2015 in Review- Performances

Meyer Cyberiada manuscript
Krzysztof Meyer, Cyberiada manuscript

2015 began with one-time performances of two rarely heard but groundbreaking operas, presented by the Poznań Opera Theatre. The first was Mieczysław Weinberg’s The Portrait, presented at the Moniuszko Auditorium on January 16, and the second was their production of Krzysztof Meyer’s Cyberiada (1967 – manuscript pictured at left), staged at the Grand Theatre-National Opera in Warsaw on January 18

From January 23-25, Sinfonia Varsovia performed extensively during the La Folle Journée 2015 in Nantes, France, with programs including Polish composers Fryderyk Chopin, Zygmunt Noskowski and Henryk Mikołaj Górecki.

The 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the German Nazi concentration camp, on January 27, 2015 was celebrated with music around the world, including concerts in KrakówMinneapolis and Seattle.

Winner of the 2nd prize at the 2012 London International String Quartet Competition, Poland’s Meccore String Quartet performed across the US in February, with programs featuring Karol Szymanowski’s String Quartet no. 1 and Szymon Laks’s Quartet no. 3 on Polish Themes

2005 winner of the Chopin Piano Competition, Rafał Blechacz (left), is a rare guest in Poland these days, but he returned to the Warsaw Philharmonic on Feb 24performing works by Beethoven under Jacek Kaspszyk.

On March 17 in the Colburn School of Music’s Zipper Hall in Downtown Los Angeles, pianist and contemporary music specialist Susan Svrček performed Grażyna Bacewicz’s Sonata No. 2 (1953) on a program cheekily entitled “Oh, for the love of…

As a part of the Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center series, the Alvin Ailey® American Dance Theater performed choreography set to the music of Henryk Mikolaj Górecki in a work called Polish Pieces (choreography: Hans van Manen), which was presented on the “Joy of Ailey” program in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles on April 17-18, 2015.

In May, London’s Royal Opera House presented Król Roger [King Roger] by Karol Szymanowski. The new production was sung in Polish by an all-star cast that includes two Polish artists: baritone Mariusz Kwiecień, who has been championing the title role of this opera around the world in recent new productions, and mezzo-soprano Agnes Zwierko.

On May 3 at London’s Barbican Centre, Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbański led the London Symphony Orchestra and young violin phenome Nicola Benedetti in a program including Szymanowski’s lyrical First Violin Concerto.

The Polish and Taiwanese-Canadian duo of Barbara Misiewicz (cello) Grace Mo (piano) performed program entitled “C H O cello P I N” on August 18 at the prestigious Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

London’s Barbican Centre hosted two important Polish programs in 2015. First, a ‘Total Immersion’ day devoted to composer Henryk Mikołaj Górecki hosted by the BBC Symphony Orchestra on October 3, with three concerts of chamberchoral and orchestral music and a discussion with musicologist Adrian Thomas about “Henryk Górecki: Polish Pioneer.” Then on November 24, pianist Simon Trpčeski played a program of Chopin.

OCTAVA ensemble, one of the most interesting vocal groups of the young generation in Poland, presented an exclusive a cappella program entitled “Polish Pure Sounds” on Oct 9 in Chicago, featuring works by: Mikołaj z Krakowa, Grzegorz Gerwazy Górczycki, Mikołaj Górecki, Mikołaj Zieleński, Bartłomiej Pękiel, and more.

In November, the Ensemble KNM Berlin presented two portrait concerts at Kunstquartier Bethanien in Berlin, Germany featuring young Polish composers: “Pol(s)ka & Kontext mit Wojtek Blecharz” & “Pol(s)ka & Kontext mit Jagoda Szmytka.”

Stanisław Skrowaczewski returned to conduct the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Royal Festival Hall on October 31, shortly after his 92nd birthday. Shortly thereafter, the Maestro also celebrated with the Deutsche Radio Philharmonie Saarbrücken Kaiserslautern, an orchestra with which he has been connected since 1978.

Paderewski Symphony Orchestra in Chicago celebrated the 155th birth anniversary of its patron with a Paderewski Gala at Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall on November 8. The program featured the composer’s own Piano Concerto, with soloist Igor Lipiński, and the monumental Vivace from his Symphony in B Minor.

Pianist Julia Samojło made her Carnegie Hall debut on Nov 11 in collaboration with cellist Karolina Jaroszewska, performing works by Chopin and Penderecki, as well as Franck and Ysaye.

On Dec 4, Polish musicians Michał Urbaniak and Grażyna Auguścik came together for a concert at the Copernicus Centerin Chicago. Although both have lived and performed in the US for most of their careers, collaborating with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world, it was their first concert together ever.

An all-Polish concert, entitled “The Ubiquity of Sound” [Wszechobecność],  was performed by the Lutosławski Quartet (Bartosz Woroch and Marcin Markowicz – violins, Artur Rozmysłowicz – viola, and Maciej Młodawski – cello) and the Lutos Air Quintet (Jan Krzeszowiec – flute, Wojciech Merena – oboe, Maciej Dobosz – clarinet, Alicja Kieruzalska – bassoon, and Mateusz Feliński – French horn) with Rafał Łuc – accordion and Maciej Koczur – conductor on Dec 17 in the Sała Czarna of the new National Music Forum in Wrocław. The program, will include new works by Paweł Hendrich (b. 1979): Pteropetros – concerto for accordion, wind quintet and string quartet; Paweł Szymański (b. 1954): Five pieces for string quartetRafał Augustyn (b. 1951): Rondeau; and Wojtek Blecharz (b. 1981): A bright empty square for woodwind quintet.