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.
I am led to believe that Konrad’s Concerto made as big of an impression on me as on the rest of the audience. The big concert hall was full that day. Konrad’s Piano Concerto, one of four works presented during this concert, received long and thunderous standing ovation.
It is not my intention to write about the achievements and biography of this young, very promising musician. Someone with more experience in this field would be more appropriate. I just would like to share my opinion with the Polonia in Cleveland that we will be hearing about this young artist who is emerging before our eyes.
If you see his name in the program – I recommend not thinking twice but going to the concert. Konrad’s next performance will be at the Matinee Concert on Valentine’s Day at Severance Hall. He will appear as a soloist with the Cleveland Orchestra in the first movement of Chopin’s Piano Concerto in e-minor, opus 11. The concert will also feature works by Glinka, Copland, and Dvorak.
Dorota Mrochem Tomaszewska