The 'reverse Beethoven' phenomenon and Grammy Award Winning (Best Classical Compendium, 2019) pianist Jeffrey Biegel and pianist, composer Jakub Polaczyk talk about the fascinating career of Jeffrey Biegel, who until the age of three could neither hear nor speak, until corrected by surgery.
Since 1999, Jeffrey Biegel has commissioned ten composers to bring new music for piano and orchestra to the repertoire. On February 10, 2019, Kenneth Fuchs's "Piano Concerto: 'Spiritualist'" with the London Symphony Orchestra led by JoAnn Falletta garnered a Grammy win in the Best Classical Compendium category, featuring Mr. Biegel as its soloist. Considered the most prolific artist of his generation, Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA, conferred the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Humane Letters upon Mr. Biegel, for his achievements in performance, recordings, chamber music, champion of new music, composer, arranger and educator. Among his recent recordings and performances, Mr. Biegel performed the World Premiere of Giovanni Allevi's 'Concerto for Piano and Orchestra' with Orchestra Kentucky and in Milan's Teatro dal Vermes, recording with Orchestra Sinfonica Italiana. During 2018, Naxos released Kenneth Fuchs's Grammy-winning recording, "Piano Concerto: Spiritualist" and, he performed the World Premiere of Christopher Theofanidis's "Concerto no. 2 for Piano and Orchestra" with the Harrisburg Symphony Orchestra, Stuart Malina conducting. In 2019, Grammy winning composer, Dick Tunney unveils the new "Peanuts Concerto" for piano and orchestra based on music by Vince Guaraldi for its World Premiere with Orchestra Kentucky and Mr. Biegel. Equally championing pop music icons, Mr. Biegel has brought Jimmy Webb's 'Nocturne for Piano and Orchestra' to the public and, PDQ Bach's 'Concerto for Simply Grand Piano and Orchestra' by Peter Schickele with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The first solo digital recording on Mr. Biegel's Naturally Sharp label will be released in 2019, and, in 2020, he will premiere Jim Stephenson's first piano concerto, tentatively titled, "Water" - in both its life-sustaining and destructive forces.
A leading pioneer of concerto projects joining multiple orchestras as a model for commissioning new music in the 21st century, Mr. Biegel created the first largest consortium of orchestras in 1998 for Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Millennium Fantasy' premiered with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra in 2000, followed in 2002 with Tony Award winning composer Charles Strouse's 'Concerto America' with the Boston Pops, Lowell Liebermann's 'Concerto no. 3, Opus 95', premiered with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (2006), William Bolcom's 'Prometheus' for piano, orchestra and chorus, with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra and Pacific Chorale (2010), Richard Danielpour's 'Mirrors' with the Pacific Symphony Orchestra (2010), Ellen Taaffe Zwilich's 'Shadows' (2011) with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, Jake Runestad's 'Dreams of the Fallen' (2013) with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Chorus of New Orleans, Lucas Richman's 'Piano Concerto: In Truth' (2013) with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, recorded in 2014 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra for the Albany label, and Kenneth Fuchs's "Piano Concerto: 'Spiritualist'" with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra (MA) in 2016. An avid composer, Mr. Biegel's choral music is published by the Hal Leonard Corporation, Carl Fischer, Porfiri & Horvath and The LeDor Group. Leonard Bernstein said of pianist Jeffrey Biegel: "He played fantastic Liszt. He is a splendid musician and a brilliant performer." These comments launched Mr. Biegel's 1986 New York recital debut, as the third recipient of the Juilliard William Petschek Piano Debut Award in Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall. He studied at The Juilliard School with Adele Marcus, herself a pupil of Josef Lhevinne and Artur Schnabel, and is currently on faculty at the Conservatory of Music at Brooklyn College, a City University of New York (CUNY). www.jeffreybiegel.com
Jakub Polaczyk (b.1983) is a young Polish composer, pianist and music pedagogue, based in New York City. Jakub obtained his Artist Diploma in Composition at Carnegie Mellon University (2013) as a full scholarship recipient studying under Dr. Reza Vali. He obtained his Master in Music from the Academy of Music in Cracow, Poland (2010), and In 2009 he graduated with M.A. and B.A in Musicology from the Jagiellonian University of Cracow. His teachers in Poland were: Irena Rolanowska (piano), Marcel Chyrzynski (composition), Krzysztof Penderecki (orchestration), Marek Choloniewski (electronic music), Malgorzata Stankiewicz (musicology). Jakub since 2018 has been a New Music Director of the Chopin and Friends Festival in NYC and directing the New Vision International Composition Competition. As a composer he participate in many international festivals, conferences and smposiums: SPCCF in Sao Paolo (2019), Space City Festival in Houston(2018), June in Buffalo(2017), International Trombone Festival in Redlands (2017), The Oregon Bach Festival in Eugene (2014), Synthesis in Poland (2013), Savellyspaja in Finalnd (2013), SoundSCAPE Festival in Italy (2011), The Etchings Festival in France (2010), and Ostrava Music Days in Czech Republic (2009). His compositions were performed in: Brazil, Canada, 15 states of USA, 10 countries in Europe and Asia (Japan, South Korea, China). As a pianist he collaborated with legendary Christine Valevska and many leading NYC artists and played with Contemporary Ensemble, Centre Stage at Ballet Arts in Pelham, Martha Graham Dance Company and Cracow National Opera. He lectured at: the Kosciuszko Foundation in NY (2018), Univeristy of Wisconsin - Madison (2017), Sichuan Conservatory of Music (2015), Music Academy of Krakow (2014), Carnegie Mellon University (2013, 2018). Jakub has won numerous awards in composition and songwriting. The most recent being: winning SIMM International Composition Competition for Harpsichord Solo in Milano (2019), accolades on the American Prize in Composition 2018, distinctions on the International Composition Competition in memory of A. Schnitkee in Sochi (Russia, 2018), and MACRO Composition Competition distinction in Madison (2017), the 3rd Place at the SongDoor Songwriting Competition in Nashville (2015), winning the 2013 Iron Composer Competition held at Cleveland, Ohio and also winning the Polish Composers Society Annual Baird Award in 2013. In 2019 Jakub was nominated for Danuta Szaflarska Award in Arts and was ranked 4 for Global-Local-Great Ranking in the Southern Poland. He also received artistic scholarship from the Minister of Culture of Poland - "Young Poland” in 2013. In 2010 he received a music scholarship from the Mayor of the City of Krakow. In both 2010 and 2007 he received the scholarship for artists from the Sapere Auso Foundation in Poland. He has also composed multimedial projects and has written music for the Polish Theater Institute in USA. His works are published by PWM, Feniks, and Euterpe in Poland, and online by Babel Scores and Aromics and are released by Ablaze Records in the USA. Jakub is a Steinway & Sons Artist partner, and a member of ASCAP and the Polish Composers Union. www.jakub.polaczyk.com