Why Here?

Falling off the stage, the words and the music of the orchestra moved, upset, provoked, and forced us to think...It made me want to talk about music very differently than before. Except, are we ready?

- Agnieszka Malatyńska-Stankiewicz
  • Photo by Natalia Kabanow

  • Photo by Natalia Kabanow

  • Photo by Natalia Kabanow

Philadelphia is an ideal environment for the first sharing of CHOPIN WITHOUT PIANO with an international audience. The piece demands engagement from a variety of local artists, performing arts organizations, and their communities to join together in new ways to expand beyond the traditional boundaries of theatrical and musical performance. The outstanding musicians of The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, here for the first time share the stage with the accomplished actress Barbara Wysocka and visiting conductor Bassem Akiki, in addition to first appearing in Swarthmore's Lang Concert Hall and on Philadelphia's FringeArts stage. The synergy of talent and artistic commitment found in this collaboration demonstrates Philadelphia's leading role in promoting dynamic performing arts opportunities for a vibrant range of audiences.

Who's Involved

  • MICHAŁ ZADARA - DIRECTOR, TEXT: Michał Zadara was born in 1976 in Warsaw, is a graduate of an international high school in Vienna, the department of political science at Swarthmore College, and the department of directing of the Krakow Theatre Academy. Since graduation he has created about fifty performances, installations, and independent films in Poland, Austria, Germany, Israel and the USA. In 2013, he founded CENTRALA so that, together with a team of creative, independent artists and administrators, he could create works beyond the institutional norm.

  • BARBARA WYSOCKA - PERFORMER, TEXT: Born in 1978 in Warsaw, she graduated from the Acting and Directing Department of the Theatre Academy in Krakow. Previously, she studied violin at the Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany. She has performed at the National Old Theatre, the Polish Theatre in Bydgoszcz, Scena STU Theatre in Krakow, Wrocław Contemporary Theatre, Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, and, in Berlin, the Maxim Gorki Theater and Schaubühne am Lehniner Platz. She starred in the films: "Am Ende kommen Touristen", "Nachmieter", "Polnische Ostern" and "Fremde Farben". She directed the National Stary Theatre in Krakow and at the Contemporary Theatre in Wroclaw, Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Wroclaw Theatres and Polish in Bydgoszcz, at the National Theatre in Warsaw and at the Kammerspiele in Munich. She won the "Polityka Passport" in 2009. In CENTRALA, she has performed in "CHOPIN WITHOUT PIANO", "All Were Turned away," "10 Political Songs", "Szapocznikow. Weightlessness / No Gravity","A Primer","Pupil","Adventure Warsaw". She is also the author of the screenplay and director of the play "Szapocznikow ...".

  • BASSEM AKIKI - CONDUCTOR: Lebanese-Polish conductor, Bassem Akiki now is established in Warsaw. As guest conductor he performs with many orchestras and music theaters. Bassem Akiki began his musical studies at the High National Conservatory of Music in Beirut (Lebanon). Simultaneously he studied philosophy in the Lebanese University in Beirut (Lebanon). Bassem Akiki received his master degrees in choir conducting at the Academy of Music in Cracow (2008) and in symphony, master degree in opera conducting at the Academy of Music in Wroclaw (2010) with excellent results. His philosophical studies led him to analyze the relation between philosophy and music – after his master thesis concerning Wagner – Nietzsche – Strauss, he wrote his PhD thesis (F. Chopin University in Warsaw 2013) about P. Eötvös’ Angels in America – anthropocentrism and theocentricism in the 21th century music, and has conducted the polish premiere of this piece during the third Festival of Contemporary Opera in September-October 2012 in Wrocław (Poland).

  • CHAMBER ORCHESTRA OF PHILADELPHIA - MUSIC: A founding resident company of The Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia is a 33-member professional ensemble led by Music Director Dirk Brossé, a conductor and composer of international acclaim. For half a century, The Chamber Orchestra has earned a sterling reputation around the world for distinguished performances of repertoire from the Baroque period through the 21st century. The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia has commissioned and premiered over 70 new works and has performed with such internationally acclaimed artists as Plácido Domingo, Luciano Pavarotti, Mstislav Rostropovich, Issac Stern, Rudolf Serkin, The Eroica Trio, Jean-Pierre Rampal Julie Andrews, Bernadette Peters, Elvis Costello, and Sylvia McNair, among others. This fall, Chamber Orchestra completed a successful national tour with Branford Marsalis. The Chamber Orchestra performs from September through May in the Kimmel Center's intimate, 600-seat Perelman Theater and performs one concert program each year in the Kimmel Center's Verizon Hall as well as selected concert programs at Lincoln University. The Chamber Orchestra also performs with other musical ensembles throughout the region and travels regularly across the United States, Europe, and Israel. For information, please contact the Chamber Orchestra at 215.545.5451 or visit chamberorchestra.org.

Funding & Producing Partners

  • PEW CENTER FOR ARTS & HERITAGE: The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (the Center) is a multidisciplinary grantmaker and hub for knowledge-sharing, dedicated to fostering a vibrant cultural community in Greater Philadelphia. The Center invests in ambitious, imaginative projects that showcase the region’s cultural vitality and enhance public life, and we engage in an ongoing exchange of ideas concerning artistic and interpretive practice with a broad network of cultural practitioners and leaders.

  • ADAM MICKIEWICZ INSTITUTE: The Adam Mickiewicz Institute constantly lend credence to Poland as an irreplaceable link in the international circulation of ideas, values ​​and cultural goods of the highest order. They advocate Poland abroad, and actively participate in cultural events in the world such as festivals, fairs or exhibitions; create and update an integrated system of information about Polish culture and disseminate this information - in different languages ​​- through global internet resources; create and collect information and promotional material (multilingual publications, illustrations, recordings, films, literary programs, exhibition projects) and provide these materials to interested persons and institutions in Poland and abroad; prepare for foreign culture professionals, researchers and specialists from various fields necessary materials and information about Poland and Polish culture; organize study visits of international curators, promoters, selectors, critics and artists.

  • FRINGEARTS: FringeArts is Philadelphia’s home for contemporary performance, presenting progressive, world-class art that stretches the imagination and boldly defies expectation. As the city’s lead experimenter in the arts, FringeArts exposes audiences to unpredictable dance, theater and music performances by accomplished and emerging innovators who are pushing the boundaries of art-making and redefining the artistic landscape worldwide. Year-round programming is presented at FringeArts’ state-of-the-art center on the Delaware River Waterfront—a renovated historic building that also houses a restaurant and beer garden. Each September, the organization presents the annual Fringe Festival, a 17-day celebration that fills the city’s neighborhoods with more than 1,000 curated and independently produced contemporary performances. As a catalyst for cultural and community development, and a destination that brings artists and audiences together, FringeArts amplifies the vibrancy of the city’s arts community and enriches the lives of those who reside, work and visit here.

  • William J. COOPER FOUNDATION: The William J. Cooper Foundation provides a varied program of lectures, performances and exhibitions which enriches the academic work of Swarthmore College. The Foundation was established by William J. Cooper who specified that the income from his gift should be used 'in bringing to the college eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions and business.'

Creative Team

  • Allen Kuharski

    Swarthmore College Department of Theater

  • Barbara Milewski

    Swarthmore College Department of Music and Dance

  • Andrew Hauze

    Swarthmore College Department of Music and Dance

  • Nick Stuccio


  • Janelle McCoy

    Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia

  • Matt Saunders

    Swarthmore College Department of Theater


  • Joshua McLucas

    Web Development

  • Elliott Nguyen

    Web Content

  • Doug Goudy

    Program Booklet Design

Management, Administration, and Marketing

  • Anna Drozdowski

    Project Manager

  • Edward McNally

    Marketing and PR, Above the Fold

  • Amanda Jensen

    Production Manager & Technical Director

  • Jenny Honig

    Concert Manager Swarthmore College

  • Student Support

Special Thanks

  • ArtsEmerson
  • Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia
  • FringeArts Production Staff
  • FringeArts Marketing & Communications Departments

    Dan Comly & Hallie Martenson

  • Lang Music Hall Production Staff
  • Lang Performing Arts Center Staff

    James Murphy

  • Swarthmore College Communications Office

    Alisa Giardinelli, Nancy Nicely

  • Swarthmore College Theater, Music, and Dance Departments

    Laila Swanson

  • Swarthmore College President's Office

    Mauriece Eldridge

  • Swarthmore College Cooper Series Administration
  • Swarthmore College Business Office

    Denise Risoli, Christie Ashton,

  • Swarthmore College Development Office

    Tania Johnson, Don Cooney

  • Swarthmore College Grounds Staff

    Stu Hain

  • Scott Arboretum

    Claire Sawyer

  • Jere Edmunds
  • Carol Inman
  • B & N Piano Movers
  • Piano Donations by Thomas Walther, Sefi Knoble and Matt Birney
  • Christ Church Neighborhood House
  • Independence National Historical Park
  • Northern Liberties Neighbors Association
  • People's Emergency Center

CHOPIN WITHOUT PIANO tells more than one story. It tells the story of a young composer who writes two piano concertos months before he leaves Poland forever, furious at the political reality of his situation, suffering the loss of both his family and his country. It tells the story of a generation - our generation - who can feel his anguish and his uncertainty as to what will come next. Where does Chopin stand, alone in Paris? Where do we stand, in this uncertain global community? Where are we headed? And how will we know?

A Time of Uprisings, Occupations and Revolution

Lenin Statue Nowa Huta The Death of Sardanapalus - Delacroix Arab Spring Liberty Leading the People - Delacroix Lamartine in front of the Town Hall of Paris rejects the red flag on 25 February 1848 - Philippoteaux The Raft of the Medusa - Géricault Berlin Wall Coming Down Occupy Wall Street Ossian Receiving the Ghosts of the French Heroes - Girodet Tianenmen Square Protest

Staging Chopin's concertos is a fraught undertaking, a tightrope walk, a dare. The performance must balance between history and the present, between music and meaning without the guiding hand of a text. When the "pure" music of Chopin is violated by substituting words and drama for musical notes, do we experience emotions of the past or their corrupted fragments? Without contemporary engagement, tradition is bound to lose its power in our lives. CENTRALA's assault on the music of Chopin is only one of many modernizations that work to reanimate and preserve the composer and his legacy.

This Is Chopin

Rock Loves Chopin Disney-style Chopin Impromptu Chopin a la Moog Barbara Wysocka Disney-style Chopin Chopin Vodka Hoodie Chopin Chopin: Desire For Love
Pew Center for Arts and Heritage Culture.PL Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia CENTRALA FringeArts Swarthmore College