The Witold Lutosławski Festival “Chain XIII” (January 31 – February 13, 2016) was held in Warsaw, featuring five symphonic and chamber music programs and celebrating the important anniversaries of two great Polish maestros: Jan Krenz (90 years) and Jerzy Maksymiuk (80 years). On February 6, the world premiere of Lutosławski’s Interludesfor oboe and bassoon, which the composer worked on throughout the war, was presented by a stellar group of chamber musicians from Warsaw.
On March 16, the world premiere of Missa Solemnis ad Honorem Sancti Joannis Pauli IIby Marta Ptaszyńska took place in Warsaw, in celebration of the 200th anniversary of Warsaw University (now called the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music). The composition was inspired by Pope John Paul II’s book entitled Meditations.
The Polish Arts and Culture Foundation (1966-2016) celebrated its 50th anniversary this year from April 30 to May 13, with several events co-organized in honor of its Founder, the late Mme. Wanda Tomczykowska, and the 50 remarkable years of promoting Polish culture in the Bay Area and beyond that she launched by starting the PACF.
The Festival of Seven Trends and Concert of Seven Premieres (June 19-26, 2016 ) celebrated the 70th anniversary of ZKPand featured seven commissioned works by seven composers representing seven generations. Maestro Wim Boerman and his ensemble, Orkest de ereprijs, gave the world premieres of solo concertos by the following composers with their corresponding soloists: Piotr Tabakiernik (b. 1986) – Andrzej Bauer (cello); Paweł Hendrich (b. 1979) – Leszek Lorent (percussion); Aleksander Kosciow (b. 1974) – Agata Zubel (soprano); Jarosław Siwiński (b. 1964) – Zdzisław Piernik (tuba); Tadeusz Wielecki(b. 1954) – Frank Peters (piano); Zygmunt Krauze (b. 1938) – Zygmunt Krauze (detuned piano); Zbigniew Penherski (B. 1935) – Paweł Gusnar (saxophone).
On January 9, opera singer Mariusz Kwiecień and musicologist Alistair Wightman received the 2015 Karol Szymanowski Foundation Annual Award. The jury members (Teresa Chylińska, Agnieszka Chwiłek, Zofia Helman – chairperson, Witold Karol Juchniewicz, Eugeniusz Knapik and Zdzisław Szakiewicz) awarded Kwiecień in recognition of his interpretation of the role of Król Roger [King Roger] and promoting Karol Szymanowski’s opera worldwide, whereas Alistair Wightman received the award for his publications and studies on Karol Szymanowski’s compositions.
On January 12, the coveted “Passport” Awards for 2015 were announced. Harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz received the honor in the Classical Music category in recognition of his “sensitivity and musical erudition, brilliant interpretations and versatility, which allow him to contribute creativly both as an outstanding soloist as well as in Baroque ensembles in Poland and abroad.”
The Yamaha Music Foundation of Europe 2016 Scholarships in the “string instruments” category were announced on February 8, 2016 at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. Student winners from around Poland were: Amelia Maszońska (violin), Maciej Kułakowski (cello), Sławomira Wilga (violin), and Aleksander Daszkiewicz (violin).
In February, Polish composer Piotr Moss was promoted to title of Officer in the “Ordre des Arts et des Lettres” by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication. A resident of Paris since 1981 and a holder of the title of “Chevalier” in the same order since 2000, Moss has long been recognized by the French government for his contributions to French culture.
On March 31, Pawel Gancarczyk received the 23rd edition of the Prix des Muses award in Paris, an honor given annually by the Foundation Singer-Polignac, distinguishing the best French-language books on jazz, and classical and traditional music. His book, La musique et la révolution de l’imprimerie explores the impact of invention of printing in the 16th century on musical culture and production as a new medium.
Polish-Canadian mezzo-soprano Katarzyna Sądej won first prize in the Susan and Virginia Hawk Vocal Competition in May. The memorial scholarship was established in 1979 by Virginia Fletcher Hawk, in memory of her daughter Susan, and has been awarded annually to outstanding vocalists.
The 9th International Stanisław Moniuszko Vocal Competition took place on May 9 – 14 in Warsaw and awarded Salome Jicia (Georgia) – 1st prize in female category and Andrzej Filończyk (Poland) – 1st prize in male category. Juror Peter Mario Katona, casting director at the Royal Opera House-Covent Garden, said the 2016 edition gathered singers presenting an extremely high level of performing ability.
120 violins from 23 different countries participated in the 13th International Henryk Wieniawski Competition in May. The first prize and Grand Prix was awarded to Ji Hwan Park (South Korea). Among the winners was also a Polish luthier Krzysztof Krupa, who was awarded second prize ex aequo.
On June 14, the 2016 winners of ZKP’s Tadeusz Baird Competition for Young Composers were announced at the Warsaw headquarters of Polish Music Publishers PWM. They were: GRAND PRIZE: Trobey Pastora by Jakub Szafrański and Honorable Mentions: Jako cień są nasze dni[Our Days are Like a Shadow] by Marek Raczyński, Reis Gloriasby Wojciech Trębicki, …w okropnościach widzenia nocnego… […in the horrors of the night…] by Michał Malec, and Carmen Perpetuum by Aleksandra Chmielewska. The winning compositions were performed by proMODERN vocal sextet.
The album Szymanowski & Debussy (Warner Music Poland, Sept 2015) performed by Meccore String Quartet won the Supersonic Award from Pizzicato classical music magazine (Luxembourg), which acknowledged Meccore as one of the best string quartets in Europe.
On June 2 in Paris, the Academie du Disque Lyrique gave its annual “Golden Orpheus” Awards. Two of the 2016 laureates were performed by Polish musicians from the catalog of DUX—one of Poland’s premiere recording labels: Prix Hector Berlioz for the best recording of sacred music: Ignaz Ritter von Seyfried Missa Solemnis in B minor cum Veni Sancte Spiritus, et Offertorio Graduate (1830) (DUX 1229); and Prix de la SACD for the best interpretation of contemporary music: real life song feat. Joanna Freszel – soprano (DUX 1239)
The Baltic Philharmonic made an extensive tour of the US last winter, beginning on January 14. The orchestra performed thoughout Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Nevada, Georgia, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas and California.
Organized by the MEAKULTURA Foundation, the “Save the Music” campaign had its first press conference on January 27 at PWM Edition in Warsaw.The aim of “Save the Music” is to shed light on underrated artists and composers, and to promote music and visual arts of all genres.
On February 29, Contempo presented their “Focus on Europe” program in Chicago, including such Polish works as Agata Zubel – Not I, Tadeusz Wielecki – The Thread is Spinning, and Marta Ptaszyńska – Mosaics. Members of eighth blackbird and the Pacifica Quartet were joined by soprano Agata Zubel and Tadeusz Wielecki, director of Warsaw Autumn Festival. Critic John von Rhein wrote a review of the concert for the Chicago Tribune.
For their third tour of the US, the Meccore String Quartet went coast to coast –visiting California, Idaho, Alabama and Florida. Their repertoire included works by Szymanowski, Beethoven, Haydn, Ligeti and Sibelius.
Held in South Korea from March 29-April 3, the 2016 ISCM World Music Days Festival included the following Polish music: Five Miniatures for orchestra by Elżbieta Sikora (above left) and Three Polish Dances: Mazur, Kujawiak, Oberek for brass quintet and organ by Ewa Fabiańska-Jelińska (above right).
Opera director Mark Weiss stages his final production of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Czarnamaska (Black Mask) for the Baltic Opera on March 20 in Warsaw. On April 3, a new production of Penderecki’s Ubu Król (King Ubu), directed by Waldemar Zawodzinski, will be premiered at the Silesian Opera in Bytom.
Karol Szymanowski: Correspondence, Volume 1: 1902-1919 – the first volume of a series devoted to the composer’s letters in English translation – was published (e-book only). Edited by Dr. Alistair Wightman, there are 401 letters in the first volume, dating from the composer’s student years in Warsaw.
The extraordinary stories and accomplishments of 170 Polish musicians whose presence in Philadelphia influenced music in America have been published in a new book From Paderewski to Penderecki: The Polish Musician in Philadelphia by Paul Krzywicki.
At the Polish cultural program in China organized by the Adam Mickiewicz Inst and the Polish Institute of Beijing, audiences in Bejing, Tiajin, Wuhzen and Harbin experienced Polish theatre, dance and opera productions, as well as classical and contemporary music. Among others, the concert series featured Sinfonia Varsovia under the baton of Krzysztof Penderecki with the exceptional piano soloist Jan Lisiecki and Mieczysław Weinberg’s opera The Passenger directed by Sir David Pountney.
Pianist Adam Golka was on tour in the US during the month of April. Several concerts featured other Polish musicians as well, and the month ended on a high note with a performance in Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall.
The first edition of the TRZY – CZTE – RY! [Three-Four-Go!] Festival was held in Warsaw from May 17-June 9, under the subtitle of “Contexts, Contrasts and Confrontations” and spotlighting the most recent trends in contemporary music. Works by works by Chopin, Lutosławski, Panufnik, Baird, Serocki, Szymański and Mykietyn as well as compositions by Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Ravel, Bartok, and Ligety were performed by some of Poland’s top musicians, including: Szymanowski Piano Trio, Meccore Quartet, Sinfonia Varsovia, and Camerata Silesia
Bogusław Kaczyński passed away in Warsaw on January 21. He was 73. Not only was he a journalist, music theorist, popularizer of opera and operetta, TV presenter, and author of many TV broadcasts, but Kaczynski was also the founder of the Jan Kiepura European Festival in Krynica and world-famous Music Festivals in Łańcut. Between 1994 and 1998, he also served as the artistic director of ROMA Music Theatre in Warsaw.
Jann Castor (born Wiesław Ruciński), an outstanding Polish rock musician, guitarist, composer, arranger, poet, sound designer and film editor, died in Hollywood on April 21 after a long illness. He was 61 years old.
Polish composer Hanna Kulenty has a new official YouTube channel where visitors will find full versions of nearly all of her compositions, performed by such excellent ensembles as: Kronos Quartet, ensemble ‘de ereprijs’, trumpeter Marco Blaauw, NOSPR, Wrocław Chamber Orchestra “Leopoldinum,” and many more.
mUltimate Chopin is a modern Internet platform presenting all the available sources of the works of Fryderyk Chopin. It was developed by Paweł Kamiński, editor of the Chopin National Edition, in co-operation with the editorial team of the Fryderyk Chopin Institute as part of the Digital Heritage program.
In conjunction with the Contemporary Poland celebration at L.A.’s Walt Disney Concert Hall, the PMC convened with important members of Poland’s musical circles—including maestro Łukasz Borowicz, composer and soprano Agata Zubel, composer Paweł Mykietyn, IAM Polska Music manager Ewa Bogusz-Moore, Los Angeles Philharmonic Artistic Administrator Nate Bachhuber, PWM Director General Adam Radzikowski and PWM Editor-in-Chief Daniel Cichy—to discuss future collaborations.
The PMC Archive’s Ryterband Collection grew again significantly with a January 25 donation from the family, including manuscripts of Piece Sans Titre and Two Desert Scenes, as well as many letters, notes and photos.
Paso Artsfest has announced its honoree for the 2016 event. Steve Cass, owner of Cass Winery and the driving force behind the Paderewski Festival and a new symphony event, was feted by friends and family at the festival’s annual fundraiser, “Sweet Art,” on Feb. 9. Sweet Art is the single largest source of funds for the festival outside of sponsorships. Since 2009, the Sweet Art fundraiser has raised over $145,000 for the festival.
On April 2, the PMC presented a monographic concert of the newly re-discovered music of Polish Jewish composer Roman Ryterband (1914 – 1979), including: Three Preludes for Piano (1945), Suite Polonaise for piano (1944), Sonatina for Guitar (1978), Two Desert Scenes for harp and flute (1975), Two Images for Harp Solo (1943), Piece sans titre (1952) for two solo flutes, and Double Flute Quintet (1961) [World Premiere]. Performers were pianist Tadeusz Domanowski, guitarist Tomasz Fechner, and duoKYaria (Ko Ni Choi – harp and Yoon-Hee Jung – flute) with Dan Fellows – viola, Yong Mi Choi – flute, Hee-Seung Lee – harpsichord, and Coleman Itzkoff – cello.
The Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation in Warsaw published the “Good Practice Handbook on Management of International Musical Projects,” a research project conducted by Katarzyna Renes. This handbook discusses good management practices for people dealing with international musical projects in Poland and Ukraine, in comparison to the North American system of cultural management. Rene included PMC as an organizer of events on the highest level.
Participants in the 2016 Paderewski Festival Youth Cultural Exchange continue to flourish. Thanks to a fruitful relationship with the Paderewski Polish-Ukrainian Foundation, 2016 Exchange students from Ukraine and Poland were invited to participate in piano workshops held February 20-21 at Lviv Conservatory and perform in concert at Lviv Philharmonic’s Chamber Auditorium on February 22.
On July 2, the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles presented its first PASO POPS Independence Day Concert at the new Paso Robles Horse Park, with performances by the San Luis Obispo Symphony, Paderewski Competition winner Daniel Ha, and Youth Symphony members, led by Pasadena Symphony conductor Bruce Kiesling
Many aspects of the PMC, including its Polish Music History Series publication and the Manuscript Collection and Composers’ Archives, were featured around the world during the summer including at the Book Expo America (Chicago, May 11-14) and the International Association of Music Libraries’ Annual Congress (Rome, July 3-8)
On January 19, the LA Phil New Music Group presented “Contemporary Poland” at Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Featuring conductor Łukasz Borowicz and soprano Agata Zubel, the program included five visionary Polish composers: Krzysztof Penderecki, Paweł Mykietyn, Krzysztof Meyer, Pawel Szymanski and Agata Zubel (World Premiere: Chapter 13). The concert was organized in a partnership with USC Polish Music Center, PWM and Polska Music Program.
As part of their “Penderecki – a cappella” project initiated in 2011, the Polish Chamber Choir presented a Monographic Concert of Krzysztof Penderecki, during which ten of his works were performed by the choir under the direction of conductor Jan Łukaszewski. Works included the world premiere of Christmas pastorale My też pastuszkowie [We the Shepherds].
Spanish premiere of Andrzej Panufnik’s Lullaby was given by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Galicia and conducted by Maestro Antoni Wit on February 4 in Santiago de Compostela. Violinist Alexandra Kuls performed the solo in Karlowicz’s Violin Concerto in A Major on the concert as well.
On March 24, the Baltic Neopolis Orchestra gave a concert at Radialsystem V in Berlin entitled “Mosaic – Impressions – Poland,” which featured the premiere of Adam Bałdych’s work of the same title. The program also included works by such renowned Polish composers as Grażyna Bacewicz, Krzysztof Penderecki, Andrzej Panufnik, Wojciech Kilar and Paweł Łukaszewski.
The 30th anniversary edition of the Musica Polonica Nova Festival was held between April 8-16, 2016 at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław. The Festival consisted of 11 concerts as well as meetings with composers, journalists and music critics. The program included world premiere performances many new works by Polish composers, including: Zygmunt Krauze, Agata Zubel and Przemysław Scheller.
Warsaw Music Encounters (May 7-13) celebrating “Early Music – New Music” presented world premieres of works by Krzysztof Baculewski, Zbigniew Bagiński and Iwona Kisiel.
The “KODY” [Codes] Festival of Traditional and Avant-garde Music (May 11-14, 2016) in Lublin, Poland featured the world premiere of two new works by Polish composers who were commissioned by the Festival: a three act cross-genre piece RÊVE RAVE co-composed by Jagoda Szmytka and Wojtek Mazolewski, and the new opera Ivy Snowstalkers of Ancient Apron by Piotr Kurek
Amongst the many amazing compositions performed during the Gorzów Philharmonic Orchestra’s Kilar Contemporary Music Festival (May 12-26) were the world premieres of Wojciech Błażejczyk – Sonet 46 and Maciej Zieliński – That time of year, performed by proMODERN vocal sextet, and Dariusz Przybylski – Heureusement for symphony orchestra (2016), performed by Gorzów Philharmonic where Przybylski served as Composer-in-Residence during 2016.
The 7th edition of the Tauron Musica Electronica Nova Festival (May 19-22, 2016) was held for the first time in its new home at the National Forum of Music (NFM) in Wrocław. It included two world premieres: Piotr Roemer & Szymon Stanisław Strzelec – Duet for symphony orchestra and electronics, commissioned and performed by the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, and Agata Zubel – Double Battery for instrumental ensemble and augmented sound space, commissioned and performed by Ensemble intercontemporain.
On June 3, the premiere of the Fourth Symphony Paweł Łukaszewski took place in the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Białystok. Soloists for the premiere were soprano Anna Mikolajczyk-Niewiedział and baritone Maciej Nerkowski, performing with the Choirs and Orchestra of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic, under the baton of Wojciech Michniewski.
On January 22, Nonesuch Records finally released its much-anticipated 7-disc retrospective of Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, including his final composition, Symphony No. 4 “Tansman Episodes,” as well as all other Nonesuch recordings of Górecki works—Lerchenmusik; Symphony No. 3; String Quartets Nos. 1, 2, and 3; Miserere; Kleines Requiem für eine Polka; Harpsichord Concerto; and Good Night.
Released on January 29, the album ‘MAKSYMIUK | Sinfonia Varsovia’ (Warner Music Poland) reveals the history of an unusual artistic friendship, and displays the quintessence of the style and repertoire of the charismatic Maestro Jerzy Maksymiuk celebrating his 80th birthday with his beloved orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia.
Deutsche Grammophon released Martha Argerich: The Complete Recordings also including her interpretations of music by Fryderyk Chopin and Witold Lutosławski in January.
A new recording of Szymanowski’s Second Symphony and two works by Lutosławski (Accentus Music ACC30349) was released, featuring performances by the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra [NOSPR] led by Maestro Alexander Liebreich. This is one of the first recordings made in the new and splendid concert hall of this Katowice-based orchestra.
The Violin Futura Project was developed in 2005 by Polish violinist and composer Piotr Szewczyk to create and reinvent solo violin repertoire. His Violin Futura album, released in February 2016 by Navona Records (NV6028), features music by more than thirty international contemporary composers and Szewczyk himself.
Tansman: Complete Music for Solo Guitar (Brilliant Classics) is a 2-CD set containing recordings by guitarist Cristiano Poli Cappelli of works by Aleksander Tansman released in February 2016.
A new album of choral music by Polish composer Rafał Augustyn was published by CD Accord (ACD212): Augustyn: Choral Music (sub iove), featuring the Cantores Minores Wratislaviensis with soloists Agnieszka Drożdżewska, Monika Michaliszyn and Joanna Rot.
Krzysztof Penderecki released his album Penderecki Conducts Penderecki. Volume 1 (Warner Music, available on www.empik.com) in co-operation with the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir. The recording features his Dies Illa for 3 soloists, choir, and orchestra; Hymn to św. Daniiła for mixed chorus and orchestra; Hymn to św. Wojciecha for mixed chorus and orchestra; and Psalmy Dawida for mixed chorus and percussion.
DUX Records published several particularly interesting new albums featuring rarely-heard Polish music: Kazimierz Serocki: Complete works for Solo Piano (DUX 1284) with pianist Adam Kośmieja; Ignacy Jan Paderewski: Songs (DUX 1246) with Karol Kozłowski, tenor, Anna Radziejewska, mezzo-soprano and Agnieszka Hoszowska-Jabłońska, piano; and 20th Century Polish Music for Clarinet (DUX 1258) with clarinetist Mariusz Barszcz.
CD Accord’s new album of Polish choral music Choral Concert: National Forum of Music Choir (De profundis) (ACD221) features music by notable Polish composers including M. T. Łukaszewski, A. Koszewski, M. Bembinow, M. Jasiński, R. Twardowski, J. Świder, M. Zieliński, A. Bielerzewski, P. Łukaszewski and Ł. Urbaniak.