With more than 700 audience members in attendance, the Sept. 9 opening concert of CCM’s Polish Festival was a great success! Far from being over, the Polish Festival events continue on Tuesday, Sept. 13 at 8 p.m. with a performance by CCM’s preeminent modern music ensemble, Cafè MoMus, in Cohen Family Studio Theater.

Led by CCM Assistant Professor of Music Aik Khai Pung, the Cafè MoMus concert features an evening of exciting new sounds, including a world premiere by Artur Słotwiński and a grand finale performance of the first movement of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Sextet (2000). Audience members can meet with Słotwiński and Café MoMus after the performance for coffee and conversation.

Also as part of the Polish Festival, Professor Pung will direct the CCM Concert Orchestra in a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Górecki’s breathtaking Symphony of Sad Songs on Saturday, September 17 at 8 p.m. in Corbett Auditorium.

CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Pung about his experience participating in the Polish Festival so far.

Why is it important that CCM produce a festival of concerts and lectures devoted to Polish music?
Most of our students spend about two to four years at CCM. All teachers will try to squeeze in as much materials to the students as possible during this short amount of time. These materials are important of course, but not necessarily connected. When we learn a piece of music, it is crucial that we know the background and be able to connect it with visual arts, cultures and related artists, etc. By producing such a festival, the students get an opportunity to learn about a specific topic in depth.

Hopefully this will influence and inspire them to discover more about the music they will play in the future, rather than merely playing all the right notes and rhythms. For this Polish festival, we have living scholars, artists, soloists and composers all gathered here at CCM to help our students understand more about Polish music, which is extremely valuable.

How did you pick the repertoire for the Concert Orchestra’s Sept. 17 performance? What can you tell me about your decision to pair Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 with Górecki’s Symphony No. 3?
For the piano concerto, it is an opportunity for a piano student to play with a real orchestra. This year we have eight participants who competed to be featured in the concert. Piano students practice in a tiny room most of the time and rarely have a chance to play with an orchestra so it is important for us to create these types of opportunities. Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 is gorgeous and very much appropriate for training a young orchestra, especially the string section. The work requires over 50 minutes of playing with a very disciplined bow. We all know that playing slow bow exercises is essential, but how many of us really practice that daily? By programming Górecki’s Symphony, we kind of force the young string players to play beautifully and with a well-controlled bow.

In addition to directing the CCM Concert Orchestra, you also direct Café MoMus, CCM’s modern music ensemble. What can you tell me about the unique experience that MoMus will bring to this festival?
Exploring new sound is fun and exciting. I enjoy working with living composers and exploring the world of sound with them. For this festival, Café MoMus is presenting three Polish composers from different generations and backgrounds. Although all three of them were born in Poland, Krzysztof Penderecki became the professor at Yale School of Music around the mid-1970s and Bettina Skrzypczhak spent a lot of time in Switzerland and some time in Germany. Artur Słotwiński has remained in Poland for most of his life. They received different influences of cultures, which affects their compositional styles.

Instead of programming all works of well-known composers, the goal of Café MoMus is to discover young talents as well. I find Artur Słotwiński’s works energetic, well-crafted and effective. The student musicians have enjoyed playing it, but of course there are some tricky passages. Słotwiński will be here to coach us himself for the world premiere of his Piano Quintet. Bettina Skrzypczhak’s Mirrors is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever conducted — not only the complexity of construction, but also the philosophical idea behind each poem. I would say the music matches the texts and poems 100%, as if you could see the words in the music. Penderecki of course is very well-known and the Sextet is one of his few chamber works. Some scholars consider this to be one of his finest works. This is a very unique pairing and I hope it will create some sort of chemistry.

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The Polish Festival runs Sept. 9-Oct. 2 throughout the CCM Village. You can learn more about the festival’s future events below or by visiting ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/concerts/orchestras/polishfest.

8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13
• Orchestra Series •
PENDERECKI, SKRZYPCZAK AND SLOTWINSKI
Café MoMus
Aik Khai Pung, music director
As part of the Polish Festival, Café MoMus will present works of Polish composers from three different generations: Krzysztof Penderecki, Bettina Skrzypczak and Artur Słotwiński. Join us for coffee and conversation with Artur Słotwiński and the musicians after the performance.
Location: Cohen Family Studio Theater
Admission: FREE
_____

8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17
• Orchestra Series •
CHOPIN AND GÓRECKI
CCM Concert Orchestra
Aik Khai Pung, music director and conductor
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 1
Featuring the winner of the CCM Piano Competition
GÓRECKI: Symphony No. 3 (“Symphony of Sad Songs”)
Featuring the winner of the CCM Voice Competition
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE.
_____

7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18
• Jazz Series •
THE MUSIC OF VIRTUOSO JAZZ PIANIST AND COMPOSER WLODEK PAWLIK
CCM Jazz Orchestra and Faculty Jazztet
Featuring guest artist Wlodek Pawlik, piano
Scott Belck, conductor
Join us as we celebrate the stunning music and musicians of Poland and feature Grammy Award-winning pianist and composer Wlodek Pawlik as he performs his original compositions and arrangements.
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE.
_____

4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2
• Orchestra & Choral Series •
POLISH FESTIVAL CLOSING CONCERT
CCM Philharmonia, CCM Chamber Choir and Xavier University Concert Choir
Featuring faculty artist Daniel Weeks, tenor
Mark Gibson, music director and conductor
MONIUSZKO: Overture to Halka
PENDERECKI: Threnody to the Victims of Hiroshima
SKROWACZEWSKI: English Horn Concerto
SZYMANOWSKI: Symphony No. 3 in B-flat Major, Op. 27 (“Song of the Night”)
Featuring Daniel Weeks, soloist
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE.

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