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Dear Friends of Polish Music,

First of all, we would like to extend our best wishes to you and your family in these admittedly trying times. Although we’ve experienced many difficulties and challenges posed by the pandemic that is still around us, we are quite certain of better times ahead. Your sustained support gave us much courage to proceed, and we are deeply grateful to you for enabling us to continue our mission. Over the past twelve months we have persevered, trying to run the Polish Music Center as close to normal as possible. We were able successfully to carry out most of our flagship projects to the fullest extent possible, and we hope that you will help us continue these efforts into next year. Here’s the good news.

2021 Year-in-Review

Gorecki Autumn Poster
Gorecki Autumn Poster, 1997, USC, Los Angeles.

In place of a live Spring Concert in March, we presented an online-only event on the Thornton/Live website. We commemorated the tenth anniversary of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s death with video introductions by Thornton School of Music professors Lisa Cooper VestElizabeth Hynes and Larry Livingston. These USC faculty members shared their memories of Górecki’s 1997 visit organized by the PMC, which culminated with the composer leading the USC Thornton Symphony Orchestra in his Symphony No. 3. Partnering with TV Katowice and the Mickiewicz Institute in Warsaw, our Spring Concert program also included a screening of the 2012 Górecki documentary directed by Violetta Rotter-Kozera.

pianist Grzegorz Mania and cellist Bartosz Koziak,On October 10, 2021 the PMC was honored to present the first live concert with audience at USC since it was locked down in March of 2020. Our annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital featured Mieczysław Weinberg and commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of his death. A live concert by members of the Polish Chamber Musicians’ Association (PMCA) was preceded by a video lecture by Dr. Danuta Gwizdalanka, a leading Weinberg expert and biographer. Navigating pre-registration and restrictions regarding vaccination and masking were certainly worth it for the group of our most dedicated supporters who attended the event. As part of the exclusive “Thornton Signature Series,” this PMC event was also attended by two deans and various other Thornton School of Music faculty, highlighting PMC’s visibility at USC at the highest academic level.

Another continuing PMC project is the annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles. After presenting last year’s Festival online, we returned to live performances at various venues in Paso during the first weekend of November. The Messages String Quartet (right) presented a concert of music by Stanisław Moniuszko, Szymon Laks and Henryk Wars on November 5 at the Park Ballroom—also the first live concert held there since the pandemic. Youth Piano Competition winners were heard at Cass Winery in an afternoon recital on November 6, Paderewski’s 161st birthday. Later that evening, the Festival Gala Concert featured some of the greatest solo piano music by Chopin and Paderewski performed by Kevin Kenner, who arrived in Paso shortly after judging the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw.

Lutoslawski_Mi-partiBack at our USC headquarters, in-between we carried out a much-needed inventory of the Polish Music Center’s Manuscript Collection. This unprecedented treasure of over two hundred original scores and other documents represents Poland’s leading 20th century composers, including Lutosławski and Penderecki. After careful measurement and preservation assessment, the scores were placed in special acid-free envelopes and boxes sent by Poland’s State Archives and Beskid Plus Company, our longtime partners in safeguarding, cataloguing and digitizing of our collections.

Save the date in 2022

Our plans for the coming year include a “California Dreaming” Spring Concert on March 26, 2022, with world premieres of chamber music by contemporary Polish composers inspired by their visits to our region performed by the Cracow Duo (pictured at left). The Paderewski Lecture-Recital on October 9, 2022 will feature our long-awaited collaboration with the Oregon Music Festival and Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, presenting still more world premieres of orchestral works by Wojciech Błażejczyk and Paweł Mykietyn.

In conjunction with the Paderewski Festival, in summer of 2022 we are planning to restart the biennial Cultural Exchange Program in Poland. In this Exchange, winners of the Youth Piano Competition in Paso Robles travel to Poland for a two-week educational and performance-oriented program.

Kaper at the Tyszkiewicz residence. Los Angeles, mid-1970s. PMC Collection, All rights reserved.

Cooperating with the USC Digital Library, over the past twelve months we were also able to digitize our Bronisław Kaper Collection of film scores and popular songs. The listing of this collection will be made available online in 2022. We are also looking forward to the English language publication of the Paderewski Exhibit Catalogue, produced in collaboration with the Head Office of the State Archives in Poland.

This year’s challenges and limitations notwithstanding, we managed to reach new audiences in far corners of the world by being present to a much larger degree in the virtual domain. While in the years to come we expect to continue and strengthen our virtual presence, we are also actively planning in-person concerts and lectures with the lively discussions (and delicious treats) that inevitably follow such events. Since direct contact with our audiences is paramount to us, we would like to see you in person as soon as possible.

How you can support the PMC

If you are—and have been—one of our steadfast supporters, please accept our sincere gratitude for your much-needed help. Thanks to your generous and consistent encouragement, we were able to overcome this year’s challenges. If you have received this letter in the past but did not have a chance to reply, please consider doing so today. We appeal to our friends only once a year and donations to this fundraiser provide 100% of the PMC operating budget.

 Online donations are enthusiastically encouraged because mailed checks may take longer to reach us and be recorded and acknowledged. For credit card donations please visit giveto.usc.edu and mark the PMC check box under University-wide Giving Opportunities > Centers and Institutes > Music. Checks may be mailed to 820 W. 34th St. BMH 101, Los Angeles, CA 90089-1441—all checks dated by December 31 will be attributed to 2021, even if they are not processed until January. Please indicate “USC Polish Music Center,” either in the remittance line of your check or online, to ensure that your contribution reaches our account. To give by phone before the end of 2021, please call 323-481-8509 to speak with A. Phoenix Delgado, Vice Dean for Advancement for the Thornton School of Music. Should you have any questions, please email polmusic@usc.edu.

In the past, we have offered special incentives such as event recordings to our most generous donors. Since almost everything we did happened online this year, we hope that the enclosed video link to our flagship Paderewski Lecture-Recital will amply demonstrate our deep level of commitment to sharing Polish culture worldwide—to view, visit tinyurl.com/2021padlec (Lecture starts at minute 4:00, Recital at 24:00). To explore the wide variety of programs we organized and supported all year, please click on “Events” for more information.

As always, we thank you for your consideration and enclose our best wishes for the Holiday Season.
We remain sincerely and gratefully yours,

Marek Zebrowski

Marek Zebrowski, Director


Krysta Close

Krysta Close, Assistant Director