2008: Wojciech Kilar

Monday, November 10, 2008 | 7:30 p.m.
Bovard Auditorium, USC (see ADM on campus map)
3551 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Reception to follow the concert


Independence Day Gala Concert

From November 2008 PMC Newsletter
By Marek Zebrowski

An exciting evening of music in celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence Day will take place on November 10 at Bovard Auditorium on the campus of University of Southern California. Consul General Paulina Kapuscinska will preside over the official proceedings and deliver remarks on the history of Poland. She will also decorate Janusz Kaminski, the famous Polish cinematographer and Academy Award winner (pictured at right), with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Audience members will then be treated to an interview and concert of music by Wojciech Kilar, the Polish Music Center’s 2008 Paderewski Lecturer. Mr. Kilar (pictured at left) is a celebrated composer of symphonic and film music, and this concert will feature selections from his soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and The Ninth Gate, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady. Kilar’s chamber compositions Quintet for Wind Instruments and Orawa for String Orchestra will round-off the program. Performers include Midnight Winds, USC Strings, soprano Krysta Close, and other assisting artists. The ensemble will be led by Sharon Lavery, a faculty member of the Thornton School of Music at USC and an internationally renowned conductor. The event begins at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public, with a reception immediately following the concert.

Ninety years have passed since the conclusion of World War I. The end of this long and devastating conflict eventually proved to be a moment of great importance to all Poles, when Poland was reinstated as an independent country after 123 years of partitions. Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s tireless advocacy on Poland’s behalf across the United States and Europe in conjunction with the emergence of Polish political and military leadership under Pilsudski, led to the Polish cause being recognized at the Versailles Peace Conference.

Paderewski’s accomplishments as an artist, politician, and an outstanding humanitarian were recognized in 1923 by University of Southern California with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree. In recognition of Paderewski’s links to USC, the Polish Music Center established a cycle of Paderewski Lectures that introduce the leading Polish musicians to audiences in California. In addition, since its dedication in October of 2007, Paderewski’s monument graces the grounds outside the Thornton School of Music on the USC campus.

 

Wojciech Kilar’s musical career began with his avant-garde compositions in the early 1960s. By the early 1970s, Kilar’s interests and inspiration in the folklore of Tatra Mountains led to a string of very successful orchestral compositions, including Krzesany(1974), Koscielec (1976), and Orawa (1986). At the same time, Kilar also became a film composer, producing over 150 soundtracks to-date for such directors as Wajda, Zanussi, Polanski, Coppola, and others. Recipient of numerous international awards, Wojciech Kilar continues to compose, having turned recently to liturgical music with such masterpieces as Missa pro pace (2001), the Advent Symphony (2005), Magnificat (2006), and Te Deum, which was premiered earlier this fall.

We hope to see all of our friends and readers at this festive occasion, celebrating Polish history and honoring two of today’s greatest artists of film music and cinematography.


Review: Independence Day & Paderewski Lecture

By Barbara Kraft

The Celebration of the 90th Anniversary of Poland’s Independence Day & 2008 Paderewski Lecture-Recital was held on November 10 in the University of Southern California’s Bovard Auditorium. This event, co-organized by the Polish Music Center at USC and the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in L.A., honored two outstanding Polish artists well known in the United States for their significant contributions to film music and cinematography: composer Wojciech Kilar and cinematographer Janusz Kamiński.

 

Playing selections from The Portrait of a Lady on Nov. 10, 2008: USC Strings with Sharon Lavery conducting, plus recorder players Sally Rentschler, John L. Robinson, Alison Lowell, and Andrew Leonard, and Marek Zebrowski, piano. [Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]
The evening began with remarks addressed to an enthusiastic, full house by Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska on the spirit of Poland’s self-determination throughout its troubled history and its pride in regaining its independence 90 years ago in 1918.

Wojciech Kilar, the Polish Music Center’s 2008 Paderewski Lecturer, was unable to attend but was ‘present’ via a recorded interview conducted by Krzesimir Dębski in Poland and edited by Marek Zebrowski, Program Director of the PMC.   Speaking about both his film and his concert music, Kilar distinguished between the two, noting that “Film music is functional … A piece of music is like a story, having a beginning, development and an end.  However, in films they are broken down into bits, lasting a few, or a dozen or so seconds, or a few minutes.  In this aspect, it is music which is much easier to write….. when I write a symphony or a mass, I start from nothing.  Literally! …..As far as my own symphonic music is concerned, it can sometimes take years.”

Celebrated for both his symphonic and film music, the Independence Day concert featured selections from Kilar’s soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (with Andrew Leonard playing the clarinet solo) and The Ninth Gate, the latter hauntingly and beautifully sung by soprano Krysta Close, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady with Sally Rentschler, John L. Robinson, Alison Lowell, and Andrew Leonard on recorders.  These works were performed by the USC Strings conducted by Sharon Lavery, as was Kilar’s evocative Orawa (1986), which brought the program to a resounding end. Orawa was inspired by the traditional harmonies and folk music of the Highlands where, to this day, folk ensembles of string players remain popular.  The Quintet for Winds (1952) was performed by the Midnight Winds and reflects the influence of Nadia Boulanger, with whom Kilar studied in Paris as a young composer.

Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska bestows upon cinematographer Janusz Kamiński the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, from the President of Poland, and the Diploma of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Promotion of Polish Culture. [Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]
At the conclusion of the concert Counsel General Kapuścińska decorated Janusz Kamiński, the famous Polish cinematographer and two-time Academy Award winner, with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland. Kamiński served as Director of Photography for such celebrated films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the ButterflyMunichCatch Me If You CanMinority ReportArtificial IntelligenceAmistadJurassic ParkJerry Maguire, among others.

Asked by the Consul General about promoting Polish culture, Kamiński responded, “I’m always attracted to bleakness because Poland was not very beautiful when I was growing up.  I never really think about promoting Polish culture.  Polish culture means to me the country I grew up in and the values of the country.  I was shaped by Polish culture.”

Barbara Kraft is a public relations specialist and producer, writer and narrator of KCRW’s hour-long documentary on Segerstrom Hall, “Transforming O.C.” She has contributed to The Hudson ReviewThe Michigan QuarterlyThe Canadian Theatre ReviewOhio University Press, et al. She has just completed a book-length memoir entitled The Death of Anais Nin: Lux Aeterna.


Two Enjoyable Evenings Of Music

A Review and Op-Ed by Gary Fitelberg

The Polish Consulate of Los Angeles joined forces with the Polish Music Center at USC to present the 90th anniversary and celebration of Polish Independence Day in conjunction with the annual Paderewski lecture and concert.  The festivities took place on November 10th in Bovard Auditorium on the USC Campus.

Mr. Janusz Kamiński receives the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit from Consul General Paulina Kapuścińska [Photo credit: Jacek Nowaczyński]
Presiding over the official dedications and remarks was the Hon. Paulina Kapuścińska who presented a special retrospective of Poland’s history.  Later during this evening of enjoyable music she also decorated Janusz Kamiński, the famous Polish cinematographer and Academy Award winner, with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, as bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland.

Audience members also received a special treat with an interview and concert of music by Wojciech Kilar, the Polish Music Center’s 2008 Paderewski Lecturer. The filmed interview was produced by Marek Zebrowski, Director of the Polish Music Center, and presented the audience with insights into the personality and professional career of this illustrious modern Polish composer.

The evening featured a concert of symphonic and film music by Mr. Kilar, including selections from the scores of Roman Polanski’s The Pianist and The Ninth Gate, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady and Kilar’s chamber compositions Quintet for Wind Instruments and Orawa for String Orchestra. Performers included Midnight Winds, USC Strings, soprano Krysta Close (Manager of the Polish Music Center), and other assisting artists. The ensemble was led by Sharon Lavery, a faculty member of the Thornton School of Music at USC and an internationally renowned conductor.

In the November 2008 PMC Newsletter, Mr. Zebrowski provided the following historical context for the music performed during this concert: “Wojciech Kilar’s musical career began with his avant-garde compositions in the early 1960s. By the early 1970s, Kilar’s interests and inspiration in the folklore of Tatra Mountains led to a string of very successful orchestral compositions, including Krzesany (1974), Koscielec (1976), and Orawa (1986). At the same time, Kilar also became a film composer, producing over 150 soundtracks to-date for such directors as Wajda, Zanussi, Polanski, Coppola, and others. Recipient of numerous international awards, Wojciech Kilar continues to compose, having turned recently to liturgical music with such masterpieces as Missa pro pace (2001), the Advent Symphony (2005), Magnificat (2006), and Te Deum, which was premiered earlier this fall.”

Kaminski & Kilar are creative geniuses and two giants in their respective fields of cinematography and music.

Two evenings later in the same hall at the same time was yet another enjoyable evening of extraordinary music and musicians presented by Music Director Michael C. Powers and his USC Thornton Concert Orchestra.

The program consisted of Chabrier’s Espana, Bizet’s Carmen Suite No. 2, and, after the intermission (which seemed much too long to interrupt such carefully blended and interwoven classics and beautiful and enriching deeply moving pieces), Rodrigo’s Six Songs and Concerto de Aranjuez; followed by an awesome and rousing Capricio espagnolby Rimsky-Korsakov.

If you are ever fortunate to hear this latter piece, hold on to your hats as the electricity and energy level generated in the concert hall might possibly include gusts of strong wind and lightning bolts straight to your soul.  Be forewarned. A mixture shocking and strange, this combination of sounds will surely keep you alive, awake and delightfully amazed.  It was noteworthy one which shall never be forgotten, and well-worth a standing ovation.  More well-seasoned veterans could do no better justice to the piece.  Powers was born to conduct.

As this very special concert performance took place right on the heels of the celebration of Poland’s 90th Anniversary of Independence, it is highly recommended by the author to the brilliant conductor Michael C. Powers to expand for the future and include the Spanish-style Nocturne and Tarantella, Op. 19, by Karol Szymanowski as arranged by Grzegorz Fitelberg in this repertoire.  Another alternative might possibly include the Szymanowski work together with the symphonic poem Episode at a Masquerade by Mieczyslaw Karlowicz as arranged, completed, and orchestrated by Grzegorz Fitelberg and Song of theFalcon by Grzegorz Fitelberg I strongly urge Mr. Powers to do so in collaboration with the Polish Music Center at USC and Director Marek Zebrowski.

Gary Fitelberg is a music critic and historian.