Renowned Polish jazz pianist touches on PHL connection to Polish mazurka in “Impromazurka” concert at the CCP

World-renowned Polish jazz musician, pianist and composer Artur Dutkiewicz poses for a picture after his first concert in the Philippines held at the Cultural Center of the Philippines on Nov. 12, 2019. (Eagle News Service)


(Eagle News) — Piano notes that relax and soothe the senses, and at the same time, bring you to an extraordinary exhilarating musical journey.

This was what the audience at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Little Theater experienced as they listened to noted Polish jazz pianist and musician-composer Artur Dutkiewicz with his “ImproMazurka” concert on Tuesday night, Nov. 12.

It was the first time for the world-renowned pianist to play in a concert in the Philippines, and his first time too to visit the country.

As his hands glided along the piano keys with notes that turned the air into magic, Dutkiewicz, also known as the ambassador of Polish jazz, transported the audience to a whole new world of classical and jazz music, improvised the “Dutkiewicz way” making it a unique experience.

His concert aptly titled “ImproMazurka” is a celebration of improvisation and mazurka, a Polish folk dance and music in triple meter known for its lively tempo and strong accents which as it turns out can also be found in the music of one of the Philippines’ traditional dances.

As what Poland’s current chargé d’affaires in Manila Jarosław Szczepankiewicz found out, mazurka is also danced here in the Philippines, particularly the Boholano Mazurka, although this had been thought as a dance brought here by the Spaniards when they colonized the country.

But as it turned out, the Philippine mazurka dance is connected to Poland where mazurka is one of its national dances, and where mazurka music is embedded in its culture.

Dutkiewicz noted that the “mazurka connection” was why he was invited by Poland’s top diplomat in the country, His Excellency Szczepankiewicz, to play in Manila.

“I am here because the Ambassador found the connection between Mazurka and the Filipino dance,” the noted Polish jazz pianist who has played in more than 60 countries around the world explained in an interview with Eagle News.

World-renowned Polish jazz musician and pianist-composer Artur Dutkiewicz with Poland’s chargé d’affaires in Manila Jarosław Szczepankiewicz, after Dutkiewicz’s “ImproMazurka” concert at the CCP on Nov. 12, 2019. This was the first concert of the Polish jazz musician and pianist in the Philippines after being invited by to play in the country by Poland’s top diplomat in Manila H.E. Szczepankiewicz. (Eagle News Service)

Dutkiewicz is know for his mazurka music, with his own compositions of mazurka that are unique for their improvisations.

His mazurka has the flavors of the countries he had visited – from Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia and America.

He has in fact played in more than 60 countries around the world, and is one of the most active Polish jazz musicians in the international scene.

Dutkiewicz was a finalist of the Thelonious Monk Competition in Washington, USA.

He was also the first Polish musician to have played a solo recital at MIDEM or the Marché International du Disque et de l’Edition Musicale in Cannes, France.

The mazurka dance in Poland, its music, and how there is a Philippine mazurka too – the Boholano Mazurka – which is considered a traditional Filipino dance — is just one of the connections and similarities between Poland and the Philippines, noted Poland’s chargé d’affaires in Manila, Jarosław Szczepankiewicz, in an earlier visit at the Eagle Broadcasting Corporation (EBC).

This “mazurka” connection between the Philippines and Poland is something that not many Filipinos or even Polish people know.

-Tansman’s “Les Iles Philippines” played at Dutkiewicz concert-

In his “ImproMazurka” concert at the CCP, Dutkiewicz also pays homage to this mazurka connection between Philippines and Poland, particularly when he played one of the compositions of Polish composer and virtuoso pianist Alexander Tansman, “Les Iles Philippines” which is one of Tansman’s musical works after travelling the world in the 1930s.

Tansman’s memories of his trip and stay in the Philippines were transformed into this composition, noted Poland’s charge’ d’affaires in Manila, Szczepankiewicz.

Dutkiewicz said he played Tansman’s music about the Philippines, and also did some improvisations to the composition. From the original short tune of “Les Iles Philippines” by Tansman of only two minutes, Dutikiewicz said he did some improvisations to lengthen it to six minutes.

“I am not a classical pianist, although I have a classical background, of course, education, but I normally play improvisation music, my own music, and sometimes music of other composers,” Dutkiewicz explained in an interview with Eagle News.

Dutkiewicz, who also leads the Artur Dutkiewicz Trio playing modern jazz, has taken part in dozens of renowned jazz and music festivals around the world.

In 2011, Dutkiewicz performed at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin during the World Culture Festival arranging and playing a piece for 30 pianos with pianists from around the world.

At present, he performs his own pieces – mazurkas – based on the rhythm of Polish folk music, and often uses the folk rhythms and melodies as starting points, adding improvisations to these pieces.

Dutkiewicz graduated from the Jazz Department of the Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland. In the composition and arrangement class, and received a diploma with distinction.

-Mixed elements-

“My music is mixed elements of jazz, elements of classical music, world music, elements of folk music, and elements of Polish songs and Christian songs, pop music. But it is connected with improvisations, with free improvisation which is made on the moment. This moment,” he said.

Emotions play a major factor in his improvisations in music, and these emotions can be felt in the music he played during his concert, “ImproMazurka,” at the CCP.

Dutkiewicz also played a couple of encores at the CCP.  The audience simply did not want his music to end.

“I think that music is a kind of therapy, kind of healing, open,” the Polish jazz pianist said.

“People are in a hurry, stressed after work,” he noted, and music can help.

“To remove that tiredness, bringing them to a relaxed mode,” he said.

And judging from his first concert in the Philippine at the CCP, Filipinos who got a taste of Dutkiewicz’s music would certainly be asking for more.

(Eagle News Service)