February 2015

Polish Music Newsletter Vol. 21, no. 2

PMC News

The Polish Music Center is 30!

Wanda WilkJanuary 2015 marks the 30th anniversary of the Polish Music Center at USC—a library and outreach center established for the promotion of Polish music and culture that has no equal anywhere in the world. The PMC was founded in January 1985 by retired music educator and a USC alumna Wanda Wilk (1921-2009), who had discovered that the USC libraries held precious little material on Polish music. Wanda Wilk resolved to organize an institution focused solely on Polish music, with the goal of supporting and propagating scholarly endeavors on the subject, as well as popularizing the repertoire amongst audiences and performers, especially those for whom Polish Music was unfamiliar. With her unbridled enthusiasm, unparalleled generosity and a singular focus on her mission, Wanda led the Center for the first ten years of its operations. She organized many concerts and lectures, solicited leading Polish composers to donate to the Center’s incomparable Manuscript Collection, and began partnerships with various publishers in Poland, who sent books, recordings and music scores to the PMC library.

Starting in a small basement room next to the Music Library, over the next few years the Center gradually moved across the USC campus to slightly larger headquarters in the University Church basement, then to the second floor of the same building. In the meantime, on Wanda’s urging, such musical icons as Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Stanisław Skrowaczewski accepted invitations for a residency on the USC campus. Visits by such great musicians were milestones not only for the PMC, but also for the Thornton School of Music under whose wings the Center operates, for the entire University of Southern California community, and for Los Angeles classical music scene as a whole. After a decade at the helm of the Polish Music Center, Wanda reluctantly decided to retire and a new director, noted musicologist Dr. Maja Harley-Trochimczyk, took over the Center’s reins in 1996. Many more distinguished concerts and conferences followed, and the tradition of Paderewski Lecture-Recitals began in the early 2000s with composers Zygmunt Krauze and Joanna Bruzdowicz initiating this prestigious series. Dr. Trochimczyk also continued and expanded the list of titles in the PMC’s Polish Music History books series that her predecessor had launched with volumes devoted to Karol Szymanowski and Grażyna Bacewicz. Under Dr. Trochimczyk’s editorship, books about Chopin, Karol Szymanowski’s vocal music, and a monograph on Józef Koffler were published.

USC Polish Music Center, Stonier Hall Suite 120Since 2004 the Polish Music Center resides in the largest space it has ever had—an entire wing on the ground floor of Stonier Hall, right in the heart of USC’s downtown L.A. campus. New Director Marek Zebrowski and Assistant Director Krysta Close took over running the Center as it moved to its new headquarters in August of 2004. Books about Maria Szymanowska and Zygmunt Stojowski were published and the Paderewski Lecture-Recitals series continued with Marta Ptaszyńska, Paweł Łukaszewski, Krzesimir Dębski, and Lady Camilla Panufnik gracing us with their presence. New and very important collections of manuscripts and memorabilia of Ignacy Jan Paderewski, Zygmunt Stojowski, Henryk Wars, and Bronisław Kaper were added to the PMC Manuscript Collection.

Honoring Ignacy Jan Paderewski, who received his honorary doctorate from USC in 1923, the Center spearheaded a fund drive to place a monument to Paderewski on the USC campus—this statue is pictured at right, with Thornton School of Music Dean Robert Cutietta and then Polish Minister of Culture Bogdan Zdrojewski. Having accomplished this task thanks to generosity of Polish Americans and many others to whom Paderewski was an important figure in the world of music, politics and humanitarian relief, the PMC moved to restore the annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, which had been suspended after a devastating earthquake in the early 2000s. During the past 10 years, the Paderewski Festival has grown from one concert in 2006 to its current schedule of a four-day feast of concerts, lectures, special exhibits, accompanied by wine-tastings and sight-seeing excursions to vineyards and almond ranches once owned by Paderewski. Since 2009, the Paderewski Cultural Exchange program—jointly administered by the Province of Tarnów and the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, and coordinated by the Polish Music Center—creates outstanding opportunities for young musicians from California’s Central Coast to visit Paderewski’s manor house in Kąśna Dolna for a week of master classes and concerts. In alternating years, the Paderewski Festival and the PMC have hosted young Polish and Ukrainian pianists for a program of concerts and educational opportunities (as well as some sightseeing) in Paso Robles and Los Angeles.

To commemorate this year’s important anniversary, the Polish Music Center would like to present our audiences with a special challenge. In the coming months, please consider making a $30 contribution to the Polish Music Center on the occasion of our thirtieth anniversary. A symbolic $1 for each year we have supported scholars, educated and entertained audiences, and promoted Polish music is quite a bargain—and we want to hear from as wide a circle of our listeners and supporters as possible. To donate, please mail your check to: USC Polish Music Center, 840 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90089-0851, or visit https://giveto.usc.edu—you will find a PMC checkbox under University-wide Giving Opportunities > Centers and Institutes > Music. All donations must indicate “USC Polish Music Center,” either in the remittance line of your check or the online form, to ensure your contribution is routed directly to us.

Your 30th anniversary donation lets us know that you support our mission and care about what we accomplish. We hope that what we do actually matters to you, that it sustains your pride in Polish heritage, and that we have—at some point during the past thirty years—made at least a small and positive contribution in the quality of your life in this part of the world.

Thank you! Dziękujemy!


Cracow Duo at USC and Beyond

On Tuesday February 24 at 7:30 p.m., Polish musical heritage will be celebrated on the USC campus. The Cracow Duo—a cello and piano ensemble of two young professors from the Kraków Music Academy—will present a recital featuring works by Aleksander Tansman, Krzysztof Meyer, Tomasz Opałka, and Frederic Chopin, among others.

In their recording career, the Cracow Duo have championed the music of Aleksander Tansman (1897-1986), which is little-known today even though he was a major composer and a virtuoso pianist with a worldwide career in his time. Tansman was born in Łódź but, after studying in Warsaw, he moved to Paris in the 1930s where he befriended Ravel, Honegger and other leading French avant-garde composers. He spent the war years in Los Angeles and throughout the 1940s he scored several Hollywood films. The Cracow Duo’s February 24th program will also feature the world premiere of The Glitch by Tomasz Opałka—a leading member of the young generation of Polish composers, who will be present for the premiere—and the American premiere of Krzysztof Meyer’s Three Times Four. Held at USC’s Newman Recital Hall, this concert is free and open to the public.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015 | 7:30 p.m.
Cracow Duo performs Chopin, Meyer, Opałka & Tansman

USC’s Alfred Newman Recital Hall
3616 Trousdale Pkwy, Los Angeles, CA 90089
Admission is FREE
Info:  music.usc.edu or 213-821-1356

Following their performance in Los Angeles, the Cracow Duo will continue on to Washington D.C. and Chicago for several exclusive, invitation-only performances. Then, on March 2, they will make their New York City debut at Carnegie Hall, a concert for which the admission was made free in celebration of Chopin’s 205th Birthday. From New York, they will continue on to concerts in Seoul, South Korea.

Monday, March 2, 2015 | 8 p.m.
Cracow Duo – Carnegie Hall Debut

Carnegie Hall, Weill Recital Hall
154 West 57th Street, New York, NY 10019
Admission is FREE, tickets are available at Carnegie Hall’s box office or by calling 212-247-7800
Info: www.carnegiehall.org

[Sources: polishculture-nyc.org,  sikorski.de]

New PMC Gift

Pianist Marek Szlezer, currently visiting Los Angeles to research Zygmunt Stojowski’s manuscripts at USC’S Polish Music Center, has kindly donated to us two of his latest DUX CDs featuring solo piano music by Krzysztof Meyer.

Arranged mostly chronologically, Volume 1 contains Meyer’s early piano compositions, including Aphorisms for Piano, Op. 3 (1961), First Piano Sonata, Op. 5 (1962), Second Piano Sonata, Op. 7 (1963), and Third Piano Sonata, Op. 13 (1966). The closing piece of this volume is Meyer’s Quasi una fantasia, Op. 104 (2005).

Hot off the press, Volume 2 opens with Meyer’s Fourth Piano Sonata, Op. 22 (1968), Fifth Piano Sonata, Op. 32 (1997), Sixth Piano Sonata, “Sonata breve”, Op. 106 (2005), and Sei Intermezzi, Op. 121 (2014).

This excellent compilation of Meyer’s piano music will enrich our listening library and introduce musicians at USC and Southern California to this prolific Polish composer.

[Source: dux.pl]

2014 Year in Review, Part 2


Anniversary Year

The theme of this year’s edition of the Tadeusz Ochlewski Composers’ Competition was an original composition for small, secondary level orchestra inspired by Polish folk music, related to the 2014 Year of Kolberg

Sir An­drzej Pa­nuf­nik was honored at the 10th Festival of Polish Music in July

The Tippett Quartet recorded Andrzej Panufnik: String Quartets Nos. 1-3 and Witold Lutosławski: String Quartet (Naxos 8.573164) while works by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik (his composer daughter) were recorded by pianist Clare Hammond (BIS-2003) and the Subito Piano Trio with mezzo Heather Shipp (Signum SIGCD380)

The 10th edition of the ‘Chopin and His Europe’ Festival was held in Warsaw from August 15-31 under the motto “From Chopin to Grieg and Panufnik”

Panufnik’s birthday on September 24 brings a special centenary concert by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra

The Fryderyk Chopin Music University organized the ‘Andrzej Panufnik and his vision of music’ International Conference in Art and Science on September 24–26

Writing for Culture.pl, Filip Lech wrote an excellent article entitled “(A)symmetries of the 20th Century. Who Was Panufnik?

Continuing the celebrations of Andrzej Panufnik in the Americas, Maestro Riccardo Muti opened the Chicago Symphony season with Concerto in Modo Antico (October 2), USC celebrated the centenary with the Paderewski Lecture-Recital (October 5) and Thornton Symphony concert (October 9) in Los Angeles, the St. Louis Symphony and Maestro John Storgårds performed Landscape (October 24) and the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and Maestro Stanislaw Skrowaczewski performed Tragic Overture (November 6)

The centenary of composer Roman Ryterband (194-1979) was celebrated throughout the world in 2014, including at the prestigious school where he once studied, the Academy of Music in Łódź during the Nov. 13 “Chamber Harp Concert” of the AŻ Festival

The Polish Cultural Institute New York and (Le) Poisson Rouge presented a celebration of Panufnik given by the American Contemporary Music Ensemble (ACME) on November 18

On November 30, the Brodsky Quartet and the Panufnik family and friends presented Panufnik 100: A Family Celebration, a festival of chamber works spanning the composer’s life, held at Kings Place London

On November 28, the New York Times published an interesting article about the life and music of Sir Andrzej Panufnik, entitled “His Nightmares Starred Communists, Not Nazis – Celebrating Panufnik, a Polish Composer in London” and written by Michael White

On December 1 Sinfonietta Cracovia officially concluded its 20th anniversary celebrations by performing 20 concerts in various, often unusual locations under the title of “Daj się zaskoczyć” [Allow yourself to be surprised] with Maestro Jurek Dybała

Awards & Honors

Winners of the 2014 Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers were Grand Prize (shared ex-aequo): Paweł Kwapiński for Przestrzenie akustyczne [Accourstic Spaces] & Tomasz Szczepanik for Gangkhar II, and Distinction: Marek Grucka

In September, Wiesław Dąbrowski’Paderewski: The Man of Action, Success and Famewon the Silver Sword Award (documentary films category) at the Fifth International Festival of Historical and Military Films in Warsaw and the Best Historical Documentary prize at the Florida Documentary Film Festival in Miami

2014 Koryfeusz Polish Music Award winners were Music Personality of the Year Award:Włodek Pawlik; Music Event of the Year: 2013 Warsaw Autumn Festival concert with Krystian Zimerman, organized by the ZKP & IMiT; and Honorary Award: Prof. Mieczysław Tomaszewski

Musicologist Teresa Chylińska celebrated the completion of her magnum opus—the Complete Works of Karol Szymanowski (PWM)—on October 18and was awarded Jagiellonian University’s highest honor, “Plus ratio quam vis,” on December 9

Conductors Justyna Maj / Częstochowa Philharmonic [Filharmonia Częstochowska im. Bronisława Hubermana] and Paweł Pietruszewski / Lower Silesia Philharmonic [Filharmonia Dolnośląska w Jeleniej Górze] were the winners of the 2nd edition of IMiT’s Conductor-in-Residence program

First Karol Szymanowski International String Quartet Competition was held from September 24–28, in Katowice, with winners Sedlacek Quartet from the Czech Republic (1st Prize) and Jubilee Quartet from the UK (2nd Prize)

During a gala concert at the Kraków Philharmonic on October 4, Maestro Tadeusz Strugała celebrated his 60 year-long career in music, receivng the Polonia Minor Award from the Marshall of the Małopolska Region and the Honoris Gratia Medal from the Deputy Mayor of Kraków

Polish jazz singer Urszula Dudziak has been chosen as a UNESCO Artist for Peace on account of her efforts to promote women’s rights and cultural diversity

Paweł Łukaszewski—well-known composer, conductor and 2011 Paderewski Lecturer—won this year’s Jerzy Kurczewski Prize


June 14-15, Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr hosted the 3rd ‘Instalakcje’ Festival, featuring the following premieres: Aleksandra GrykaW.ALTER’s(Z.). for voice, two percussionists and two pianists (2014); Andrzej Kwiecińskinon si puo fuggire for voice and harmonized piano for eight hands (2014); Sławomir WojciechowskiMachina zawiła for soprano, prepared piano, sampler, objects, and two percussionists (2014); Wojciech BlecharzSeptember (the next reading) for voice, piano (two performers) and two percussion (2013-2014)

Mieczyslaw Weinberg‘s The Passenger (1968) had its New York premiere on July 10, in a co-production with the Lincoln Center Festival, Park Avenue Armory and Houston Grand Opera (HGO)

Commissioned by the 2014 Presteigne Festival, the Requiem for soprano, baritone, mixed choir and orchestra (2013-2014) of Paweł Łukaszewski was premiered on Sunday, August 24 by Rachel Nicholls (soprano), Christopher Foster (baritone), the Joyful Company of Singers and the Presteigne Festival Orchestra under George Vass

The 56th International ‘Warsaw Autumn’ Festival of Contemporary Music [Warszawska Jesień] was held in various venues throughout Warsaw from September 19-27 and presented the premieres of over 18 new works by Polish composers

Eugeniusz Knapik‘s Concerto of Song Offerings for piano solo, choir and orchestra was premiered by pianist Krystian Zimerman at the grand opening of the new home of the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) in Katowice at the October 1st opening gala

Held from October 3-5 in Gdańsk, the 3rd edition ‘Neoarte’ New Music Spectrumcelebrated connections between Poland, the Ukraine and the US. The Festival was first previewed at the Warsaw Autumn Festival on Sept. 26 with world premieres of Bio-chorales for wind quintet by Karol Nepelski (Pol), I Have Lost My Euridice for string quartet, double bass, woodwind quartet, French horn and piano by Oleksii Shmuraka (Ukr), Talos for string quartet by Bohdan Sehin (Ukr), and Koncert na jedenastu [Concerto for 11] for string quartet, double bass, woodwind quartet, French horn and piano by Sławomir Kupczak (Pol)

The world premiere of Aftersounds, a 2014 Marcin Stańczyk composition for two percussionists and electronics, was given on September 12 at Centre Pompidou in Paris by members of the Ensemble Intercontemporain

Mikołaj Górecki’s new work Gloria for mixed choir and orchestra was premiered by the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir during the finale concert of the 19th Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Polish Composers Festival in Bielsko-Biała (October 9 -11) by the Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir and baritone Artur Ruciński, under the direction of Jacek Błaszczyk

Zbigniew Bargielski’s Otwartym oknem[With an open window] received its world premiere at the 43rd ZKP Musicological Conference at the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz(Oct. 9-11)

On October 10, during their “Concert de musique de films France Musique – SACEM / Hommage à Roman Polanski,” the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra performed the world premiere of their commission, Paweł Mykietyn’s Hommage à Oskar Dawicki

On October 16 and 17, the premiere of 2014: Here and Now by Zbigniew Preisner was performed by Sinfonietta Cracovia and soloists at the opening of the highly anticipated new ICE Krakow Congress Centre in Poland.

The world premiere of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Dies Illa  for three soloists, three mixed choirs and orchestra—was given on November 9 at Koekelberg Basilica in Brussel during the Flanders Festival, conducted by Andres Mustonen with Nikolay Didenko, Johanna Rusanen and Angieszka Rehlis as soloists

Held December 2-5, this year’s Brand New Music Festival featured the world premieres of works by Joanna Szymala – SorgenteSławomir Wojciechowski – A matter of choiceKrzysztof Gawlas – Hō-ō, performed by the New Music Orchestra (OMN) with Szymon Bywalec, conductor

On November 5-6, 2014, the FuturOpera project was presented at the Warsaw Chamber Opera, featuring premieres by Dariusz Przybylski and Nikolet Burzyńska

PMC News

The March 29 Polish Jazz Concert focused music by two distinguished Polish composers who succeeded in Hollywood , Bronisław Kaper (1902-1983) and Henryk Wars (1902-1977), in new arrangements by Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer, Jan Jarczyk, who performed with bassist Dave Robaire, percussionist Efa Etorama and the Stella Cho Quartet

The 2014 Paderewski Lecture-Recital featured Panufnik’s widow, Lady Camilla (pictured at right with Maestro St. Clair at USC), discussing her late husband’s life and music, and a chamber concert with mezzo-soprano Juliana Gondek, the Eclipse Quartet, and pianists James Lent and Nic Gerpe on Oct. 5, then four days later the Thornton Symphony Orchestra performed Panufnik’s Tragic Overture and Harmony at USC (Oct. 9)

Honorable Mention – Jane Yang (14) of Pacific Grove; 3rd Place, Junior Div.  Jack Raventos (14) of San Luis Obispo; 2nd Place, Junior Div. – Holly Hadsall (9) of Santa Barbara; 1st Place, Junior Div. – Kevin Park (13) of Orcutt; 3rd Place, Senior Div. – Yuan Tao (15) of Carmel; 2nd Place, Senior Div. – Kannan Freyaldenhoven (15) of San Luis Obispo; 1st Place, Senior Div. – Daniel Ha (15) of Arroyo Grande

The Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles’ 8th annual Youth Piano Competition was held October 25, and the winners are as above

Polish baroque orchestra Il Giardino d’Amore included a master class for the USC Thornton School of Music Early Music Dept on their North American tour in October and November

The annual Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles (Nov. 5-9) had a distinctly international note, featuring performances by: Polish and Ukranian participants in the Cultural Exchange, the virtuosic Polish duo of violinist Mariusz Patyra and pianist Krzysztof Herdzin, and South Korean gala performer Zheeyoung Moon

On November 11, the Polish Music Center celebrated Poland’s Independence Day at USC with a concert featuring virtuoso violinist Mariusz Patyra and pianist Krzysztof Herdzin in a program of music by Polish composers


The Adam Mickiewicz Institute has recently published “A Foreigner’s Guide to Polish Jazz,” a ‘choose-your-own-adventure’ style article where readers are given many ways to digest the complex and glorious history (and present) of jazz in Poland


On June 18, President Bronisław Komorowski installed Małgorzata Omilanowska as Poland’s new Minister of Culture and National Heritage, replacing outgoing Minister Bogdan Zdrojewski, who has served in the post since November of 2007 but was elected to a seat in the European Parliament

The 2014 edition of the I, CULTURE Orchestra (ICO)—comprised of outstanding young musicians from Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine—was in residence at the Gdańsk Music Academy/Baltic Philharmonic, and gave a tour that included the International Edinburgh Festival and Baltic Sea Festival

A new Tomasz Sikorski website, www.sikorski.polmic.pl, was unveiled at the Warsaw Autumn Festival

National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra (NOSPR) inaugurated its new season in a brand new building with major performances by Krystian Zimerman and the Bavarian Radio Choir (Oct. 1- world premiere of Eugeniusz Knapik’s Concerto of Song Offerings), Silesian Quartet (Oct. 2 – world premiere of Krzysztof Meyer’s 14th String Quartet), Vienna Philharmonic (Oct. 3), AUKSO OrchestraCamerata Silesia and Leszek Możdżer(Oct. 5), Piotr Anderszewski and the London Symphony Orchestra (Oct. 18), Urszula Dudziak and the Norddeutsche Rundfunk Big Band Hamburg (Oct. 22), and Piotr Beczała(Oct. 28)

The international 2014 World Music Days were held in Wrocław from Oct. 3-8 with the theme “Tradition and New Music,” linking to the 2014 Kolberg anniversary celebrations. The IAMIC 2014 Annual Meeting and Concerts were held in conjunction with the event

Beloved Polish vocalist Anna Maria Jopek  launched a “Best of…” tour of the US and Canada from November 5-9

The series “Contemporary Music Doesn’t Bite” [Muzyka współczesna nie gryzie] continued with Agnieszka Stulgińska (Oct. 11), Adam Sławiński (Oct. 25), Romuald Twardowski (Nov. 8) and Maciej Żółtowski (Nov. 16)


In 2014, the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra celebrates its 30th anniversary and, during March and April, the orchestra was in the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio in Warsaw for an important new recording project: An Anthology of Polish Contemporary Music, 1939-1945

The LA-based gnarwhallaby ensemble released their CD [exhibit a] featuring the repertoire of the avant-garde ensemble Warsztat Muzyczy (clarinet, trombone, cello, and piano), including such Polish composers as Włodzimierz Kotoński, Zygmunt Krauze and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

Pianist Katarżyna Borek and electronic musician Wojciech “Vojto Monteur” Orszewski  released the unique album Tempus Fantasy on Warner Classics in June

Paweł Mykietyn’s String Quartet (2006)—the manuscript of which is held in the PMC’s Manuscript Collection—was recorded along with Lutosławski’s String Quartet (1964) by the Lutosławski Quartet for DUX Records (CD 735)

A seven-CD box set with recordings by the prolific Polish violinist Prof. Kaja Danczowska (b. 1949) was released by Polish Radio in July (PRCD 1721-1727)

Saxophonist Alina Mleczko and the Baltic Neopolis Orchestra recorded a CD on DUX Records of works by living composers—Edward Sielicki, Krzysztof Herdzin, Jerzy Derfel, Pawł Mykietyn and Jacek Grudzień—and it was released in September 2014, with a concert on September 27 at the TRAFO Trafostacja Sztuki in Szczecin

In November, DUX released Krzysztof Penderecki Chamber Works vol. I, a unique program of new and old compositions performed by Jan Kalinowski – cello, Maria Machowska – violin, Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola, Marek Szlezer – piano, Tadeusz Tomaszewski – horn, Roman Widaszek – clarinet

A Tribute to Krzysztof Penderecki (Accentus Music ACC-20276 [DVD]) celebrates one of the world’s great contemporary composers and a Polish classical music icon on his 80th birthday

The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra releases its first CD ‘Warsaw Philharmonic: Weinberg Symphony No. 4 & Violin Concerto’ in the Polish market under its exclusive four-year contract with Warner Classics

Jazz in Polish Cinema – Out of the Underground 1958-1967‘ is a treasure-trove of rare and previously unissued classic jazz film soundtracks written by a pair of legendary Polish composers and pianists—Krzysztof Komeda and Andrzej Trzaskowski


On the 25th anniversary of the recovery of Polish national freedom (June 4), the Grand Theatre National Opera in Warsaw held a gala concert with Maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk and the National Philharmonic, presenting the monumental patriotic work of Paderewski, his Symphony in B Minor “Polonia,” and excerpts from the film “Paderewski man of action, success and fame

The Solidarity of Arts Festival in Gdańsk from August 8-30 presented some of the world’s greatest living jazz musicians in the “Esperanza+” concert

The Music in Wartime Warsaw [Muzyka w okupowanej Warszawie] series (September 12-14) commemorated the 75th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II and the 70th anniversary of the Warsaw Uprising with concerts of music written during the German occupation of Warsaw from 1939-1945, performed by the Warsaw National PhilharmonicSilesian QuartetLutosławski Piano Duo, and Kwadrofonik.

The Andrzej Jagodziński Trio and Chicago-based singer Grażyna Auguścik gave a US West Coast tour during October


Polish organist Piotr Rachoń from Warsaw’s St John Cathedral presented early Polish music at a recital at the US Washington National Cathedral on October 5

The Triptych MUSICA VINCIT OMNIA: Generations XVIII “Polish-American” series of concerts and conference celebrated the 90th anniversary of Andrzej Markowski’s birth and the 70th anniversary of the Polish Composers’ Union (ZKP)

Pianist, improviser and composer, Kuba Cichocki toured Asia in September and October with the with the Sarnecki/Cichocki Quintet

On Thursday November 20, Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko and his New York Quartet shared the stage at Barbican Hall with Italian pianist Stefano Bollani and Brazilian bandolim player Hamilton de Holanda at the London Jazz Festival, with music from Stańko’s acclaimed ECM double album, Wisława– dedicated to the celebrated poet, essayist and Nobel Laureate Wisława Szymborska

From Nov. 5-16, Polish and American musicians joined forces in venues in Chicago and Louisville celebrating the Open Borders Generation—the first generation of artists to live their entire professional lives following the end of Communism in 1989—including composers Krzysztof WołekAgata ZubelCezary Duchnowski, Paweł Hendrich and Ewa Trębacz

We Remember…

The music that filled the heart of jazz pianist and composer Jan Jarczyk ever since the day he was born in Kraków in 1947 fell silent on August 3, 2014

Polish pianist, composer and pedagogue Jan Ekier passed away on August 15, 2014

Polish composer and pedagogue Włodzimierz Kotoński, who was an electronic music pioneer, died on September 4, 2014

Jerzy Semkow, one of the most prominent Polish conductors and champions of Polish music around the world, died on December 23 near Lausanne, Switzerland


Meyer Premiere In Łódź

In 2015, the Artur Rubenstein Philharmonic Orchestra in Łódź is celebrating its centenary. In celebration, on February 17 the ARPO will hold an Anniversary Gala Concert featuring the World Premiere of Musica festiva for two organs and orchestra by Krzysztof Meyer. Musica festiva was commissioned by the ARPO especially for the occasion. It will be performed by organists Krzysztof Urbaniak and Ludger Lohmann, along with the ARPO conducted by Daniel Raiskin. Also on the program is Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor played by the Austrian pianist Ingolf Wunder, awarded joint second prize at the 16th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2010.

[Source: filharmonia.lodz.pl]

Zubel Premiere In California

“…an engagingly unsettled chamber work that alternated abruptly between passages of eerie calm and others of frantic unsteadiness.”—Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle (1/26/2015)

On January 25, the San Francisco Contemporary Music Players [SFCMP] performed the World Premiere of Polish composer and vocalist Agata Zubel’s new chamber piece, entitled Where To, at Cal Performances Hertz Hall in Berkeley, CA. It was second concert in the ensemble’s Project Ten Fourteen— series of four programs featuring world premieres simultaneously commissioned from ten distinctive composers all challenged to reflect upon and address the human condition, common to us all. The program also included the World Premiere of Slow Portraits 3 by Du Yun and two works by Harrison Birtwistle: The Axe Manual and Gigue Machine. The SFCMP ensemble was joined by special guest pianist Nicholas Hodges and percussionist Steven Schick, as well as the composer herself lending an ethereal vocal performance.

[Sources: facebook.com , sfgate.com, sfcmp.org]

Bagiński Premiere In Kielce

The World Premiere of Overture for symphony orchestra by Zbigniew Bagiński will take place during a concert at the Philharmonic in Kielce on February 6, 2015. The Kielce Philharmonic commissioned this new piece by Bagiński under the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage’s “Composing Commissions” program, as implemented by IMiT. Also on the program is Francis Poulenc’s Concerto for two pianos and orchestra, which will feature pianists Zuzanna Šimurdowa and Mikołaj Warszyński, as well as Eternal Songs, Op. 10 by Mieczysław Karłowicz. The Kielce Philharmonic Orchestra and soloists will be led by Artistic Director, Maestro Jacek Rogala.

[Sources: polmic.pl, filharmonia.kielce.com.pl]

Polish Premiere Of Górecki’s 4th In Łódź

Led by Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk, the Henryk Mikołaj Górecki Silesian Philharmonic will give the Polish premiere of Górecki’s Fourth Symphony in the concert hall of the Łódź Philharmonic. Left unfinished by the composer at the time of his death in 2010, the work was completed and orchestrated by his son, Mikołaj, and presented to the audiences in London, Los Angeles and Amsterdam. Held on February 15, the Łódź concert will also include Four Polish Dances and Quatre Mouvements by Aleksander Tansman. This concert is organized by the Tansman Festival, which was the original source of the 4th Symphony’s subtitle, “Tansman Episodes”—and the Tansman Society for Promotion of Culture in Łódź.

The Silesian Philharmonic will present Górecki’s Fourth Symphony again on February 27 in their own hall, together with the works by Witold Lutosławski and Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

February 15, 2015 | 7:00 p.m.
Tansman Festival 2015: Polish Premiere of Górecki’s 4th
Łódz Philharmonic Concert Hall
ul. Narutowicza 20/22, 90-135 Łódź, Poland
Info and Tickets: filharmonia.lodz.pl

February 27, 2015 | 7:00 p.m.
Silesian Premiere of Górecki’s 4th
Karol Stryja Concert Hall of the Silesian Philharmonic
ul. Sokolska 2, 40-084 Katowice, Poland
Info and Tickets: www.filharmoniaslaska.art.pl

Read a review of the US Premiere of the Fourth Symphony below, in our Performances section.

[Source: polmic.pl, filharmoniaslaska.art.pl]

“Composing Commissions” 2015-2016 – Results

On January 28, Poland’s Ministry of Culture and National Heritage (MKiDN) published the results of the call for applications for the 4th edition of the ministry’s program “Collections – Composing Commissions,” which is operated by the Institute of Music and Dance in Warsaw (IMiT). 90 pairs of composers and music organizations were awarded grants amounting to a total of 2 million PLN—as the total budget of the program was only 2 million PLN, and the total sum of grants requested exceeded 8 million PLN, the commission decided that, in the case of multiple applications involving the same composer, only the application that scored the most points will be awarded recommendation.

Amongst the 2015/2016 winners are Hanna Kulenty/Warsaw National Philharmonic, Rafał Augustyn/NOSPR, Tomasz Opałka/Kraków Music Academy, Anna Ignatowicz-Glińska/ZKP, Aleksandra Gryka/Kwartludium New Music Foundation, Krzysztof Wołek/“Crossroads” Center for Intercultural Creative Initiatives, Paweł Mykietyn/Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk, Wojciech Ziemont Zych/Kwadrofonik Association, Joanna Woźny and Lidia Zielińska/National Music Forum, and many others. For a full list of successful and unsuccessful applications, visit the websites of MKiDN or IMiT.

“Composing Commissions” was launched on 20 October 2014 by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of Poland to support the development of new music pieces and their first public presentations. The program also helps to promote the new pieces and make them publicly available, and the commissioned works are used as instruments of cultural and artistic education. So far, in the course of the three completed editions of the program, 280 new works have been commissioned from 192 composers (both Polish and international).

[Source: imit.org.pl]

Exploring Mieczyław Weinberg In Chicago

Music of beauty and enormity… it is a perfect masterpiece… it is a hymn to humanity… to the international solidarity of those who, subjected to the most terrible evil, stood up against fascism. –Dmitri Shostakovich about The Passenger

The Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the Chicago premiere of Polish-Jewish composer Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Passenger February 24 through March 15, 2015. This poignant and gripping 20th-century masterpiece is set to a libretto by Alexander Medvedev and is based on the book The Passenger by the Polish writer and concentration camp survivor, Zofia Posmysz. Suppressed for more than 40 years, Weinberg’s gripping opera has emerged anew, electrifying audiences at Austria’s Bregenz Festival and again in Warsaw and London. The opera had its U.S. premiere on January 18, 2014 at the Houston Grand Opera, and its New York premiere on July 10, 2014 as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.

In conjunction with The Passenger, Lyric Unlimited—the arm of Lyric Opera of Chicago dedicated to community engagement, new artistic initiatives, and collaborative events—is partnering with a range of cultural institutions to present a wide-ranging series exploring the themes and messages of Weinberg’s important work. “Memory and Reckoning” includes discussions with scholars and creators of The Passenger production, performances of Weinberg’s chamber music by members of the Lyric Opera Orchestra, orchestral music by the Northwestern University symphony and chamber orchestras, a film screening of the classic 1963 Polish film version of the book, directed by Andrzej Munk, and the world premiere of a newly commissioned klezmer opera, The Property by Wlad Marhulets.

January 29 – March 5, 2015
Memory and Reckoning: A Series Exploring Mieczysław Weinberg
Venues throughout the Chicago area
Ticket prices vary by venue and date
Info and details: www.lyricopera.org/memory

February 24- March 15, 2015
Lyric Opera performs The Passenger by Mieczysław Weinberg
Civic Opera House
20 N. Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL
Tickets and Info: lyricopera.org

[Source: polishculture-nyc.org]

Ptaszyńska To Lead Chicago’s Prestigious ‘Contempo’

Award-winning Polish composer Marta Ptaszyńska will succeed Shulamit Ran as the artistic director of Contempo, the University of Chicago’s renowned contemporary music collective. Ran, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor of Composition and a Pulitzer Prize winning composer, will retire in June after more than 40 years of service to the University and 12 years as artistic director of Contempo.

Originally called the Contemporary Chamber Players, Contempo was founded 50 years ago by composition professor Ralph Shapey. Over its long and distinguished history, the ensemble has garnered many accolades for its fearless performance of contemporary music.

“I depart with a tremendous sense of gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve in this role, and gratification at seeing the place Contempo is occupying in the life of the arts,” Ran said. “It is a joy for me that my cherished colleague, Marta Ptaszyńska , is taking over the mantle. She is a brilliant composer and brings multi-faceted experience from her own career also as a noted percussionist. Her great imagination, energy and vision assure us all that Contempo and its legacy are in wonderful hands.”

Ptaszyńska, the Helen B. and Frank L. Sulzberger Professor of Music, joined the University of Chicago faculty in 1998. An internationally renowned composer, she has received commissions from orchestras and opera houses worldwide, including the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony, the Cleveland Chamber Orchestra, the Polish Chamber Orchestra and the National Opera in Poland. Her many works include the Holocaust Memorial Cantata, Concerto for Marimba, the opera Oscar of Alva, Mister Marimba, an opera for children, and the opera Valldemosa on Chopin in Majorca, commissioned by the National Chopin Institute and the Polish Ministry of Culture for the Chopin Bicentennial in 2010.

In 2010, she received a Guggenheim fellowship to complete a concerto for percussion, electronic tape and orchestra, Of Time & Space, which is designed to be performed simultaneously by different ensembles around the world. Ptaszyńska was awarded the lifetime achievement award by the Union of Polish Composers in 2011. She received the Officer’s Cross of Merit from her home country of Poland in 1995.

Ptaszyńska said she is already making plans for the next year of Contempo, which will be devoted to new trends in contemporary European music. “We will have a great variety of works, including electronic and multimedia presentations, along with a jazz concert by Grazyna Auguscik and a portrait concert of Shulamit Ran,” Ptaszyńska  said. For more information about Contempo and details about its 50th anniversary season, please visit the Contempo website: lucian.uchicago.edu/blogs/contempo

[Source: press release]

Synthetis 2015

The SYNTHETIS 2015 International Summer Course for Composers will take place in Radziejowice (near Warsaw) between July 13 – 25, 2015, organized by the Music Gardens Foundation. Young composers (up to 35 years old) from all over the world are invited to apply by April 30, 2015 for the opportunity to attend lectures and individual meetings with such renowned composers as Martijn Padding, Zhou Long, Simon Steen-Andersen, Philippe Manoury and Paweł Hendrich (computer-aided composition). More information and on-line application form available at: www.synthetis.pl

The Courses will be held in the Radziejowice Palace – a beautiful palace complex surrounded by picturesque landscape, situated 50 km from Warsaw (pictured above). The venue, originally dating back to the 17th century, has become a creative work home for artists, writers, musicians and painters thanks to its unique atmosphere.

Created and directed by Zygmunt Krauze, the SYNTHETIS International Summer Course for Composers is a successful reactivation of the legendary composition courses initiated in 1980 by the Polish Society for Contemporary Music.

[Sources: press release]

Treliński & Beczała At The Met

There was a strong Polish presence at the January 29 opening of the Metropolitan Opera’s new double-bill of two rarely performed operas: Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle. A co-production of the Met and Warsaw’s Teatr Wielki-Polish National Opera, both operas are staged by acclaimed Polish director Mariusz Treliński, in his Met debut. The double-bill also features Polish tenor Piotr Beczała as Count Vaudémont at the first-ever Met performance of Iolanta.

Mariusz Treliński, artistic director of Warsaw’s Polish National Opera, makes his Met debut this season with this new production. The Polish film, theater, and opera director made his opera debut in 1999 with an acclaimed production of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly at the Polish National Opera and has since directed at the Mariinsky Theatre, Welsh National Opera, the Savonlinna Opera Festival, and Teatro Comunale in Bologna.

Polish tenor Piotr Beczala opened the Met’s 2013-14 season as Lensky in Eugene Onegin, and returned last winter to sing the Prince in Dvorak’s Rusalka. This season marks his first North American performance as Count Tristan Vaudémont, a role he has sung at the Salzburg Festival and the Baden-Baden Festival. Beczala made his Met debut in 2006 as the Duke of Mantua in Verdi’s Rigoletto and has since sung the title character in Gounod’s Faust, the Chevalier des Grieux in the new production premiere of Manon, Edgardo in Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Bohème, and Roméo in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.

Performance Dates:

Thursday, Jan. 29 @ 7:30 pm

Tuesday, Feb. 3 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, Feb. 7 @ 8:00 pm

Tuesday, Feb. 10 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, Feb. 14 @ 12:30 pm

Wednesday, Feb. 18 @ 7:30 pm

Saturday, Feb. 21 @ 8:00 pm

[Source: press release via polishculture-nyc.org]

Lutosławski On Google

One of the newest installments in Google’s Cultural Institute initiative is the exhibit Witold Lutosławski 1913-1994, an interactive exploration of the life and works of the famous Polish composer, through images and text. This is the third Cultural Institute exhibit to be curated by the Adam Mickiewicz Institute’s flagship website, Culture.pl. The images are culled from the albums of Lutosławski’s wife, Elżbieta Markowska, and the archives of the Witold Lutosławski Society and the Polish Music Information Centre in Warsaw. Texts were selected from Lutosławski’s statements about his life and work as well as the statements of other people related to the composer.

Through its Cultural Institute initiative, Google has partnered with hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and archives to host the world’s cultural treasures online. With a team of dedicated Googlers, they are building tools that allow the cultural sector to display more of its diverse heritage online, making it accessible to all. Here you can find artworks, landmarks and world heritage sites, as well as digital exhibitions that tell the stories behind the archives of cultural institutions across the globe.

[Source: polmic.pl, google.com]

Stojowski In Szczecin

A performance of Zygmunt Stojowski‘s Violin Concerto and Romance for violin and orchestra takes place at the Szczecin Philharmonic on Friday, February 6, at 7:00 p.m. The featured soloist is Bartłomiej Nizioł. Hailing from Szczecin, Bartek Nizioł is considered one of the best violinists in the world. Since 1995 he has lived in Switzerland, where he is concertmaster of the Orchestra of the Zurich Opera House. Winner of the first prize at the most prestigious international violin competitions in Poznan, Adelaide, Pretoria, Brussels, Paris.

Friday, February 6, at 7:00 p.m.
Nizioł performs Stojowski
Szczecin Philharmonic
ul. Małopolska 48
70-515 Szczecin
Info: filharmonia.szczecin.pl

[Source: filharmonia.szczecin.pl]

Nat’l Chopin Competition In Florida

The 9th National Chopin Piano Competition of the U.S. will take place from February 20-March 1, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Initiated in 1975, and held in Miami every five years, the National Chopin Piano Competition is designed to offer performance opportunities and financial support for young American pianists and to enable Prize Winners to take part in the prestigious International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, Poland. The Competition is open to pianists holding U.S. citizenship (native born or naturalized), born between 1985 and 1999, representing a professional level of performance.

This year’s contestants are listed here. Organized by the Chopin Foundation of the United States, the National Chopin Competition features the largest cash award of any piano competition in the U.S. and automatic acceptance into the Warsaw Int’l Chopin Competition for First and Second Prize winners, plus concert performances in the U.S. and abroad.

Both days of the 2015 Competition Finals will feature Concerto performances with the Chopin Foundation Orchestra and Maestro Grzegorz Nowak, Conductor.

Competition Schedule:

February 20, 2015 at 8:00 pm
Nat’l Chopin Competition: Gala Opening Concert featuring all nine Competition jurors
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street, Miami, Florida
Admission: $45/$35 (Chopin Members & Students Free)
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com
Info: www.chopin.org

February 21 -26, 2015 from 9:30 – 5:00 pm
Nat’l Chopin Competition: Preliminary Rounds
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street, Miami, Florida
All Sessions are open to the public free of charge
Info: www.chopin.org

February 28, 2015 at 7:00 pm
Nat’l Chopin Competition: Finals – Part I with Maestro Grzegorz Nowak
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street, Miami, Florida
Admission $25/$15 (Chopin Members & Students Free)
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com
Info: www.chopin.org

March 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm
Nat’l Chopin Competition: Finals & Award Ceremony with Maestro Grzegorz Nowak
Miami-Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler Street, Miami, Florida
Admission $35/$25 (Chopin Members & Students Free)
Tickets: www.ticketmaster.com
Info: www.chopin.org

[Sources: press release, chopin.org]

Meccore Quartet US Tour

Winner of the 2nd prize at the 2012 London International String Quartet Competition, the Meccore String Quartet from Poland will perform across the US throughout the month of February. Their programs will include Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet no. 1—an uncanny blend of late German romanticism, impressionism, and the avant-garde—and Szymon Laks’s Quartet no. 3 on Polish Themes, as well as works by Brett Dean, Mozart, Debussy, Beethoven, and Czajkowski. The Meccore Quartet is comprised of violinists Wojciech Koprowski and Jarosław Nadrzycki, violist Michał Bryła and cellist Karol Marianowski.

Established in 2007, the Meccore String Quartet is acclaimed for its breathtaking performances and visionary interpretations. The quartet has received top prizes at the 9th Premio Paolo Borciani Competition, the 2010 International Chamber Music Competition in Weiden, Germany and the 2009 Max Reger International Chamber Music Competition. The Quartet have given performances at major European music festivals, such as Rheingau, Mecklemburg Vorpommern, the Ludwig van Beethoven Spring Festival, Budapest Spring and Heidelberg Frühling, and appeared in many prestigious concert halls, including Beethovenhaus in Bonn, the National Philharmonic in Warsaw and the Wigmore Hall in London. The Quartet has recorded with Bayerischer Rundfunk, Rai3, Radio Merkury and NDR. Since 2010, the Meccorre String Quartet has been hosting and organizing the International Chamber Music Festival Q’arto Mondi in Poznań, Poland, featuring top quartets from all over the world.

February 6, 2015 | 8 pm
Meccore String Quartet in COLLEGE PARK, MD
University of Maryland – Gildenhorn Recital Hall
Tickets: $10-$25
Info: theclarice.umd.edu

February 7, 2015 | 8 pm
Meccore String Quartet in SKIDMORE, NY
Skidmore College – Arthur Zankel Music Center
Tickets: $8-$5, Students/Children Free
Info: skidmore.edu

February 8, 2015 | 2 pm
Meccore String Quartet in NEW YORK CITY
The New School, Alvin Johnson – J.K. Kaplan Hall
66 West 12th Street New York, NY 10011
(212) 229-5873
Tickets: $5- $17.50

February 10, 2015 | 7:30 pm
Meccore String Quartet in DUE WEST, SC
Erskine College – Memorial Hall
Tickets: $5, Students Free
Info: news.erskine.edu

February 11, 2015 | 7 pm
Meccore String Quartet in SALT LAKE CITY
University of Utah – Libby Gardener Concert Hall
(801) 581-6762
Tickets: $28-$8

February 15, 2015 | 3 pm
Meccore String Quartet in NE SKOWIN, OR
The Chapel at Camp Winema
(503) 965-6499
Tickets: Adults $25, Children $10

[Source: polishculture-nyc.org, meccorequartet.com]

Grabsky & Felder Bring Chopin To L.A.

The end of February usually brings annual Chopin celebrations, and this year is no exception.  Since 2015 marks the 205th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, a truly special event on February 23—encompassing a film screening and Q&A session with the artists—is planned for all fans of Polish music in Southern California. A Steinway Concert Artist and veritable one-man orchestra, Hershey Felder is a Canadian pianist, composer, actor, playwright, producer and director who, over the past decade, has appeared worldwide in a number of very successful shows centered on the most prominent musicians. A few years ago, Felder’s one-man show Monsieur Chopin had a very successful run at the Geffen Theatre in Westwood. Felder has also produced and starred as George Gershwin, Ludwig van Beethoven, Franz Liszt and, most recently, Irving Berlin. In all of his composer-themed shows, Felder recreates the private living quarters of these great musicians; his performances—a free-wheeling monologue interspersed with musical interludes he provides at the piano—conjure up the intimate and unforgettable impression of attending a private soiree with the artist in question.

On Monday, February 23, Hershey Felder will join British documentary filmmaker and director Phil Grabsky for the L.A. premiere of their film In Search of Chopin, the latest of Mr. Grabsky’s documentaries focused on the lives of famous composers. His previous films—In Search of Mozart, In Search of Haydn, and In Search of Beethoven—were enthusiastically received by the public and press across the world. Mr. Grabsky’s latest film in the series focuses on Chopin and features Mr. Felder in the title role of Frederic Chopin. This film screening is free but seating is limited in the Gindi Auditorium of the American Jewish University, so reservations must be made at www.aju.edu/chopin. The event begins at 7:00 p.m., with Mr. Felder and Mr. Grabsky will be on hand for a Q & A session after the screening.

Monday, February 23, 2015 | 7:00 p.m.
In Search of Chopin – Film Screening and Q&A
Gindi Auditorium of the American Jewish University
15600 Mulholland Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90077
Tickets are FREE, but seating is limited and a reserved ticket is required for entry into the auditorium
Info & Reservations: www.aju.edu/chopin

[Sources: press release, aju.edu]

Competition For Music Critics

It’s rare for music critics to be invited to compete for prizes but this year they’ll finally have a chance to do so in the first edition of the Kropka [Period] Competition recently announced by the Meakultura Foundation. The Competition is open to all interested in writing about music—professional publicists, journalists, part-time writers and bloggers—and seeks to raise the standards of music criticism as well as create new opportunities and media channels for the performers and ensembles to be reviewed properly.

The application deadline is February 25 and the details can be found at: fundacjameakultura.pl

Presided over by the Editor-in-Chief of PWM Editions, Daniel Cichy, the jury includes Joanna Grotkowska, Anna Chęćka-Gotkowicz, Weronika Grozdew-Kołacińska, Piotr Metz, Miłosz Bembinow, and Mariusz Herma. The Competition results will be announced on April 9 and the award ceremony is scheduled for May 10.

The prizes include three Main Prizes for the best text about music published in 2014, an Honorary Mention for a critical debut as well as for a blogger, and a Special Prize for an article about Polish music published abroad in any language. This year an Extra Prize provided by PWM’s Editor-In-Chief will also be awarded.

[Sources: polmic.pl, fundacjameakultura.pl]

Stańko To Give U-M’s Copernicus Lecture

From February 4-5, 2015, the Copernicus Program in Polish Studies at the University of Michigan welcomes Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko to campus. The New Yorker has proclaimed Stańko as “one of the most original and creative jazz trumpet players in the world.” Inspired by early Ornette Coleman, Miles Davis, and John Coltrane, he was 20 when he formed his first band in 1962 and has been a jazz hero in Europe ever since. He has made many superb recordings for ECM Records since the mid-1970s, when he was at the forefront of the free jazz scene. For most of the past decade, he has been ranked among the world’s top jazz trumpeters and composers.

On February 4, the 71-year-old will give the 2015 Copernicus lecture, an annual lecture at U-M that highlights the rich variety of Polish intellectual and cultural life. Stańko will be interviewed by Piotr Michałowski, George G. Cameron Professor of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, U-M.

On February 5, the University Music Society will present The Tomasz Stańko New Balladyna Quartet performing Balladyna, based on the Polish tragedy written by Juliusz Slowacki in 1834 and published in 1839 in Paris. Balladyna is Stańko’s great first project for ECM Records. The quartet includes Tomasz Stańko, trumpet; Tim Berne, saxophones; John Hébert, bass; and Jim Black, drums.

Event sponsors: U-M’s Copernicus Program in Polish Studies, CREES, Center for World Performance Studies, University Music Society; Adam Mickiewicz Institute.

February 4, 2015, 5:30 PM
Annual Copernicus Lecture
Stern Auditorium, U-M Museum of Art
525 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI  48109-1106
Info: www.ii.umich.edu
Free and open to the public

February 5, 2015, 7:30 PM
The Tomasz Stańko New Balladyna Quartet
Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
911 North University, Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Tickets & Information:  UMS.org or 734.764.2538

[Sources: press release]

Ingolf Wunder In San Diego

“Ingolf Wunder is a real master of mellow tones […] and shows his virtuosity not in grandiloquence but in gentle and accurately articulated pieces.”

Sueddeutsche Zeitung (March 2013)

On February 8, the La Jolla Music Society welcomes Ingolf Wunder, one of the world’s most exciting young pianists, to the San Diego area for a recital at the Auditorium at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). Wunder achieved worldwide recognition first as the First Prize Winner at the 2000 Concours Musical de France and then as controversial Second Prize winner at the 2010 International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, where he was also recognized with Special Awards for Best Performance of The Polonaise-Fantasy and Best Performance of a Concerto. Now on the roster of Steinway Artists and Deutsche Grammophon Records, Wunder comes to Southern California with a recital program for solo piano featuring works by Chopin and Liszt.

February 8, 2015 | 3:00 pm
La Jolla Music Society presents Ingolf Wunder, piano
The Auditorium at TSRI
10640 John Jay Hopkins Dr, San Diego CA 92121
Tickets: $30, purchase.tickets.com
Info: www.performingartslive.com

[Sources: performingartslive.com, ingolfwunder.at]

Blecharz Comissioned By OpenICE

A volume of new collaborations has been launched by the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) in tandem with OpenICE—a far-reaching initiative to build diverse new audiences internationally. During the next 18 months, ICE will commission and premiere a new body of repertoire from a diverse group of composers to be presented in free performances around the globe — in venues ranging from the world’s major concert halls to outdoor urban amphitheaters to small community centers and public libraries, in addition to being made available in the ensemble’s digital concert hall, DigitICE. Through this initiative, Polish composer Wojtek Blecharz‘s  work will continue his exploration of the extreme physicality of extended techniques.

In 2015, ICE officially launched OpenICE, a new initiative to build audiences through free access to concerts. During the OpenICE launch year, ICE will present 35 concerts free and open to the public in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Brazil, and Greenland. By 2018, the initiative aims to reach one million listeners per year. 

At its core, OpenICE is inspired by the quintessentially American institution of the public library, with its enduring commitment to the social value of public access to knowledge. Similar to our libraries, which serve people of different backgrounds and levels of education, OpenICE programming will serve our current audience while providing multiple entry points for new listeners, fulfilling our belief that we are responsible to make our best work available to all.

The new works will premiere on various OpenICE concerts in 2015-16 and represent the beginning of a new canon of chamber works for OpenICE, which will be further promoted via multiple performances and recordings on TUNDRA, ICE’s record label.

[Sources: facebook.com, newmusicusa.org, iceorg.org]

Polish Highlights @ Barbican In 2015/2016

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1933, Czernica near Rybnik) | © Photo by Gerry Hurkmans, Amsterdam 1997

On January 19, London’s Barbican Centre announced its 2015-2016 classical music season and it includes three important Polish highlights. First, amongst the ‘Total Immersion’ days planned by the BBC Symphony Orchestra to highlight three towering figures of contemporary classical music, there will be a day devoted to composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki. Held on October 3, 2015, the Górecki day will feature three concert programs of chamber, choral and orchestral music, as well as a discussion with musicologist Adrian Thomas about “Henryk Górecki: Polish Pioneer”.

Then on November 24, 2015, one amongst the Barbican’s fantastic array of high–profile solo recitals will feature pianist Simon Trpčeski playing a program of Chopin. Finally, on June 30, 2016, Sir Simon Rattle and the London Symphony Orchestra close out the 2015/2016 season performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 4 with soloist Krystian Zimerman.

[Sources: facebook.com, onpolishmusic.com, barbican.org.uk. Górecki photo credit: Gerry Hurkmans]

Hornweek In Kraków

Held annually since 2004 in Germany and the Netherlands, this year’s International HornWeek Festival will instead be hosted by the Kraków Music Academy. During the week of February 10, concerts of HornWeek will be augmented by 41 French horn players from Kraków Music Academy. Three evenings of recitals (Feb. 11, 12 and 13) are scheduled before a special performance at the Academy’s Florianka Hall on the 14th featuring Szabolcs Zempleni and Wioletta Fluda as well as the Horn Quartet Trompas de Brasil. On Sunday, Feb. 15 the Festival goes (literally) underground with a 4 p.m. concert held about 700 feet below ground in the ancient salt mine in Bochnia, a distant suburb of Kraków. The closing concert on Feb. 16 will feature 45 performers from Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Brazil, Spain, Venezuela, Australia, Hungary, Latvia, Costa Rica, Italy and Columbia. Led by professors Will Sanders, Willy Bessems and Wojciech Kamionka, brass arrangements of film music from such blockbusters as Star Trek, Independence Day, West Side Story, Alexander Nevsky, and Pirates of the Caribbean will be heard.

February 10-16, 2015
2015 International HornWeek Festival at the Kraków Music Academy
Various venues around Kraków, Poland
Info: www.amuz.krakow.pl (Polish) and cracow.travel (English)

[Source: polmic.pl]


More Honors For Chylińska

Following the celebrations accompanying the release of the last volume of Szymanowski’s Collected Works last October (see the November Newsletter for details), Teresa Chylińska was honored by the Rector of the Jagiellonian University with the “Plus ratio quam vis” medal on December 9, 2014. The ceremony was held at the Pusłowski Palace in Kraków, the seat of the Jagiellonian University’s Institute of Musicology. With the motto recognizing the value of intellectual effort over pure might, this medal is the highest distinction granted by the University to scholars and prominent intellectuals in recognition of extraordinary services to the institution and society at large.

The late Pope John Paul II was the first recipient of this medal in 1997, minted to celebrate the 600th anniversary of the Jagiellonian University. Since then, a carefully selected rank including European heads of state, scholars, writers and professors were recognized with this honor.

Teresa Chylińska’s “Plus ratio quam vis” medal recognized her lifetime achievement in research and publications on Karol Szymanowski. Serving for about a half century as Editor-in-Chief for the Collected Works of Szymanowski (PWM), Chylińska has also authored several books on Karol Szymanowski and his family. Her latest book about the composer’s sister—Stanisława Szymanowska, published by the UJ Institute of Musicology—was officially unveiled at the December award ceremony.

This festive event was capped by a piano recital by Mariola Cieniawa-Puchała, faculty at the Kraków Music Academy, who performed solo works by Chopin and Szymanowski.

[Sources: uj.edu.pl, Photo: Marek Nawieśniak via uj.edu.pl]

Gramophone Editor’s List (Feb 2015)

Gramophone Magazine Editor Martin Cullingford selected twelve of his favorite recordings from the February issue for his Editor’s Choice list, and three of these recordings featuring several Polish composers and performers. See below:

No. 1:

JS BACH English Suites Nos 1, 3 & 5
Piotr Anderszewski – piano
Warner Classics

“This is a glorious disc. Simply glorious. Anderszewski and Bach have long been congenial bedfellows and the Pole’s playing here is compelling on many different levels…. [T]he result is a clear labour of love, and one in which he shines new light on old music to mesmerising effect….Anderszewski’s CDs are all too infrequent, so let’s cherish this one.”— Review by Harriet Smith

No. 5:

PENDERECKI Chamber Works, Vol 1
Jan Kalinowski – cello, Maria Machowska – violin, Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola, Marek Szlezer – piano, Tadeusz Tomaszewski – horn, Roman Widaszek – clarinet
DUX 0780

[A]ll outstandingly performed by these six Polish musicians who come together in the substantial Sextet, completed in 2000… These fine performances have been excellently recorded at the European Music Centre in Lusawice, and heard together in this way cast an unusual and fascinating light on Penderecki’s work. Highly recommended.”—Review by Ivan Moody

No. 6:

CHOPIN Études complete
Zlata Chochieva – piano
Piano Classics PCL0068

“The young Russian pianist follows her 2013 Rachmaninov disc with a wonderful set of Chopin’s Etudes, maintaining a beautifully entrancing tone throughout the pieces’ challenges and changes.”—Review by Jeremy Nicholas

[Source: gramophone.co.uk]

Polish National Chopin Competition Winners

The winners of the Polish National Chopin Competition were announced at the end of auditions held in Warsaw during the first week of February. The first three winners—Andrzej Wierciński, Łukasz Krupiński and Krzysztof Książek—will be able to bypass the first stage of the International Chopin Competition that will begin in Warsaw on October 1, 2015.

Below is a list of all winners:

  • 1st Prize: Andrzej Wierciński
  • 2nd Prize (ex aequo): Łukasz Krupiński and Krzysztof Książek
  • 3rd Prize: Łukasz Mikołajczyk
  • 4th Prize: Karolina Nadolska
  • 5th Prize: Michał Szymanowski
  • Honorable Mentions: Rafał Błaszczyk and Piotr Nowak

Overall, 36 Polish pianists born between 1985 and 1990 participated in the Competition held at the Chamber Hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic. The jury, led by Piotr Paleczny, also included Andrzej Jasiński, Janusz Olejniczak, Ewa Pobłocka, Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń, Wojciech Świtała and Stefan Wojtas. Most of these jurors will also be judging the upcoming 17th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw in October.

[Source: polmic.pl, chopin.nifc.pl]

Baird Competition: First Round Results

1965 Tadeusz Baird – kompozytor
fot. Andrzej Zborski/FOTONOVA

The results of the first round of the Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers were announced on January 16. The jury—including Jerzy Bauer, Zbigniew Bagiński, Krzysztof Baculewski and Sławomir Czrnecki—selected the following works: Smugi cienia [The Streaks of Shadows], Goliady, Tick!—Time (time is ticking), Trzy jedności [The Three Unities], and Ménilmontant Fluctuations. The composers’ names remain anonymous, and these works will be performed June 16 at the Mazovian Cultural Center in Warsaw, after which the names of the winning composers will be announced. The competition is organized by the Polish Compoosers’ Union (ZKP).

[Source: polmic.pl]

Game Music Accolades For Stroinski

Classically-trained Polish composer Mikolai Stroinski made the transition from casual game contributor to in-demand artist with his emotional cinematic score for “The Vanishing of Ethan Carter.” This score earned him 2 major awards at the Annual Game Music Awards 2014 (AGMA): Outstanding Contribution — Newcomer of the Year and Best Score — Orchestral / Cinematic.

According to Chris Greening of Game Music Online:

The atmospheric, cinematic soundtrack for The Vanishing of Ethan Carter marries beautifully with the game’s visuals. Newcomer Mikolai Stroinski ensured the score also drew in stand-alone listeners by incorporating resonant themes and heartfelt emotions in a subtle, meaningful manner…. Now a double AGMA winner, he looks set to maintain an upward trajectory with this year’s The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.

“The Vanishing…” has also gained recognition in Poland, where Stroinski was named “Composer of The Year” and the soundtrack of“The Vanishing…” was given an honorable mention by Gamemusic.pl.

[Sources: facebook.com, vgmonline.net, vgmonline.net]

2014 PAHA Awards

The Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt, interdisciplinary organization devoted to the study of Polish American history and culture. Founded in 1942 and now an affiliate of the American Historical Association, PAHA promotes research and dissemination of scholarly materials focused on Polish American history and culture, and its European origins.

During its 72nd Annual Meeting in New York (January 2-4, 2015), winners of the PAHA awards for 2014 were announced at an awards banquet held at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland. Consul General, Hon. Urszula Gacek, welcomed the guests and recounted the history of PAHA and its role in the documentation and promotion of Polish American history and culture. Established in 1942, PAHA is the premier international scholarly association dedicated to the study of Polish emigration and immigration to the Americas. The annual PAHA Awards recognize researchers, artists, historians, and community activists who made a major contribution to Polish American culture, and two of the 2014 winners are major supporters of Polish music in Los Angeles.

The Amicus Poloniae Award that “recognizes significant contributions enhancing knowledge of Polish and Polish‐American heritage by individuals not belonging to the Polish‐American community” was given to Ms. TERRY TEGNAZIAN, the co‐founder of the Aquila Polonica Publishing dedicated to issuing books about Poland in World War II. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, Terry Tegnazian became interested in the Polish experience of World War II while reading memoirs of key Polish Underground leaders. She was moved by the stories of the Poles’ incredible courage during World War II—an aspect of the war she had not previously been aware of. In addition to being a hands‐on publisher involved in all aspects of each Aquila Polonica title, Terry has written about Poland in World War II for the Wall Street Journal Europe and the Warsaw Business Journal, she’s been interviewed on national television, and has presented numerous lectures in a wide range of venues: colleges, museums, libraries, etc.

Dr. MAJA TROCHIMCZYK, of Moonrise Press, Los Angeles, received the Distinguished Service Award “given occasionally to a member of PAHA who has rendered valuable and sustained service to the organization.” Dr. Trochimczyk is PAHA’s Newsletter Editor and Online Communications Director. She created and expanded the organization’s internal and external online and print communications  including the newsletters, marketing materials, blog (PAHAnews.blogspot.com), and social media. A member of the PAHA Board since in 2009, Dr. Trochimczyk previously received the PAHA’s Swastek Prize in 2007 for the best article published in the Polish American Studies, “The Impact of Mazowsze and Śląsk on Polish Folk Dancing in California” (Vol. 63, No. 1, Spring 2006). A music historian and a poet, Dr. Trochimczyk published six books on music and five of poetry, including, most recently, Frédéric Chopin: A Research and Information Guide (co‐edited with William Śmiałek, Routledge, June 2015)

[Sources: PAHA press release, polishamericanstudies.org]


Moniuszko’s Songs

Pieśni Stanisława Moniuszki [Moniuszko’s songs]
Elżbieta Szmytka – soprano, Levente Kende – piano
Association of Polish Music

The newest album released under the aegis of the Stowarzyszenie Muzyki Polskiej [Association of Polish Music] and the Agencja Ars Operae, “Stanislaw Moniuszko – Songs” is performed by outstanding artists: soprano Elżbieta Szmytka and pianist Levente Kende.

[Source: fmp.org.pl]


US Premiere Of H.M. Górecki’s Symphony No. 4

A Review by Krysta Close

During the weekend of January 16-18, 2015, the Los Angeles Philharmonic gave the US Premiere of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki’s Symphony No. 4, op. 85 at Walt Disney Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Due to ill health at the end of his life, Górecki was unable to complete the orchestration of this much anticipated follow-up to his wildly successful Third Symphony. After his death in November 2010, his son Mikołaj Górecki took to finishing the task.

A talented composer in his own right, the younger Górecki had studied with his father for 8 years in Katowice before completing his studies at the Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada and Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana in the US. While meeting with the Composers’ Forum at the USC Thornton School of Music during his stay in Los Angeles for the premiere, Mikołaj Górecki told students that the job of completing the symphony—which had been left in short score form with orchestration details by his father upon his death —was in fact a simple one. After so many years studying under his father and later discussing the unfinished Symphony during trips home to visit, his task seemed so clearly laid out that he felt he was merely channeling his father’s work onto the page. Indeed, the Fourth Symphony is so firmly rooted in the various idioms that Henryk Mikołaj Górecki expressed over the course of his career that, although completed by another hand, it seems to be truly an expression of the great composer’s last musical thoughts.

The Fourth Symphony is subtitled “Tansman Episodes,” which was no doubt the inspiration for the inclusion of another, lesser known Polish composer on the L.A. Phil’s program. Aleksander Tansman’s Stelè in memoriam Igor Stravinsky opened the concert in a very atmospheric fashion, invoking not only Tansman’s Russian friend and collaborator to whom the piece is dedicated, but also the tonalities of Claude Debussy, a compatriot in Tansman’s exiled home of France and a strong musical influence on both him and Stravinsky at certain periods in their careers. The Stelè is driven by its eerie and Stravinsky-esque use of percussion instruments such as the celesta, glockenspiel and bells. Over the ethereal and rhythmic backdrop these provide, the sadness of loss is finally laid bare in the last movement—marked Lamento—as a funeral march is passed from section to section of the orchestra, ultimately landing back in the percussion section with a snare drum roll. The snare, coupled with a trumpet call, suggests a possible military inspiration or, more likely, protest—either to the Nazi persecution of World War II that drove Tansman from Europe to the US, or perhaps to the Vietnam War conflict that was just coming to a bloody close as he finished this work in 1973.

It is well known that Górecki’s Fourth Symphony is a co-commission by several international powerhouses of classical music: London Philharmonic Orchestra and Southbank Centre, with generous support from the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and the Polish Cultural Institute in London; The Los Angeles Philharmonic Association: Gustavo Dudamel, Music Director; and the ZaterdagMatinee of the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. However, it is virtually unmentioned outside of Poland that the piece actually began taking shape much earlier, inspired by musicologist Andrzej Wendland who started organizing the Tansman Festival in Łódź in 1996. Although the connection to Tansman manifests in only a repeated musical theme based on Tansman’s name, not necessarily his musical style, these roots into Górecki’s homeland are appropriate considering his own surprise at, and resistance to, the phenomenal international success he experienced after the explosion of his Third Symphony onto the classical and pop charts in the 1990s. Rather than trying to emulate that very specific success, the Fourth Symphony provides instead a review of Górecki’s different stylistic periods, many of which would be unknown to those who have only basked in the sublime stillness of the Third Symphony.

Orchestrated for a very large ensemble, the Fourth opens in exactly the opposite fashion of the Third’s pianississimo, with a bombastic, ‘all hands on deck’ establishment of the Decisio theme. Reminiscent of the driving intensity of Górecki’s avant-garde Refren [Refrain] (1965), this theme—based on the four A’s in Aleksander Tansman’s name—is punctuated by clamoring thunderbolts from the bass drums and jarring stabs from the organ. One could almost feel Walt Disney Hall vibrating with the collective sound, as the audience became more palpably uncomfortable with each full-throated, dissonant organ chord, played expertly and without remorse by Marc Robson. The energy generated by the piece was electric and, whether they liked it or not, everyone in the hall was paying attention.

As the Largo second movement takes hold, the intensity of the first movement is interspersed with quiet, gentle moments, and the listener begins to feel that they are witnessing a true composite of Górecki’s different styles. In an almost Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde-like contrast, the strings quickly lull the listener into a sense of calm, yet the intermittent dissonant bells remain a reminder that another attack from the organ is most certainly imminent. This kind of bipolar back-and-forth, expressed particularly harmonic juxtaposition of the keyboard and bells to the rest of the orchestra, is also present in Górecki’s playful Kleines Requiem für eine Polka (1993), which was completed not long before he first conceived of the Fourth Symphony. As the slow movement for the Fourth Symphony comes to a climax, the orchestra drops out for several minutes for a trio between the piano, cello and violin—this moment is a perfect example of the sublime touch of which Górecki was a master, while also exposing and unpacking several of the harmonic ideas presented in the Symphony thus far. On January 18, the trio section was exquisitely executed by pianist Joanne Pearce Martin, cellist Ben Hong and concertmaster Nathan Cole, with the latter two demonstrating an incredibly tight unison despite their locations halfway across the stage from each other. The entire movement revealed the subtle but very effective leadership provided by Maestro Andrey Boreyko, who also conducted the premiere of the piece in London in April.

Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (b. 1933, Czernica near Rybnik) | © Photo by Gerry Hurkmans, Amsterdam 1997
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki | © Photo by Gerry Hurkmans, Amsterdam 1997

The third movement returns to the defiantly dissonant Decisioso theme, now with three bass drums in unison leading the aural attack. The movement includes a fun, quasi-klezmer moment for the oboes, who are then joined by an oom-pah-pah from the percussion section and accordion-like sounds from the strings, all of which again harkens back to the Requiem. As the organ returns (and, at least in Disney Hall, the audience resumes their squirming), one can feel a momentum shift to a final statement . Although the organ remains strident in its dissonance, the strings continue to assert themselves like a ray of light breaking though. In the end, consonance prevails as Górecki concludes with a triumphant resolving chord for the organ, as if to say that even death cannot keep a composer from one last jubilant celebration.

* * * * *

To read Mark Swed’s review of this concert, entitled “Henryk Górecki’s quirky, final major musical statement,” visit the Los Angeles Times.

70th Anniversary Of Auschwitz Liberation Around The World

January 27, 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the German Nazi concentration and extermination camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 1.1 million people were killed in Auschwitz, including nearly 1 million Jews and tens of thousands of Poles, Roma and Sinti, Soviet prisoners of war and political opponents from all over Europe.  In 2015, International Holocaust Remembrance Day was marked by a number of national and international events throughout the world. Below are some of the prominent events that took place, and many more are listed on the website of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance as well as the Map of World Remembrance, and the London Telegraph  has a list of live updates from events that happened around the globe.

UNESCO “Liberty, Life and Legacy of the Holocaust Survivors”

Worldwide & Paris, France

According to Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General: “UNESCO was established in the wake of the Holocaust on the conviction that lasting peace must draw on the mutual understanding of peoples and cultures, nurtured through education and knowledge sharing, in ways that highlight the best of humanity in ourselves. The Holocaust has shown us the worst of ourselves, and remembrance of the victims must accompany us in our quest for a world where such horrors will never reoccur.”

A testament of our respect to those who survived and a tribute to the memory of the victims, this International Day is also is a call for action. It is an opportunity for Member States to engage in further efforts against anti-Semitism and racism, and to develop educational programs that will help preventing similar atrocities from occurring in the future. Education has a vital role to play in fostering a culture of prevention, undermining prejudice, promoting peaceful co-existence and human rights, and cultivating respect for all peoples.

The further the genocide recedes in time, and as the last survivors pass on, the greater the need to teach about it, and understand its meaning. UNESCO promotes globally education about the genocide, believing that it will help young people, whatever their origin and culture, become more aware of the mechanisms that can lead societies to descend into violence, and how to prevent it.

In addition to this worldwide call to action, UNESCO also marked this anniversary with a week of exhibitions, concerts, film screenings and other commemorations at its headquarters in Paris, France. A special concert of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra was conducted by Frédéric Chaslin, featuring Ode to Peace by Chaslin, Symphony No 13 in B flat minor op. 113 “Babi Yar” by Dmitri Chostakovitch, and the Suite yiddish by Norbert Glanzberg.

Auschwitz  70th Anniversary Commemoration

near Kraków, Poland

The main commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was held in front of the  Death Gate of KL Auschwitz II–Birkenau. On January 27 – which, for ten years now has been commemorated as International Holocaust Remembrance Day –about 300 Survivors and witnesses of the history of Auschwitz met in front of the Death Gate of the former camp in order to commemorate the anniversary. They were accompanied by the leaders of over 40 countries who listened to their words.

Auschwitz: The Past is Present took place from January 24-27 in Kraków, Poland. Co-organized by the USC Shoah Foundation Institute, the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, Discovery Education and the World Jewish Congress, it was a joint effort was designed to promote a deeper understanding of 20th century history and its continuing relevance, hone digital literacy and critical thinking skills using real-world applications and audiovisual testimony, and inspire action against racism, intolerance, and prejudice and the suffering they cause. During the event’s reception, Shoah Institute founder Steven Spielberg and other dignitaries gathered to recognize over 100 survivors for their courage and willingness to share their stories through such media as IWitness and other Archival Collections.

Learn more at sfi.usc.edu/pastispresent and www.pastispresentauschwitz.com.

The Liberation of Auschwitz

Minneapolis, MN, USA

The 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz was celebrated onJanuary 27, 2015 in the Ted Mann Concert Hall of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Arnold Schoenberg’s rarely performed A Survivor from Warsaw was programmed within the WORLD-PREMIERE of noted composer James Bassi’s Five Prayers. Commissioned by The Apollo Club, Five Prayers is a five-movement symphonic song cycle for male chorus, solo baritone, orchestra, and dancer. This concert is artistically conceived to begin and end liberatingly with the darkest moment in the center of the program, to symbolically represent the U-shaped Jewish menorah. The performance featured special guests James Andrews, dancer, and Aaron James, baritone. 5% of proceeds from this concert were donated to the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota & The Dakotas.

Art from Ashes: Concert Commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz

Seattle, WA, USA

On January 27, 2015, Music of Remembrance presented a community-wide free concert entitled “Art from Ashes” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp by the Soviet army. The concert took place at the Illsley Ball Recital hall at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA. The musical program featured works by composers whose lives were cut short by Nazi persecution, including Hans Krisa, Gideon Klein, Viktor Ullmann, Ilse Weber, Carlo Taube, Robert Dauber, David Beigelmann and Dick Kattenburg. Their music remains as witness to their extraordinary courage. Performers included: Elisa Barston, violin; Laura DeLuca, clarinet; Mara Finkelstein, cello; Jonathan Green, double bass; Susan Gulkis Assadi, viola; Mina Miller, piano (MOR Artistic Director); Benjamin Shmidt, cello; Mikhail Shmidt, violin; Takumi Taguchi, violin; Julia Benzinger, mezzo soprano; Megan Chenovick, soprano; and Erich Parce, baritone.

 [Sources: unesco.org, facebook.com, tickets.umn.edu, jewishinseattle.orgnews.usc.edui.umich.edu, ums.org]

Nowak Leads FIU Sympony In Chopin

Maestro Grzegorz Nowak, who serves as conductor of both the Florida International University Symphony and the Chopin Foundation Orchestra in Miami, hosted a special evening of music on January 22 as part of the FIU Orchestral Masterworks Series. The evening’s program included Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto in D Major, Op.35, led by guest conductor Mark Gibson, and Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E Minor, Op.11, conducted by Grzegorz Nowak and featuring pianist Agustin Anievas, chair of the US National Chopin Piano Competition Jury. The concert was given in the Concert Hall of FIU’s Herbert and Nicole Wertheim Performing Arts Center.

[Sources: press release via the Chopin Foundation, cartanews.fiu.edu]

Sinfonia Varsovia At La Folle Journée

Sinfonia Varsovia performed extensively during the La Folle Journée 2015 festival, a popular event founded on strong artistic demands that was held at the La Cité Event Center in Nantes, France. From January 23-25, the ensemble performed Polish composers including Fryderyk Chopin, Zygmunt Noskowski and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, collaborating with such international artists as Philippe Giusiano – piano, Maxim Emelyanychev  – cond., Alexander Sladkovsky – cond., Marita Solberg – soprano, Andris Poga – cond. and Yulianna Avdeeva – piano.

Currently in its 21st year, La Folle Journée’s greatest achievement consists of overcoming the prejudice that surrounds classical music, without deforming its values, in bringing the audience close to the music and the musicians without diminishing their stature, and in opening new horizons, while retaining the freedom of choice. The audience is offered an opportunity to meet composers or members of a national music school in their own time, while allowing for each individual’s capacity to concentrate and listen. This approach is made easier by offering exceptionally low prices and catering for varying sensitivities and cultural practices, while respecting every party and working to promote music.

With events that last no more than 45 minutes, la Folle Journée offers a new perspective on concerts that attract and instruct new audiences of all ages by doing away with the unchanging and rather predictable rituals of conventional concerts. In a relatively short time, visitors can wander from room to room, each of which offers acoustics that are perfectly suited to the different musical effects. The profusion of concerts is an opportunity for visitors to renew their musical experience, as and when they choose.

[Sources: pwm.com.pl, sinfoniavarsovia.org, follejournee.fr]


Born This Month

  • 2 February 1909 – Grazyna BACEWICZ , composer, violinist, pianist (d. 1969)
  • 7 February 1877 – Feliks NOWOWIEJSKI, composer, organist
  • 8 February 1953 – Mieszko GÓRSKI, composer, teacher (active in Gdansk and Koszalin)
  • 9 February 1954 – Marian GORDIEJUK, composer, teacher, theorist (active in Bydgoszcz)
  • 14 February 1882 – Ignacy FRIEDMAN, pianist and composer (d. 1948)
  • 18 February 1881 – Zygmunt MOSSOCZY, opera singer (bass), chemist (d. 1962)
  • 27 February 1898 – Bronislaw RUTKOWSKI, organist, music critic, conductor and composer (d. 1964)
  • 28 February 1910 – Roman MACIEJEWSKI , composer, pianist (d. 1998 in Sweden)
  • 28 February 1953 – Marcin BŁAŻEWICZ, composer, teacher (active in Warsaw


Died This Month

  • 3 February 1959 – Stanisław GRUSZCZYŃSKI, tenor (active throughout Europe, b. 1891)
  • 3 February 1929 – Antoni Wawrzyniec GRUDZIŃSKI, pianist, teacher, and music critic (active in Lódz and Warsaw, b. 1875)
  • 7 February 1954 – Jan Adam MAKLAKIEWICZ, composer (active in Warsaw, b. 1899)
  • 7 February 1994 – Witold LUTOSŁAWSKI, composer and conductor (b. 1913)
  • 8 February 1909 – Mieczysław KARŁOWICZ, composer, conductor, writer (b. 1876)
  • 9 February 1959 – Ignacy NEUMARK, composer and conductor (active in Copenhagen, Oslo and Schveningen, b. 1888)
  • 10 February 1905 – Ignacy KRZYŻANOWSKI, pianist and composer (active in Kraków and Warsaw, b. 1826)
  • 14 February 1957 – Wawrzyniec Jerzy ŻULAWSKI, composer, music critic, teacher, and mountain climber (b. 1916)
  • 15 February 2010 – Adam KACZYŃSKI, pianist, composer and creator of the MW2 new music ensemble (b. 13 October 1933)
  • 15 February 2010 – Marek JASIŃSKI, composer and professor in Bydgoszcz (b. 1949)
  • 23 February 1957 – Stefan ŚLĄZAK, singer, organist, conductor (active in Silesia, b. 1889)
  • 27 February 1831 – Józef KOZLOWSKI, composer (active at the Russian Court in Petersburg, b. 1757)
  • 29 February 2004 – Witold RUDZIŃSKI, composer, music critic and teacher