The founder of the Frost School of Music Chopin Festival at University of Miami is encouraging people to continue giving a donation this year even though its concerts that are always free. The donations aren’t to keep the festival going, however, that’s already covered.
“I must emphasize how crucial is it for us to support the rights of Ukraine to be free from oppression,” said Kevin Kenner, the artistic director of the Chopin Festival.
Kenner’s plea comes from his deep concern for musicians from Ukraine, such as sixteen-year-old prodigy Khrystyna Mykhailchenko, who was forced to flee from her country and will perform at the festival in a program of Young Virtuosos on Friday, June 24.
"I feel for her plight and everyone oppressed from the occupation by Russia. I own my home in Poland and felt her optimism in her immense skills loving the music of Chopin," Kenner said.
Mykhailchenko is participating in the festival on a full scholarship.
"(The cost is) extremely expensive . . . but I had families in Miami who opened up their hearts in providing significant donations for tuition, expenses plus housing to enable Khrystyna to perform in the festival," said Kenner.
Kenner noted that Fryderyk Chopin himself knew of the plight of oppression,
"Chopin grew up in Warsaw but was forced to go to Paris before the outbreak of the 1830 November Uprising."
Chopin’s music, always the highlight is included in each concert as well as works by other composers.
The opening concert on Sunday, June 19 features two pianists JJ Jun Li Bui and Ewa Pobocka. Li Bui will perform renditions of works by Chopin, Debussy and Stravinsky. Poblocka will perform the works of Bach.
Wednesday, June 22, the program at 7 p.m. is a concert entitled, "An Evening of Ukrainian and Polish Song," which features Ukrainian-Polish soprano Olga Pasichnyk joining pianists Kenner and Poblocka plus students Malvyn Lai, Katherine Liu and Saaya Hara, all on piano, performing works by Ukrainian composers along with Chopin and Polish operatic master Stanislaw Moniuszko.
The music continues on Thursday, June 23, also at 7 p.m., featuring Kenner performing the music of 20th Ukrainian composer Boris Lyatoshinsky along with Chopin. Included in this concert will be seven pianists from the Frost Chopin Academy performing the works of Polish composer Paderewski and Chopin’s “Polonaises”.
The "Young Virtuosos" on Friday features outstanding young pianists 13-year-old Evelina Kleczek, her 15- year-old brother Antoni, 5-year-old William Ge and 16-year old Isadora Rezende . The highlight of the concert spotlights Mykhailchenko performing works from composers from Ukraine.
Distinguished guest artist Garrick Ohlsson performs the works of Brahms plus Chopin on the piano. Preceding Ohlsson will be three Frost Academy students on piano: Madison Yan, Christopher Shin and Athena Deng, playing works of Chopin.
In 2021, because of the pandemic, the Chopin Festival was streamed worldwide, allowing Chopin lovers to immerse themselves in the composer’s music.
“We’re so excited to continue to stream all the concerts, and workshops so there will be thousands of Chopin lovers who will join those coming to Gusman Concert Hall to be immersed in the works of Chopin,” said Kenner.
The Frost School of Music Chopin Festival is presented in partnership with the Chopin Foundation of the United States.
The Frost School of Music Chopin Festival features five concerts and two workshops on Chopin from June 19-26 at Gusman Concert Hall, 1314 Miller Drive, Coral Gables. The events will also be streamed free. Audiences are encouraged to donate funds to the Relief Fund for Ukrainian Musicians. Chopin Festival events are free, but reserved tickets are needed to attend the concerts and workshop programs. For more information and to reserve tickets, go to frostchopinfestival.com or call 305-284-2241.