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Rafal Blechacz's 20th Anniversary Gala Concert

At 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 22nd, 2018, the Vancouver Chopin Society will be officially celebrating its 20th Anniversary at the Vancouver Playhouse with a gala performance by Rafal Blechacz.

At the 15th Warsaw International Chopin Competition in 2005, Blechacz walked off with not only the gold medal, but also prizes for the best performance of a mazurka, polonaise, concerto and sonata, as well as the audience award. Since that red-letter day, Blechacz is now recognized as one of the most outstanding pianists and musicians of his generation. In January of 2014, Blechacz received the Gilmore Artist Award, referred to within musical circles as the Nobel Prize of the piano world, for his musical and artistic achievements.

Acknowledged of course as an outstanding interpreter of the works of Chopin, Blechacz’s repertoire encompasses the works of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Liszt, Brahms, Debussy and Szymanowski, having recorded many of the works of these composers for Deutsche Grammophon. His latest recording of the music of Bach has been highly praised both by critics and fellow musicians.

A musical thinker as well as performer, Blechacz recently completed his doctorate in philosophy, with emphasis on aesthetics and the philosophy of music.

We welcome back to Vancouver Rafal Blechacz, and thank him for helping us celebrate our 20th birthday.

Following Blechacz’s recital, the Vancouver Chopin Society will be having a fund-raising reception at the foyer of the Vancouver Playhouse. Tickets for the reception are $50 each, $25 of which will be tax-deductible. Do come and lend us your support, and together we will drink a toast to the next 20 years!

To reserve tickets for the reception please contact us at 604-871-4450 or send us an email with your order and a phone number. The reception for our 20th Anniversary celebration is generously sponsored by Tom Lee Music and Polish Consulate in Vancouver.

And do not forget that if you are a subscriber, or a ticket holder to the Blechacz recital, you can win a trip to Warsaw for the finals of the first ever International Chopin Competition on period instruments, to be held in September 2018. The package includes a round trip flight to Warsaw for one, two tickets to the final round of the competition, three days accommodation, and a tour of Zelazowa Wola, Chopin’s birthplace. The draw for the prize will take place before the end of the recital’s intermission.

Tickets for Blechacz’s recital are selling very quickly. To purchase tickets for this very special concert, call the Chan Centre box office at 604-822-2697 (Tuesday to Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.) or the Vancouver Chopin Society at 604-871-4450. You can also click on the link below to buy tickets online:

Buy tickets

The 2018-2019 season

As we enter our third decade, The Vancouver Chopin Society is excited to present an expanded season, with six world-class pianists who are sure to thrill piano lovers, and fans of the music of Chopin, throughout the Lower Mainland.

Our season brochures will be sent on March 22. If you are not currently on our mailing list, or have not received a brochure by March 26, please let us know and we would be happy to send it to you.

We continue to make our subscriptions affordable to everyone, particularly seniors and students. This season, BCRMTA members enjoy the same substantial discount of 25%. The price for youth (grades 1 through 12) is again an incredible $15 per ticket.

Both the new season brochure and ticket order form can be opened and printed directly from our website. Download the 2018-2019 Season brochure. Download order form.

Janusz Olejniczak's concert - some thoughts by Patrick May

What would it have been like to hear a performance by Chopin?

Chopin disliked performing in large public spaces. He felt suffocated by large audiences, and preferred the ambience and intimacy of salon concerts. On February 2nd and 3rd, Vancouver audiences got a taste of what a performance by Chopin may have been like. The distinguished Polish pianist Janusz Olejniczak made his Vancouver debut with two recitals, in the intimate surroundings of downtown’s Christ Church Cathedral.

What made the performances even more memorable was that for the first half of each recital, Olejniczak performed on a 1852 Broadwood piano – 7’ 1’’ in length, 4’ 2’’ in width, with a range of six and three-quarter octaves (82 keys as opposed to the 88 in a modern piano), all enclosed within an absolutely beautiful Bookmatch Brazilian Rosewood case, and restored to near-perfect condition, and with love, by Vancouver period piano specialist Marinus van Prattenburg.

The piano used by Olejniczak similar to the Broadwood pianos Chopin encountered during his seven months in England and Scotland in 1848, a year before his tragic death.

After his initial rehearsal on the Broadwood piano, Olejniczak decided on a change to his original programme. The works he performed on the Broadwood were, on the whole, Chopin’s more intimate creations – the Mazurkas, Waltzes and Preludes, the sole exception being the Polonaise in A major (Op. 40) that ended the first half in both evenings.

For the second half of both recitals, Olejniczak played on a Steinway concert grand, and ventured into Chopin’s larger scale and more dramatic works – the Nocturne in C minor (Op. 48, No. 1), Ballade in G minor (Op. 23), Scherzo in B-flat minor (Op. 31), and the justly famous Polonaise in A-flat major (Op. 53).

Throughout the performances, Olejniczak played with a disarming naturalness, as well as a complete identification with the music. It was as if, during those two-plus hours, he was Chopin and he was improvising those works as he played. For those who were at the performances, we are sure that these were experiences we wouldn’t easily forget.

The sound Olejniczak conjured from the Broadwood was an intimate one, and the artist wisely chose not to “push” the instrument. The result, from the perspective of the audience, was a feeling that we were eavesdropping upon someone who happened to be playing for himself. Surprisingly, there was no lack of projection from the Broadwood piano, and the sound of the music could be heard in the far reaches of the church.

The performances in the second half reminded me of Rossini’s comment upon hearing the Steinway piano, that it was like, “a nightingale cooing in a thunderstorm.” Ojeniczak can be a powerful player, and in some of the dramatic moments, there was a power in the sound that was palpable. That said, the intimate and tender moments had a beauty in the sound that made the experience just as memorable.

For all of you who were able to join us for one or both of Olejniczak’s performances, we hope that you all enjoyed this absolutely unique experience, of hearing Chopin played, as they say, to the manor born, and of hearing the acoustical differences between two instruments from two different centuries.

Because of the overwhelmingly positive feedback we received following Olejniczak’s two recitals, the Vancouver Chopin Society plans to present more performances on the beautiful Broadwood piano (now owned by a Vancouver musician) in the coming seasons.

Lee Kum-Sing, Artistic Director
Patrick May, President



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Next Concerts

Next concerts

Rafal Blechacz
20th Anniversary
Gala Performance
April 22, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Vancouver Playhouse


Alexander Gavrylyuk
May 16, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Vancouver Playhouse


Lecture By
Dr Margit McCorkle
May 24, 2018 at 10:30 am
Vancouver Academy of Music

Chopin and Schumann



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