The festival celebrating composer Paderewski took place the first weekend of November
PASO ROBLES — Fans of the classical composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski (known for stopping in Paso Robles while on tour) headed out last weekend to experience the three-day Paderewski Festival dedicated to the famous musician.
The Paderewski Festival, which made its initial comeback in 2006 after the Flamson Auditorium was damaged in the 2003 San Simon Earthquake, has not taken a break since. In 2020 the festival was performed online, with audience members buying tickets and streaming the concerts in their homes, and in 2021 it returned with a three-day festival instead of the normal four days from previous years. This year, the festival stuck with the three-day format.
“This year, we still did a three-night festival just because we’re still trying to get our feet back underneath us,” said Paderewski Festival President Marjorie Hamon.
The classical music fest kicked off on Friday, November 4, with an evening of woodwind music performed by the award-winning Cracow Golden Quintet. The ensemble is made up of talented young soloists who have performed and recorded all over Europe. The Cracow Golden Quintet started their performance at 7:30 p.m. and played two of Paderewski’s well-known pieces with additional music by Polish neoclassical composers Grażyna Bacewicz, Wojciech Kilar and Tadeusz Szeligowski in the restored Park Ballroom on Park Street. A wine reception started the evening at 7 p.m.
“We always like to have, as often as we can, Polish performers for Friday night,” added Hamon of Cracow Golden Quintet.
Saturday, November 5, at 4 p.m. in the Paso Robles Inn’s historic ballroom (which is where Paderewski always stayed when he came to Paso), the winners of The Paderewski Festival’s 2022 Youth Piano Competition performed a free concert for the community. The students competed earlier in October under two categories, Junior (ages 10 to 14) and Senior (ages 15 to 18).
The young pianists who won and performed were Anya Albright (14), Selma Yarbrough (12), Holly Hadsall (17), Alexander Chen (15), Ellen Butler (14), Suzi Kim (14), and Andy Shen (16).
“Watching the kids is one of my favorite parts because they’re just amazing,” added Hamon.
Saturday, November 5, ended with the 2022 Paderewski Festival Gala Concert, which also took place at the Paso Robles Inn Ballroom. The star of the night was virtuoso pianist Jakub Kuszlik, who won not only the Paderewski but also the Chopin International Piano Competition. Maestro Kuszlik performed an extensive program, including Paderewski’s Polonaise, Légende, and Cracovienne fantastique. He also performed Bacewicz’s Second Piano Sonata, as well as Chopin’s Scherzo in E major and his monumental Piano Sonata in B minor. Official Gala Concert sponsor Epoch Estate Wines is provided a wine reception at 7 p.m., and Maestro Kuszlik began his concert at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 6, the festival concluded with a special invite-only (for Friends of Paderewski and Paderewski Patrons) brunch and concert in an undisclosed location featuring a concert grand Steinway piano.
“We had a great turnout this year, a successful weekend. We are very pleased with the attendance,” stated Hamon.
The Paderewski festival will be back next year on November 3, 4, and 5; in the meantime, you can find more information at paderewskifest.com.
Feature Image Caption: Youth competition winner’s recital. (Left to right) Alexander Chen, Andy Shen, Holly Hadsall, Suri Kim, Selma Yarbrough, Ellen Butler, and Anya ALbright. Photo by Rick Evans.