The society aims to promote cultural interaction among the people of Vancouver, who come from a rich variety of ethnic backgrounds, and to emphasize the importance of music in our lives. We have chosen to name our Society after the Polish composer Frederic Chopin because of the universal appeal of his music and his world-wide reputation as one of the greatest composers for the keyboard.
The VCS is a member of the International Federation of Chopin Societies, based in Vienna. This connection puts us in touch with some fifty other Chopin Societies worldwide, creating exciting possibilities for inviting international musicians to Vancouver.
The Vancouver Chopin Society is a registered charity. All donations are tax deductible and will be acknowledged in VCS concert programs. Our activities are presented mainly through the assistance of volunteers. If you are interested in helping us as a volunteer, please call 604.871.4450
The idea of founding the VCS came to Iko Bylicki’s mind in late 1996 when he heard about the ten-year-old prodigy, pianist Stanislaw Drzewiecki, the son of the famous Russian pianist, Tatiana Shebanova, who was married to the Polish pianist, Jaroslaw Drzewiecki. Presenting this family to a Vancouver audience seemed like a great idea; however, this required some organizational structure. It was natural to think about starting another Chopin society, since the International Federation of Chopin Societies, founded in Warsaw in 1985, was receiving quick recognition, and many new Chopin societies were popping up around the world.
Sharing this idea with other Polish enthusiasts resulted in The Vancouver Chopin Society being incorporated on April 22, 1997 under the Society Act of British Columbia with Tadeusz van Wollen as president, Eryk Sitkowiecki as artistic director, Iko Bylicki as vice-president, Malgorzata Burczycka as secretary, and Tadeusz Dukszta as treasurer. In the same year, the VCS officially became a member if the IFCS. However, the first concert did not occur until a year later, on April 19, 1998, in the Vancouver Playhouse. Teresa Bobrowska, our current secretary, joined us after that first concert.
Being able to continue and survive the very first seasons and build the foundation for the Society was possible because of the outstanding dedication of, among others, two ladies, Elizabeth Czetwertynski, an incredibly charming old lady who was able to bring around a hundred people for each concert since nobody could refuse her convincing power, and Dr. Maria Bleszynski, whose financial generosity rescued the Society from sinking a number of times.
The very first member of the Society was Masanao Morimura, the Japanese scientist, who retired in Canada in the nineties. He played piano very well and was extremely fond of Chopin’s music, and he was developing a web site about Chopin and writing a book. He passed away on May 27, 2012, a few days after he had renewed his subscription.
The first concerts were held in the Norman Rothstein Theatre, but in the second half of the 1999/2000 season, the board decided to move the concerts to the auditorium of the Vancouver Academy of Music. In 2006, the board decided to move the concerts to Magee Theatre, and since then, the concert series is presented in three venues, the Vancouver Playhouse, the Chan Centre, and the Magee Theatre.
Conductor Grzegorz Nowak became the VCS’s artistic director in 1999, holding the post through 2004. After Mr. Nowak left Canada, Lee Kum-Sing, respected piano teacher, worldwide, became the artistic director, and has remained so since.
And nineteen seasons after The Vancouver Chopin Society was inaugurated, three members, Malgorzata Burczycka, Teresa Bobrowska, and Iko Bylicki are still working on the board of the VCS, feeling privileged to be part of such a competent and dedicated board such as we have today.
Our society is entirely run by wonderful and dedicated volunteers who donate their time, energy and talents to manage and direct society’s affairs.
- Lee Kum-Sing – Artistic Director
- Iko Bylicki – President
- Henry Ewert – Vice-President
- Teresa Bobrowska – Secretary
- Jason Ng – Treasurer
- Ori Kowarsky – Publicity Director
- Malgorzata Burczycka – Director
- Vince Cardella – Director
- Patrick May – Director
- Dawn Short – Honorary member of the Board
- Niels Andersen – Honorary member of the Board
Please contact us at:
The Vancouver Chopin Society
# 400 – 601 West Broadway Avenue,
Vancouver, B.C. V5Z 4C2
Welcome to The Vancouver Chopin Society’s 20th anniversary season, during which we will listen to great performances by not one, but two, gold medalists, as well as a laureate from the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw. As part of the celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday, we will present to you a truly unique event, presented for the first time in North America, one that allows the audience to experience the folk music that inspired Chopin’s creative genius. This is a season you will not want to miss!
Seong-Jin Cho, gold medalist at the 17th International Chopin Competition in Warsaw, will kickstart our celebratory season with his Vancouver debut. Then, Janusz Olejniczak will perform Chopin on an historic instrument, our first collaboration with Early Music Vancouver. He will play two recitals with different programmes. For each concert, he will play the first half on a period instrument and the second half on a modern piano. If you have seen the Oscar-winning movie The Pianist you will be excited to learn that the piano music on the soundtrack was played by none other than Olejniczak. Rafal Blechacz who, after winning the Gilmore Artist Award, took a year-long sabbatical in 2016, will return to Vancouver for the third time. No stranger to Vancouver, Alexander Gavrylyuk, one of today’s top pianists, returns to our city to round out our extraordinary season. And there’s more!
For their first Vancouver appearance, Maria Pomianowska and her famous folk band will first demonstrate the influence of folk music on Chopin’s compositions. She will then be joined by a string orchestra and an array of world instrumentalists to explore how Chopin’s music would influence musicians if he had emigrated to present-day Paris. You are in for a real musical adventure!
In addition, Doctor Margit McCorkle will lecture on a topic of relationship between Chopin and Schumann.
We continue to make our subscriptions affordable to everyone, particularly seniors and students. This season, the price for youth, grades 1 to 12 is $15 per ticket.
From the Board
The Vancouver Chopin Society is distinctive in its approach to featuring artists of the keyboard not by their famous names, but for their specialty in Chopin’s music and exceptional performances of classical repertoire. And with our unique international connections, particularly in the European countries, the Chopin Society has been able to bring to Vancouver audiences top Chopin interpreters such as Nelson Freire, Nelson Goerner, Rafal Blechacz, Ingrid Fliter, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Dina Yoffe, Juana Zayas, Wojciech Switala, Zbigniew Raubo, Janne Mertanen, Ingolf Wunder and Daniil Trifonov. These former Chopin Competition laureates and judges have won the highest possible critical acclaim worldwide for their recitals and recordings of the music of Chopin and other composers, though some are generally not so well-known in North America. In many cases the Chopin Society has introduced them first to Vancouver.
Consequently, the Vancouver Chopin Society has been able to bring the highest caliber of artists to Vancouver audiences of music lovers, teachers and music students at very affordable ticket prices.
Thanks to the support of our donors and audiences, we look forward to continuing this tradition in seasons to come.
Member of IFCS
The VCS is a member of the International Federation of Chopin Societies, based in Vienna.
Members of the International Federation of Chopin Societies
Fundacion Frederic Chopin
Av. Puerredon 687
1425 Buenos Aires
Mr. Hector Citera – President
The Frederic Chopin of Victoria
1 Nevada Street
Mrs. Irena Janus-Olchowik – President