On February 26-28, the Kosciuszko Foundation in Washington D.C. presented the 2nd edition of the Chopin Piano Academy – Master Classes with the renowned pianists and Chopin experts and laureates of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw:
Prof. Piotr Paleczny from Chopin University in Warsaw, Poland,
Prof. Ewa Pobłocka from the Music Academy in Bydgoszcz, Poland,
Prof. Krzysztof Jabłoński from Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada, and
Prof. Alexander Kobrin from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, USA.
The event attracted students from all over the world, who flocked to present their Chopin repertoire to the faculty members.
The idea of the Academy, initiated in March 2019, to coincide with Frederic Chopin's birthday, was to offer tuition-free classes for the few selected young pianists (up to 30 years of age) with expert pianists and professors from Poland and United States.
The first edition took place in 2019 in Washington D.C. and attracted twenty applicants from which the Academy Preselection Jury chose eight to come to Washington D.C. to take part in the Academy. All of them were offered free room and board as well as free classes with the Academy faculty.
For the second edition of the Academy, the organizers opted to adapt to the current situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, rather than to cancel the event.
Therefore, the idea of an online Academy, where students could take lessons through Zoom, without leaving their homes, became the only option.
Little did the organizers know, the online version of the Chopin Piano Academy exceeded all expectations. The number of received applications tripled, and the countries from where the applications came included China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Brazil, Austria, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Poland, and the United States. The level of the submitted recordings was so high that the organizers had to increase the number of accepted applicants from twelve to eighteen.
Also, for the first time, the Academy offered an option to participate in the program as auditors for those who were not accepted and for all those who just wanted to observe the lessons. The age of the accepted applicants ranged from 14 to 25 years old. Sixteen of them compete in the preliminaries of the 2022 International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and three of them are winners of the 2019 and 2020 Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition for Young Pianists.
During the course of three days, all eighteen students received four lessons each, as well as all, participated in educational and insightful daily faculty seminars on the topics of Chopin's Nocturnes, Sonatas, Etudes, and Concerti.
At the end of the Academy, all students and auditors participated in the Chopin Piano Academy Showcase organized on Zoom.
Guests of Honor at the Showcase included: the Ambassador of the Embassy of the Republic of Poland – Piotr Wilczek, pianists Garrick Ohlsson, the first prize winner of the 1970 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Kevin Kenner, the first prize winner of the 1990 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Ingolf Wunder, winner of the 2nd prize from 2010 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, as well as
Jeffrey Swann, laureate of the 1970 Chopin Competition in Warsaw, Brian Ganz who currently is finishing his ten-year-long project of performing complete works of Frederic Chopin, as well as Maestro Piotr Gajewski, the Music Director of the National Philharmonic Orchestra at Strathmore Music Center and a jury member of the 2020 Kosciuszko Foundation Chopin Competition for Young Pianists in Washington D.C.
The beautiful Showcase that concluded the 2021 Chopin Piano Academy was also a celebration of Frederick Chopin's 111th birthday. The viewers enjoyed inspiring and moving speeches of the Guests of Honors, and the Academy closed with the heartfelt Happy Birthday wishes to the beloved Polish composer by all the participants.