Polish Music Newsletter

May 2016, Vol. 22, No. 5. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California

 Anniversaries  | Discography | Festivals 
News | Obituaries |
Performances | PMC News

Back to PMC Home Page  |   PMC Newsletter Archive



Jann Castor
Jann Castor, né Wiesław Ruciński (1954-2016)

Jann Castor, an outstanding Polish rock musician, guitarist, composer, arranger, poet, sound designer and film editor, died in Hollywood on 21 April 2016 after a long illness. He was 61 years old.

Born Wiesław Ruciński in Włocławek, Poland, on 27 June 1954, he began using stage name Jann Castor after emigrating from Poland to Australia in 1981. Interested in music as a child, Ruciński at first explored guitar, piano and composition, but found his artistic calling by producing audio shows for the “Bielany Radio,” a student broadcasting cooperative, while studying chemistry at the Copernicus University in Toruń in the late 1970s. As Ruciński became familiar with sound recording equipment and the group of engineers working at the radio station, he began to create soundtracks for puppet shows and radio plays for children and collaborated with the student-run Panoptykon Theatre in Toruń. Ruciński’s most important early achievement however was to establish in 1977 and lead Res Publica, a legendary art rock ensemble that performed experimental compositions and pioneered electronic layering of soundtracks. When Res Publica’s early cassette albums became popular across Poland, Ruciński’s fame on the avant-garde music scene soared and led to the release of his first single, You’re Gotta Go (1981) on the Tonpress label. Soon thereafter, Ruciński moved to Sydney where, as Jann Castor, he continued to gather laurels as a composer and performing rock artist. Within a few years in Australia he recorded two very successful albums, Precedence (1990) and Red Express (1991), which were released on the BMG label and nominated for the Australian Grammy Awards.

Jann Castor TorunBuilding on his Australian success, Jann Castor set his sights on Hollywood, moving to southern California in the late 1990s and working mainly as a composer and sound designer for various film projects. His career in the field spanned over twenty-five years and included such films as Red Express (1991), Last Detour (1994), The Killers Within (1995), Kiss of Death (1997), Maniacts (2001), Asylum Days (2001), Beyond the Quest (2007), Four Nights with Anna (2008), and 11 Minutes (2015), among others. Castor’s artistic collaborators included several distinguished film directors, including Jerzy Skolimowski, Malcolm McDonald, Russell Solberg, Andrei Feher, and Thomas Elliott.

Castor performing in Toruń in 1975

In addition to his film scoring achievements, Jann Castor was a virtuoso flamenco guitar performer, who appeared at various festivals and public venues in Australia, Poland and southern California. He also authored a Concerto for the 11-String Steel Guitar and Orchestra and Bicentennial Requiem for 40 Didgeridoos and Orchestra, served as music consultant for Radio WAWA in Warsaw, and collaborated with actress and performer Katarzyna Figura on several charitable projects joining visual arts and music.

Castor on the beach in Australia in 1985

Endowed with a unique gift for the creative use of new music technologies, Jann Castor’s boundless imagination and astute ear created memorable soundscapes for all of his musical projects, including commercials, short films, and experimental videos. A gifted arranger and sound editor, he also collaborated with Jon Anderson on a highly acclaimed 2010 album, Unbroken Spirit.

Solitary and proud, given to intense, all-night sessions in his home studio where he endlessly experimented with sounds and video, Jann Castor was an embodiment of the artist-auteur who pursued diverse creative challenges and ingenious ways of expressing music just the way he heard it. Original and unyielding, stubborn and brave, he remained an incurable optimist who steadfastly refused to succumb to the terminal illness he was diagnosed with over three years ago. Hospital admissions for treatments to relieve his failing liver and kidneys grew ever more frequent and lengthy, yet Jann would always insist on being discharged home where, next to keyboards, monitors, mixing tables, computers and microphones, he would continue to arrange music, work on editing projects for clients and friends, and also write poetry. The seriousness of his condition notwithstanding, all inquiries from family and friends were invariably parried with Jann’s terse and impatient, “I’m fine. Don’t worry.” Although his voice became weaker and his denials more ardent, Jann’s spirit remained strong throughout the difficult last few months. His wish to be the master of his own space was finally granted on that fateful late April afternoon, when his body was discovered by the Los Angeles Police Department summoned to enter Jann’s apartment. With a photo and a poster of his Rock Songs album prominently displayed on the wall, Jann’s apartment was strangely quiet, yet filled with a powerful presence a unique artistic personality. The sad formalities over, at some point the investigating officer pulled out his phone and tapped in a few characters. Instantly, the sounds of a video, My Didgeridoo with Jann and his beloved guitar soared well beyond the space of a little street in Hollywood that was his last earthbound destination.

Castor LAState of Consciousness

By Jann Castor, Saturday, August 5, 2006

All galaxies are in your own room.
Not in monasteries.
Not in churches.
Not even in Universe or Heavens.
It is just you who has the access to the beyond of thought.
State of consciousness.
No gods. No fear. No fiends or angels.
All galaxies are in your own room.

Castor in Los Angeles in 2014




Coloratura soprano Malia Bendi Merad, one of the many scholars who visited the PMC over the last few months, contacted us in April with an interest in studying Karol Szymanowski’s 6 Songs of a Fairy Tale Princess, Op. 31. During several hours spent in our library, Bendi Merad not only poured over the score of these brilliant and challenging songs, but also listened to several recordings and received coaching on the Polish texts and background information from PMC Director Marek Zebrowski. Having recently finished a tour as Queen of the Night in Mozart’s Magic Flute with director Peter Brook, Bendi Merad will now go on to perform the Szymanowski in Spain with pianist Olena Blagulyak at the Málaga Classica Festival on May 27, 2016. Szymanowski’s Myths - Three poems for violin and piano, Op. 30 will also be performed by Anna Margrethe Nilsen – violin and Josu de Solaun – piano on the same program, entitled “Fairy Tales & Myths.”

May 27, 2016 | 8:00 pm
Málaga Classica Festival: “Fairy Tales & Myths” feat. works by Szymanowski
Echegaray 6. 29015 Málaga, Spain
Info: www.malagaclasica.com

[Source: malagaclasica.com]





Warsaw Music Encounters (May 7-13, 2016) is an annual festival of early and new music founded and directed by composer Władysław Słowiński since 1986. In accordance with the program formula contained in the Festival’s subheading—"Early Music - New Music"—the Festival presents important early and new music compositions and promotes the most recent works by contemporary composers, written for the large part specially for this Festival, which also contributes to its unique character. The Festival is organised by the Warsaw Branch of the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP) and co-organised by Polish Radio Programme 2 with significant financial support from the Capital City of Warsaw, the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and ZAiKS. Below is a listing of the world premieres that will take place during this year’s Festival.

May 7, 2016, 7:00 pm, Witold Lutosławski Polish Radio Concert Studio:

  • Krzysztof Baculewski – Volte-Face for orchestra (2016)* *
  • Zbigniew Bagiński – Pentaeidos for orchestra (2016)**

Daniel Wnukowski – piano; Polska Orkiestra Sinfonia Iuventus; Krzysztof Słowiński – conductor

May 12, 2016, 7:00 pm, Royal Castle Concert Hall: Composers from Warsaw – musical postcard with history:

  • Iwona  Kisiel – Kiedy umrę kochanie...  for mezzo-soprano and piano to words by Halina Poświatowska (2016)** and Pamięci mocfor mezzo-soprano and piano to words by Krystyna Królikowska-Waś (2016)**

Lilianna Zalesińska – mezzo-soprano; Piotr Szymanowicz – piano

** The creation of these works was subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s 'Collections – Composing Commissions' program, which is operated by IMiT.


May 7-13, 2016
Warsaw Music Encounters w/ premieres by Baculewski, Bagiński & Kisiel
Various venues around Warsaw
Info: www.wsm.art.pl

[Sources: kulturalna.warszawa.pl, wsm.art.pl]



jagoda szmytkawojtek mazolewskipiotr kurek
Jagoda Szmytka, Wojtek Mazolewski and Piotr Kurek

This year’s "KODY" [Codes] Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music (May 11-14, 2016) in Lublin, Poland will feature the world premiere performances of two new works by Polish composers who were commissioned by the Festival. First, on May 11, RÊVE RAVE will be performed by the Wojtek Mazolewski Quintet, Halina Przebinda and Kuba Mikurda. This cross-genre performance in three acts was conceived of and created by Jagoda Szmytka and co-composer Wojtek Mazolewski.

Next, the new opera Ivy Snowstalkers of Ancient Apron by Piotr Kurek with libretto by Michał Libera will be premiered on May 12 at the Centre for Culture in Lublin. It will be performed by Natalia Przybysz and Anastazja Bernad– vocalists; Hilary Jeffery– trombone; Kamil Szuszkiewicz – trumpet; Jerzy Rogiewicz and Hubert Zemler – drums and percussion. Kurek’s debut opera is a utopian fantasy about the world where people disappear every day. The plot of this science fantasy is based on Alan Weisman’s book The World Without Us.

In addition to the premieres by Polish composers, several other works by composers from abroad will be given their Polish premiere, as well as many other concerts, artist meet-ups, isntallations and dance nights.

May 11-14, 2016
"KODY" Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music
Various venues in Lublin, Poland
Info: www.kody-festiwal.pl

[Source: kody-festiwal.pl]



nowa muzyka 2016On Friday May 6th, 2016 the Department of Education at the Academy of Arts in Szczecin will host ‘Nowa Muzyka’ [New Music], a multidimensional music meeting combining live performance with music-related art and lecture at the Pałac pod Globusem. This interdisciplinary and interdepartmental project will feature an exhibition of posters compiled under the topic of “New Music” by Professor Lex Drewiński’s class. Professor Marcin Tadeusz Łukaszewski from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw will also give a lecture about new piano music created by Polish composers, followed a concert during which Marcin Tadeusz Łukaszewski will perform the premieres of Piotr Gryska - Toccata (2015) and his own Three Preludes (2013-2016).

Friday May 6th, 2016 | 4:00 - 6:00 pm
‘Nowa Muzyka’ – interdisciplinary exhibition, lecture and concert
Pałac pod Globusem, pl. Orła Białego 2, Szczecin, Poland
Info: www.akademiasztuki.eu

[Sources: polmic.pl, akademiasztuki.eu]



musica polonica novaThe 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 2016 theme was taken from The Romantic by Adam Mickiewicz:

"Faith and love are more discerning than lenses or learning.”

The Festival consisted of 11 concerts as well as meetings with composers, journalists and music critics. The program was intended to answer the eternal question of whether expressing feelings and emotions, and sense-based reception or rather logical structure, form, and usage of the newest technology are more important, meaningful, and essential to music.

The program included world premiere performances of the following new works by Polish composers:

  • April 8Cezary Duchnowski & Paweł Hendrich: Bajki Robotów[Fables for Robots].Co-opera,  based on short stories by Stanisław Lem **
  • April 9Przemysław Scheller: Scyintillationfor chamber ensemble and electronics  (2016); Karol Nepelski: Vibranium(2016); Rafał Zapała: Concentus appparatus (2016); Paul Preusser (1974) Untitled (2016)
  • April 12Artur Zagajewski (right): Steelypips ** and Krzysztof Wołek: Threads
  • April 13Sławomir Wojciechowski: King Ludd; Tadeusz Wielecki: Words; and Jarosław Płonka: Fading urban landscape
  • April13 –New works by Michał Papara; Piotr Peszat; Kamil Kruk; Piotr Roemer; Szymon Strzelec; Alaksandr Porakh; and Dominik Lewicki
  • April 14Agata Zubel: Recital for Four; and Szabolcs Esztenyi, Ryszard Latecki & Tadeusz Wielecki: Haiku from Romania**
  • April 15Zygmunt Krauze: Concerto for accordion and orchestra ** and Dariusz Przybylski (right): Musica della notte. Omaggio a Pasolini for percussion and symphony orchestra **

The works will be presented by New Music Orchestra, Cellonet, Kwartludium, LUX:NM, Finland-based defunensemble, Defibrillator, Andrzej Bauer, Rafał Łuc, Maciej Frąckiewicz, Leszek Lorent, Kuba Badach, Joanna Freszel, Adam Bałdych, Wojciech Błażejczyk and many others. Please see the links to each concert date for the names of all individual performers.

** The creation of these works was subsidized by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s 'Collections – Composing Commissions' program, which is operated by IMiT.

[Sources: polmic.pl, nfm.wroclaw.pl]



Polish pianist Magdalena Baczewska, violinist Sandy Cameron and cellist Zhao Jing will serve as soloists for two concerts in China featuring the music of Chinese composer Tan Dun. The composer will lead the Macau Orchestra in works from his scores for three martial arts movies—Crouching Tiger Concerto for Cello and Orchestra, The Triple Resurrection for Violin, Violoncello, Piano and Orchestra, The Banquet Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, and Hero Concerto for Violin and Orchestra.

World-renowned composer/conductor Tan Dun has had the honor of composing film music for three films by critically acclaimed directors: Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Zhang Yimou (Hero), and Feng Xiaogang (The Banquet). Combining the ancient tradition of Chinese martial arts philosophy and visual arts, the films were all received with high praise worldwide. Dun demonstrates an ability to mix traditional Chinese sounds with Western orchestral styles, an appropriate approach to films with mixed origins. His Martial Arts Trilogy is pure beauty and cinematic drama. Scenes from the three films are played on the big screen while the orchestra performs the powerful scores live.

Tan Dun is a contemporary Chinese classical composer and conductor, most widely known for his scores for the movies “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “Hero,” as well as composing music for the medal ceremonies at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. His works often incorporate audiovisual elements, including the use of instruments made from paper, water and stone. His work is often inspired by traditional Chinese theater and ritual performances. He earned widespread attention after composing the score for Ang Lee’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” (2000), for which he won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, and a BAFTA Award. In 2013, he was named a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador.

May 7, 2016 | 8:00 p.m.
Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy with Magdalena Baczewska, piano
Guangzhou Opera House
Info: gzdjy.org

May 9, 2016 | 8:00 p.m.
Tan Dun’s Martial Arts Trilogy with Magdalena Baczewska, piano
Shenzhen Poly Theater
Admission: 380 – 1,880 ¥
Info: szdaily.com

[Source: press release, magdalenanyc.com, shoutout.wix.com]



Jan Kalinowski and Marek Szlezer of the Cracow Duo performing for the 2015 PMC Spring Concert
in USC’s Newman Recital Hall in Los Angeles

“Kalinowski and Szlezer, friends since childhood, have a wonderfully natural rapport and there is an arresting quality to their playing that gives life to the music”—The Strad 

From April 27-29, the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in São Paulo, Brazil hosted the first annual Festival de Musica Polonesa [Polish Music Festival], this year honoring composer Aleksander Tansman (1897-1986) and featuring the Cracow Duo.  After the Festival, featured guests pianist Marek Szlezer  and cellist Jan Kalinowski of the Cracow Duo will give travel on to give several concerts in Brazil and Argentina. USC Thornton School of Music alumnus, cellist Lars Hoefs, is the Artistic Director of the Festival, and Culture.pl is a partner of these events.

The three-day Polish Music Festival at the Institute of Arts of Universidade Estadual de Campinas, one of the most prestigious universities in South America and commonly known as the Unicamp, will feature not only the compositions of its patron – Aleksander Tansman. Brazilian audiences will also have a chance to listen to works by Fryderyk Chopin, Ludomir Różycki and Zygmunt Stojowski. The festival will also include a lecture on “Polish music after 2000 and the Cracow School of Composition,” which will be complemented by a concert of contemporary music featuring compositions by Tomasz Jakub Opałka, Marcel Chyrzyński, Krzysztof Meyer, Witold Lutosławski, Krzysztof Penderecki and Wojciech Widłak.

In addition their performances at the new Polish Music Festival, the Cracow Duo continued their South American tour with concerts elsewhere in Brazil and in Argentina. On May 2 they performed works by Stojowski, Chopin and Tansman at the Ambassador’s residence in Brasilia. On May 3, they take the stage in Curitiba, Brazil to perform works by Chopin and Tansman, in collaboration with the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland the city of Kraków (sister city of Curitiba). And on May 6 and 7, they perform works by Chopin, Tansman, Ginastera and Piazolla in Buenos Aires at the Museo de Arte Hispanoamericano Isaac Fernández Blanco, in collaboration with the Polish embassy.

[Sources: press release, culture.pl, facebook.com, cracowduo.com]



Polish guitarist Tomasz Fechner, who is currently at the USC Thornton School of Music on a Fulbright Scholarship, will perform a program of all Polish music on May 25 for the Ventura County Classical Guitar Society. For this event, Fechner will perform solo guitar works by Aleksander Tansman and Roman Ryterband. The concert is free however donations are encouraged—all money raised will support Fechner’s continued study at USC in the fall, at which time he will serve as a Research Assistant at the Polish Music Center studying the newly acquired archives of Roman Ryterband.

Fechner performing Ryterband’s Sonatina for Guitar (1978)
at the Tribute to Roman Ryterband (2 April 2016, Los Angeles)

Guitarist Tomasz Fechner was born in Pleszew, Poland, in 1990, and started his music education at the age of seven. He received his Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in classical guitar from the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań, where he studied with Piotr Zaleski. Since 2001 he has participated in several guitar competitions throughout Europe and has received many accolades along the way, including third prize at the International Guitar Festival in Mottola (Italy) and third prize at Anna Amalia International Guitar Compatition in Weimar (Germany). In 2014 the Fulbright Commission awarded him a scholarship to the USC Thornton School of Music, where he currently studies with Los Angeles Guitar Quartet’s founding member and G. Roger Bailey Classical Guitar Scholarship supporter, William Kanengiser. Since 2014 he has been a member of the Orpheo Guitar Quartet where he plays the first guitar. Tomasz Fechner plays on the guitar made by Boguslaw Teryks op. 80 from 2002.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016 | 7:00 p.m.
Tomasz Fechner Performs Ryterband & Tansman
Ventura County Classical Guitar Society
Pleasant Valley Parks and Recreation District Senior Center
1605  Burnley St., Camarillo, CA 93010
Admission: FREE, Donations accepted
Info: www.vccgs.com

[Sources: press release, www.vccgs.com]



3may2016_chicago.jpgIn honor of the first democratic constitution in Europe and second in the world only to the United States Constitution, Poles and Polonia all over the world celebrate Polish Constitution Day on or near May 3. Several musical activities that are open to the public are happening across the US. The festivities began on April 24 with a concert of Polish and Mexican Music presented by the Lira Singers and Cuerdas Clasicas String Ensemble in Downers Grove, Illinois. On May 1, the Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble and the Polish-American Congress of No. California will also co-host a celebration at the Golden Gate Park Band Shell in San Francisco. The event will include performances by the Dancers of Łowiczanie Polish Folk Ensemble, Children of the John Paul II Polish Language School, Sokoly: A Łowiczanie Dance and Music Ensemble for Kids, and the Golden Gate Park Band, conducted by Michael Wirgler.

As part of the annual Constitution Day celebrations, the 125th annual Chicago Polish Constitution Day Parade will be held on May 7 along State Street, from Lake Street to Van Buren St. This annual tradition gathers thousands of people devoted to Polonia and Poland and expects to draw many more to the celebration via television broadcasts over various Polish TV stations. This year’s motto is 1050 Years of Poland and will honor Jan Krawiec as the 2016 Grand Marshall and Anna Maria Anders and Lucyna Migala as Vice-Marshalls. Following the parade, the Chicago Chopin Foundation will host a Polish Constitution Day Concert in the Chopin Garden in Grant Park, in which participants can enjoy raffles, a historical re-enactment in period costumes, and concerts by Jana Pavlovska and the rock band “Mastermind.”

Sunday, April 24, 2016 | 3:30 p.m.
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo and May 3rd Polish Constitution Day
Divine Savior Church
6700 Main Street, Downers Grove, IL
Tickets: Adults - $15 in advance; $20 at the door; children $5
Info: (630) 969-1532, ext. 121

Sunday, May 1, 2016 | 1:00 p.m.
Annual May 3rd Constitution Concert in Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park Band Shell, San Francisco, CA
Admission is FREE
Info: www.polishfolk.org

Saturday, May 7, 2016 | 11:30 a.m.
125th Annual Chicago Polish Constitution Day Parade

State St, Chicago, IL
Admission is FREE.
Info: may3parade.org

Saturday, May 7, 2016 | 2 p.m.
Grand Constitutional Concert

Chopin Garden, Grant Park, Chicago, IL
Admission is FREE
Info: chopingarden.com

[Source: press releases]



eric luOrganized by the Chopin Foundation of the U.S. and the Southern Wine & Spirits of America, the series finale of the Chopin for All Free Concert Series will take place on May 14 and 15. The piano recital will feature works by Mozart, Schubert and Chopin, performed by First Prize Winner of the 2015 National Chopin Competition, Eric Lu. Lu is also the fourth prize winner at the 2015 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and has won first prize at the Moscow International Chopin Competition for Young Pianists (2014), Minnesota International e-Piano Junior Competition (2013), and the XII Ettlingen International Competition in Germany (2010). He started piano studies at the age of 6 with Mrs. Dorothy Shi and is currently a student of Profs. Jonathan Biss and Robert McDonald as well as pianist Dang Thai Son. Now 18 years old, Lu has received international recognition by audiences for his “exceptional musical sensitivity” (New York Classical Review) and “notable musical maturity” (Cincinnati Review). Tom Aldridge from NUVO News further expands on Lu’s abilities after a recent performance at Butler's Eidson-Duckworth Recital Hall, saying: “After Schubert's first two movements, the finale opens with a flash of counterpoint, Lu unleashing his breath-taking virtuosity, his flying fingers snatching every note called for. This is faster than I've heard anyone else take this movement, and Lu made it convincing.”

Saturday, May 14, 2016 | 3:00 p.m.
Chopin for All Concert

Broward County Main Library
100 S. Andrews Ave, Ft. Lauderdale
Admission is FREE.
Info: www.chopin.org

Sunday, May 15, 2016 | 3:00 p.m.
Chopin for All Concert

Granada Presbyterian Church
950 University Drive, Coral Gables
Admission is FREE.
Info: www.chopin.org

[Source: press release]



On Sunday, May 8, the Kosciuszko Foundation presents a showcase of talented youth with their Masters—tenor Piotr Buszewski and artist Rafał Pisarczyk. The program will include a recital and art exhibit. For details and a list of performers, visit www.thekf.org.

Sunday, May 8, 2016, at 3:00 p.m.
Master & Student - Music Meets Art

The Kosciuszko Foundation
15 E. 65th St, New York, NY 10065
Tickets: www.eventbrite.com or 212-734-2130

[Sources: press release, thekf.org]



Commemorative Modjeski plaque at entrance of Ben Franklin Bridge

The full-length documentary film Bridging Urban America: The Story of Master Engineer Ralph Modjeski  had its world premiere on April 13, 2016 at the NASCC Steel Conference - Gaylord Palms Convention Center. Created by filmmakers Basia and Leonard Myszynski, it celebrates master engineer Ralph Modjeski— a Polish-born, Paris-trained immigrant who contributed to the building of a modern America—as well as several strategically significant 20th century bridges and their impact on urban development. It is a tribute to innovative engineering, to the fabricators and to the workers, as well as a film about the melding of science and art, music and math.

Tomasz OpalkaAn amateur musician himself, Modjeski was a contemporary of the great pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski, and his mother—the famous actress Helena Modjeska—helped launch Paderewski’s career by appearing during his debut recitals in Kraków in 1884. This film features an original score by Tomasz Jakub Opałka (right), whose majestic style provides a perfect backdrop for this tale of epic feats of engineering and nation building.

The official trailer of the film can be viewed on vimeo.com.

[Source: facebook.com]





KODY 2016

codefest.jpgThis year’s edition of the "KODY" [Codes]  Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music will be held on May 11-14, 2016 in various venues in Lublin, Poland. The Festival is an international event devoted to the idea of combining the archaic and the new in music. The mixture of two distinctive canons of aesthetics forms a unique experience, in which magic and beauty co-exist. The festival provides contemporary composers and representatives of avant-garde jazz with an opportunity to meet traditional musicians and artists reconstructing early music.

The program of 2016 edition includes concerts of Ensemble Tourbillon with Olga Pasiecznik, Theatre of Voices, CocoRosie, Polish premiere of operas love fail by David Lang and Job by Ukraininan composers Roman Grygoriv and llia Razumeiko, premiere performances of works by Jagoda Szmytka, Piotr Kurek and Hans van Koolwijk that were commissioned by the Festival, as well as installations and meetings with artists and dancers.

Tickets available on-line at: www.ekobilet.pl/ck-lublin and at the box office of the Centre of Culture in Lublin. More information: www.kody-festiwal.pl

May 11-14, 2016
"KODY" [Codes]  Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music

Centre of Culture - 12 Peowiaków St, Lublin, Poland
Info: www.kody-festiwal.pl  

[Source: polmic.pl]



nowa muzykaThe IV Festival of Contemporary Music “Nowa Muzyka” will be presented by the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Department of The Polish Composers Union (ZKP) and the City Culture Center in Bydgoszcz from May 6-8, 2016. Admission to all concerts will be free. This festival has been held in the Bydgoszcz concert halls for four years and garners more followers every year. The goal of the event is to present contemporary music created by modern composers to the public. During the festival, music will be mixed with visual arts, including multimedia shows and painting exhibitions. Since last year the festival has been held under the auspices of the Krzysztof Penderecki European Music Center.

The Festival starts with a concert of electronic music on May 6 in the City Culture Center of Bydgoszcz, featuring accordion music and works composed for the saxophone and amplified piano in many variations by Zbigniew Chojnacki, Sławomir Opaliński, and Mateusz Ryczek. Electronic effects and a multimedia show will accompany the instruments. The following day, there will be a chamber music concert in the foyer of the Pomeranian Philharmonic, including works by Michał Dobrzyński, Marcin Gumiela and Piotr A. Komorowski. Finally, on May 8 a music concert for children will be held in the City Culture Center, performed by young musical artists, with works by Magdalena Cynk and Aleksander Brejza.

May 6-8, 2016
IV Festival of Contemporary Music “Nowa Muzyka”
Various venues in Bydgoszcz, Poland
Admission is FREE

[Sources: polmic.pl, penderecki-center.pl, facebook.com]



gaude mater, 2016The XXVI “Gaude Mater” International Sacred Music Festival will take a place from April 30 – May 8, 2016. The event has been organized annually for 25 years in Częstochowa, and it musically represents the city and the region. The 2016 edition of the Festival is supported by Polish president, Andrzej Duda.

The 26th edition of the Festival program includes 16 concerts performed by notable artists from France, Germany, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Great Britain, and Italy. The 2016 theme of the Festival is liturgical form, such as a mass, passion, or vespers. Die Kölner Akademie, one of the most recognizable interpreters of baroque music in the world, opened this year’s festival on April 30 at the Jasna Góra Monastery, performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Polish Historical Orchestra (oh!).

This year, the Częstochowa Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir will close the event in dedication to the celebration of Poland’s 1050th Baptism anniversary. Other performers include: the National Ukrainian Choir “Dumka”; Russian-Jewish cantor, Baruch Finkelstein and German soprano, Simone Kermes; and the Berlin San Souci Orchestra. Two concerts organized to celebrate the 90th birthday of Juliusz Łuciuk will be held in Częstochowa and Nowa Brzeźnica—the composer's’ birth city.

The program will also include the world premiere of Stanisław Fiałkowski’s Gregorian Jazz Mass, composed for the “Camerata Silesia” ensemble; Polish highland-style vespers, played by the Tatra Climate Orchestra; and Paweł Gusnar’s saxophone improvisations on the theme of a Gregorian Chant. Częstochowa is the center of the festival, however concerts will also take place in Bydgoszcz, Kraków, Warsaw, and the Benedictine Abbey in Braunweiler, near Cologne in Germany, as well as the following smaller cities: Radomsk, Nowa Brzeźnica, and Wrzosowa. The festival will also include Tadeusz Żaczek’s  photography exhibition and the XII International Composition Competition with the prize-winners’ concert in Częstochowa and Brauweiler.

The “Gaude Mater” Festival plays an important role in developing intercultural dialogue by presenting differentiated visions of sacred music in European and non-European traditions, becoming a symbol of surpassing boundaries and fostering a true dialogue between cultures. The main organizer of the event is “Gaude Mater” Friends Society.

April 30 – May 8, 2016
XXVI “Gaude Mater” International Sacred Music Festival

Various venues in the Częstochowa region
Info: www.gaudemater.com

[Sources: polmic.pl, gaudemater.com]




Events/discography/may16/augustyn_cdaccord.jpgAugustyn: Choral Music (sub iove)
3 Nokturny rzymskie [3 Roman Nocturnes] for mixed choir, Missa semibrevis for choir and organ, Od Sasa. Sounds-Pauses-Events for mixed choir, and Vagor ergo sum. Small cantata to words by Zbigniew Herbert, Emperor Hadrian and Italian National Railways for mixed choir and gongs
Agnieszka Drożdżewska - soprano [1]-[9]; Monika Michaliszyn - mezzosoprano [1]-[9]; Joanna Rot - alto [4]-[9]; Julian Gembalski - organ [4]-[9]; Jarosław Jęrdaś - percussion [10]-[11], [16]-[17]; Jacek Muzioł - percussion [10]-[11], [16]-[17]; Cantores Minores Wratislavienses
CD Accord ACD212 (also available on naxos.com)

From the CD Accord website:

Talking about his choral output, Augustyn descends into a somewhat schizophrenic string of free associations. In the same breath he mentions dozens of idiomatic expressions, beginning with angelic choruses, through to choirs of sirens and prisoners, ending with (if you’ll pardon the expression) “Uncle Sam” choruses. All in order to make us understand that hidden behind this immense inter-textual mixture of material is an attempt to impart new values to a multiple group of vocalists, associated by an average music lover with a stringent and disciplined sense of community, whose aim is singing in praise – never mind to whom. Augustyn’s chorus has nothing in common with heavenly choirs, where as in the Book of Jeremiah – “damned is he who badly performs the work of the Lord.” If anything it stems from ancient choreomania and is closer to poetry than composed music where melody and rhythm play an equal role dictated by the overall, over-riding “musicality” of the narrative. His chorus, rather than communal is usually an individual “I”: sometimes an actor, sometimes a listener and sometimes a go-between, an authority that assists in finding the correct path in world participation – as witnessed by Nietzsche’s deliberations in The Birth of Tragedy.

Dorota Kozińska (transl. Anna Kaspszyk)

[Sources: naxos.com, cdaccord.com.pl]



Events/discography/may16/ zambrzycki-payne_pmr0076.jpgBrahms & Bridge: Piano Trios
J. Brahms: Piano Trio No. 1 in B Major, Op. 8 (revised version, 1889); F. Bridge: Phantasie Piano Trio in C Minor, "Piano Trio No. 1"
Rafał Zambrzycki-Payne – violin, Hyung-ki Joo – piano, Thomas Carroll – cello
Paladino Music PMR0076 (also available on naxos.com and amazon.com) – April 2016

Former principal of the Ensemble Modern in Frankfurt and current concertmaster of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice, violinist Rafał Zambrzycki-Payne was born in Łódź, Poland. For his latest recording, he has teamed up with pianist Hyung-ki Joo, the famous half of the popular "Igudesman & Joo" duo, and cellist Thomas Carroll, a fellow member of the Dimension Trio, for a dazzling reading of Brahms' all-time favorite Piano Trio B Major. Also on this recording is Frank Bridge's gorgeous Phantasie Trio, a much underestimated gem of the chamber music repertoire of the early 20th century.

Events/discography/may16/zambrzycki-payne_xx-xxi.jpgOther recent recordings by Zambrzycki-Payne include Portrait Rafal Zambrzycki-Payne: XX/XXI (EMCD-015) released by EM Medien Records, the in-house recording label of Ensemble Modern. This survey of greats of the 20th and 21st century violin repertoire includes Witold Lutosławski’s Partita (1984) for violin and piano.

For more about Zambrzycki-Payne, winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition and the Parkhouse Award, visit www.rafster.com.

[Sources : naxos.com, paladino.at, rafster.com, ensemble-modern.com]




jonathan plowrightOn April 29, British pianist Jonathan Plowright performed Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 17 alongside the Szczecin Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra. Plowright’s interest in rarely performed piano works as an ambassador for Polish Romanticism led to the collaboration concert, in which Panufnik’s Heroic Overture and Prokofiev’s Symphony No. 7 in C sharp minor, Op. 131 were also  performed.  Conducted Łukasz Borowicz, the concert was held in the Symphony Hall of the Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczecin.

[Source: polmic.pl]



krol roger krakow operaKarol Szymanowski’s elusive yet ever-successful opera, Król Roger [King Roger], took the stage once again at the Kraków Opera on April 28 and 30. Directed by Michal Znaniecki, the opera saw new staging changes as compared to other European productions. The resulting performances were deemed to be masculine and with a softened homosexual plot, though still a deep and moving production. 

The performances garnered much attention with the charismatic and expressive Polish baritone, Mariusz Kwiecień, starring as the lead role. Kwiecień had previously received excellent reviews from the London premiere of King Roger, where Tomasz Cyz from Ruch Muzyczny magazine hailed Kwiecień as being “born for the part of King Roger, [where] – everything serve[d] the character created by Szymanowski and Iwaszkiewicz."

[Sources: polmic.pl, opera.krakow.pl ]



neo temporis group

The Neo Temporis Group traveled on a Ukrainian tour entitled “New Music. DIALOGUE WITHOUT BORDERS” from April 20 – 24, 2016. Conducted by Łukasz Wodecki, concerts took place in four cities of Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kyiv, and Odessa, where the ensemble presented works by eight different Polish and Ukrainian composers: Sławomir Kupczak, Karol Nepelski, Dariusz Przybylski, Jerzy Kornowicz, Oleksij Shmurak, Bohdan Sehin, Max Kolomiiets, and Zoltan Almashi. The project is co-financed by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage and ZAiKS Association of Authors and Composers.

The Neo Temporis Group was established in 2013 by NeoQuartet and Ensemble Nostri Temporis. The ensemble’s main objective is to create lasting international cooperation, based on the mutual exchange of experience and musical quality in search of a new modern musical art. The group plans to release their debut album in the fall, which will be released the independent Polish label Records Requiem.

[Sources: polmic.pl, facebook.com]



Following the release of his Deutsche Grammophon recordings of Chopin’s 24 Preludes (DG 028948119103, Sept. 2015)and Chopin’s Ballades 1-4, Berceuse and 4 Mazurkas (DG 028948124435, Feb. 2016), Chinese pianist and youngest-ever winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw Yundi Li took his Chopin repertoire on a multi-city Asian tour in November 2015 – January 2016. Starting with venues in Seoul, South Korea, he then played recitals and orchestral concerts in the Japanese cities of Yokohama, Tokyo and Nagoya, and concluded with a series of recitals in cities across China: Wuhan, Chonqing, Hangzhou, Huizhou, Dongguan, and Hefei.

Then on February 21, Yundi kicked off his 2016 international Chopin recital tour of the US and Europe with a performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles (read a review at the Los Angeles Times). Followed by stops at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, Moscow’s Barvikha Concert Hall, Vienna’s Konzerthaus, New York’s Carnegie Hall, and London’s Royal Festival Hall, Yundi has been sharing his characteristic “sovereign technique” (New York Times) to audiences around the world. Following a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, the New York Times raved about Yundi's performance of Chopin: "he showed off a graduated array of colors and moods, including moments of understated simplicity and tenderness." The internationally acclaimed pianist performed next in Moscow at the Barvikha Concert Hall on March 31, and at Stuttgart's Liederhaal Mozartsaal on April 2. After Germany, Yundi performed in the Ankara Festival in Turkey, followed by concerts in Paris and London, and finished his tour with a recital in Fribourg, Switzerland.

Listen to a podcast about the tour at www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/new-podcast-yundi-talks-about-chopin and read a review of the Ballades recording at www.gramophone.co.uk/review/chopin-ballades-mazurkas.

[Sources: gramophone.co.uk, yundimusic.com]


  • 2 May 1846: Zygmunt NOSKOWSKI (d. 23 July 1909), composer
  • 2 May 1913: Florian DABROWSKI, composer and teacher
  • 5 May 1819: Stanislaw MONIUSZKO (d. 4 June 1872), composer - Father of Polish Opera
  • 12 May 1805: Jan Nepomucen BOBROWICZ (d. 2 November 1881), guitarist and composer
  • 17 May 1943: Joanna BRUZDOWICZ, composer living in France, 2003 PMC Paderewski Lecturer
  • 18 May 1905: Wlodzimierz ORMICKI, composer, conductor, music theoretician
  • 20 May 1903: Jerzy FITELBERG (d. 25 April 1951), composer, son of the famous conductor
  • 20 May : Juliana GONDEK, Polish-American mezzo-soprano and vocal pedagogue
  • 28 May 1836: Jan KARŁOWICZ (d. 14 June 1903), father of composer Mieczysław
  • 29 May 1903: Marian NEUTEICH (d. 1943, Warsaw), composer and cellist
  • 31 May 1932: Boguslaw MADEY, conductor and composer
  • 31 May 1913: Irena GARZTECKA (d. 14 November 1963), composer and pianist


  • 1 May 1948: Marcel POPLAWSKI (b. 1882), composer and teacher, studied law and engineering before turning to composition
  • 4 May 1896: Józef SIKORSKI (b. 1813), composer and music theorist
  • 6 May 1892: Nikodem BIERNACKI (b. 1826), violinist and composer
    8 May 2012: Roman TOTENBERG (b. 1911), violinist
  • 10 May 1964: Hanna SKALSKA-SZEMIOTH (b. 29 April 1921), composer, student of Sikorski
  • 13 May 1958: Eugeniusz MOSSAKOWSKI (b. 1885), opera singer (baritone)
  • 21 May 1848: Felix JANIEWICZ (b. 1762), violinist, conductor, and composer
  • 21 May 2007: Adam FALKIEWICZ (b. 4 Jan 1980), composer
  • 23 May 1957: Alicja SIMON (b.1879), musicologist
  • 25 May 1917: Edward RESZKE (b. 1853), opera singer (bass), brother of Jan
  • 31 May 2006: Franciszek WYBRAŃCZYK (b. 28 May 1934), co-founder and former director of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, organizer and promoter of Polish and European music

Back to PMC Home Page PMC Newsletter Archive

Copyright 2016 by the Polish Music Center

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

Contributions from:
Magdalena Baczewska, Lars Hoefs, 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 Thuy Le & Krysta Close, May 12, 2016

The Polish Music Center includes all content on a space available basis. We reserve the right to refuse any content submitted.