If you’re based in London – or are visiting at the end of May – this might be your biggest chance this year to sample the best Polish culture has to offer. At least in the musical sense.
Britain’s most famous violinist, Nigel Kennedy, has been in love with Poland for quite some time now. And at the end of May (29th-31st) he’s putting together a spectacular show, Nigel Kennedy’s Polish Weekend, the culmination of Polska! Year.
The Weekend will see the Krakow-based Brit performing centre stage as well as alongside his jazz and young colleagues in an eclectic offering covering big band, experimental and vocal jazz, classical, folk, and klezmer music.
And why exactly is he doing it? Here’s what he has to say about this project:
‘I’ve been living in Poland some time now and I’m well into the Polish life, from the music and football through to the warmth of the people, food, brilliant beer and vodka. Poland has an incredibly rich environment for all music and I’m sure I’ve had a much better chance to develop as a musician because of all these live forms of music that are very prevalent in Polish music.
Giving a nod to his classical roots, Kennedy leads the UK debut of his own newly founded Orchestra of Life and Chopin Super Group.
A major highlight of the Weekend is Nigel Kennedy’s World Cup Project, in which Kennedy and colleagues perform Kennedy’s own composition, a partly improvised soundtrack, to accompany a screening of the 1973 World Cup qualifying match between England and Poland, which saw England failing to qualify for the World Cup for the first time. That should be spectacular.
But the weekend will also offer the chance to see live some of the biggest names in Polish music, many of whom have been featured on this blog.
On Saturday 29 May one of the hottest bands in the current Polish music scene Zakopower performs at the Royal Elizabeth Hall.
The following day on the same stage Nigel Kennedy will be joined by Kroke (pictured below) for an hour of fantastic folk music.
And if you liked my post about Anna Maria Jopek and her music, you can see her live on Monday 31st May.
In the Royal Festival Hall Nigel Kennedy’s Chopin Super Group pays homage to Poland’s greatest composer Fryderyk Chopin in a celebratory concert with a twist.
One of the highlights of the entire Weekend, the concert features performances by leading Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak, who played the piano music in Roman Polanski’s Oscar-winning film The Pianist, before Nigel Kennedy and special guests, including Anna Maria Jopek, provide contemporary interpretations of Chopin’s music.
Apart from all the performances you’ll also be able to sample some Polish food and drink, there will be family activities and violin-making workshops.
Announced on this blog just over a year ago, Polska! Year comes to an end with a bang. Hope the past twelve months have helped you discover a different side of Poland.
All images supplied by The Southbank Centre