The world premiere of Marta Ptaszyńska’s latest work, Crystallites Polyphony for string quartet and marimba, will take place on May 31 at the Polish Consulate of Chicago. The program will also include several other works by Ptaszyńska—Blue Line for marimba solo (2010) and Elegy in Memoriam of John Paul II for solo viola (2005), —as well as Krzysztof Penderecki’s Capriccio per Siegfried Palm for solo cello (1968). The concert will be broadcast by Chicago’s WFMT radio on June 10.

This highly-anticipated May 31 premiere will be performed by marimba soloist Josh Graham and the Chen String Quartet. Composed entirely of members of the Chen family, the quartet is also part of the string section of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, with Robert Chen serving as concertmaster, Laura Chen the Second Violin section concertmaster, and Beatrice Chen part of the viola section. The youngest member of the Chen family, Noah, is a cellist about to graduate from the Juilliard School of Music.

Chen String Quartet (L–R) members Robert Chen, Laura Park Chen, Noah Chen, and Beatrice Chen.

Also in May, several of Ptaszyńska’s works will be recorded for the NAXOS label by members of the faculty of Warsaw Music University. They include three instrumental concertos: Concerto Grosso for 2 Violins and OrchestraConcerto for Flute, Harp and Orchestra, and Se-Ta for Two Accordions and Chamber Orchestra. The soloists in these works included Daniel Mieczkowski (flute), Zuzanna Elster (harp), accordionists Klaudiusz Baran and Rafał Grząka, and violinists Roksana Kwaśnikowska and Wojciech Koprowski.  Paired with these concertos on this NAXOS CD are Winter’s Tale for Chamber Orchestra as well as several of Ptaszyńska’s chamber works, including Mancala for Two Violins, Sogno d’Euridice for Two Harps, and The Last Waltz in Vienna for Three Accordions. Mariusz Smolij was the conductor leading the orchestra on this new release.


In her note to the composer who has been in Poland on other projects throughout this past few months, Lucyna Migała, Artistic Director and General Manager of the Chicago-based Lira Ensemble related that the Crystallites Polyphony received a beautiful performance and Josh Graham’s performance of the Blue Line also impressed the overflowing audience at the Consulate’s elegant ballroom. Other friends of the composer shared similar words of praise for the music and the public’s enthusiastic response.

Below are several photographs from the concert:

[Sources: email from the composer,; Photos used by permission]