"I dream that Ukraine might one day attain that same freedom
that the United States and Poland now enjoy." — Pianist Marianna Humetska
1914: Summer of Destiny, The Sembrich's World War I commemorative series, continues on Saturday, July 12, at 7:30 pm with a concert by Ukrainian pianist Marianna Humetska entitled "Polish Compatriots;" a tribute to soprano Marcella Sembrich and pianist/composer Ignacy Paderewski that resonates with contemporary relevance as the Ukraine of today continues to face an ongoing struggle for independence.
"There was some question over the past several months as to whether or not we would need to postpone this concert, given the political turmoil in the Ukraine," states Sembrich artistic director Richard Wargo, who met Ms. Humetska and heard her perform a year ago in Warsaw. "But Marianna was determined to join us for this commemorative season and is coming to the U.S. specifically for this concert."
A native of Lviv, near Marcella Sembrich's birthplace, Humetska is the artistic director and co-founder of the Lviv Philharmonic's annual Discovering Paderewski Festival.
"A few years ago, Adam Bala and I, fascinated by the figure of Paderewski, his way of life, music and personality, decided to set up a Polish-Ukrainian Foundation and festival in his honor," comments Humetska, who this past May was presented the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland, one of the country's highest honors, in recognition of her involvement with the music of Paderewski.
The program scheduled for The Sembrich features virtuosic piano works of Paderewski, including his Sonata in E-flat minor, Nocturne, Op. 16/4, Minuet in G and Polonaise in B minor. In addition, guest soprano Malgorzata Kellis, who performed at The Sembrich last season and was described by The Chronicle as "beyond charming," will join Humetska for a set of enchanting Paderewski art songs from Madame Sembrich's repertoire.
Both Wargo and Humetska hope that this July 12th concert, "Polish Compatriots," will be the first of an ongoing collaborative exchange between the "Discovering Paderewski Festival" in Lviv, where Marcella Sembrich began her career and the Sembrich studio on Lake George, where the famous soprano spent the summers of her final years.
"There is another important dimension for me in this concert," adds Humetska. "I see a symbolic analogy between the Poland during the time of Paderewski and Sembrich and today's Ukraine. Both in my country, Ukraine, and in Poland, America is viewed as a symbol of freedom. I dream that Ukraine might one day attain that same freedom that the United States and Poland now enjoy."
The Sembrich is located at 4800 Lakeshore Drive. Tickets for "Polish Compatriots" are $25. Reservations can be made by calling the Sembrich office at (518) 644-2431. For more information, visit the website at www.thesembrich.org.