Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

Gaetano Donizetti & his Linda

Thursday, April 5th, 2007

Whenever I set out to describe a work presented by Opera Circle, I feel somewhat anxious. I doubt if I will be able to accomplish the task, whether I will sufficiently represent the composer and his work, whether I will grant enough credit to the tremendous dedication of the Sobieski family in such an endeavor…

My preference would be to share a brief commentary along with a colorful DVD, since it is truly impossible to express in words the entire artistic aura created by the sets, the costumes, the soloists, the choir, and, of course, the music as performed by the orchestra. (more…)

Talents of Polonia

Friday, January 5th, 2007

Several weeks ago, on December 10, 2006, I had a great pleasure to attend a concert “When Stars Collide” at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron, Ohio.  I decided to spend this beautiful Sunday afternoon by going to the concert at E.J. Thomas Hall for two reasons: I needed to relax in the middle of my difficult exam session, and most importantly, I wanted to hear a young, very promising musician of the Polish origin.

Konrad Binienda (17), a senior at Firestone High School in Akron, appeared as a soloist with the Akron Symphony in the world premiere of his own composition Piano Concerto in e-minor.  When asked before the performance what was his inspiration for writing this concerto, he replied that he began working on this composition just after the departure of John Paul II.  The death of “the Polish national hero,” as he put it, inspired him to write this very beautiful music.  I am writing “beautiful” because this is the only word that comes to mind as appropriate to describe my experience. In this music I heard Zygmunt tolls from Wawel Hills, birds singing over Polish meadows, and all my nostalgia for Poland, albeit I would never be able to paint it with sound like Konrad painted it.  A more experienced ear could easily discern Chopin’s motives woven into the structure of the concerto.  Konrad himself remarked that Chopin has been his icon.

Mozart’s Idyll

Friday, January 5th, 2007

It’s difficult to mention the titles of all of Mozarts’ works that have become known through the repertory of the Opera Circle. So I will content myself with mentioning only numbers: Bastien and Bastienne is the seventh premiere of a Mozart opera by the Polish troupe based in Cleveland.

Mozart created twenty scenic-vocal works, which, considering his short life, barely 35 years, was a great achievement. He composed his first opera at the age of 10. Bastien and Bastienne was created when this talented child was only twelve years old. (more…)

International Frederick Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw

Sunday, July 31st, 2005

The 15th Frederic Chopin International Piano Competition will be held in Warsaw on September 23 – October 24, 2005. The competition is one of the oldest and most prestigious music competitions in the world. It belongs to a small group of piano competitions dedicated to the performance of music by just one composer.

The first Chopin Competition was initiated by Jerzy Zurawlew, an outstanding Polish pianist and teacher. It took place on 23-30 January 1927 in the hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic. The next two competitions occurred five years apart, in accordance with the rules of the organizers, up to the start of WWII.

The fourth competition, following the war, took place in the “Roma” concert hall at Nowogrodzka Street, which was the only surviving building capable of serving as a temporary hall for the Warsaw Philharmonic. The year was 1949, the hundredth anniversary of the death of the great composer, and the competition became a culmination of the Chopin’s Year. The next competition was held six years later, in 1955, in the rebuilt hall of the Warsaw Philharmonic, which was promoted to the rank of a national institution. Since 1955, the international competition has taken place in the halls of the National Philharmonic, every five years, without interruption.


Oscar for Polish Composer

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

Oscar recognized the Polish composer Jan A. P. Kaczmarek this year for his music to the film, „Finding Neverland”.

Jan A. P. Kaczmarek, who has lived for many years in Hollywood, has written the music for many important films. In his opinion, there appear only two or three really good films each year, among the hundreds of mediocrities.
„Finding Neverland” includes many of the elements of a first-rate film. It tells the emotional history of the life of the Scottish writer, James Barrie (1860-1939). Marc Foster, a well-known director with many Oscars already to his name, adopted this theme and engaged many of the greatest Hollywood stars in both leading and supporting roles. (more…)

The Family of Fryderyk Chopin

Tuesday, March 1st, 2005

The Chopin family home was blessed.  They were the perfect example of a loving family – dwelling within an intimate, secure atmosphere; all shared a deep, sincere love and respect for each other.  During his youth, Beethoven endured a troubled relationship with his alcoholic father. Bach was orphaned at an early age and had to live off the kindness of his brother. Mozart, the child prodigy, had been exploited shamelessly and was  driven to the point of exhaustion by ceaseless traveling resulting from the overblown ambitions of his father.  But the Chopin family wrapped young Fryderyk in a warm blanket of love and affection, where he was doted on not only by his parents, but by his sisters as well.  We know of the family’s closeness and affection through family correspondence. Even now, Chopinists continue to find new evidence solidifying the picture of an idyllic family life. (more…)

The Maestro

Wednesday, December 1st, 2004

The Polish-American Center can add another notable occasion to its record of events. Extraordinary in the literal and figurative sense of the word – because how many times in life can you exchange a few words with a maestro, indisputably one of the best in the world? I’m referring, of course, to our meeting with Krzysztof Penderecki on Wednesday, November 10th.

Even those who have no interest in classical music will, upon hearing his name, recall „Ah, yes, the composer!” Yes, actually the composer, whose recordings are known worldwide and whose fame spread beyond the borders of Poland already in the 1960s.


Opera Circle’s Musical Marathon at the Center

Sunday, August 1st, 2004

This never happened before: it took place for the first time and hopefully with many repeats.

The two-day performance of the Opera Circle ensemble will go down in history as a cultural event recorded in gold letters.

On Saturday evening, June 26th, a piano recital featuring Jacek Sobieski took place at the Center. The following day, after traditional dinner was a yet another spiritual feast. All thanks to Dorota Sobieski. This time it was a musical program entitled “Addio!” which ended the Opera Circle’s season for the summer.

First, let us focus on the Saturday piano performance of Jacek Sobieski. He played a repertoire that was ambitious and at the same time interesting.


Bellini 101

Thursday, January 1st, 2004

Were it not for the fact that I had been assisted in choosing pastries for the reception following the program by an enthusiastic set of two considerably younger siblings, I could have easily been led to believe that I was attending a lecture presented at a most prominent college of arts and humanities. The Symposium, which took place at our very own Polish American Cultural Center on Sunday, November 16, 2003, at 4:00 pm, was presented, as noted during the open discussion Dr. Jerzy Maciuszko, by several of the most distinguished scholars from the entire city of Cleveland. Opened by none other than Mr. Robert Finn, former Plain Dealer music critic, a position he successfully filled for 27 years, it was continued by Dr. Peter Laki. Only someone of his cultivated breadth of knowledge could have been able to undertake the Herculean task he considers his daily work: to write weekly program notes for the Cleveland Orchestra, a feat most appropriately compared by Mr. David Krakowski to writing a Master’s thesis a week. For his part, Mr. Krakowski, best known to us from his seemingly endless myriad of abilities as music director and organist at St. Stanislaus Church, participated in the Symposium as moderator, alternately presenting the leading speakers and deftly maneuvering the course of the broad discussion. How fittingly he introduced the final guest, not to mention the one most dear to our hearts: the master of the bel canto or canto legato school of singing Dr. Dorota Sobieska.


A Double Success of Composer & Performer Alike: La Straniera of Opera Circle

Monday, December 1st, 2003

I shall refer to antiquity, as many a writer thus open their thoughts. In the 4th century B.C., Aristotle reflected on the capacity of music to soothe the senses, & certain forms thereof to cleanse the soul. He could not have possibly known the musical output of Bellini, since the latter lived in the 19th century. I suspect, however, the Greek philosopher had in mind precisely the sort of music Vincenzo left behind—full of endless beauty, faithful to the texts, rich in melodic lyricism, introduced to the ear gently, without disturbance.

Vincenzo Bellini, beloved composer of Dorota Sobieska & Jacek Sobieski, has for the fifth time appeared in the repertoire of Opera Circle. From premiere to premiere he grows more and more beautiful. Norma, glorious and musically exquisite, was succeeded by La Straniera, equally beautiful, perhaps more accessible, as if ornamented by motives of folklore, compositionally simple but incredibly effective. The three performances of La Straniera proved a grand success of Opera Circle. In particular, that of November 20, 2003, at Grace Lutheran Church, will make its mark in history. Nothing short of a revolution, the response of a full house was far beyond enthusiastic, better characterized by excruciatingly lengthy ovations and yelling: “Bravo! bravo!”