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The Warsaw Voice » Society » June 27, 2013
Summer in the City
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A Summerful of Festivals
June 27, 2013   
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23rd Mozart Festival, June 20-July 21

The Mozart Festival, a flagship project by the Warsaw Chamber Opera, was first held in 1991 to mark 200 years since the death of the great composer from Vienna. The idea for this unique event came from the Warsaw Chamber Opera’s founder and director Stefan Sutkowski and stage director Ryszard Peryt. As a result of their efforts, Warsaw is the only city in the world where all the pieces Mozart ever wrote for the stage are performed every year.

The 23rd Mozart Festival will differ from those held in previous years. According to Warsaw Chamber Opera artistic director Ruben Silva, the festival has been reinvented to welcome wider audiences.

The festival will kick off June 20 and continue until a grand multimedia staging of Don Giovanni at the Wilanów Palace courtyard July 21.

As every year, Warsaw audiences will also hear Mozart’s masses, symphonies, concertos and chamber pieces. The festival venues will include some of Warsaw’s finest historic sites, including the Royal Castle, the Stanisławowski Theater in the Royal Łazienki Park, and the Holy Cross Church.

19th Jazz in the Old Town international
open-air festival, June 22-Aug. 17

In its 19th year, the Jazz in the Old Town international open-air festival is widely regarded as an inseparable part of the summer season in Warsaw and one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions. Festival concerts are held every Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the atmospheric setting of the Old Town Square.

As every year, the organizers promise a variety of jazz genres, from mainstream and world jazz to modern jazz, fusion and flamenco jazz. This year’s highlights include concerts by Enrico Pieranunzi, Jorge Pardo and Jacky Terrason.

Upcoming concerts

July 6
Premiere. The DownBeat magazine describes Kahiba as an exciting and creative European trio. Austrian saxophonist and flutist Heinrich von Kalnein, accordion player Christian Bakanic and Swiss drummer Gregor Hilbe play captivating music where jazz blends with Brazilian, Jewish and world music.

July 13
Jacky Terrasson Trio
New York-based and French-born Jacky Terrasson is one of the best and most popular young jazz pianists. The Sunday Times magazine has named him among the 30 greatest figures in music. The piano virtuoso has performed with a number of female vocalists, including Betty Carter, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Cassandra Wilson.

July 20
Hiromi Trio Project
First time in Poland. Japanese jazz star Hiromi, a pianist and composer, plays a unique combination of jazz, progressive rock and classical music. The winner of many prestigious music awards, she duetted with Chick Corea at the tender age of 17 and has since released nine award-winning albums. Critics rave about her virtuosity, impressive playing technique and expressive performances. During her one-night-only concert in Poland, Hiromi will play with Anthony Jackson on bass and Simon Phillips on drums.

July 27
Adam Bałdych Project
Many critics see violin virtuoso Adam Bałdych as the future of the jazz violin. Bałdych, who also writes and produces music, releases albums on the prestigious ACT Music label. Hailed a child prodigy at 16, today he is compared to the world’s greatest jazz players. Bałdych is this year’s winner of the Echo Jazz Award given to the best jazz performers around the world.

Chopin Concerts at Royal Łazienki Park, each Sunday until the end of September

Music by Frederic Chopin has been performed live beneath the Chopin Monument in Royal Łazienki Park since 1959. The concerts are held between May and September each Sunday at noon and 4 p.m. Over the five decades, they have become a local tradition and a major tourist attraction.

The Chopin Monument, designed by sculptor Wacław Szymanowski and unveiled in 1926, was destroyed by the Germans during World War II. Following meticulous reconstruction, it was restored to its former site in Łazienki Park in 1958 and the Chopin concerts began the following year.

Warsfolk international folk song and dance
festival, Aug. 24-25

Held every summer since 2005 at Sowiński Park in Warsaw’s Wola district, the festival brings together hundreds of performers from Europe.

10th Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture, Aug.24-Sept. 1

The Singer’s Warsaw Festival of Jewish Culture and the Jewish Culture Festival in Cracow are two of Poland’s largest events of this kind.

The Warsaw festival, first held in 2004, is dedicated to the memory of Polish-born Jewish American Nobel Prize-winning writer Isaac Bashevis Singer, many of whose books were set in small Jewish towns in prewar Poland. Using his fiction as inspiration, the festival takes audiences to a bygone world of Yiddish culture recreated on Warsaw’s Próżna Street and Grzybowski Square. This somewhat overlooked corner of Warsaw transforms during the festival into a singing and dancing shtetl—or a small Jewish town—from a century ago with haggling merchants, wineries and bakeries.

The festival abounds in outdoor concerts, theatrical plays, exhibitions and activities during which audiences can learn how to make Jewish cut-outs, write Hebrew characters and dance Jewish dances. There are also movie screenings, art installations, lectures and meetings with writers. A guest of honor at this year’s festival will be Israel Zamir, the son of Isaac Bashevis Singer.

This year’s music performers will include cantors Yaccow Lemmer and Dudu Fisher, Canadian jazz pianist Ron Davis and Polish jazz trumpet virtuoso Tomasz Stańko, who will give a joint performance with the Kroke klezmer band. The stars of the festival’s Klezmer Night concert will be internationally famous band The Other Europeans.

Theater performers at this year’s Singer’s Warsaw festival will come from France, Australia, Argentina and Romania. The Jewish Theater from Bucharest will stage Yentl, a play based on the short story by Singer.

Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival, Sept. 26-29

The Warsaw Cross-Culture Festival was first held in 2005 to showcase the most interesting trends in world music. It has since made its way into Warsaw’s cultural landscape and is one of the largest festivals of its kind in Central Europe with a large group of faithful fans. Along with concerts, each festival comprises workshops in music, singing and dance conducted by internationally renowned instructors. Festival audiences can also attend exhibitions, see on-screen musicals and there are also activities for children.

The motto of this year’s festival, “Islands of the World,” announces guests from remote islands and overseas territories. The performers hail from Trinidad and Tobago, Belize and Honduras in Central America, the French island of Réunion on the Indian Ocean, New Zealand, Sardinia, Djerba in Tunisia and the ice-cold islands of northern Canada.

According to festival organizer Andrzej Matusiak, this geographical diversity was a tough challenge for the organizers. “We have invited dozens of artists from five continents so that our festival tent is like a multicultural island itself this September,” Matusiak said.

During the festival’s four days in September, Warsaw audiences will dance to American calypso music, learn about the traditions of the Garifuna people from the Caribbean, listen to traditional songs composed by descendants of slaves from Africa, hear how maloya music from Réunion blends with French and funky beats, and find out what “oceanic blues” sounds like.

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