Since 1985, Juilliard has presented its annual Focus! Festival, a series that spotlights 20th and 21st century music. In January 2011, Joel Sachs, the artistic director and conductor of Focus!, collaborated with the Polish Cultural Institute New York to produce six concerts whose programming surveyed an often overlooked wellspring of modern Polish concert music, as well as household names such as Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski, and Henryk Gorecki. As part of Muzyka Nowa, for this week's Cued Up, we're streaming this brilliant performance, hosted by Sachs himself, Friday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm.
The performance features Lutoslawski's Overture for Strings, performed by the Juilliard Orchestra, as well as the New Juilliard Ensemble performing three Western Hemisphere premieres by some Polish composers that many listeners would not be familiar with: Chorale Prelude by Wojciech Kilar (b. 1932), an avant-garde-turned-minimalist composer who grew up right in the middle World War II-era Poland; a contemplative Sonata for Cello, chuck full of microtonal harmonics, by Paweł Mykietyn (b.1971); and Canzona by the French-dwelling, Polish-born Elżbieta Sikora (b.1943).
Following the Focus! Festival performance, Cued Up will feature live selections from the colorful history of Warsaw Autumn, Poland's long-standing celebration of contemporary music, founded in 1956.