir, internationally renowned soprano Maria Knapik, sang the solo in Mozart's Requiem in D 26 for the occasion, along with Stéphanie Pothier, mezzo-soprano; Steeve Michaud, tenor; Marc Boucher, baritone; and 150 choristers and orchestra, under the direction of Michel Brousseau.
The concert was held in collaboration with CHEO -- Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario and the Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre, notably its music therapy programs. The oldest and largest church in Ottawa, Notre-Dame was designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 1990.
[Sources: press release]
O’SHAUGHNESSEY AND TCHORZEWSKI CD RELEASE TOUR
In the month of December, a series of recitals was presented by violist Morgan O’Shaughnessey and pianist Jakub Tchorzewski in California and Oregon. The duo celebrated the recent release of their debut album, “Elegie,” featuring works by Beethoven, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Carter, and Tertis, recorded at the Castle Rohrsdorf in Dresden, Germany. The two have previously performed together on several occasions in Italy, including a solo recital for the President of the Italian Republic, which was broadcast live on RAI Radio 3. The concert, highlighting the duo’s dedication to rare works by 20th-century Italian composer Gino Gorini, is also available on the Tactus label.
O’Shaughnessey, a Los Angeles-based freelance violist, graduated with honors from the Interlochen Arts Academy and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He met Polish pianist Tchorzewski (who lives in Venice, Italy) in 2012 when a former teacher recommended him for collaboration on Tchorzewski’s concert series at Teatro la Fenice. Tchorzewski, also an alum of SFCM, specializes in collaborative chamber music repertory. He worked as a collaborative pianist at Latina, Udine and Venice Conservatories and has been a member of the European Chamber Music Teachers Association since 2014.
[Source: press release]
Kevin Starr—world-famous historian, chronicler of California and distinguished USC Professor—died in San Francisco on January 14, 2017 at 76 years old. The Polish Music Center had the great pleasure to host Professor Starr in 2010 in connection with our Ignacy Jan Paderewski sesquicentennial celebrations at USC, which included a panel discussion on Paderewski—the pianist, composer, politician and humanitarian and his substantial links to California (pictured above). Prof. Starr’s encyclopedic knowledge of California’s history greatly enriched the discussion of Paderewski’s links to the Golden State, from his first visit in 1895 to his last in 1939. Prof. Starr’s wit and his luminous, good-natured presence will be sorely missed. We feel truly honored to have crossed paths with such a remarkable scholar and a great human being. Requiescat in pace, Professor Starr… Non omnis moriar.
Polish performer, composer and poet Michał Kulenty has died at the age of 61 on January 3, 2017.
Kulenty graduated from the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in Warsaw. As a saxophonist he collaborated both with symphony orchestras and choirs, big bands and jazz ensembles. He performed at numerous jazz and contemporary music festivals in Poland and abroad, including in Japan with cellist Yo-Yo Ma as a part of his "Silk Road" project, and released over 40 albums. Critics have referred to him as "the Poet of Saxophone" and the "Polish Garbarek".
The artist composed theatre and film music. He worked in the Polish Radio as an advisor and was a member of several professional music organizations, including the Society of Authors and Composers ZAiKS, Association of Polish Artists Musicians (SPAM), Union of Performing Artists STOART and others.
The memorial service and the funeral was held on January 9, 2017 at 10.15 am at the Powązki Military Cementery in Warsaw.
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Newsletter Editor: Krysta Close
Layout Assistance: Charles Bragg &Thuy Le
Translation Assistance: Tomasz Fechner & Marek Zebrowski
Charles Bragg, Victoria Gerard, Maria Knapik, Łukasz Kuropaczewski,
Morgan O’Shaughnessey, Maja Trochimczyk, Marek Zebrowski
Sources of information: Polish Cultural Institute (NY & UK), Adam Mickiewicz Institute,
Nowy Dziennik, Polish Music Information Centre - Warsaw, Polish American Journal,
Poland.pl, PAP, ZKP, infochopin.pl, Ruch Muzyczny, Gazeta Wyborcza
Published by Krysta Close, January 19, 2017.
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