Piotr Lara, Luke Kim, Antón de la Fuente and Małgorzata Machowska
The closing event of the Paso Robles 2018 Paderewski Festival took place this year at the Halter Ranch and Vineyard, a fairly long, but very beautiful 11-mile drive from downtown Paso Robles. We were hearing the six Cultural Exchange Students (Bohdan Terłetskyy and Małgorzata Machowska are missing from the above photo because my wide-angle lens wasn’t wide enough) perform for us on the beautiful “Tiffany” Steinway B that has played such an important role in events during the Festival this year.
Outgoing Paderewski Festival board member, Joel Peterson, introduced the event and turned the floor over to Festival Artistic Director Marek Zebrowski. Zebrowski gave the audience a brief history of the Festival and in particular the history of the Cultural Exchange program, in the process introducing the Polish Consul General, Jarosłav Łasiński and emphasizing the international prestige the Festival has gained through the Cultural Exchange program.
Zebrowski added that 2018 is a specially significant year, for it represents the 100th anniversary of the reestablishment of Poland as a free republic after over a century of domination as a Grand Duchy of Russia. He also reminded us that Paderewski was a signatory at the Versailles Treaty of 1919 and subsequently became the first premier of the new Republic of Poland.
The young cultural exchange students have enjoyed a week of exciting events, some of them musical, and some of them the cultural delights of life in California. In this closing event of the Festival, we heard each of them in impressive solo performances — plus three absolutely delightful four-hand piano duets of short works by George Gershwin.
Małgorzata Machowski, 18, a native of Poland led off the program with a lovely, tender performance of Paderewski’s Légende, Op. 16, No. 1, followed by a lyrical and sensitive rendition by Antón de la Fuente, 19, of Chopin’s Nocturne in F Minor, Op. 55, No. 1. Sofiya Dashak, 18, born in Ukraine, charmed us with a slowly unfolding and ultra sensitive performance of Debussy’s Clair de lune, and Bohdan Terletskyy, 13 and also a native of Ukraine blew us away with a super powerful rendition of Liszt’s famous Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, which has been immortalized in a Bugs Bunny cartoon — although Bohdan’s performance did not emulate the playful cartoon bunny, for his was more like boldly pumped up on steroids.
Luke Kim, 17, from San Diego, a pupil of Dr. Egle Januleviciute at the Cate School in Carpinteria, is one of two American winners in a previous Paderewski Festival Youth Competition winners, like Antón de la Fuente, to participate in the week-long Polish Festival in Poland and is reuniting with the four exchange students from Poland and Ukraine. Luke performed played for us an exciting rendition of Chopin’s Ballade No. 2 in F Major, Op. 38,
After Piotr Lara, 17 and a native of Poland, closed the solo portion of the program with a masterful performance of Chopin’s great Ballade in G Minor, Op. 23, we heard selected students performing three piano duet works by Gershwin — The Man I Love, Fascinating Rhythm and Novellette in Fourths. As Joel Peterson said in is congratulatory remarks after the concert, “What a way to end a concert.”
After the recital we enjoyed sampling wines from the Halter Vineyard plus a magnificent luncheon. Frequently heard during conversations after the performance were expressions of regret that the 2018 Paderewski Festival is over for this year and promises to be returning for the 2019 Festival.