Paderewski in Paso Robles
Ignacy Jan Paderewski visited Paso Robles on many occasions between the years 1914 and 1939. He stayed at the El Paso Hotel (now the Paso Robles Inn), and cured his ailmentss in the hot springs. In February of 1914, he began buying land on Paso’s West Side and, within a few years, his Rancho San Ignacio and Rancho Santa Helena covered 2,864 acres. Paderewski’s farming methods and keen interest in winemaking transformed Central Coast agriculture, as he was one of the pioneers in planting Zinfandel. Wishing to enlarge his holdings and hoping to find oil, Paderewski also bought 2,626 acres of ranchland near Santa Maria in September 1917. Although several geological explorations and test drillings were carried out, oil was never discovered on his Santa Maria property, and the land was eventually sold in November 1933.
To commemorate Paderewski’s association with the area, the Paderewski Festival was launched in Paso Robles in 1993. Featuring a variety of artists, annual concerts proved a resounding success with local citizens. Tours of vineyards, wine tasting and presentations of Polish culture and history were held in a variety of venues around town. The death of one of the Paderewski Festival organizers and a destructive earthquake in 2003
Comprised of various civic and community leaders, the new Festival Board of Directors has increased the scope of the Festival by offering more concerts and launching a Youth Piano Competition. The February 2007 letter of Frank Mecham, then Mayor of Paso Robles, suggesting a sister city agreement between Tarnów, Poland—the district encompassing Paderewski’s former estate at Kąśna Dolna—and Paso Robles was favorably received at the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in Poland. As a result, a delegation representing the Paderewski Festival Board of Directors made an official visit in Poland in 2008. A visit to Kąśna Dolna and discussions with local officials, as well as meetings at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, at the Ministry of Culture, and with Poland’s First Lady led to a reciprocal visit of Polish officials in Paso Robles during the 2008 Paderewski Festival and the signing of a cultural cooperation agreement between Paso Robles and Tarnów.
(Directed by Dina Mande, Juice Media)
In his time, Paderewski contemplated establishing a music school in Paso Robles, the Youth PianoCompetition is the Festival’s embodiment of that vision. Young Central Coast pianists are encouraged to pursue their musical passion through auditions, workshops, master classes, and concert performances in California and in Poland. In 2009, 2011 and 2013, three tours of Central Coast students, selected from the winners of the Youth Piano Competition in Paso Robles, were invited for a week of chamber music workshops and piano master classes at the Paderewski estate in Kąśna Dolna, led by the Paderewski Festival Music Director, Marek Zebrowski. During the Cultural Exchange Program, the American youth worked side by side with young pianists from Poland and Ukraine, culminating in joint public concerts at Paderewski’s manor house and at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków. Students from Poland have made reciprocal visits to California in 2010 and 2012 to perform at the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles and to participate in various educational programs organized for them locally. This unique program is jointly supported by the Paderewski Festival, numerous wineries and civic organizations on the Central Coast, as well as the Paderewski Center in Kąśna Dolna, the Tarnów Province government and diplomatic representatives of the Polish government in the United States.
Another exciting development includes the cooperation of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles with the city of Bydgoszcz, Poland, where the Paderewski International Piano Competition is held every three years. As a result, winners of the Paderewski International Piano Competition are featured at Festival Gala concerts in Paso Robles. There is no doubt that performances of classical music given by the world’s most prominent artists and concerts showcasing young talent during the Festival will continue to enhance the cultural atmosphere of Paso Robles. In this way, Paderewski’s legacy and love for the region endures, enriching all who will participate in the rapidly growing list of cultural events in Paso Robles.
2013 Paderewski Festival takes place on November 7-10 in Paso Robles.
Marek Zebrowski is the Director of the Polish Music Center at the Thornton School of Music at USC.
Marek Zebrowski was born in Poznan, Poland, and began studying piano at the age of five. After graduating with the highest honors from the Poznan Music Lyceum, he went to France, where he was a pupil of Robert Casadesus and Nadia Boulanger. Mr. Zebrowski came to the United States in 1973 and continued his studies of piano with Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music, where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He has recorded works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Scriabin and Prokofiev for the Polish Radio, appeared in public television broadcastsin the United States and recorded works by Ravel and Prokofiev for Apollo Records in Germany. His performances and compositions are featured on the Titanic and Harmonia Mundi labels.
Mr. Zebrowski is also recognized worldwide as a composer. The catalogue of his compositions includes orchestral and chamber works, numerous piano compositions and transcriptions, as well as film and stage scores. He has received commissions from Meet The Composer, The New England String Quartet, and Premiere Productions and Central Europe Trust in the United Kingdom, among others. Mr. Zebrowski’s piano composition, Ex tempore, won the second prize at the 1997 International Composition Competition in The Hague, Netherlands. During the fall of 1997 Mr. Zebrowski was a recipient of the Bogliasco Fellowship in Italy, where he composed two song cycles for baritone and piano. World premieres of his latest compositions took place in The Netherlands and Italy in 1998 and in Los Angeles in 2001.
In addition to his activities as pianist and composer, Mr. Zebrowski has been a frequent lecturer for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Harvard University and The New England Conservatory of Music, and for several years a contributing writer for the Boston Book Review. Renowned as teacher and interpreter of music, Mr. Zebrowski has given numerous master classes, coached various chamber music ensembles and chamber orchestras. His long academic career includes many years of teaching at the University of Massachusetts and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and he is currently on the faculty at UCLA.
Mr. Zebrowski is a Steinway Artist.