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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » July 2, 2010
On the town
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Chopin Open Strikes the Right Note
July 2, 2010   
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The numbers are impressive – three days of music, 120 concerts and 26,000 people – but not even they can tell the whole story of the resounding success of the first Polish version of La Folle Journée international classical music festival.

The event, which aims to bring classical music to a wider audience, was held in Warsaw June 11-13 under the name Chopin Open. Audiences were treated to the such classical music luminaries as Swedish soprano Barbara Hendricks, Russian pianist Alexander Melnikov and Polish composer and conductor Krzysztof Penderecki.

Some 2,500 children attended educational sessions before the festival began. “Audiences have to be nurtured,” says René Martin, founder and artistic director of the international La Folle Journée festival, which started in France. The presence of young people is what pleased the organizers and performers the most. Russian pianist Boris Berezovksy and the Sinfonia Varsovia under the baton of Krzysztof Penderecki gave the final concert of the festival. “These three days have given us extraordinary energy,” orchestra director Janusz Marynowski said afterwards. “Starting tomorrow we’ll be getting ready for the next Chopin Open,” he added. Martin was obviously impressed with the Polish version of the festival as well and said that Warsaw was now a festival certainty for next year and the years to come.

The complete oeuvre of Frédéric Chopin was performed during the festival in Warsaw, along with the works of those composers in whose circles he moved while living in Paris, such as Kalkbrenner and Paganini. An excerpt of the latter’s Terzetto Concertante was performed by the Belgian ensemble Ricercar Consort. Music that Chopin admired, including arias by Handel and excerpts from J.S. Bach’s “The Well Tempered Clavier”, were also performed. Meanwhile, actor Jerzy Rogulski read fragments of letters that Chopin wrote to people close to him.

Martin came up with the idea for the festival in Nantes, France, in 1995. Concert times and ticket prices (zl.5 to zl.10 in Poland) are set to achieve his aim of making classical music accessible to everyone. The organizers talk of wanting to attract diverse audiences to their concerts and believe that, with such a wide variety of performances, there will be something for everyone. “I want La Folle Journée to be a real musical feast and an opportunity for everyone, regardless of age or social status, to become acquainted with, and to experience, classical music,” says Martin.
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