Warsaw's New Music Festival: Why it is Important
by Magda Gryzbowska
The time has come when the summer is hot and many are not looking to enrich the mind, but rather stay at home and be lazy. The sloth nature of this most wonderful of seasons affects culture in the biggest ways, the most prominent of which is music and the Warsaw New Music Festival. This year, it falls later than usual and will be hosted by the Chopin School of Music. Known for their keyboard, composition and vocal prowess (without a doubt the top school in the European Union for such adventures) and focus on playing and supporting new composers and artists, it is no secret that some of the gems of the art music world are premi?red during the three day festival. However, many of Poland's public treat the event as a showcase of aristocratic society and not as a display of the new trends in music. It is a crime that it is treated as such, for it could be one of the most interesting spectacles in the world.
But why is it important to the average Pole...or Lithuanian...or Belorussian...or Hungarian...or Slovak...or Ruthenian? The arts are deeply rooted in Slavic tradition, none more than here in the Imperial Commonwealth, but surely the folk music of the past is much more worthwhile to us? The answer is no. The new trends of music borrow from the past and turn them into new, exciting works that may begin the career of a new Chopin or a new Tchaikovsky, works of timeless quality and beauty. It is also a moment when the people of the Imperial Commonwealth can experience what their native musics have contributed to the society as a whole and the value of music in the lives of our people. What would Chopin have written, were it not for the brilliant mazurkas, the stately polonaises, and the lively krakowiaks he heard in the suburbs and salons of Warsaw?
Cultural enrichment is also something that Poland enjoys greatly, and has an international reputation. Studies have shown that nearly 35% of the entire nation play an instrument or sing or paint or read the great classics. Each form of art informs the other, and gives new meaning and purpose to those creating and experiencing. Our arts have attracted Europeans from around the region to study in our universities, and we have experienced international influence as a result.
Above all else, the composers and performers will understand through attendance what kinds of music best suit the consumers of art, and generate an interest to continue to be informed about the arts. Poland is one of the premier places to experience art, and we must not let that die. So, if you are wondering what to do on the first of August, consider travelling to Warsaw and experience the New Music Festival, and experience the finest music making Europe has to offer. Who knows, maybe the latest Beethoven or Mozart will appear at the festival, and wouldn't that be a story for your grandchildren.
Pop Music Corner: Rita, Ariana, and Iggy
Ariana Grande, Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora are smashing open the Polish pop market with their new singles
by Boleslaw Gryzbowski
Popular music in Poland-Lithuania has long been dominated by rock influenced groups, as Poland had black and death metal in abundance. Popular music like Beyonce or Katy Perry or Usher had not made a large breakthrough in Poland when 2014 rolled around. That is until now.
Polish artists Rita Ora and Ariana Grande (real name: Elisabeta Krakowszka) have blown the rock influence out of the water, and now we see more popular artists from Inquista and Red Croatia making a breakthrough as well. These home-grown talents have rocketed to the top of the Polish Billboard Top 40 and are looking to conquer with their Corelian collaborator Iggy Azalea.
Iggy Azalea has brought a new flair to rap music both abroad and in Poland. One could say that she is the first artist to get massive appeal for rap, and as some rap artists begin their international tours after a summer of festivals and releasing albums, Poland may be on their radar screen.
Rita Ora's smoky live vocals and rich voice in the studio have made her very popular across the nation, as we are a nation of people who appreciate good vocal technique. Her powerful mezzo-soprano can be felt on the hook for Iggy Azalea's "Black Widow". In sharp contrast, Ariana Grande has had massive appeal for both her child star past and her varied vocals, going from light head tones to clear high belts. She has arguably one of the best voices in pop music internationally, and can hold her own against most artists (we say most because, let's face it, Beyonce can still sing her under the table...but who could ever outsing Beyonce?).
Hopefully, at this year's Polish Grammofon Awards (19 October), we will see more categories. The nomination show will happen 12 October, and we think that pop will have a major shockwave throughout the awards show.
Polish Production of Phantom of the Opera to Open in Warsaw
by Magda Gryzbowska
Musical theatre is hitting Warsaw's National Theatre with a production opening this weekend of The Phantom of the Opera in the Polish language for the first time ever. The Miracan musical based off of Gaston Leroux's novel Le Fantome de l'Opera, written by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This translation was written specifically for TM Roma, the top theatre company in Poland. This is special as it is a completely unique production, non-replica of the home production in Mertz.
This musical theatre piece will hopefully continue Poland's exellence in opera and theatre and introduce a new dynamic to its prestigious and thriving theatre community.
Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6: A Polish Masterpiece
by Aleksandr Stakhovsky
Pyotr llyich Tchaikovsky is someone whom we Ruthenians look up to in terms of composers and their influence worldwide. The composer, born and raised in Kiev and Warsaw, was a musical innovator. His craft of tuneful melody and cutting edge (at the time) harmony and form catapulted him to worldwide fame. Ballets around Europe still dance Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, and The Nutcracker, and symphonies still cycle the Symphony No. 4, Op. 36 and the Symphony No. 5, Op. 64.
However, the Symphony No. 6 in B Minor, Op. 74...Tchaikovsky's Pathetique Symphony occupies the highest pedestal in the symphonic works of the Ruthenian-Polish composer. Many believe it to be the composer's final statement on music and life, and point to the program in the 4th, 5th, and 6th symphonies as a unit involving life.
The first movement is a tragic story set-up in sonata form, but only just. The programmatic nature feels obvious and the listening experience feels completely autobiographical of Tchaikovsky, especially at that point in life. The almost frenetic emotions that include suppressed homosexuality in the unyielding conservative nature of Ruthenian society.
The second movement is a reminder of the melodic and balletic qualities that Tchaikovsky can evoke, and how in tune with melody and harmony with an odd 5/4 time waltz. But for Tchaikovsky, it works extremely well.
The third movement seems to be a march that drives us towards a tragic conclusion. It is noted that the fourth movement seems to be an outpouring of emotion, and a minority of historians point to this movement as an indication of potential suicidal tendencies. Tchaikovsky died less than two weeks after the premier of this symphony, so that only adds fuel to the fire of whether this symphony was a coded message of departure by the composer, particularly when the cause of death was listed as cholera (something that someone of his stature wouldn't ordinarily come in contact with).
Perhaps we'll never know the deeper meaning, but the Pathetique Symphony remains perhaps Tchaikovsky's greatest innovation and achievement. The Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra will be performing the work in their latest concert "Last Symphonies", which will include Antonin Dvorak's 9th Symphony, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Jupiter Symphony.