May 5, 2022 | Thursday

12th edition of Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina opens on Europe Day with big Classical Music names

One of the most important festivals of classical music in Kosovo, Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina, opens this year on May 9 on Europe Day, with the concert of world-renowned pianist Martin Garcia Garcia, and ends on June 8, bringing to the Kosovar public more than 15 concerts, master classes, workshops, competitions for instrumentalists and composers, and other cultural activities. Another special feature of this year’s edition of Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina, is the participation of the festival in the SYNERGY program supported by the European Union through the Creative Europe program. To understand more about the 12th edition of the festival, we talked to Prof. Lejla Haxhiu Pula, President and Artistic Director of Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina.

Prof. Lejla Haxhiu Pula, President and Artistic Director of Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina

EH: Can you share with us a brief history of the Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina?

L.P.: The Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina is an important cultural event in Kosovo, organized since 2010, and includes a large number of classical music events throughout one month, in spring. The festival is organized by the Kosovo Chopin Association (KCA), which was founded in 2009 and is a member of the International Federation of Chopin Associations (IFCA), based in Warsaw. This Federation is part of UNESCO’s International Music Council, based in Paris.

With a lot of dedication, with high and unquenchable enthusiasm, with the main goal to offer our capital Prishtina the culminating artistic values in the field of classical music from around the world, after a long journey, this year we have reached the threshold of the 12the edition of the Festival!

With our maximum commitment to make the impossible possible in our current circumstances in Kosovo, given the lack of Concert Halls in our country, as well as insufficient funds, we have nevertheless achieved our goal of creating a high-level festival!

We are very pleased that this goal of ours has been fully implemented and affirmed, witnessing the local and international recognition of the values and extraordinary quality of the festival.

We have had the honor to see perform on the Chopin Piano FEST stage hundreds of renowned international artists from various countries in Europe, USA, Latin America, Asia and others. In addition to these renowned artists, local musicians, both affirmed and talented youths of different ages, have been presented and promoted on the same stage with great success!

All this artistic program of course would have been impossible to realize without the support of our sponsors and friends: Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, Municipality of Prishtina, Raiffeisen Bank, SDF, European Union Office in Kosovo!

The unreserved readiness of the Embassies of the European Union member states and others accredited in Kosovo, which throughout all these years have supported with great pleasure the arrival of their renowned musicians, invited as guest artists to our Chopin Piano FEST programs, should be singled out and highly appreciated!

EH: The 12th edition of Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina opens on May 9 on Europe Day, and closes on June 8. Can you briefly tell us the main innovations of the 12th edition?

L.P.: For us, the organizers of Chopin Piano FEST, it is a special pleasure that this year we have the opportunity to open the festival in cooperation with the European Union Office in Kosovo. This collaboration takes place on the occasion of Europe Day on May 9, with one of the winners of the Chopin Contest in Warsaw 2021, (the most famous piano contest in the world), the wonderful Spanish pianist Martin Garcia Garcia!

The 12th edition continues to cultivate the profile of the festival built over the years, which has in its main focus the Piano as a solo instrument, so this year we have four solo piano recitals. After the opening with the Spanish pianist, we welcome the famous French pianist François Dumont, a Chopin master. Then we have the virtuoso pianist Florian Uhlig, a well-known name from the German scene, and maestro Stefan Vladar – world-class pianist from Austria!

This year’s edition will continue by further expanding our programming aspect in terms of piano collaboration with strings and wind instruments in the following formations:

  • Cello and violin duo – Bernardo Brizani from Slovenia accompanied by Kosovar pianist Misbah Kaçamaku,
  • Trio – two flutes accompanied by the piano, where the Dutch flutist Jana Machallet and the pianist Pauline Post will perform together with the Kosovar flutist Enkelejda Zajmi Gorani,
  • The piano quintet from Italy with the magnificent pianist maestro Epifanio Comis, together with the famous Italian Quartet,

We also have a novelty with Jazz Improvisation concert evening, electric guitar and piano, where the highly creative pianist Arben Ramadani and our wonderful guitarist Armend Xhaferi will play together!

In addition, we welcome the Duo of excellent artists from Hungary, pianist Adam Balogh and violinist Adam Banda.

A very important part of our festival is EDUWEEK, where we will have two student evenings in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts of the University of Prishtina, and the piano marathon of graduate students from all music schools in Kosovo. This year, for the first time, students from the Tirana Art School are coming!

Young talented Kosovar soloists who are building a successful concert career will also climb on the stage of the Chopin Piano FEST.

This year, we will close our Festival with the most prominent artists from the Czech Republic, who will perform both Frederic Chopin’s Concertos for Piano and Orchestra, in arrangement for Piano and String Quartets, with the famous soloist pianist Martin Kasik!

EH:. Can you tell us more about the program and participating artists?

L.P.: As always, the festival program will be diverse, where in addition to Chopin’s works, other pearls of classical music will be performed. The works of Albanian composers will also be present in the program, a component that we consider as an important element of our programs.

In the spirit of cultivating and enriching our opus and musical creativity, this year we will continue the Nationwide Composition Contest for piano pieces, named “In honor of Chopin” and founded in 2012, where young composers compete.

Also this year (for the fifth time) a special prize will be awarded to a talented young pianist. This prize is awarded by a supporter and admirer of classical music from Germany, Dr. Herbert Groegor, and was initiated by our well-known pianist Ardita Statovci. The award winner will perform at a Piano Recital Concerto and will go on a week-long stay in Germany. The winner is chosen by the professional jury, through a piano contest.

Master classes and lectures of guest artists that are organized during the festival incomparably enrich the experience of our young instrumentalists, open horizons and artistic perspectives in a situation where they are still very limited to go out freely and without visas abroad, so they have an extraordinary importance.

EH: This year Chopin Piano FEST Prishtina will be a partner organization of the SYNERGY program supported by the European Commission through the Creative Europe program. What will be the main activities of the festival within this program?

L.P.: #Synergy Project: Capacity building of the classical music industry in the Western Balkans, supported by the Creative Europe program of the European Commission, in the next three years will bring together the most important art music festivals in order to sharpen the skills and increase the capacity of the classical music industry in this part of Europe. KotorArt Don Branko’s Montenegrin Music Days as project leader, together with the Belgrade Center Festivals (BELEF and BEMUS), the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, the Ljubljana Festival, Vox Baroque from Albania, and the Kosovo Chopin Association from Kosovo, will create new opportunities for composers and musicians to launch their work across borders.

This month, May 9-11, Chopin Piano FEST will host the regular workshop held within the Synergy Project. So far, 3 workshops have been organized in Ljubljana, Kotor and Tirana, each with different topics. This time the topic of the Workshop will be “Artistic Education and Classical Music”, where we’ll discuss the experiences and impact of Festivals through their program and activity in artistic education and the expansion of new options and opportunities in this field.

EH: A message for the end?

L.P.: The most important mission of a music festival like ours is to unfold and present genuine artistic values, to approach and join the level of arts around the world, to expand the horizons or new dimensions of artistic achievements, to be aware of the mastery and infinity of professional artistic perfection and, anyway, to enrich the concert life and cultural spectrum in our country.

Building and enriching a high-quality and inclusive society, is hard to imagine without this component of the superstructure. This aspect is always our main goal, for which we constantly insist on before the organization of festivals. However, it is understandable that without the construction of the basis and facilities that create the possibilities for concert performances, the Concert Hall, the Philharmonic Hall, the Opera and Ballet House, we will not be able to advance with the right steps. So, I think raising the awareness about the necessity of building them, is essential for the future of our concert life.

In this mission, we must all be together!