The annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles will be held November 5-9, 2014, and once again it promises to be a veritable feast of concerts, wine-tasting, fine food, and truly spectacular Fall Feast in this charming Central Coast town.

In addition to the regular musical programs presented in several different venues, a few extra attractions have been scheduled this year for the Festival-going public and aficionados of Polish culture.

The biggest and most important moment of this year’s Festival will be the November 8 Gala Concert, held at the elegant and historic Ballroom of the downtown Paso Robles Inn. Zheeyoung Moon (pictured below), a pianist born in South Korea but now residing in Berlin, is a brilliant and very promising young artist who has performed across the globe and won several very prestigious piano competitions, including the First Prize at the 2013 International Paderewski Piano Competition in Bydgoszcz, Poland. Ms. Moon will present a program of works by Chopin, Paderewski, Schumann and Liszt. The highlights of her program include Chopin’s Op. 35 Sonata and the “Heroic” Polonaise Op. 53, a group of charming Paderewski miniatures (including his celebrated Menuet and tender Nocturne), and Liszt’s brilliant Rhapsodie espagnole. On Friday, November 7, one day before her recital, Ms. Moon will conduct a piano master class that is open to all—piano students and the general public—free of charge.

The Festival will be officially launched on Thursday, November 6. Since this is Paderewski’s birthday, special celebrations—musical and culinary—are on offer. Cassandra Tarantino and the Cuesta College North County Chorus will present an evening of choral music at Cass Winery in Paso Robles. The program will feature some Polish songs (including, in anticipation of the season, one of the most famous Christmas carols), as well as works by Bach, Mozart, and Dvořak. The Chorus will close their concert with a performance of Paderewski’s one and only composition for choir, Hej, Orle biały [Hey, White Eagle!], which was written for the Polish troops fighting with the Haller’s Army during World War I. A gourmet meal accompanied by wines from Cass Winery can be purchased together with the tickets to this event. It promises to be a most festive and delicious celebration of Paderewski’s birthday!

Two exceptional musicians will travel from Poland to perform for this year’s Festival on Friday, November 7. Violinist Mariusz Patyra—winner of the Paganini Violin Competition in Genoa, Italy—will be joined by pianist, composer and arranger Krzysztof Herdzin, whose catalogue of recordings exceeds 200 albums among which are 16 Gold and three Platinum records. The Patyra-Herdzin Duet will present an evening of Romantic music, including works by Wieniawski, Chopin, Paganini, Dvořak, and others. Krzysztof Herdzin will also present a live improvisation on Chopin and Mariusz Patyra will demonstrate his sterling virtuosity in one of Paganini’s most iconic works, his Caprice no. 24 for solo violin. Billed as the “Romantic Virtuosos,” the concert will be held in the historic Park Ballroom in the heart of downtown Paso Robles.

Promoting music appreciation among the youngest members of the community and fostering growth of the local talent are also important aspects of the Paderewski Festival. It was a stated wish of Paderewski to endow and run a music school in Paso that would provide free tuition to all its students. Although his plans did not materialize during Paderewski’s lifetime, since 2007 the Festival has run a Youth Piano Competition for pianists residing in the three Central Coast counties. The winners of this year’s auditions (held in late October) will be presented during a Festival concert on Saturday afternoon, November 8. The Paso Robles Inn Ballroom will be venue for this showcase of budding virtuosos and, in order to encourage the widest possible audience to attend, admission to this event is free.

2013 Paderewski Youth Exchange in Poland
Participants in the 2013 Paderewski Youth Exchange in Poland

On a youth-related topic, since 2009 the Paderewski Festival and the Province of Tarnów in Poland have engaged in a program of International Cultural Exchange, held in Paso Robles and at Paderewski’s manor house in Kąśna Dolna, Poland, during alternating years. Winners of the Youth Piano Competition in Paso had travelled to Poland in 2009, 2011 and 2013. In turn, their Polish counterparts have visited Paso to perform at the Festival in 2010 and 2012. This year, two Polish students will also be joined by two students from the Podolia Region in what is now the Ukraine, where Paderewski was born in 1860. This way, the Festival celebrates and links the three regions of the world associated with Paderewski’s life—his birthplace in the former Polish territories, his roots in southern Poland (Kraków and Kąśna Dolna), and his American home in Paso Robles, where Paderewski once owned large vineyards and almond tree ranches. Polish and Ukrainian students will be heard at Cass Winery on Wednesday, November 5 and at the Ballroom of the Paso Robles Inn on Sunday, November 9. The former concert is an invitation-only presentation, but the November 9 performance is free and open to the public. The young virtuosos will perform a variety of compositions by Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Liszt, Grieg, Debussy, Rachmaninoff and, of course, Paderewski! In addition, the two Ukrainian students will present music by two little-known Ukrainian composers, which certainly will add to our knowledge of musical culture in this part of the world.

Other Festival attractions (both free!) include a Saturday morning film screening and a noontime performance of Polish dances by the Krakusy Ensemble from Los Angeles. The 10 a.m. screening at Park Cinemas on November 8 will feature Impromptu, a delightful 1991 film about Chopin’s life in Paris. Starring Hugh Grant and Bernadette Peters, this gentle comedy provides plenty of beautiful music and a fascinating look at the artistic community in the heart of Romantic-era Paris. After the film screening, just a few steps across the street, the Krakusy Ensemble will perform several Polish dances at the Gazebo in City Park, starting at 12:30 p.m. With their colorful costumes and invigorating rhythms, the Polish dance concert promises to be an excellent addition to this year’s Paderewski Festival.

More information on the Paderewski Festival can be found on the website. Tickets can be purchased online or ordered by phone by calling the Festival at 805. 235.5409. Mail inquiries should be directed to: Paderewski Festival, P.O. Box 272, Paso Robles, CA 93447 and e-mail questions can be sent to:

See you in Paso in November!