On Sunday, October 19, Igor Lipinski gave a guest-artist recital at the Larson Memorial Concert Hall of the South Dakota State University in Brookings, SD. The recital was part of the Brookings Chamber Music Society Series. Lipinski performed in South Dakota several times in the past including his appearances at the 2010 and 2011 Dakota Sky International Piano Festival at the Belbas Theatre of the Washington Pavillion of Arts & Science in Sioux Falls.
After the sold out concert with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra on New Year’s Day in 2013, Igor Lipinski once again joined the ensemble under the direction of the brilliant Jung-Ho Pak to perform his unique presentation of piano, symphony orchestra and interactive magic. The concert, also featuring Broadway actress and singer Sarah Uriarte Berry, took place at the elite Oyster Harbors Club in Osterville, Massachusets on September 12, 2014. Lipinski’s performance was enthusiastically received with two standing ovations. To read more about the Cape Cod Symphony’s innovative programming, please visit capesymphony.org
Igor Lipinski performed his unique concert “An Evening of Music & Magic” at the 2014 Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition. The performance took place at the Black Box Theatre of the Rosa Wagner Performing Arts Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. Lipinski’s performance was a special one-night only event that was presented the day before the Gina Bachauer’s finals with the Utah Symphony.
The following article written by Jana Hanchett was published on March 13, 2014 at the Oregon Artswatch.
In his Northwest debut on Friday, pianist Igor Lipinski will bring with him a love of Polish composers, of theater and magic — and of surprises. “I don’t reveal the repertoire until the night of the concert,” he says. “I value the element of surprise. I’m always introducing pieces from the stage in fashion of Franz Liszt’s first piano recitals, especially his 1839 Monologues Pianistique in Rome.”
While audience members at Portland’s Polish Hall will be kept guessing what particular pieces by Chopin, Paderewski, Stojowski, Leschetizky, Godowsky, and Friedman he will play next, Lipinski indicates that all of them were composed for a salon-type atmosphere in which people gathered for drinks, conversation, and pleasantries.
“As musicians we sometimes forget about the most important aspect of performing in front of people: making a meaningful, lasting connection with the audience, creating a sense of wonder,” Lipinski explains. “Leonard Bernstein said that the best way to ‘know’ a thing is in the context of another discipline. My piano career, my background in theatre, and my lifetime interest in magic performance are all connected. I’m inspired by the sheer human interaction that the world of theatre provides, hence — I hope — this makes my own performances more accessible and breaks that fourth wall of superficiality so often attached to the piano recital format of recent years.”
The evening would not be complete without some actual Lipinski magic. Along with majoring in piano performance at New York’s Eastman School of Music, Lipinski also enrolled in an innovative, one-of-a-kind honors program that culminated in a senior project: incorporating magic into a classical music concert.
I wanted to tell a story hidden behind a piece of music with a visual aspect of an interactive magic,” he recalls. “It does sound crazy, I agree. Over two years, I participated in a series of independent studies with a theatre director, I researched performance techniques of the 19th century artists, conceived the script for the 75-minute concert and premiered it to the sold-out house. The DVD of the performance was forwarded to Teller (of the brilliant Las Vegas magician duo Penn & Teller) by my friend Hal Weller, conductor emeritus of Las Vegas Philharmonic. Teller was kind enough to call me and invite me to Las Vegas. It turned out that he loves Bach, so we worked together on a routine that involves a Bach fugue, a deck of cards and a random spectator from the audience. It won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. You may even see it on Friday at the Polish Hall.” But you never know; Lipinski likes surprises.
The Tampa Bay Times: Igor Lipinski has two recitals that promise to be different, because along with playing music, he does magic tricks. The pianist from Poland is studying for a doctorate at Northwestern University. Lipinski, who announces his selections from the stage and likes to get the audience involved, performs at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Petersburg College’s Music Center. On Sunday, he plays at 4 p.m. at Barness Recital Hall on the University of South Florida Tampa campus.
This following article written by Garaud MacTaggart was published in the Buffalo News on July 22, 2012.
The BPO Summer Nights series showcases the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra playing short, well-crafted programs of symphonic bonbons combined with special pre- and apres-concert offerings; it’s a good way to spend the first part of a Friday evening (…) All of this led up to Lipinski’s take on the solo part in Gershwin’s most popular work, “Rhapsody in Blue.” From the first smear of a clarinet wailing, floating over the brass section and leading into the piano’s brief opening flurry of notes, the excitement packed into the score was made palpable. Thrilling as the music was, there were still parts where the piano role was obscured, albeit briefly, by the orchestra. The bottom line for the performance was the standing ovation that Lipinski got for his playing. It all added up to an encore, a solo rendering of Gershwin’s brief Prelude no. 3, a scripted flurry of notes that threatens to bust the knuckles of lesser pianists, but not Lipinski. The pianist, a talented magician/musician hybrid, made an appearance at the post-concert program, a swing dance-oriented affair, to perform his other art. It involved a deck of cards, a person from the audience who was dragooned to assist Lipinski, and the pianist playing a quick Bach fugue. You had to be there.
The following article written by Kathleen Wiater was published in the AmPol Eagle.
Igor Lipinski is moving on. He’s headed for Northwestern University in Chicago to pursue a doctorate of musical arts in piano performance. He will do so, however, having been chosen the next Victor Borge by the nations most listened-to classical radio station, WQXR, during its first annual Classical Comedy Contest at the legendary Carolines comedy club on Broadway in New York City.
This unique addition to the classical musicians resume is a result of Lipinski vying for the prestigious title along with 78 other hopefuls from around the world. The artists were required to submit videos of their acts, combining classical music with comedy or other forms of performing arts. WQXR chose nine finalists to perform at Carolines, and Lipinski landed a spot on stage to be judged by greats from the classical music world Peter Schickele of PDQ Bach fame and Metropolitan Opera soprano Deborah Voigt among them and HBO comedian Robert Klein.
Lipinski performed a routine that explained the complexity of music through the immediacy of magic: a piece I developed together with my mentor Teller, the silent half of magicians Penn & Teller. As WNYers who have seen Lipinski perform can imagine, he was a hit and won the contest.
Teller describes Lipinski this way: Igor is an original. He thrills you on the piano. He mystifies you with magical illusions. And he keeps you laughing with his impudent, charismatic charm.
The talented Victor Borge would no doubt have approved the judges selection, and Lipinski was touched to learn that the late musicians family was sitting in the first row during the live final performances.
The event was later broadcast on PBS and attracted attention from the music world. Lipinski will recreate his performance for a special New Years Day concert, along with Chopins Piano Concerto, at the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra.
While Lipinski prepares for this event and a series of his own concerts this coming season in California, Massachusetts and Florida, he remembers fondly a concert last summer in Poland that was his first there in over six years. Held at the Paderewski Manor House, the venue of his high school graduation recital just before he left for the U.S., the concert sold out: all his friends and family attended and it was, he says, A truly joyful celebration.
Lipinski plans to be back in Poland to perform music, magic and symphony orchestra programs in the next couple of years and is excited about playing with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra this Friday.
Next, though, is the move to Northwestern. Lipinski would like to become a university professor, having discovered a passion for teaching while working on his masters degree at the Eastman School of Music.
He said that while visiting Chicago he made some wonderful friendships in the Polish community and he fell in love with the arts, culture and fantastic opportunities for young professionals.
Known for its excellent music programs, Northwestern was the only school to which Lipinski applied and he negotiated the competitive waters well, landing one of only three spots.
How does Lipinski sum up the past year and his next goals?
I couldn’t be happier, he says.
This following interview written by the classical music critic Mary Kunz Goldman was published in the Buffalo News on May 8, 2011.
As a pianist on the cusp of his career, Igor Lipinski holds a special card in his hands. His performances are magical. Literally.
Lipinski, 24, not only has talent, he has it in spades. And hearts, clubs and diamonds. Let him explain: “The last movement of the Bach Toccata in E Minor is a fugue. I play the piece — it’s three minutes long, a fast, energetic, wonderful, exciting piece. Then I explain it,” he says. Ah, the method to his magic. Lipinski continues: “I explain how the main subject consists of 64 notes, huge complexity. And I tell them in order to keep memory fresh, pianists must discipline themselves to keep track of all these things at once.” Presto! A deck of cards appears. A volunteer shuffles the deck and for 15 seconds — counted down by metronome — Lipinski studies the cards. When time is up, he starts playing the fugue, while calling out every card, in order, as the volunteer holds them up for all to see. Lipinski laughs, describing the trick. “I call it, ‘Fantasy on the Mind of a Virtuoso.'” Music and magic have always been bedfellows — strange bedfellows, but bedfellows all the same. Liszt and Paganini, great virtuosi of the 19th century, were sometimes seen as sorcerers. The mysterious art of hypnosis inspired Rachmaninoff to write his Second Piano Concerto. Mike Jones, the virtuosic jazz pianist from South Buffalo, has built a career in Las Vegas playing for hip, tell-almost-all magicians Penn and Teller. Lipinski, a Penn and Teller fan, has also performed with them. He has met Jones, and admires him. “I think he’s marvelous,” Lipinski says. Robert Merlin Davis, a Buffalo jazz pianist who moonlights entertaining as a wizard, often sees musicians at magic conventions. The two arts, he muses, are kin. “Ideally, in both magic and music, the technique should serve the expression of moving somebody,” he says. But in at least one way, Lipinski has made history. With a big poof! Rochester’s Eastman School of Music has created, under the heading of Musical Arts, a dual degree in music and magic — just for him. “I must say, humbly, that this is the first time in the U.S. — as far as I know — that anyone majored in both music and magic at a college-level institution,” Lipinski says. An intense Google search suggests he is right. Mary Ann Rokitka, a Polish Cultural Foundation board member who helped arrange the concert, raves about his act. “The way he does it, it’s really mystical,” Rokitka says. “It’s sort of transcendental.”
From boyhood to Buffalo
Were time travel possible, Lipinski would head for Paris in the 1860s. “On one street you might find Franz Liszt playing one of his innovative piano pieces,” he says. “On the other side you would see Robert-Houdin [from whom Harry Houdini took his name], the father of modern magic.” But because he has not yet cracked the secrets of time travel, Lipinski has found his destiny in a less likely location. Buffalo. Seven years ago, with long, wavy hair tumbling over his shoulders, he starred at UB in “Paderewski’s Children,” a play by UB professor Kazimierz Braun in which Paderewski was played by a marionette. In 2008, he performed a concerto by Paderewski with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and Music Director JoAnn Falletta. Buffalo was the reason Lipinski left his small town in Poland and came to America. It was a move he never saw coming. As a boy, he was mesmerized by both music and magic. “My great-grandfather was not a magician per se, but he would perform. He would come to our house and entertain the children, including me,” he says in his atmospheric Polish accent. “Now I am not lying. A year before he died, he brought a small accordion to my house. We didn’t have an instrument. I must have been 5 or so. I always say he brought music and magic into my life.” He pauses. “I got a book of card magic from his house when he passed away. I was obsessed with magic. I would practice 12 hours a day. When I look at it now, this is the way to go about everything. The passion.” At 12, Lipinski became the youngest magician in Poland’s magicians association. That same year, he won a piano prize that included a stay at a chateau once owned by Paderewski.
‘Hi, my name is Igor’
When he was 17, fate stepped in. “I was in a class in Tarnow, my hometown,” he says. “It’s a small town. The music high school is across the street from a theater. One of my friends came to me and said, ‘Igor, there is a theater director from America directing a play. He is looking for a pianist for a play about Paderewski.’ I’m like ‘Whoa.’ I already had the Paderewski connections. And I had the haircut.” Lipinski crossed the street and introduced himself to the American — who, it turned out, was Kazimierz Braun. “I told him, ‘Hi, my name is Igor. I’m a pianist,'” Lipinski says. Soon he was in Buffalo. And the wheel of fortune turned again. Between rehearsals, friends took him to visit the Eastman School, where Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki was giving a master class. Lipinski met Douglas Humpherys, who became his teacher. “Buffalo started my American connection,” Lipinski marvels. “I had never thought about coming to America.” Lipinski’s performances in Buffalo have won acclaim. His dreamy playing of Chopin in “Paderewski’s Children” earned praise in The Buffalo News. When he played Paderewski with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, News critic emeritus Herman Trotter called him “marvelously assured.” Today’s performance will feature the music of another Igor — Stravinsky — as well as the fevered creations of Dmitri Shostakovich, Argentinian tango master Astor Piazzolla and the mystical 19th century Russian composer Alexander Scriabin. “The audience will want an encore,” Lipinski promises. “I’ll have something up my sleeve.” And what happens after that? What do the cards hold for Lipinski’s future? With his college days drawing to a close, he is ready to make his mark in music and magic. “I’m on an F-1 student visa,” he says. “I’ve applied for a year’s extension that will enable me to stay in the United States. I’ll be self-employed in the arts. It will be a wonderful time of exploration. “I want to see what real life looks like, the real world.”
The following article written by the classical music critic Mary Kunz Goldman was published in the Buffalo News on May 9, 2011.
The pianist Igor Lipinski, 24, is just about through with his graduate studies at the Eastman School of Music, and he is going to be crafting a career from music and magic. If the concert he gave Sunday at the Montante Center is any indication, he has the potential to become something unique.
Lipinski presented a taut program that was part music and part magic. It was maybe an hour and a quarter long, with no intermission. With all the talk these days about marketing and packaging music differently, he should be admired for these innovations.
He began with what appears to be his signature piece, “Fantasy on the Mind of a Virtuoso.” He played the concluding fugue from Bach’s Toccata in E minor. This is a fascinating piece, and you don’t hear it much. And this was fine, expansive playing. Lipinski’s hands were perfectly in sync, and the music had a churning momentum. The articulation was good. The piece was shaped with imagination to maximize the excitement. When it ended — it was a great ending — Lipinski launched his trick. He chose a guy from the audience and had him shuffle a deck of cards and then set a metronome to count 15 seconds. They really should have had an ancient, flea-market metronome, but a modern model did the trick. While it ticked, Lipinski memorized the sequence of the cards. Then he played the Bach again while calling all the cards in order. This was impressive. If you play the piano, you know that to say anything while you are playing requires a certain skill. That Lipinski could recite this sequence of 52 cards with the Bach bubbling away merrily the whole time, it was mind-boggling. He even gave the music witty twists. Bravo! Lipinski is a fine pianist, and the pieces he played after that, he played with polish and verve. The repertoire was, like the opening Bach, off the beaten track, Siloti’s arrangement of a Bach prelude was in itself its own kind of magic, as Lipinski said it would be. The right-hand figures had a hypnotic effect. And as he explained afterward, the lower melody was hidden until he brought it out. Stravinsky’s Tango for Piano, beginning with rolled, rumbling chords, was another highlight. You don’t hear this piece nearly enough. Lipinski followed it by his own arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s “Oblivion.” In Shostakovich’s Prelude and Fugue in E Minor, he played up the music’s shifting colors. He paced it well. He has good showmanship instincts. As a pianist, Lipinski is a professional. As a magician, he is a very talented amateur. As far as the magic went, Lipinski’s Polish accent does not hurt. Neither did his skinny tie.
On November 11, 2011 in New York City, Igor Lipinski was announced the winner of the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway. The contest was a partnership between the legendary comedy club and the nation’s most listened-to classical radio station aiming to find the next Victor Borge of classical music. Finalists were chosen from 79 hopefuls from around the world to perform live in front of the world-class line-up of judges: Metropolitan Opera Star Deborah Voight, HBO Comedian Robert Klein, Peter Schickele of PDQ Bach fame and Charles Hamlen of IMG Artists. The contest was presented as part of the New York Comedy Festival.
The following interview by Jonathan Everitt appeared on his blog “Originals” featurings profiles of creative professionals from Upstate New York.
It was serendipity, he says, that brought him to Rochester.
“Or, if you wish, a chain of lucky events,” adds the pianist from Poland.
Eight years ago, at his high school in Tarnow, Igor heard that a theatrical director from the University at Buffalo was at a theatre across the street, looking for a pianist to play a role of a young musician in his upcoming play, Paderewski’s Children. The play was about a Polish composer.
Igor introduced himself to the director, played the piano for him, and was cast in the role. He arrived in Buffalo in February 2004 to prepare for the play.
“A day before the dress rehearsal, a friend of mine took me to Rochester to visit Eastman School of Music,” Igor says.
While visiting Eastman, he met the chair of the school’s piano department, who encouraged him to join the school’s summer piano festival.
So, Igor came back to the U.S. for the entire summer. The following year, he auditioned and was accepted at Eastman as a piano performance major.
“The rest is the history,” Igor says. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in 2009 and finished his Master’s Degree this year.
His studies have helped him fine-tune another passion, too: Igor is an accomplished magician who’s been entertaining audiences since his teen years.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I was fascinated by magic,” Igor says.
“I actually learned English in order to read books about magic since there wasn’t enough literature written in Polish.”
For his Senior Project at Eastman, Igor even combined music and magic. And after a successful premiere in 2009, he took his one-man show on the road. During each performance, he invites audience members to the stage when he performs, incorporating sleight-of-hand card tricks into his concert.
“You may hear tango music or Liszt or Chopin mingled with illusions, everything to provide not only auditory, but also visually memorable experience for my audience,” Igor says.
He recently premiered the show in his native Poland, his first performance there in five years. He hopes to go back for more this fall.
As if he didn’t have enough to write home about in his time living in the U.S., Igor has also recorded an album of original work, titled Letters. Each is sweet, often sad, and all are filled with ineffable stories.
“(The album) literally features letters I have never sent,” Igor says.
“I wrote my first ‘musical letter’ when I was still in high school. The music is usually a reaction to a special event or an important person I have met in my life.”
Letters with a signature you can hear. Now that’s magic.
Igor Lipinski performed his “Evening of Music & Magic” at the Paderewski’s Summer Concert Hall of the Paderewski Center in Kasna Dolna, Poland on July 22, 2011. Lipinski’s first appearance in Poland in over 5 years has gathered rave reviews and enthusiastic reception of the audience who packed the hall and asked Lipinski to play three encores.
Igor Lipinski produced and performed a two-week run at the Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York. Tony Caramia, Professor of Piano at the Eastman School of Music was present at one of Lipinski’s performances and wrote this kind and enthusiastic review:
I want to tell you all just how impressive his show is, in so many ways. His playing, of course, is just so effortless, effective, evocative, sensitive, virtuosic, and technically brilliant. He somehow manages to make GEVA clunker of a grand sound lyrical and lush, with colors that most pianists don’t possess on a decent instrument. It must be part of his magic!
His talk to the audience in between “tricks” and piano pieces flows so effortlessly. The use of language is personal, direct, and captivating; with well-chosen images, as well as directives to the audience to imagine and follow his journey; he creates an event of joy, discovery, and, yes, magic.
And there is the magic itself: creative, mesmerizing, thrilling, and yet never simplistic or intimidating. Needless to say, the tricks generate a “How’d he do that?!” and that’s part of the fun. But what I loved even more was the interaction between music and magic. For all of us at Eastman, music is magical, in spite of our endeavors to study its history, theory, etc. But fundamentally, music is magic in sound and silence, and Igor’s show highlights that definition perfectly.
I hope each and every one of you can experience this unique and personal offering: Igor deserves such an audience, and you deserve to witness this amazing exhibition of talent, creativity and inspiration.
Along with completing his piano performance degree at the Eastman School of Music, Lipinski enrolled in an innovative, one-of-a-kind honors program: Musical Arts Major. Together with the faculty committee, Lipinski crafted an interdisciplinary curriculum that culminated in a unique senior project: incorporating his lifetime interest in magic performance to the classical music concert. Lipinski participated in a series of independent studies with a theatre director, researched performance techniques of the 19th century artists, conceived the script for the 75-minute concert and premiered the show to the sold-out house. The MUA committee awarded Lipinski’s performance the Musical Arts Major with Excellence. The senior performance took place at Eastman’s recording studios on Wednesday, April 29, 2009.