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The Warsaw Voice » Society » July 29, 2009
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Power of Authority
July 29, 2009   
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Stanisław Leszczyński, the man responsible for launching and running the upcoming Chopin and his Europe international music festival in Warsaw organized by the Fryderyk Chopin Institute, talks to Dominik Skurzak.

You have created a distinctive event with a clear vision. Over five years the festival, whose hallmark is music performed on period instruments in the style of Chopin's day, has carved out a special place for itself in the music world.

The period theme is not the dominating theme of the festival, though perhaps the most important one. It has evolved from my interests and dreams that have developed throughout my career. Historical interpretations have always been special for me because apart from the beauty they offer, they are an opportunity to reach out to the times when a given work was written, an opportunity to hear it the way the composer intended it to sound. It has nothing to do with treating music like a dead thing, a museum item, but paradoxically it makes it possible to get closer to it, to enliven it. There are many festivals in Europe and elsewhere that are entirely devoted to historical interpretations. They usually focus on Renaissance, Baroque or Classicist music. We present 19th-century works-Chopin, but not only. We also have performances of the works of his contemporaries, sometimes just a little before or after him. For several years we have savored, together with our growing audiences, the sounds of Romanticism. I strongly believe that in this context the festival also has an educational role. By the way, I am keen to expand this educational aspect: for me, this year, one of the particularly valuable and important features of the festival will be the performance of Creation of the World targeted at children by the Orchestra of the 18th Century. The concert will take place at noon, and children will be seated on colorful pillows around the orchestra, to feel they are in direct contact with the artists and the music.

This year's festival is subtitled "From Staier to Staier", in reference to Andreas Staier, who is an authority on early music. Are you sure that Staier is sufficiently known in Poland to use his name in promoting the festival?
For me, it's not name recognition that matters here, but this artist's position as an unquestioned authority in the field of music performance we are interested in. Andreas Staier may be not that popular in Poland, but he is famous around the world. I deeply believe in the power of authority of individuals who do not impose their opinions and viewpoints on us, but who offer us the opportunity to enrich ourselves through the simple mechanism of opening up new perspectives on how we see reality, and, as a consequence, how we engage with it. That is why I strive to invite to the festival not only stars but also those who play the role of "guides" in the world of music. Staier's four performances will highlight both his exceptional talent and versatility. We will hear him in chamber music pieces as well as a soloist playing with an orchestra. I'm particularly looking forward to two evenings when he will perform with tenor Christophe Prégardien, a talented expert on Romanticism. To tell you the truth, I initially thought about a different name, "from Staier to Argerich", but given the unpredictability of the first lady of piano, I didn't want to push my luck.

It's not easy to get Martha Argerich to give a performance, yet she will play twice at this year's festival.

I've been friends with Martha Argerich for years. I have a feeling I've managed to gain her trust both in terms of "concert situations" and in terms of musical program. She has performed in Poland at my invitation many times and so far, minor difficulties aside, all the projects have gone according to plan. I do believe that will be the case this time too.

What are your plans for 2010-the year of Chopin, which will be celebrated around the world?
We will hold an exceptional festival that will last a month, with many famous guests-fantastic virtuosos, excellent ensembles... but I don't want to reveal any details yet, especially since much depends on the funds we will have at our disposal. I hope that despite the crisis, we will receive good news from our two most important sponsors, the minister of culture and the mayor of Warsaw.

Meanwhile, I'd like to cordially invite everyone to this year's festival in late August. It includes 24 events-recitals and symphony and oratorio concerts. We will have over 300 performers from dozens of countries. Let me mention just a few names: Argerich, Staier, Ohlsson, Ax, Melnikow, Lugansky, Goerner, Prégardien, Sobotka, Olejniczak, Shelley, the Capucon brothers, Brüggen, Herreweghe and many others, including very young artists-13-year-old Aimi Kobayashi from Japan and 14-year-old Ja¶ Lisiecki from Canada.
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