Symphony Space to Present AN EVENING WITH PENDERECKI, 10/25

On Friday, October 25 (7:30 pm), Krzysztof Penderecki, "Poland's greatest living composer" (The Guardian) graces the stage of Symphony Space's Leonard Nimoy Thalia for a live event hosted byHelga Davis, contributing host on Q2 Music, WQXR's online station devoted to contemporary classical music. The event is presented as part of Symphony Space's In the Salon series, in partnership with Q2 Music and the Polish Cultural Institute New York, with support from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. Tickets are $32; $27 for members, $20 for 30 and under (with valid ID), available through The event will be streamed live on Q2 Music at

Symphony Space's In the Salon series enriches musical performances by top-notch artists with informative talks and artist chats. The program consists of Penderecki's String Quartet No. 3, performed by the Penderecki String Quartet from Canada; Sextette, played by Ensemble Pi; Cadenza, played by violist Matthew Lipman; and Capriccio, performed by cellist Jay Campbell; and Quartet for clarinet and strings, with musicians from the Yale School of Music, where Penderecki taught during the 1970s. The Yale musicians are: Nathan Lesser, violin; Colin Brookes, viola; Alan Ohkubo, cello; and Eric Anderson, clarinet. In between pieces, the composer will chat with Davis about his musical journey and current work. The result is a rare in-depth encounter with one of Europe's most influential and honored composers.

Says Penderecki, "I have spent decades searching for and discovering new sounds. At the same time, I have closely studied the forms, styles and harmonies of past eras. I have continued to adhere to both current creative output is a synthesis."

Born in 1933 in Debica, Poland, Penderecki first attracted international attention with the premiere of Anaklasis for 42 string instruments at the Donaueschingen Festival in 1960. His much-admired Threnos, dedicated to the victims of Hiroshima, made its debut at the 1961 Warsaw Autumn Festival. Penderecki gained a wider reputation with the premiere of his ambitious St Luke Passion in Münster Cathedral in 1966. His first opera, The Devils of Loudon, based on a book by Aldous Huxley, received its premiere at the Hamburg State Opera House in 1969. In 1972, Penderecki was appointed as rector of the State Academy of Music in Krakow, and he also taught at Yale from 1973 to 1978.

Collaborations include concertos for Anne-Sophie Mutter (Violin Concerto No. 2, Metamorphosen) and Mstislav Rostropovich (Cello Concerto No. 2). Along with four operas, large-scale works include his seventh symphony, Seven Gates of Jerusalem, which calls for five vocal soloists, narrator, three choirs, and orchestra; his 110-minute Polish Requiem, which he began in 1980 with Lacrimosa, dedicated to Lech Walesa; and his eighth symphony, Lieder der Vergänglichkeit, which sets Romantic texts relating to the woods and trees. His numerous honors include three Grammys, the Grawemeyer Award, the Prix Italia and the Sibelius Gold Medal.

Penderecki, who made his reputation with an avant-garde musical language that included dense tone clusters and in some works, graphic notation, made a controversial turn toward tonality during the mid-1970s. "The avant-garde gave one an illusion of universalism," he said. "The musical world of Stockhausen, Nono, Boulez, and Cage was for us, the young - hemmed in by the aesthetics of socialist realism, then the official canon in our country - a liberation... I was quick to realize, however, that this novelty, this experimentation and formal speculation, is more destructive than constructive."

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