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The Warsaw Voice » Culture » December 30, 2010
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Chopin’s NYC and Chicago Birthday Bash
December 30, 2010   
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If Frederic Chopin were alive today, he would certainly want to perform in Carnegie Hall, the New York concert hall where the world’s artistic elite appear. Being a Pole through and though, he would go to Chicago too to play for his compatriots at Orchestra Hall.

A group of Polish musicians, with the Andrzej Jagodziński Trio—Chopin’s foremost jazz interpreters—leading the charge, filled in for him in late October, early November. Krzesimir Dębski, the violinist, composer, and arranger at the center of these artistic events, saw to the artistic supervision of the whole thing.

The Stowarzyszenie Sztuk Wyższych (High Art Society), under the chairmanship of Wojciech Włodarczyk, together with the main organizer of the Frederic Chopin’s Birthday Party concerts, Roman Kurowski, decided to take on America two years ago. Kurowski is a Polish/Swedish/American businessman with a wealth of business experience behind him. During the 1970s and 1980s, he introduced America’s leading big bands to European audiences.

The rationale behind the concerts came from the simple idea of interpreting Chopin through the jazz idiom—something at which Polish musicians are past masters—but following a more sublimated, eclectic formula whose guiding principles were to be “inspiration” and “improvisation.”

Agnieszka Wilczyńska sang at the Jagodziński Trio concerts and Grażyna Augu¶cik performed with an international roll call that included the Chicago International Trombone Quartet. The star of the evening was trombonist, multi-instrumentalist and showgirl Gunhilda Carling from Sweden, who belted it out in good ol’ American style.

The bulk of the program featured two groups from opposite ends of the musical spectrum. First up were those indefatigable folk music collectors and interpreters inspired by Chopin’s songs, mazurkas and polonaises, the Janusz Prosiński Trio. This outfit was counterpointed by the innovative and hypermodern instrumental group Kwadrofonik. Additionally, there was the great hope of Polish pianism, Sławek Jaskułke, an artist who defies all attempts at categorization. The celebrated American saxophonist, Azar Lawrence was special guest. Lawrence is familiar to Polish audiences from Miles Davis’ memorable Warsaw concerts.

The artists were given a standing ovation by the predominantly Polish audience.

Anna Kulicka-Soisalon-Soininen
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