A special program in a special venue on a special date kicks off the Chicago events of the Chopin & Paderewski Year 2010 on Monday, February 22 at 1 p.m. at the Chopin Elementary School Auditorium, 2440 West Rice Street, Chicago, Illinois. This unique event is presented for the students of the Chopin School by The Organizing Committee for Chopin & Paderewski 2010 celebrations and The Paderewski Association, in collaboration with the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra and the Warsaw Committee of Chicago Sister Cities International.
The great composer Fryderyk Chopin was born in Poland on February 22, 1810 (the date is sometimes given as March 1) and this event celebrates the 200th anniversary of his birth.
Young students of the Music Academy of the Chicago-based Paderewski Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Barbara Bilszta, together with actors from the Little Star Children’s Theater Workshop invite the audience to observe a re-creation of the salon in the 19th century Polish home of Chopin and to listen to his music.
Performers will enact Chopin as a boy, a teenager, and then finally as a mature young man, performing his piano compositions. Chopin’s “guests” will sing his songs, dance to his mazurkas, and relate fascinating stories about their host, citing fragments of letters, poetry, and articles penned by the young genius.
Guest speakers include Chopin School Principal Antuanette Mester; a representative of the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago; as well as a representative of the City of Chicago.
The Chopin Elementary School, which operates as a magnet school within the Chicago Public Schools system, serves kindergarten through 8th grade students providing academically or socially focused instruction for nearly a century. Erected in 1917, the building houses a beautiful auditorium, which has two WPA era murals completed in 1941 by Florian Durzynski (1902-69)—one lyrical mural depicts Fryderyk Chopin.
This is the first event in a series to be held in Chicago to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the birth of Ignacy Jan Paderewski (b. 1860)—two of Poland’s renowned composers and musicians.
Chopin is… not a part of Poland, but precisely, the heart of Poland.
—Boris Pokrovsky, founder of the Moscow Chamber Opera Theater.
It is difficult to write of Paderewski without emotion. Statesman, orator, pianist and composer, he is a superlative man, and his genius transcends that of anyone I have ever known. Those of us who love Poland are glad that she can claim him as a son, but let her always remember that Ignacy Jan Paderewski belongs to all mankind.—Charles Phillips, The Story of a Modern Immortal, 1934.
While Chopin performed in public perhaps only 30 times, Paderewski thrilled crowds of thousands internationally with his recitals spanning over 50 years. His renown was worldwide in a time when public solo recitals were a new form of artistic expression. He was above all a masterful interpreter of Chopin and is recognized for the definitive edition of Chopin’s Complete Works.
The Paderewski Association was formed to raise awareness of the accomplishments of Ignacy Jan Paderewski—his contributions to music as well as world events of the 20th century.
The Paderewski Symphony Orchestra, established in 1997 as a chamber ensemble, now numbers over 260 professional musicians and brings Polish music to Illinois audiences in an array of venues.
Chicago Sister Cities International celebrates 50 years of its program, which comprises 28 cities worldwide. Established in 1960 upon the signing of the first cultural exchange agreement with Warsaw, Poland, the Program honors this anniversary in 2010.