Mark Gibson conducts the CCM Philharmonia at Moveable Feast.

Discussing CCM’s Polish Festival with Professor Mark Gibson

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music is proud to present an interdisciplinary collection of concerts in the month-long Polish Festival running Sept. 9 through Oct. 2.

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The coat of arms of Poland.

Through a series of classical and jazz concerts, lectures and a special art installation, CCM’s Polish Festival celebrates the wealth of extraordinary music and creative expression of one of the world’s great cultures.

The festival’s opening concert begins at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, with a performance by the CCM Philharmonia in Corbett Auditorium. CCM Director of Orchestral Studies Mark Gibson will lead the Philharmonia in a concert featuring the world premiere of American Dreams by alumnus Piotr Szewczyk (BM Violin, 2000; MM Violin and Composition, 2003). The program will also include Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. Naumburg Gold Medalist and CCM faculty artist Soyeon Kate Lee will join the Philharmonia for a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2.

Follow this link to the Polish Festival Schedule to view all of the events: http://ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice/concerts/orchestras/polishfest.

CCM graduate student Charlotte Kies sat down with Polish Festival Artistic Director Mark Gibson to learn more about the creation and inspiration behind the event.

What originally inspired you to create the Polish Festival?
The initial inspiration came through discussion with Polish friends on the wealth of extraordinary music from Poland, especially in the last century. I jokingly suggested that the only reason we don’t perform more of it is because the names are unfamiliar and daunting. After overcoming that minor stumbling block, the music on the other side – masterworks by Lutosławski, Szymanowski, Skrowaczewski, Penderecki and more – immediately rose to the level of challenge and quest.

What do you hope students will learn from participating in the Polish Festival concerts?
They are learning that there is so much beyond Chopin, even as we enjoy the rare opportunity to share both Chopin piano concertos with our students and public. Specifically, the Lutosławski Concerto for Orchestra takes its place next to, not beneath, its namesake by Bartók. The Szymanowski “Song of the Night” is nothing less than the most colorful Polish Impressionism, inspired by Ravel but uniquely crafted and painted in sound. And Penderecki’s magnum opus, “Threnody for the Victims of Hiroshima,” remains one of the most dramatic, powerful evocations of the horrors of war ever committed to paper.

Every score we have programmed, from the legendary opera composer Stanisław Moniuszko to the Grammy Award-winning jazz pianist and composer Włodek Pawlik, bears the mark of mastery and import. They all demand to be heard and experienced.

Besides the fact that the composers of the festival are Polish, how did you program all of the music? Could you tell me what led you to pair Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra for your opening concert?
The opening concert of the CCM Philharmonia season has more than once featured a faculty guest artist as a soloist. I had been looking for a chance to work with Soyeon Kate Lee, former Naumburg Competition winner, ever since her arrival at CCM several years ago. The Chopin was the ideal opportunity; when I asked which of the two concertos she preferred to play, she offered the F Minor. The Lutosławski leapt out as among the most celebratory, virtuosic scores I have never conducted, though I have admired it for decades. We perform Bartók’s Concerto for Orchestra in November, so the Lutosławski was therefore an easy choice to open the season. The Philharmonia is eating it up!

As for the remainder of the programming, I had the difficult task of choosing between literally dozens of worthy composers and styles. A work such as Górecki’s gorgeous and moving “Symphony of Sad Songs” is by now part of the canon. Along with the Penderecki Threnody, a broad spectrum of Polish music will be performed. Skrowaczewski’s English Horn Concerto was selected to provide a venue to feature another of our superb students. The Szymanowski Third Symphony, the “Song of the Night,” has been on my wish list for at least 20 years. It will be an honor to share it not only with our students and public, but with the Xavier University Choir and tenor soloist CCM faculty artist Daniel Weeks as collaborators on this performance. Ultimately, there were too many scores to choose from and unfortunately we can’t devote an entire year to Polish music. I hope our public might be inspired to explore further by what they hear.

Did you have a strong relationship with the Cincinnati Polish community before planning this festival?
My primary contact with the Polish community in Cincinnati has been through my jazz colleague, Rick VanMatre, who is married to the brilliant Polish visual artist, Anna Socha VanMatre. In fact, she has donated a major art work, a dramatic piece from her “Metamorphosis” series, for display in Corbett Auditorium for the Festival concerts. Through my friendship with the VanMatre’s, I have been introduced to more members of the local community, notably the scientist Piotr Chomczynski and his wife, Dr. Judith Heiny, whose generous sponsorship makes this festival possible. It has been gratifying to see the support from the local community, in particular the Polish-American Society of Greater Cincinnati, led by Emilia Bacca.

Music making is about community after all, the creation of family through sound. Our family just became significantly bigger.

Is the Polish Festival a one-time event, or do you hope to make it into a recurring celebration of Polish music?
For the past 10 years, we have started our orchestral season with a festival dedicated either to a specific composer or a national style. I felt it was time that Polish music be celebrated in a similar fashion, and though I cannot anticipate another festival dedicated to Polish music, I know that we will continue to feature it in our programming. Next year, we are committing major resources to celebrate the centenary of Leonard Bernstein, one of my conducting teachers and a major influence on the lives of so many American musicians.

Do you have any other thoughts you’d like to share?
I promise those who come to our concerts will be delighted with and inspired by the music of Poland, and they will absolutely learn how to pronounce the names of the composers by the end! I encourage one and all to join us for this unique tribute to one of the world’s great musical traditions.

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The Polish Festival runs Sept. 9-Oct. 2 throughout the CCM Village. You can learn more about the festival’s opening concert and other events here.

CCM Alumni Applause CCM News Faculty Fanfare
Mark Gibson conducts the CCM Philharmonia at Moveable Feast.

CCM Showcases Three Centuries of Polish Music in Month-Long Festival

The University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music showcases Polish music from the Romantic era to the Modern age in a month-long festival running Sept. 9 – Oct. 2, 2016. Organized by CCM Director of Orchestral Studies Mark Gibson, the festival unites students, faculty and alumni with award-winning guest artists and world-renowned scholars in a celebration of the culture of Poland.

The general public can experience the creative expressions of one of the world’s great cultures through a series of classical music and jazz concerts, art installations, lectures and more occurring throughout CCM Village this fall.

Throughout the month, audiences will have the opportunity to hear works both well-known and unjustly neglected from Polish voices old and new. Performance highlights include two of Fryderyk Chopin’s virtuosic piano concerti; Witold Lutosławski’s thrilling Concerto for Orchestra; a world premiere from composer, violinist and CCM alumnus Piotr Szewczyk (BM Violin, 2000; MM Violin and Composition, 2003); and an evening of jazz with Grammy Award-winner Włodek Pawlik.

The CCM Philharmonia opens the Polish Festival in stunning fashion at 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9 in Corbett Auditorium. The concert program includes the world premiere of Piotr Szewczyk’s American Dreams and a performance of the signature work of one of the greatest Polish composers of the modern era, Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. Naumburg Gold Medalist and CCM faculty artist Soyeon Kate Lee also joins the Philharmonia for a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2. Mark Gibson conducts this can’t-miss concert event.

Aik Khai Pung leads CCM’s Café MoMus Contemporary Music Ensemble as they play works of Polish composers from three different generations — Krzysztof Penderecki, Bettina Skrzypczak and Artur Słotwiński — at 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Audience members can sample Polish desserts and delicacies at a reception after the free concert in CCM’s beautiful Cohen Family Studio Theater and meet Słotwiński and the musicians.

Pung also conducts the CCM Concert Orchestra in a performance of Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and Górecki’s Symphony No. 3 (“Symphony of Sad Songs”) at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 17 in Corbett Auditorium. The concert features the winners of CCM’s piano and voice competitions.

Grammy award-winning jazz pianist Włodek Pawlik joins the CCM Jazz Orchestra and the Faculty Jazztet on stage at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18 in Corbett Auditorium. Under the direction of conductor Scott Belck, the concert will feature Pawlik’s original compositions and arrangements.

A rare performance of Szymanowski’s masterwork Symphony No. 3, Op. 27 (“Song of the Night”) will close the festival at 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2. The CCM Philharmonia, Chamber Choir and faculty soloist Dan Weeks, tenor, will be joined by the Xavier University Concert Choir in presenting this evocative symphony.

Festival highlights also include a free presentation from visiting lecturer Halina Goldberg. Acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts on Polish Music, Goldberg will give audiences a look into Polish art and culture at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9 in the Baur Room of CCM’s Corbett Center of the Performing Arts.

An integral part of many of the festival concerts will be a large-scale work by Polish painter and visual artist, Anna Socha VanMatre. The music of Penderecki inspired her work, “Metamorphoses-Fire,” which will serve as an inspiring backdrop for the festival’s major orchestra concerts in Corbett Auditorium.

CCM’s Polish Festival will leave listeners with a deeper appreciation of the music and art of a country vast in history and tradition. See below for a complete list of festival events. We hope you join us in this unique series as we celebrate Poland!

Event Information

All events listed below take place on the campus of the University of Cincinnati. Some events require paid admission. Please see individual event information for single ticket prices and ordering information.

All event dates and programs are subject to change. Visit ccm.uc.edu or contact the CCM Box Office at 513-556-4183 for the most current event information.

Purchasing Tickets

Concert flex ticket packages are on sale now! Single tickets go on sale Monday, Aug. 22, 2016.

Tickets can be purchased in person at the CCM Box Office, over the telephone at 513-556-4183 or online at ccm.uc.edu/boxoffice.

Parking and Directions
Parking is available in the CCM Garage (located at the base of Corry Boulevard off Jefferson Avenue) and additional garages throughout the UC campus. Please visit uc.edu/parking for information on parking rates.

For detailed maps and directions, please visit uc.edu/visitors. Additional parking is available off-campus at the U Square complex on Calhoun Street and other neighboring lots.

For directions to CCM Village, visit ccm.uc.edu/about/directions.
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POLISH FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

2:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9
• The Joseph and Frances Jones Poetker Thinking About Music Lecture Series •
A LOOK INTO POLISH ART AND CULTURE
Halina Goldberg, Jacobs School of Music
Dr. Halina Goldberg, acknowledged as one of the world’s foremost experts on Polish music, will present a lecture on aspects of Polish art and culture.
Location: Baur Room
Admission: FREE
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8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9
• Orchestra Series •
OPENING CONCERT
CCM Philharmonia
Featuring faculty artist Soyeon Kate Lee, piano
Mark Gibson, music director and conductor
Join us as the acclaimed CCM Philharmonia commences a month-long Polish Festival featuring performances by student and faculty artists from throughout the college. The festival opening performances include the world premiere of a new work American Dreams, composed by accomplished CCM alumnus Piotr Szewczyk!
CHOPIN: Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Minor, Op. 21
Featuring Soyeon Kate Lee, piano
LUTOSŁAWSKI: Concerto for Orchestra
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE
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8 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13
• Orchestra Series •
PENDERECKI, SKRZYPCZAK AND SŁOTWIŃSKI
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
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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.
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7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 18
• Jazz Series •
THE MUSIC OF VIRTUOSO JAZZ PIANIST AND COMPOSER WŁODEK PAWLIK
CCM Jazz Orchestra and Faculty Jazztet
Featuring guest artist Włodek 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 Włodek Pawlik as he performs his original compositions and arrangements.
Location: Corbett Auditorium
Tickets: $15 general, $10 non-UC students, UC students FREE.
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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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CCM Season Presenting Sponsor & Musical Theatre Program Sponsor: The Otto M. Budig Family Foundation

Polish Festival Sponsor: Judith Heiny and Piotr Chomczynski

Orchestral Sponsor: Mr. & Mrs. Joseph W.  Hirschhorn
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A preeminent institution for the performing and media arts, CCM is the largest single source of performing arts presentations in the state of Ohio.

All event dates and programs are subject to change. For a complete calendar of events, please visit us online at http://ccm.uc.edu.

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