June – December
The iconic festival of contemporary music, Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn], celebrated its 60th anniversary this year. Held in various venues around Warsaw from September 15-23, its programs will examined the phenomenon of the avant-garde, featuring works by the composers of the original avant-garde juxtaposed with the composers of the past sixty years. See more below.
The Transatlantyk International Film Festival, held from July 14-21 in Łódź, named the following 2017 awardees: Transatlantyk Young Composer Award – First Prize: Ruslan Perezhilo; Best Polish Composer Award (co-sponsored by ZAIKS & Transatlantyk): Antoni Wojnar; Transatlantyk Instant Composition – First Prize: Jakub Czerski.
On October 1, the International Day of Music, winners of the 2017 ‘Koryfeusz’ Polish Music Awards were announced at the Award Gala – “Róbmy swoje” held in the W. Lutosławski Polish Radio Concert Studio in Warsaw: Debut of the Year: Marianna Żołnacz, flute; Personality of the Year: Szymon Nehring, piano; Musical Event of the Year:Grammy Award for Penderecki conducts Penderecki vol. 1 (Warner Music Poland); Honorary Award: Jerzy Maksymiuk, conductor.
Held in various venues around Los Angeles from Oct. 18-26, the 18th Annual Polish Film Festival in L.A. had many different musical highlights, including: feature film The Art of Loving. Story of Michalina Wislockawith music by Radzimir Debski; The Erlprince [Krolewicz Olch] and Little Jakub [Maly Jakub] with music by Bartek Gliniak (in person); and Have No Fear – dir. by Beata Calinska & Sarah Jacobson, exploring music/dance as a way to counteract police brutality
Polish maestra Monika Wolińska was one of six participants selected for the exclusive 3rd Annual Linda and Mitch Hart Institute for Women Conductors run by the Dallas Opera from Nov. 5-19.
On Dec. 10, the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław and the Wrocław Branch of the Polish Composers’ Union organized a Tribute Concert in honor of faculty member and renowned composer, Prof. Grażyna Pstrokońska-Nawratil.
On July 5 at Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr, a concert-monodram entitled “Dźwięk odnaleziony” [Sound Regained] took place. It was the first solo project of Michał Pepol, who is the cellist from the internationally renowned Royal String Quartet, and included the music of modern composers writing for solo cello, in cooperation with visual artist Paweł Bownik.
Works by Agata Zubel were performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the composer herself at the New Music Festival on July 13 and 15. Labyrinth for voice and four instruments, written to the Nobel Prize-winning poet Wisława Szymborska’s words, Chapter 13 (2015) for a soprano and instrumental ensemble to words by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and In the Shade of an Unshed Tear for orchestra were on the program.
Conducted by Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny, the Guri Youth Choir of Santa Marcelinaperformed an all-Polish program in São Paulo, Brazil on July 22-23, including works by: Łukasz Farcinkiewicz, Marcin Tadeusz Łukaszewski, Paweł Łukaszewski, Stanisław Moniuszko, Marek Raczyński, Józef Świder, Romuald Twardowski and Michał Zieliński.
Polish violinist Janusz Wawrowski performed the Violin Concerto of Sir Andrzej Panufnik in Gdańsk during the Solidarity of Arts Festival (Aug. 14-30), which was themed this year for ‘Peace’ through an artistic vision of the harmonic coexistence of differences.
Compositions by Sir Andrzej Panufnik also took a pride of place at the International Festival ‘Sacrum Non Profanum’ held in Poland and Germany (Aug. 17-26) with the composer’s widow, Lady Camilla Jessel-Panufnik, serving as the Festival’s special guest.
On Aug. 20, the proMODERN contemporary vocal ensemble presented “ShakeSpired”—a program of works by Miłosz Bembinow, Krzesimir Dębski, Krzysztof Herdzin, Paweł Łukaszewski, Stanisław Moryto, Tomasz Opałka, Dariusz Przybyski, and Maciej Zieliński that were inspired by Shakespeare and supported by the “Composers’ Commissions” program.
Poland’s September Concert cycle—a worldwide concert series promoting peace and humanitarian activism through music—featured works by Tadeusz Szeligowski (Sept. 2), Karol Szymanowski (Sept. 8) and “A Musical Journey in the Footsteps of Feliks Nowowiejski” (Sept. 20).
This July and August, the Polish Music Center was again honored to host several scholars from the State Archives in Warsaw. For the second time, archivist and Paderewski specialist, Dr. Robert Górski, and UN certified preservation specialist, Anna Czajka came to mark the sixth installment in the ongoing professional exchange between our two institutions, which began in 2012. See a detailed report of their accomplishments here.
On August 26, the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust, Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Los Angeles and PMC presented a talk and concert honoring the 40th death anniversary of composer Henry Vars. First there was a Holocaust Survivor Talk with the children of Henry Vars—Diana Mitchell & Robert Vars—moderated by Dana Schwartz, followed by a concert with the Darek Oleszkiewicz Trio—bassist Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz, pianist Kuba Stankiewicz and drummer Tina Raymond—featuring hit Polish and American tunes by Vars.
In August, we hosted filmmaker and researcher Maja Baczyńska, who came to the PMC to inspect materials on Polish musicians active in California in connection with her doctoral thesis, particularly Bronisław Kaper, Henryk Wars, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki (and his visit at USC), Ignacy Jan Paderewski and Wojciech Kilar. Ms. Baczyńska came to the PMC with an armful of rare recordings to donate to the PMC in exchange (see the September 2017 Newsletter for a detailed listing of gifts).
The music of Dr. Hanna Kulenty was featured during ‘Music @ Rush Hour’ on September 27 at USC in Los Angeles. USC Thornton doctoral candidates Alexander Zhu, piano and Xander Knecht, violin performed, as well as the composer herself.
Polish composer and professor at the Kraków Music Academy, Marcel Chyrzyński, presented the PMC’s annual Paderewski Lecture-Recital on October 15 at USC. A program of his works—including the world premiere of Death in Venice for clarinet, cello and piano—was performed by the Cracow Duo with special guests clarinetist Andrew Leonard and violinist Jiwon Sun (composer and performers pictured above after the concert)
The 2017 Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles was held from Nov. 2 – 5 in various venues around the beautiful wine country location once beloved by Ignacy Jan Paderewski. Since the Festival was re-started in 2006, the PMC has provided artistic direction for this world class, 5-day musical feast. 2017 highlights included: Gala Recital by pianist Magdalena Baczewska, a jazz trio concert with Grammy Award-winning pianist Bill Cunliffe, bassist Darek “Oles” Oleszkiewicz and percussionist Tina Raymond, and first-look presentations one of the Paderewski Cycle musical competition winners. Read a recap here.
A new work by Wojtek Blecharz, an opera installation entitled Body-Opera, explores relations between the human body and sound perception—if sound is frequency, or vibration, it can “touch” not only our senses and emotions but our bodies too. Body-Opera had its world premiere on the main stage of Warsaw’s Nowy Teatr on July 16-17 (see the trailer at www.youtube.com).
The Warszawska Jesień [Warsaw Autumn] Contemporary Music Festival (Sept. 15-23) 60th anniversary edition featured many excellent premieres: Dominik Karski – In Search of Certainty; Tadeusz Wielecki (right) – Dźwięczypsoty[Sound Pranks] ** and Dźwięczę, więc jestem [I Sound Therefore I Am]; Studio CH&K – for Piotr and PHONOS EK MECHANES – Układy względnie odosobnione[Relatively Isolated Systems]; Monika Szpyrka – zero-waste tip 1: don’t waste your music; Izabela Smelczyńska & Mateusz Śmigasiewicz – Euphonia Pseudolarix: SEA ANEMONE; Andrzej Karałow & Jerzy Przeździecki – Blueprint #4; Żaneta Rydzewska – Torrent; Piotr Bednarczyk – FREQ; and Paweł Malinowski – C’mon join to joyride; ERdada. A Tale about Eugeniusz Rudnik*; Michał Moc – A-cordeON; Cezary Duchnowski – cROSSFAdE 2; Dariusz Przybylski – Dawn; Jan Oleszkowicz – Ściany płaczu[Wailing Wall] (KOTEL); Weronika Ratusińska-Zamuszko – Trio for Viola, Cello and Piano; and Edward Sielicki – Mazurkas for Piano Quartet; Jacek Sotomski – Thanks, Leszek; Adam Diesner – Coloriage; Tomasz Szczepanik – io; Ryszard Lubieniecki – Isorhythmic composition no. 2; Andrzej Kwieciński – super [P|PE(s)]; Artur Zagajewski – Modulor**; Jan Duszyński – Green Grass, yeah!**; Szymon Stanisław Strzelec – ˈswiːt ˌspɒt**; Wojciech Błażejczyk – Angels of Peace**; Aleksandra Kaca – Motion blur; Teoniki Rożynek –The most satisfying music; Żaneta Rydzewska – Folla II; Rafał Ryterski – di/am/sy/od;Adam Diesneri – Prayer; and Piotr Tabakiernik – Symphonic Piece **
* WA commission ** WA & ZAiKS commission
Flutists Łukasz Długosz and Agata Kielar-Długosz with pianist Andrzej Jungiewicz presented the world premieres of Matrimonium by Rafał Augustyn and Widnokręgi [Horizons] by Wojciech Widłak at Radziejowice Palace on Oct. 14, as part of the “Composers’ Commissions” [Zamówienia kompozytorskie] program.
On Oct. 15, Sinfonia Iuventus presented the world premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s forgotten sacred opera Moses, Op. 112 at the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw. This extraordinary event culminated the research efforts of Maestro Mikhail Yurovsky, the Principal Guest Conductor of the Orchestra, and was awarded prestigious UNESCO patronage for its unique cultural significance.
The Chopin Music University in Warsaw featured several world premieres during a Nov. 5 concert of works by students and recent graduates of the composition department: Paweł Lasota – ვარტეტი for clarinet, violin, viola and cello; Robert Prokopowicz – Wariacje na temat następstwa siedmiudźwięków [Variations on a succession of seven tones] for piano; and Michał Malec – Notturno for harp and percussion.
Two new works by Polish composers were premiered at the Silesian Philharmonic Hall in Katowice on Dec. 1: Musique pour cordes by Piotr Moss and Concerto no. 2 for Flute and String Orchestra by Mikołaj Górecki, performed by the Silesian Chamber Orchestra with flutist Jadwiga Kotnowska, to whom Górecki’s newest work is dedicated, led by conductor Robert Kabara.
On Dec. 3, Concerto Rosso by Hanna Kulenty (above L) was given its world premiere in the Main Hall of the National Forum of Music in Wrocław by the Atom String Quartet (above R) and the NFM Leopoldinum Orchestra, led by Christian Danowicz.
Trzy kobiety [Three Women] for three women and 10 instruments (2017) by Agnieszka Stulgińska was performed by singers Maniucha Bikont and Marta Grzywacz and the Hashtag Ensemble during the “Composer Portraits” concert series in Warsaw on Dec. 5.
On Dec. 17, the world premiere of Musica Concertante by Krzysztof Meyer took place at the Krzysztof Penderecki European Centre for Music in Lusławice. This virtuosic work for cello, piano, percussion and strings was performed by Sinfonietta Cracovia under the baton of Jurek Dybał, with soloists Jan Kalinowski (cello) and Marek Szlezer (piano).
New works by Polish composers Paweł Mykietyn and Piotr Peszat were premiered by the Beethoven Academy Orchestra (OAB), led by conductor Wiktor Kociuban, on Dec. 17 at the hall of the Mieczysław Karłowicz Orchestra in Szczecin. The pieces were Piotr Peszat – The Artist’s way for recitation (taped) and orchestra and Paweł Mykietyn – Herr Thaddäusfor bass (taped) and orchestra (commissioned by: Fundacja Delirium). Special guests for the evening were Łukasz Konieczny – bass, Barbara Sieroslawski – recitation, Grzegorz Mart – video, and Mirosław Bałka – scenography and video.
New recordings of compositions by Krzysztof Meyer were released mid-year by DUX records, including large works for choir and orchestra (DUX 1408) and some of his newest chamber works (DUX 1414). A student of Stanislaw Wiechowicz, Krzysztof Penderecki and Nadia Boulanger, Meyer is a highly lauded composer and pedagogue, with awards including an honorable mention at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris and the Polish Officer Order of Polonia Restituta.
British pianist and champion of Polish romantic piano repertoire Jonathan Plowright has teamed up with Polish conductor Łukasz Borowicz and the Polish Orchestra Sinfonia Iuventus for an excellent recording of works by Paderewski and Stojowski (Warner Classics 9029578756). Read reviews at: www.prestoclassical.co.uk
Polish nominees for the prestigious International Classic Music Awards (ICMA) included: Felix Nowowiejski: Quo vadis (cpo 5550892) feat. the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic Choir and Poznań Philharmonic with Lukasz Borowicz – cond. and soloists W. Chodowicz, R. Gierlach, W. Gierlach, S. Kaminski [Choral]; Schubert: Piano Sonatas D 959 & D 960 (Deutsche Grammophon 4797588) feat. Krystian Zimerman, piano [Solo Instrument]; Chopin Evocations (Deutsche Grammophon 4797518) feat. Daniel Trifonov with S. Babayan, the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and M.Pletnev – cond. [Assorted Programs]; and Weinberg: Chamber symphonies No. 1-4, Piano Quintet op. 18 (Arr.)(ECM 4814604) feat. Gidon Kremer and Yulianna Avdeeva with Kremerata Baltica, M. Bekavec and M. Grazinyte-Tyla [Assorted Programs]
February 13, 1962 – September 13, 2017 in Poznań
musicologist and author