Polish Music Center Newsletter Vol. 6, no. 11
Winners of the 14th Chopin Competition
- I Prize: Yundi Li (China)
- II Prize: Ingrid Fliter (Argentina)
- III Prize: Alexander Kobrin (Russia)
- IV Prize: Sa Chen (China)
- V Prize: Alberto Nose (Italy)
- VI Prize: Mika Satao (Japan)
For the first time in 15 years (the last three competitions) the Jury granted a First Prize. 18-year old Chinese pianist Yundi Li wins $25,000, a Gold Medal and a Laurel Wreath. He is the youngest of this year’s finalists, being the same age as Maurizio Pollini and Krystian Zimerman were when they won the competitions in 1960 and 1975, respectively. While no awards were granted for the Best Performance of a Mazurka or Concerto, the Best Performance of a Polonaise was won ex-aequo by Sa Chen and Yundi Li.Of the thirty-eight pianists who qualified for the 2nd stage, 7 were from China, 6 from Japan, 4 from Russia and 4 from Poland (Piotr Machnik, Natalia Sawoscianik, Radoslaw Sobczak, Daniel Wnukowski). Participants who did not qualify for the finals, but received Honorable Mention Awards include Ning An (USA), Etsuko Hirose (France), Valentina Igoshina (Russia), Radoslaw Sobczak (Poland), Nicolas Stavy (France) and Mihaela Ursuleasa (Romania).
Visit the website for further particulars at http://www.chopin.pl.
Triumphs of the Warsaw Autumn, Part II
by Maja Trochimczyk
It is impossible to give justice to all the composers and compositions featured in a program of a week-long event, filled with chamber and symphonic concerts and special events from the domain of “performance art.” The first part of this report covered less than half of the concerts; in the second half, I will review the events that I considered the most striking and original. Praises of the Silesian school of performance and composition have already been voiced here. Now is the time for others.
Of the well-established composers based in Warsaw, the most impressive work brought to the festival Włodzimierz Kotoński. His Violin Concerto, just completed, received during the Warsaw Autumn its world premiere by Wanda Wiłkomirska, violin, and the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra (Silesian again!). Kotoński’s skill in creating modernist, colorful textures for the symphony orchestra has long been admired. This work adds to the rich gamut of colors a particularly fascinating usage of low instruments and melodic writing in the moody slow movement; the outer sections are satisfyingly virtuosic, dramatic and impressive. The solo part, though sometimes buried under the avalanche of orchestral sonorities, delights with the melodic expressivity and the concerto as a whole is a very worthy addition to contemporary repertoire for this instrument, along with pieces by Penderecki (Violin Concerto No. 2 “Metamorphoses”) and Lutosławski (Partita for violin and orchestra, Chain II).
The celebration of Kotoński’s chamber music began the whole Festival in a concert organized by his Polish publisher, PWM Edition at their concert hall in Fredry St. There was a small exhibition of Kotoński’s scores, a new promotional brochure available for the interested parties, and lots of good wishes to which we add our own.The too-early-departed Tomasz Sikorski (1939-1988) was represented in the festival’s program with his classic piece for string orchestra, Struny w Ziemi [Strings in the Earth], inspired by the poetry of James Joyce. This composition, written in 1979-1980, did not age and still sounded fresh, with its reflective moods and repetitive patterns based on a limited number of motives which recurred in a gesture of obsessive contemplation. The continuous viability of Sikorski’s music remined me of the freshness of pieces by Krauze and Serocki heard at the opening night of the festival – these “classics” of contemporary Polish repertoire formed a continous strain in the program and anchored the newer music in a tradition clearly dear to the Festival’s artistic director, Tadeusz Wielecki. Sikorski’s piece, heard on 22 September, in an inspired rendition by Solisti di Kijev, led by Wolodymyr Sirenko, appeared in a fascinating context provided by a WA-commission from Ukrainian composer, Stankowych, a work by Lithuanian Osvaldas Balakauskas – (Polilogas for saxophone and strings), and Louis Andriessen’s radical experiment with “mistuning” called Symphony for open strings and performed in a “hoketus” manner by instrumentalists whose strings were all set to different pitches. Such experiments might easily fail – it is enough to have a note or two out of order to throw the whole pattern off its course; the Kiev Soloists, however, brought the music to a new level of expressivity (though their beloved broad vibratos could not be performed) and sonorous richness.
Ensembles from East Block countries demonstrated a consistently high level of musicianship: the Minsk Avant-Garde Soloists from Byelarus, the Janacek Philharmonic Orchestra from Ostrava in Slovakia, and smaller groups, provided the listeners with numerous aural delights.
One of the highlights of the Festival and an epoch-making event in Polish musical life was the performance held on Monday night, 18 September 2000, in the auditorium/gymnasium of the soccer club CWKS Legia in Bemowo.
Three orchestras, the Slovak ensemble led by Petr Kotik, the Orchestra S.E.M. from New York, led by Christian Arming, and a Hungarian ensemble, led by Zsolt Nagy, joined forces to present Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Gruppen for three orchestras, of 1958 – a piece never heard live in Poland. No wonder why it could not be played – the piece is extremely difficult and requires soloistic abilities from all the orchestral performers, as well as hours of practice to achieve proper coordination of the ensembles, dispersed in space.
Stockhausen’s piece sounded “right” for the first time – I had and studied the score for my doctoral dissertation, I had some old LP recordings – but nothing prepared me for the clarity, balance, fast developments, powerful and expressive (in a fully modernist way) gestures of the complete work. The music was alive and made the whole audience alive with delight – and, I regret to say (for the sake of the other two featured composers) sounded much fresher and inspired than music from 1980s. Martin Smolka’s Nest was a Warsaw Autumn commission; its three movements filled with extended contemplative silences, sustained notes and chords, only momentarily gave room to echoing of motives. Spatial dispersion of the three ensembles did not get much ear-play here. Minimalist and austere in its exploration of sustained glissandi (like stretched strings and wires of sound, snapped from time to time by low sonic “booms” from the lowest-pitched instruments), Diamonds by Alvin Lucier disappointed some and infuriated many – for its sustained explorations of low register, which, some composers claimed, was damaging their hearing. Altogether, though, this was one of the most notable events of the whole Festival.More Polish music could be heard in chamber music concerts. Jan Pilch with the Warsaw Percussion Group performed several works for percussion and/or tape. Lidia Zielińska’s Expandata for snare drum and tape (1997) attempts to manipulate the sense of time in the listeners by using both live and sampled snare drum patterns in a richly layered composition; the work’s tape part includes sounds of snare drum, castagnets, and vibraslap transformed with sampler Akai S2800, program Notator for Atari 1040 ste and ProTools on Macintosh. Barbara Zawadzka’s Greya for tape (1987) alluded to visual greyness and the idea of superimposing various sound “hues” in its five movements; while Bartłomiej Gliniak’s Retro el – sonobis for tape (1999) brought its author theatrical imagination into play with sonorities and their patterns. Gliniak and Zawadzka both studied composition in Kraków, but there are few points in common between their approaches. Roman Haubenstock-Ramati’s work appeared in a program of the Vienna Saxophone Quartet, which performed also the world premiere of Lasoń’s Muzyka Kameralna no. 6 – Saxophonium, and pieces by Olga Neuwirth (Austria), Sofia Gubajdulina (Russia), and Steve Reich (New York Counterpoint). Haubenstock-Ramati’s Enchaine belonged among his “mobile” pieces in open form which leaves much to the discretion of the performer; since the musicians were excellent, the music sounded fascinating. This performance took place in the Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio at the Polish Radio.
No Polish content could be found in two concerts at the National Library, S. Dembe Auditorium – by the Arditti String Quartet (music by Ivan Fedele, John Cage’s String quartet in Four Parts, as well as ultra-complex pieces by György Kurtág (Hungary) and James Dillon (England). In some of the pieces the Neue Vocalsolisten from Stuttgart accompanied the Quartet. Their roles reversed in the next concert held in the same auditorium, where again a Neuwirth work appeared, in the worthy company of music by Manuel Hidalgo (an excellent exploration of two voices and clapping hands, Cuatro Citas de Juan Goytisolo), Michaël Lévinas and Hilda Paredes. After a marathon of 4 hours of music for strings and voices I decided that this combination does not work as well as other, more contrasting timbral juxtapositions – both voices and violins use vibrato, both have sustained, rich timbres, yet they did not seem to mesh very well in any of the pieces heard on these concert programs.
The final group of composers presented in Warsaw included three names from the younger generation: Hanna Kulenty, Jerzy Kornowicz, and Pawel Mykietyn. Of these three, Mykietyn, has already been recognized as one of the most interesting “voices” in Polish new music. The weekly Polityka awarded him the Polityka’s Passport – i.e. a passport to a great future as a composer. His brand of ironic postmodernism owes much to inspirations by the music of Górecki, Andriessen and, especially, Paweł Szymański (but little to the influence of his composition teacher in Warsaw, Włodzimierz Kotoński). Mykietyn’s Shakespeare’s Sonnets for male soprano and piano, performed a day later than programmed, on Friday night concert, was a confirmation of his great talent. The voice part was flexible, with a full range of sonorities, from speaking, through singing in unusual registers. The capricious phrasing reminded me of the vocal writing of Pascal Dusapin; yet the emotional impact of this music was much heavier, more dramatic. While following the twists and turns of the melody, and the idiosyncrasies of the piano part, I could not help thinking of the late Baroque mannerist art, with its sophistication, strong emotional contrasts, and an over-emphasis on decorative contours.
Mykietyn’s work, added on as a “postscript” to an evening of harmonium and harpsichord pieces (22 September), was a culmination of a program filled with excellent pieces by the formerly “younger” and now “middle” generation of composers. Hanna Kulenty’s Harmonium written for the Dutch virtuoso of this strange instrument, expanded the image of the harmonium as an oversized accordion, with its strangely shifting “oom-pah” accompaniment figures and continuous, sinuous line of melodic figuration. The effect of shifting harmonies and “breathing” dynamics was strangely disconcerting; as if the instrument had a life of its own and took the unwitting performer on a drunk adventure through harmonic mists and mistakes. It is a pity that only such a lovely miniature was heard from the output that now includes several large scale works never played in Warsaw – starting from her 1996 opera, the Mother of Black-Winged Dreams premiered to a great critical acclaim at the Munich Festival by Hamburg Opera. Then, there is the Second Violin Concerto, the Third Symphony – it would be nice if Polish audiences would know the full scope of Kulenty’s talent. She now resides in Aarnhem, Holland – and was there the composer of the year in the 1999/2000 concert season.
Edward Sielicki’s music also deserves a greater recognition; his Polymorphic Fantasy for harmonium and tape (similarly to Kulenty’s work, this was a Warsaw Autumn Commission and a world premiere), created an original sound world of euphonious, smoothly flowing sonorities, transforming harmonium into a quasi-electronic instrument. The final Polish work on this program, The Shape of the Elements for harpsichord and tape by Jerzy Kornowicz, was so well-played by Elżbieta Chojnacka, that this work received the Orpheus prize from the Polish music critics. The prize, dedicated to the best performance of any work by Polish composer, is an annual event and its announcement typically graced the banquet after the closing concert. This year, since there was no banquet, the announcement took place during the Manuscript Donation Ceremony at the Composers’ Union. However, to return to the meritum, I did not agree with the designation of this award – the best concert-experience and best performance was, for me, the evening of Krzanowski’s music by Orkiestra Muzyki Nowej (see Part I of this report). Kornowicz’s work wittily juxtaposed prerecorded and transformed natural sounds – frogs, some ducks, water – with intensely virtuosic harpsichord part; despite the soloist’s incredible talent and her ability to play any rhythm against any other, as well as to fill with energy and life any score, even the most average one, the music did not appear to be well-blended and the whole work seemed too long. Some phrasing gestures and the rhythmic flexibility reminded me of Kulenty’s solo pieces, Still Life with a Violin, Still Life with a Cello – composed in mid-1980s. Her music went in a different direction, including simpler and more repetitive rhythmic patterns; yet the idea of shifting time, stretching and accelerating patterns seems to have taken ground.
One more concert included a fair amount of Polish music: the afternoon event on Wednesday, 20 September, held at the Royal Castle. The stunningly beautiful Ballroom is an excellent concert hall for chamber music and early ensembles sounded very well in this space. Krzysztof Baculewski’s Sonata canonica was skillfully written and well performed; of equal merit were the performances of pieces by the new star of Dutch musical life, Martijn Padding (Bien mesure bien) and Jukka Tiensu. In this context, fresh and delightful musical ideas provided Tadeusz Baird (d. 1981) whose Chanson des trouveres was the highlight of the concert. Baird’s work is only available on an old LP recording, MUZA SXL 0462 (with Epiphany; Four Novelettes); one wonders why such a great composer does not receive recognition that he deserves.
While preparing the Manuscript Exhibition at USC (held on October 21, see below), I was surprised to find out that the majority of composition professors in my distinguished school are not familiar with Baird’s music – how could they be, if so few recordings are available and the scores are so hard to come by? I am glad that Baird has some champions among younger musicians, including the clarinetist-conductor, Jan Jakub Bokun, whose concert plans often include Baird’s compositions.I should not end this report without remarking on the closing concert of the festival – a spatial, visual extravaganza, co-sponsored by the City of Warsaw and numerous government agencies. The concert, held outdoors in the courtyard of the Royal Castle, juxtaposed a percussion work by Gerard Grisey, the Polish premiere of the fourth movement of Louis Andriessen’s opera De Materie, and Skryabin’s Prometheus- The Poem of Fire. To end a contemporary music concert with a work that is almost 100 years old was a daring choice; even more daring was the decision to provide it with a new realization of the score’s visual directions (highly controversial, with the audience divided between those who hated and loved it with equal passion) on a huge, square screen placed next to the orchestra, choir and soloist. With such an arrangement, Skryabin’s masterpiece became a soundtrack for the moving computerized images. The overwhelming force of image over sound was also the downfall of Louis Andriessen’s strange score juxtaposing slowly moving sonorities of the orchestra and chorus with a speaking voice of a woman (Anna Nehrebecka) reciting fragments from Madame Maria Curie Sklodowska’s journals. The ideas – love and death, matter and spirit – were clear enough in the work (despite its abdication of music for text in its closure, as if only meanigful syllables could convey what was meant in the whole opera, and not sound constructions as such). However, huge screen projections of a single black angel wondering through visually captivating landscapes and cityscapes and a live dance of a white-clad choreographer/performer (also film director) whose menacing gestures suggested death as a triumphant force, took the attention away from the music which thus became “a soundtrack for a non-existent opera” (an expression used by one of the Polish critics after the performance). It was hard, indeed, to make sense of this piece as a whole, perhaps because only one segment of a four-movement opera (an existing one, pace the critic) was presented. However, it was not difficult at all to make sense of the whole festival: it was a great and resounding success, both in terms of the quality of the music, performances, programming choices, types of events, and in terms of public response. It is not very often that one attends concerts of contemporary music that are completely sold out, with a line of prospective listeners waiting to get in. Crowds followed the challending sounds, the difficult forms, the sophisticated aesthetics. Another Warsaw miracle in September? Perhaps, but this one has definitely human authors – the programming committee and the office of the festival, led by the visionary Tadeusz Wielecki.
More information about the program and samples of the music presented during the festival may be found at its web site: http://warszawska-jesien.art.pl/. It is a pity that not all the Polish composers are present and not all their works are sampled and available. Here, again, we see a typically Polish pro-Western bias.
Wilk Book Prize Winners
In April 2000 the Advisory Board of the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California decided to replace the yearly essay competition, Wilk Prizes for Research in Polish music, held since 1986, with two competitions held in alternating years: Wilk Essay Prizes for Research in Polish Music (odd years) and Wilk Book Prizes for Research in Polish Music (even years). The first edition of the newly instituted Wilk Book Prize for Research in Polish Music took place in the summer of 2000. The prize is to be awarded to the best book on Polish music published outside of Poland by an author who is not usually working in Poland. The prize consists of $2,000 and a certificate.
For the 2000 edition of the Wilk Book Prize competition an international jury selected two titles from a range of submissions and decided to divide the Prize equally between two books:
Prof. Jeffrey Kallberg, University of Pennsylvania: Chopin at the Boundaries: Sex, History, and Musical Genre. (Harvard University Press, 1996).
Dr. Martina Homma, Cologne, Germany: Witold Lutosławski. Zwölfton-Harmonik, Formbildung, “aleatorische Kontrapunkt.” Studien zur Gesamtwerk unter Einbeziehung der Skizzen. (Cologne: Bela Verlag, 1996).
The 2000 jury of the Wilk Book Prize consisted of:
- Prof. dr. hab. Zofia Helman, Institute of Musicology, University of Warsaw
- Prof. dr. hab. Maciej Gołab, University of Warsaw and University of Wrocław
- Dr. Zofia Chechlińska, Institute of the Arts, Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw
- Mr. Andrzej Chłopecki, Institute of Musicology, Jagiellonian University, Krakow
- Asst. Prof. Halina Goldberg, School of Music, University of Alabama
- Asst. Prof. Maja Trochimczyk, Polish Music Center Director, Thornton School of Music, University of Southern California
For more information about the prizes, competitions, rules and winners visit: Wilk Prizes Site.
Polish Music Association Formed
During the Toronto 2000 “Musical Intersections” Mega-Conference of 14 professional music organizations, scholars studying Polish music formed a very small minority. There was just one session, “Chopin” (papers by Halina Goldberg and Jeffrey Kallberg; session chair: Sandra Rosenblum), devoted in its entirety to Polish music. Barbara Milewski talked about Szymanowski’s mazurkas (American Musicological Society) and Timothy Cooley about the music of the Tatra górale (Society for Ethnomusicology).
The organizations included: American Musical Instrument Society, American Musicological Society, Association for Technology in Music Instruction, Canadian Society of Music Libraries, Canadan Society for Traditional Music, Canadian University Music Society, College Music Society, Historic Brass Society, International Association for the Study of Popular Music, Lyrica Society for Word-Music Relationships, Society for American Music, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, Society for Ethnomusicology, Society for Music Theory.
Formed in order to increase the visibility of scholars specializing in Polish music and facilitate their informal contacts, the Association is an informal alliance, without board, president, dues, or detailed bylaws. The founding members include: Jeffrey Kallberg, Halina Goldberg, Sandra Rosenblum, Barbara Milewski, Timothy Cooley, Maja Trochimczyk (who met in Toronto) as well as Adrian Thomas, Cindy Bylander, Martina Homma, Luke Howard (who met in 1997 in Phoenix and proposed the creation of this society). The first and most important purpose of the society is exchanging scholarly information, topics of doctoral dissertations, new research findings in an informal fashion. In Janurary the web site of the Polish Music Center will include a web page of the Association, consisting of a list of scholars with their e-mail addresses and current research interests.
Students and scholars with interests in Polish music are encouraged to contact the PMC (at “email@example.com”) to add their names to the list. In the future, the Association may become a lobby within the American and International Musicological Societies, putting together and organizing panels on Polish music and holding regular meetings of its members and all interested parties.
Polish Manuscripts Exhibition at USC
by Radosław Materka
Among the many political, economic and social organizations related to Poland the Polish Music Center at the University of Southern California occupies a unique position. This center, founded in 1985 by Dr. and Mrs. Wilk (and still improperly seen by many members of Californian Polonia as their private concern) is the only institution dedicated to the promotion of and research about Polish music in North America. Moreover, it is the only academic institution dedicated to Polish culture in Southern California. The Center was designed to last in perpetuity (thanks to its permanent Endowment Fund) and is a part of one of the best music schools in the country, the Thornton School of Music (ranked in the top 1% of music schools in the U.S. and as no. 1 west of Mississippi).
The main part of the program was the most unique: a display of over 100 manuscripts by 33 composers who donated their music to the Polish Music Center. What is a “manuscript?” Something hand-written – and during the exhibit we had a chance of seeing a whole range of writing, from pencil to ink and marker, the composers used different means to record their thoughts. Each set of manuscripts (from 1 to 8 per composer) was accompanied by a display with the composers’ biography, titles of the works presented, photographs, concert programs, books, and quotations from their statements.
The displays were assembled on 36 white three-panel boards providing the backdrop for the manuscripts. The most precious of those were, of course, three of the manuscripts donated to the Center by Witold Lutoslawski – the total value of the set of five original Lutoslawski manuscripts in the PMC collection exceeds $1,000,000. No wonder two security guards were needed and present on the premises through the whole exibition. Other precautions included distributing gloves among the attendees, who could turn the pages but would not damage the precious old paper.
In addition to the Lutosławski originals, the display included also rare scores from mid-30s (by Grażyna Bacewicz and Stanisław Skrowaczewski), manuscripts by Tadeusz Baird (over 50 years old), Aleksander Tansman, Roman Maciejewski, Szymon Laks, Roman Palester, and many of their younger colleagues. The manuscripts were accompanied by printed scores and recordings – so people in attendance could learn about the music and listen to what they saw. The whole collection is not complete yet, it continues to grow through new donations made by other composers contacted by Dr. Trochimczyk. This stage in donations drive will end in April 2000, when another, smaller exhibition of recent gifts will be held.
Chamber Music Concert
Let me start with describing some examples – young musicians, graduate students in the Thornton School of Music, who volunteered to perform in the Concert of 20th Century Polish Music. Ladies first: Adrianna Lis has played the flute since childhood and won numerous prizes in international competitions. After being accepted to study at USC, she became the member of the most elite group of wind players, the “Scholarship Quintet” where she played for one year. It was a very special recognition of her talent as the best flutist in the whole School (her GPA? 4.0, perfect!). Her version of two lively movements from Szeligowski’s Sonata for Flute and Piano amazed the audience with the dexterity of her fingers. Marzena Wolna (who because of a hand injury could not perform in the concert) – the first bassoon in USC Thornton Orchestra, first bassoon in Debut orchestra, winner of every orchestral competition for her instrument that she ever entered. I hope that Polish -Americans in California will have an opportunity of listening to her music in the future.
Now the gentlemen: Jan Jakub Bokun, clarinetist and conductor whose graduation concert in April 2001 will feature Polish music, and for whom a professorship of clarinet in the Wroclaw Academy of Music is already waiting. Bokun’s two solo CDs have received rave reviews in international music press. His “stint” as the clarinetist for Krystian Zimerman’s Polish Festival Orchestra (traveling around the world and recording the two Chopin Piano Concerti) is yet another proof of his amazing talents (GPA? Of course, 4.0).
For the concert he selected a piece by Tadeusz Baird, the most romantic of Polish modernist composers, an artist whose talent was and is, not known well enough in the U.S. 2 Kaprysy delighted with their “capricious” nature and the virtuosity of performance.
Michaż Sobus (double bass) and Krzysztof Szmanda (percussion) have just been accepted to the Thornton School and will have to prove their talents. Already both musicians play the “first” parts in the Thornton ensembles and perform in other orchestras based in Los Angeles. During the concert Mr. Sobus performed a difficult and engaging work by Tadeusz Wielecki (the current director of the Warsaw Autumn Contemporary Music Festival). Mr. Szmanda was accompanied by a pianist in 4 Preludes for vibraphone and piano, and by another percussionist in Scintilla for two marimbas. Both works were composed by Marta Ptaszynska, Poland’s most eminent woman composer who is now full professor of composition at the University of Chicago. Ptaszynska is a percussionist herself and understands the nature of her instruments. The two marimbas at one point quoted some music from Chopin – so that the greatest Polish composer could be present in this concert as well.
I have not forgotten, but left for later, two names of wonderful Polish musicians who are not connected to the Thornton School but instead are active in Los Angeles: Yolanta Tensor, soprano (who moved here from Chicago, interrupting a budding solo career) and Roza Kostrzewska-Yoder (who studied in Harvard and other prestigious institutions) and now devotes most of her time to teaching and nurturing young talents.
Ms. Tensor sang two songs, one by Grażyna Bacewicz and one by Szymon Laks (a Polish Jewish composer who survived Auschwitz and continued to write music). These “recital-like” musical gems required attention and reflection of the listeners who could enjoy the beautiful Polish poetry and the poignant settings. Ms. Kostrzewska – Yoder started the concert with a piece written for Dr. and Mrs. Wilk by Henryk Górecki during his visit here in 1997 and explained the significance of this miniature portraying both musical benefactors. Two of Ms. Kostrzewska-Yoder’s students played Polish music – 6 years old James Lee and 12 years old Daniel Lee. Both have won competitions for young musicians and it was easy to see why -they were excellent!
Exhibition Of Polish Manuscripts
The concert was just one of the aspects of the program of this event (it was recorded and a CD will be available). As a musician, music student (doctoral program in piano at USC) and music teacher, I am delighted to find such a resource for Polish music as the Polish Music Center on USC campus. I did not base my decision to apply to this school on this fact, but rather on the excellence of the piano department. I am proud, as a Polish American, that the Center presents such high quality projects dedicated to Polish music and that I am involved in some of them (my previous appearance was at the International Conference on Polish Jewish Music in 1998).
My sincere hope is that more people in the Polish American community would take pride in their musical heritage and helped the Center in its activities. During the concert and the exhibition I saw the representatives of the Polish government, with Consul General Krzysztof Kasprzyk and Consul for Commercial Affairs, Boleslaw Meluch, as well as members of some Polish American organizations, such as the Polish American Historical Association, the Polish American Cultural Network, and the Helena Modjeska Club for Polish Arts and Culture.
Let us all hope, for the benefit of all Poles, that more organizations will take pride in actively supporting the Center and its programs in the future.
90th Anniversary of the Chopin Choir, New Jersey
According to the Nowy Dziennik (13 Oct) the Chopin Choir will celebrate the 90th anniversary of its founding on 10 March 1910 with a series of jubilee concerts beginning on 15 October and ending with a concert on 7 January 2001.
Brent J. Iskra, chairman of the anniversary event, reported a short history. Beginning with its first conductor, Edmund Sennert, Edward Janiec took over upon his death. When he died in 1984 Christopher Rendenna was the conductor until 1997, at which time composer, violinist Walter Legawiec took over. Iwona Wesolowska became the group’s first woman conductor in June, 2000.
The beginning concert took place on 15 October and will end with a concert of Christmas carols in January. The choir has three recordings, one with an orchestra led by Tadeusz Maksymowicz, one with organist Fabian Okulski and Christmas carols under the direction of Christopher Rendenna.
Roxanna Panufnik And The London Brass
Composer Roxanna Panufnik has been commissioned by the London Brass to write a new work for the Philip Jones Memorial Concert on 17 Jan, 2001 in London.
Taking part in the first anniversary commemoration of the death of the celebrated brass player are the London Symphony Brass Ensemble, the Wallace Collection, London Brass and the Quintet in Honorium Philip Jones and conductors Eric Crees and Elgar Howarth.
Berenika Zakrzewska In Canada
Pianist Berenika Zakrzewska gave a recital of music by Prokofief, Beethoven and Chopin at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto. The one-hour performance was recorded and aired on 8 October at the Canadian Broadcasting Company program “Music Around Us.” She will be performing in November with the National Arts Centre orchestra under Erich Kunzel in Ottawa. After graduating from the Juilliard Pre-College, Berenika is studying at Harvard with Robert Levin.
Calendar Of Events
NOV 3: Kirill Gerstein, piano. The Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Piano Competition 2000 laureate. Kosciuzko Foundation 15 E. 65th St., NY.
NOV 3: International Chopin & Friends Festival. Violinists Magdalena Golczewska, Hanna Lachert and Piotr Kwasny; Wanda Glowacka, cello; Monika Krajewska, mezzosoprano; Mariusz Kwiecien, baritone; Cezary Doda, bass; and pianists Ania Marchwinska, Berenika Zakrzewska, Andrzej Anweiler and Roman Markowicz. Polish Consulate, New York City, 8:00 p.m.
NOV 5: Adaskin String Trio. Music by Lutoslawski. Kosciuszko Foundation Chamber Music Series. NY.
NOV 5: 4PM Chameleon Concert series- K. Penderecki, Quartet for clarinet, violin, viola and cello. First and Second Church in Boston, Joanna Kurkowicz vln, Gary Gorcyka- cl, Dimitar Petkov-vla Alexey Romanienko -vc. www.chameleonarts.org
NOV 11: Bokun – Kocyan Recital. Pacific Unitarian Church, 5621 Montemalaga Dr. RAncho Palos Verdes. 310-378-9449. Program of piano and clarinet music, including Chopin. Jan Jakub Bokun, clarinet. Wojciech Kocyan, piano.
NOV 17: “An Evening of Polish Opera.” Gala Jubilee Concert. Moniuszko’s opera, “Halka,” Vilnius edition: Robin Rubendunst, sop.; Gregorio Rangel, tenor; Bruce Rameker, bar.; Pablo Zinger, Dir./cond.
Pre-opera recital of songs by Szymanowski, Moniuszko, Karlowicz, Paderewski and others performed by Polish artists. Sylvia & Danny Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, NY. $50, $35. K.F. members: $40, $30. 8:00 p.m. 212-772-4448, 212-734- 2130.
NOV 18: Same as above. 7:00 p.m.
NOV 26: Kosciuszko Foundation Diamond Jubilee Broadcast of selections from the Warsaw American Concert, Adam Makowicz, p. playing George Gershwin. Station WQXR – FM 96.3.
Penderecki in Bydgoszcz
The 12th Festival “Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis” concluded with a monumental religious work by Krzysztof Penderecki, performed by the Bydgoszcz Philharmonic.
“Oles” teams up with James Carney
Bassist Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz joined pianist James Carney and drummer “Steely” Dan Morris at the Rocco in Bel Air on 25 October. Carney was winner of the 1999 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Composers competition and a nominee for “Best Jazz Artist” in the 2000 LA Weekly Music Awards. [Note: Pronounce “Oles” in two syllables: Oh-lesh]
Chopin in Rolling Hills Estates
Pianist Andrew von Oeyen played Chopin’s Piano Concerto in F minor with the Chamber Orchestra of the South Bay with Frances Steiner, conducting. Also heard: Mozart and Gounod.
Tansman on St. Paul Sunday
On Sunday 22 October the St. Paul Sunday radio program with Bill Mcglaughlin aired the Ames Piano Quartet performing Alexander Tansman’s “Suite Divertissement-Polka” over Los Angeles Radio station KUSC FM 9l.5.
Chopin in Long Beach
Violinist Thi Nguyen and pianist Edith Hirshtal, performed Sonatas by Beethoven and Franck and music by Chopin and Rachmaninoff. Daniel Recital Hall at Cal State Long Beach. Thi is a graduate of the USC and Cal Arts Schools of Music.
Four Polish Works Performed in LA in One Day
On 22 October: Alex Slobodyanik played Chopin’s Scherzo, Op. 31 at the Beverly Hills Public Library; The Crossroads & New Roads Musicians performed music by Chopin in Culver City; Ruggiero Ricci selected Wieniawski for his program at Azusa Pacific U. and violinist Thomas Bowes and Eleanor Alberga played Szymanowski at Caltech in Pasadena.
Wieniawski at the LA County Museum
Music by Spohr, Wieniawski and Chihira was presented at the Los Angeles County weekly program (broadcast live) by Julie Gigante and Sara Parkins, violins. 26 Oct.
Lutoslawski in Orange County
Pianists Ursula Oppens and Aki Takahashi performed music for two pianos by Ligeti, Schubert, Teitelbaum, Debussy and Lutoslawski. Orange County Performing Arts Center. 19 October.
Szymanowski in New York
Pianist and music critic for Nowy Dziennik, Roman Markowicz, gave a detailed report (in Polish) in the 13 October issue of the Polish-American daily newspaper of the recital given by English duo Thomas Bowes, violin and Eleanor Alberg, piano in Weill Recital Hall. The violinist gave a superb performance of Szymanowski’s “Mythes” and effectively rendered his “Tarantella” as an encore for the program of music by Szymanowski, Bartok, Ravel and Adam Gorb.
by Wanda Wilk
Bokun’s CD Gets High Grades
Koch Classics LC 5680. Jan Jakub Bokun, clarinet; Katerina Khizhnyakova, piano. Music by Gergely Vajda, Tadeusz Baird, Andre Bloch, Henri Rabaud, Pierre Gabaye, Charles-Marie Widor, Robert Kurdybacha, Jacek Grudzien, Leonard Bernstein, and Malcolm Arnold.
The Polish clarinetist’s “debut in this recording of 20th music” has been received extremely well in the press (The Clarinet, Ruch Muzyczny and E.pl) and will certainly make an impact on the clarinet repertoire. Rebecca Rischin writes in the Sep 2000 issue of The Clarinet, “All in all this is an excellent recording, with fine quality sound and execution. The world premieres are especially striking and should be valued additions to the repertoire.”
The Polish reviews praise Bokun not only for his fabulous performance on the clarinet, but music critic Maciej Golab is impressed with the “artistic conception of the recording that was so thoughtfully conceived.” However, he believes “its greatest asset is the artist’s interpretation… from his masterly technique, to building of musical form and to the numerous coloristic sound effects.” All of which leads the listener to easily understand the sentence, “music is the language of sound.” Jakub Puchalski evaluates this disc on the web-site E.pl as a CD that we should not miss, primarily since the repertoire selected by the young artist “testifies to his ambitions and musical erudition.” He continues to say that the selected works offer “precious” gifts on the one hand, which happen to be outstanding pieces and they are played excellently and brilliantly.” He concludes with “Seldom does one find a recording devoted primarily to such rarely heard works (some of them have their premiere performance here) and which offers so many deeply-felt metaphysical feelings, which increase with each listening.”Jan Jakub Bokun, 26, is a student from Poland continuing his music studies in the U.S. and has contributed articles to our web-site. He graduated from the Music Academy in Wroclaw, went on to Paris to study with Guy Dangain and is presently studying at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He has appeared as soloist in concert, and was selected by Krystian Zimerman for the Polish Festival Orchestra that so successfully toured Europe and the U.S. last year and produced an important CD.
All three critics also had praise for pianist Katarzyna Khiznyakova from Ekaterinburg, Russia, who also studied at the Music Academy of Wroclaw and was the winner of the best accompanist prize at the 28th Karol Kurpinski Competition for Young Instrumentalist in 1995. She records regularly for Polish Radio and Television.
“Kuba” Bokun has joined with guitarist Krzysztof Pelech for a second recording of more popular “hits” (this time on the DUX label), which is devoted primarily to the music of Argentinian composer, Astor Piazzola (whose tangos recently delighted the music world).
Moszkowski on KOCH Label
KOCH-SCHWANN 313672. Moszkowski: Violin Concerto in C. Godard: Concerto no. 2. Thomas Christian, violin, Bambera S./ Christian Simonis.
Donald R. Vroom, editor of the American Record Guide personally reviewed this disc and writes that both composers played the violin and “Moszkowski was a virtuoso on both the violin and piano and that’s pretty rare in the history of music.”
I know two Polish composers who did. Grazyna Bacewicz graduated in both piano and violin, besides composition, and presented her graduate recitals on both instruments. She went on to pursue a violin virtuoso concert career. The other Polish composer was Witold Lutoslawski who studied both instruments and was proficient in them.
The two violin concertos are classic romantic fare. The critic continues “As rarities, they will automatically appeal to many of our readers. And, indeed, most of us would rather hear works like this than ‘contemporary’ music. The orchestra was made for works like this…They (the concertos) are unfailingly pleasant and virtuosic, and they are played very well here.”
Born This Month
- 1 November 1901 – Szymon LAKS, composer, violinist (d. 1986)
- 2 November 1876 – Eugeniusz MORAWSKI, composer, conductor (d. 1948)
- 3 November 1915 – Henryk JABLONSKI, composer
- 4 November 1857 – Stanisław NIEWIADOMSKI, composer (d. 1936)
- 6 November 1860 – Ignacy Jan PADEREWSKI, pianist, composer, statesman (d. 1941)
- 23 November 1933 – Krzysztof PENDERECKI, composer, conductor
- 24 November 1932 – Andrzej KURYLEWICZ, composer, jazz pianist
- 24 November 1899 – Jan MAKLAKIEWICZ, composer, teacher (d. 1954)
- 26 November 1896 – Józef KOFFLER, composer (d. 1943/4?)
- 27 November 1893 – Stanisław WIECHOWICZ, composer, choral conductor (d. 1963)
- 28 November 1928 – Jan FOTEK, composer
Died This Month
- 1 November 1947 – Władysław POWIADOWSKI, choral conductor,teacher (b.1865)
- 2 November 1929 – Stanisław BARCEWICZ, violinist, teacher (b.1858 )
- 2 November 1881 – Jan Nepomucen BOBROWICZ, guitarist (b.1805)
- 3 November 1888 – Józef BRZOZOWSKI, composer, cellist, conductor, teacher (b.1805)
- 9 November 1856 – Aleksander MARTIN, composer, violist (b. 1856)
- 11 November 1912 – Józef WIENIAWSKI, pianist, teacher, composer (b.1837)
- 15 November 1853 – Józef NIEDZIELSKI, voice and violin teacher (b.1793)
- 15 November 1986 – Aleksander TANSMAN, composer, conductor, pianist (b. 1897)
- 14 November 1860 – Feliks NOSKOWSKI, pianist,teacher (b.1874)
- 26 November 1855 – Adam MICKIEWICZ, romantic poet, composer (b.1798)