Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010 - the Chopin Year in Poland and in Israel

With 2010 commemorating 200 years since Frederic Chopin’s birth, there were celebrations at midnight on January 1st in Zelazowa Wola, Poland, Chopin’s birthplace, 60 kilometers west of Warsaw. The Warsaw Philharmonic Hall launched Chopin Year celebrations with a symphony concert January 7th. In Poland, highlights of the Chopin Year will include the “Chopin and his Europe” International Festival in Warsaw (August 2-31) and the 14th International Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (October 2-23.) The Polish Year in Poland is the initiative of the Polish Ministry of Culture and the Fryderyk Chopin Institute (Warsaw.)

The Eila Eitan public relations agency and the Polish Institute hosted an informative and enjoyable morning meeting at the Felicja Blumental Center in Tel Aviv December 29th 2009 to enlighten those present as to the very many events taking place in Israel throughout 2010 as part of the Chopin Year. (The Polish Institute is an extension of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that promotes Polish culture and cooperation in the areas of arts, society, education and science.) Ms. Joanna Stachyra, director of the Polish Institute in Israel, welcomed those gathered. Mentioning the fact that Chopin’s music is understood and performed all over the world, she talked about the many activities and concerts taking place in Poland during the year – concerts, workshops and competitions in Warsaw and other locations as well as the opening of the new interactive Chopin Museum March 1st in Warsaw.

The press conference at the Felicja Blumental Music Center opened with the audience viewing a few minutes of Polish-Hungarian pianist Piotr Anderszewski’s 2009 documentary film “Unquiet Traveller” . Anderszewski (b.1968 Warsaw) muses on Chopin, saying that although his “costume remains impeccable”, anguish and “screams” lie behind the composer’s transparent musical style.

Leah Agmon, director of the Edward Aldwell Center, spoke of the emphasis on education of the Israel Chopin Year activities opening with the International Chopin Symposium and Festival January 3rd to 7th 2010, a conference of lectures, workshops and master classes organized by Dr. Tamara Balter at the Edward Aldwell Center of the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance Giv’at Ram campus, in collaboration with the Polish Institute. Maestro Murray Perahia presented the opening address. Lecturing and guiding participants were Professor John Rink (Cambridge University), Professor Carl Schachter (Queens College and CUNY), Professor Assaf Zohar (Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance), Professor William Rothstein (Queens College and CUNY), Professor Halina Goldberg (Indiana University), Professor Eytan Agmon (Bar Ilan University), Professor Alexander Tamir (JAMD, Eden-Tamir Music Center), Professor Roger Kamien (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Professor Andrej Jasinski (Katowice Academy of Music).

An interesting concert series will be presented by the Center for Chamber Music of the Lynn and Ted Arison Israeli Conservatory of Music (Stricker Conservatorium) in Tel Aviv. Grouped under the title of "Echoes of Heritage”, the series will begin January 15th with a lecture by Dr. Ron Regev and will be followed by seven recitals, each focusing on a specific theme or style. Performers will be Daniel Gortler, Ron Regev, Ido Barshai, Yaron Kohlberg, Matan Porat, Benjamin Hochman, Roman Rabinovich and Shlomi Shem-Tov. A special concert, under the auspices of the Polish Institute and the Adam Mitskevich Institute, will be performed by the highly acclaimed Polish pianist Karol Radziwonowicz. More information on these concerts can be found on

Professor Alexander Tamir spoke of the Chopin Society in Israel and its plans for the Chopin Year. Established by Tamir and the late Bracha Eden, the Chopin Society of Israel (a member of the International Federation of Chopin Societies - educational organizations running small competitions and concerts in schools and music conservatories) in conjunction with Kol Yisrael, the Edward Aldwell Center and the Polish Institute, hopes to have all of Chopin’s piano works performed during the course of the year. Six concerts will take place at the Eden-Tamir Music Center, Ein Kerem, Jerusalem. Among events taking place, the listening public will be able to hear very young pianists playing their favorite Chopin piece, young composers’ original works inspired by Chopin’s music and works of both Chopin and Robert Schumann (Schumann was also born in 1810.) Four of the events will be included in the 2010 Israel Festival. The Andrej Jagodinski Piano Trio will be performing a concert of Polish jazz. For more detail, please refer to

Director of the Felicja Blumental Music Center Avigail Arnheim spoke of a Chopin event of a different kind to take place May 14th 2010 at the Blumental Center in Tel Aviv. “An Appointment with Chopin” will focus on the Romantic, nationalistic, lyrical and musical aspects of Chopin the composer and virtuoso pianist. The audience will hear Leila Silberstein, Yoni Farchi and Tomer Gevirtz performing Chopin piano pieces interspersed with readings of texts by Baudelaire, Polish poet Wislawa Szymborska (b.1923), Georges Sand, Victor Hugo, Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud.

Guests of the meeting enjoyed some fine playing of Chopin piano pieces by Ariel Lenny (12) and Itai Meir (16), both young pianists taking part in the Edward Aldwell Center’s program for outstanding pianists.

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