Celebrated for both his symphonic and film music, the Independence Day concert featured selections from Kilar’s soundtracks to Roman Polanski’s The Pianist (with Andrew Leonard playing the clarinet solo) and The Ninth Gate, the latter hauntingly and beautifully sung by soprano Krysta Close, and Jane Campion’s The Portrait of a Lady with Sally Rentschler, John L. Robinson, Alison Lowell, and Andrew Leonard on recorders. These works were performed by the USC Strings conducted by Sharon Lavery, as was Kilar’s evocative Orawa (1986), which brought the program to a resounding end. Orawa was inspired by the traditional harmonies and folk music of the Highlands where, to this day, folk ensembles of string players remain popular. The Quintet for Winds (1952) was performed by the Midnight Winds and reflects the influence of Nadia Boulanger, with whom Kilar studied in Paris as a young composer.
At the conclusion of the concert Counsel General Kapuścińska decorated Janusz Kamiński, the famous Polish cinematographer and two-time Academy Award winner, with honors including the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit, bestowed by the President of the Republic of Poland. Kamiński served as Director of Photography for such celebrated films as Schindler’s List, Saving Private Ryan, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Munich, Catch Me If You Can, Minority Report, Artificial Intelligence, Amistad, Jurassic Park, Jerry Maguire, among others.
Asked by the Consul General about promoting Polish culture, Kamiński responded, “I’m always attracted to bleakness because Poland was not very beautiful when I was growing up. I never really think about promoting Polish culture. Polish culture means to me the country I grew up in and the values of the country. I was shaped by Polish culture.”
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Barbara Kraft is a public relations specialist and producer, writer and narrator of KCRW’s hour-long documentary on Segerstrom Hall, “Transforming O.C.” She has contributed to The Hudson Review, The Michigan Quarterly, The Canadian Theatre Review, Ohio University Press, et al. She has just completed a book-length memoir entitled The Death of Anais Nin: Lux Aeterna.
With permission from Polish Music Center
Polish Music Newsletter
December 2008, Vol. 14, No. 12. ISSN 1098-9188. Published monthly.
Los Angeles: Polish Music Center, University of Southern California