Premieres by Śmigasiewicz and USC Thornton’s Adams at POLIN Music Festival

The second edition of the POLIN Music Festival was held from 15-17 February 2019 in Warsaw. Organized by the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, this year’s theme was “History Between the Sounds.” Featuring such performers as JACK Quartet, Michael Guttman, Linus Roth, Jing Zhao and the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra under the baton of Marzena Diaku, the three-day Festival encompassed premieres and performances of works by composers from around the world.

One such composer was a Master’s student in the USC Thornton School of Music’s Screen Scoring program, Sturdivant Adams, whose Symphony No. 2 was given its world premiere during the opening concert of the Festival. Commissioned by the POLIN Museum, the work was inspired by the Museum’s core exhibition ‘1000 Years of History of Polish Jews.’ Also on the February 15th program were the premieres of Trip by Syrian composer Nawras Al Taky, and Home Is Elsewhere by Polish composer Mateusz Śmigasiewicz. Other highlights of the Festival included a musical poem dedicated to the life of Mieczysław Wajnberg that launched the Wajnberg@100 series.

Music serves as a medium at POLIN Museum. It carries the life stories of its authors—Jewish composers and musicians. It allows us to experience emotions akin to those felt by the residents of pre-war multi-cultural Warsaw who sat in concert halls or danced tangoes at dance parties. It also allows us – while presenting new Jewish music – to pose questions on the significance of Jewish identity for the contemporary composers and musicians. At POLIN Museum, the history of Polish Jews is being retold amidst the sound of music.