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Centric Music festival celebrates Chopin, Bach, Brahms and Beethoven

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 Ryan Kolodziej is pleased to take the reins of Lethbridge classical music festival, the Centric Music festival from founder Jesse Plessis.Ryan Kolodziej is excited to organize the Centric music Festival, happening at Casa, July 5-8. Photo by Richard Amery
The fifth annual 2017 Centric Music festival features four concerts at Casa, July 5-8 focussing on  the music of well known composers Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Chopin.
“This is a more conservative programme then we usually offer, though I still love contemporary classical music,”Kolodziej observed.

“When Jess started it , there weren’t any festivals in Lethbridge for classical music. He saw a need and started up Centric,” he observed.
“Originally Jesse wasn’t going to do it anymore because he moved away to Montreal, but he saw a need for it and  just did it . It was worth doing, so  I’m just happy to continue  what he started,” said Kolodziej who is from Lethbridge originally, but also moved away to Montreal to  continue his education, where he met Jesse Plessis.

“It’s easier  to organize something like this long distance when you have family living here,” he continued, adding his dad was a real asset by spreading the word and postering the city. The hard work has resulted in  advance ticket sales of  $1,000.
“We]re also selling tickets at the door. I hope we won’t have to turn anyone away at the door. Though I don’t think we will,” he continued.

 Kolodziej is excited to not only keep Centric alive, but also to play a couple of the concerts.
“I like to organize  events, but I also like the opportunity to play concerts. I’m not making any money on this. I’m donating my time and my performances because I want to make sure the artists get paid,” he said.
“ I’m also  playing the role of PR person, which is a different kind of work,” said Kolodziej  who went to school for 10 years, and has been teaching since graduating.

 Plessis returns to just play three of the concerts while Kolodziej plays two. A highlight will be new University of Lethbridge musician and new University of Lethbridge professor Krzysztof Jablonski, an internationally acclaimed pianist who has performed at the international Chopin Competition in 1985 who opens up this year’s festival with a gala concert featuring plenty of Chopin.Concert I, July 5 at 6:30 p.m. features internationally acclaimed pianist Krzysztof Jablonski who will perform a selection of the solo repertoire he presented at the 1985 International Chopin Competition for Centric's opening gala concert. The concert is a rare opportunity for Lethbridge audiences to hear an accomplished artist of Dr. Jablonski's  calibre. A pre-concert talk begins at 6:30 p.m. with the concert at 7:30 pm.

The second concert,  July 6 at 7:30 p.m. is the first of three concerts exploring the music of the three major "B" German composers. It features the divine music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Cellist, Tyler Stewart will present “Komm, süßes Kreutz, aria no. 57” from Bach's masterpiece, “the St. Matthew Passion,”  and one of the monuments of the cello repertoire, the “Cello suite no. 2 in D minor.” Pianist Jesse Plessis, will interpret the first of Bach's six Partitas for keyboard, “Partita no. 1 in B-flat major.” Soprano Lisa Mulgrew will join pianist Jesse Plessis for several extracts from “the St. Matthew Passion.”

The third concert,  July 7 at 7:30 p.m.  features music from different eras of Beethoven's output, beginning with violinist Leslie Ting and pianist Ryan Kolodziej interpreting “The Sixth Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 30, no. 1.”  Baritone Ian Fundytus will join pianist Jesse Plessis for Beethoven's only song cycle that ushered in the beginning of this genre of German art song, “An die ferne Geliebte Op. 98 (To the distant beloved).” Jesse Plessis will conclude the evening by performing Beethoven's last “Piano Sonata, no. 32 in C# minor, Op. 111.”

“Jesse decided to learn all of Beethoven’s sonatas. That’s his latest project,” Kolodziej observed.

The last concert of the festival, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. features selections from Brahms' chamber music. The evening begins with “Zwei Gesänge Op. 91 (two songs)” sung by mezzo-soprano Bethany Yon with cellist Tyler Stewart and pianist Ryan Kolodziej. It will be followed by Brahms' youthful and epic first “Piano Trio in B major Op. 8, ” played by violinist Leslie Ting, cellist Tyler Stewart and pianist Ryan Kolodziej. The second half of the concert features the sublime “Liebeslieder waltzer Op. 52, (Love song waltzes)” with soprano Lisa Mulgrew, mezzo-soprano Bethany Yon, tenor Jason Ragan, baritone Ian Fundytus and piano four hands duo Ryan Kolodziej and Jesse Plessis.
Kolodziej  would like to continue organizing the festival.

“I’d like to  give students an opportunity for people to learn from all of these great performers, but we’ll see,” he said.
 The event is also competing with Streetwheelers weekend in Galt Gardens.

“I’m not too concerned. I think the community room at Casa is pretty well soundproofed,” he said.
“There really is something for everyone,” he said.

“We’re quite excited. It brings people together. We have great performers playing great music. No-one owns classical music, so come as you are and you will be pleasantly surprised,” he promised.

While most of the concerts begin at 7:30 at Casa, the gala begins at 6:30 p.m. with a pre-concert discussion. Tickets for that concert cost $40 while tickets for the other concerts are $25. Buying in advance saves you five dollars a ticket. A festival pass worth $80 saves you a total of $35 as opposed to buying tickets for each individual concert.
Early Bird Ticket Sales are now available online at

A version of this story appears in the June 28,2017 edition of the Lethbridge Sun Times/Shopper

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 28 June 2017 08:52 )  
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