Igor Lipinski debuts Paderewski Piano Concerto at Symphony Center in Chicago

Igor Lipinski joins the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra as a soloist in performance of Paderewski’s Piano Concerto in A Minor at the Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall in Chicago. The gala concert celebrates the 155th anniversary of Ignace Jan Paderewski’s birth, honoring the legacy of one of the greatest pianists from the Golden Age of Piano, composer extraordinaire, philanthropist, political leader, diplomat, and the first Prime Minister of Poland. You can preview the music by listening to Lipinski’s NPR broadcast with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra back in 2008.

Paderewski took part in twenty concert tours in the United States. He performed 1500 concerts, 65 of which took place in Chicago. In 1892, he performed in the inaugural season of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Theodore Thomas, and in 1931 he played his own Piano Concerto in A Minor under the baton of Frederick Stock at Northwestern University. At the November concert in Symphony Center, Lipinski will be presenting the concerto on the same stage where Paderewski himself performed on numerous occasions.

The gala concert will also feature excerpts from Paderewski’s Symphony in B Minor, Elgar’s “Polonia” Overture, Chopin’s Grand Polonaise, and a preview of the orchestra’s upcoming opera production of Moniuszko’s The Haunted Manor at the Lyric Opera.

The concert is Sunday, November 8 at 3pm at the Symphony Center’s Orchestra Hall, 220 S Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois, 60604. For tickets, please visit cso.org or pasochicago.org

Igor Lipinski at the Lakes Area Music Festival in Minnesota

On August 2, 2015, Igor Lipinski performed a highly successful orchestral version of his music & magic show entitled “Symphonic Magic” with the Lakes Area Music Festival Orchestra. According to Brainerd Dispatch, Lipinski’s performance of “Symphonic Magic” brought out the largest audience since the beginning of the festival. The following interview was published by the Lakes Area Music Festival on July 31, 2015. Photo credit: David Boran.

Tell us about your background. Where are you from? How did you get into music? Where and how did you train?
I was born in Tarnow, a small town in southern Poland, sixty miles east of Krakow. I went to a performing arts high school. In my junior year, I won an audition for the role of a pianist in a theater play production at the University at Buffalo. Before the final dress rehearsal, I traveled to Rochester, New York and visited Eastman School of Music for the first time. I fell in love with the school and applied there the following year. I came to Eastman in 2005 and graduated with my BM and MM in Piano Performance in 2011. In 2012, I moved to Evanston, Illinois where I’m currently finishing a DMA in Piano Performance at Northwestern University. I’m writing my doctoral thesis on the performance practice of the most extraordinary pianists of the past: From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances.

How did you develop your programs? Where did the idea to combine magic and music come from?
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. Classical music is a bridge that connects with people on a very intimate level. Magic shares the same qualities, but differs in one principal aspect. Music is essentially an auditory experience while magic relies on the visual stimuli. I realized that a clever, visual magic can amplify audience’s appreciation of a complex musical work. In addition, magic brings back the much needed level of interaction between the performer and the audience so familiar to the nineteenth-century concert goer, but often forgotten in the twenty-first century concert hall. As a side effect, the new audio-visual collaboration becomes an engaging and memorable concert experience.

I owe interest in magic to my great-grandfather. He wasn’t a professional magician per se, but I vividly remember him entertaining the kids in our family with a few simple magic tricks. When he passed away, I inherited a book on card magic from his drawer. I was just six years old and that’s when it all started. I was essentially self-taught. There were only a few books written on magic in Polish so I had to learn English in order to learn the new techniques and meet other magicians. I traveled to magic conventions and performed at festivals throughout the Europe, from France to Czech Republic. When I was sixteen, I went to Dubai, United Arab Emirates to give sixty shows at the Dubai Summer Surprises Festival.

My heart, however, has always been with music. During my undergraduate years, along with completing my piano performance degree, I enrolled in an honors program with an ambitious senior project: I was finally going to combine my lifetime interest in magic with a piano recital. I worked with a theater director from the University of Rochester, I researched performance techniques of the nineteenth-century artists, conceived the script and premiered “An Evening of Music & Magic” in 2009. I sent the DVD of the performance to my friend Harold Weller, Conductor Laureate of Las Vegas Philharmonic, who in turn forwarded it to Teller of the Las Vegas magicians duo Penn & Teller. Teller, a one-of-a-kind performer and one of the most inspiring minds in magic, invited me to Vegas where we created a piece of magic based on a fugue by J.S. Bach that won the 2011 WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway.

What are some recent projects you are particularly proud of? Any upcoming shows you’re looking forward to?
I’m fortunate to be constantly working on new ideas for the show. I love collaborating with orchestras and have worked on wonderful concerts with an immensely creative conductor Jung-Ho Pak and the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra. In the upcoming season, I’m making my concerto debut at the Symphony Hall in Chicago and I’m taking my show to New York City and Hong Kong, among other places. I’m also working on an all-consuming book project based on my doctoral research.

Why music? What do you think makes classical music valuable in today’s world?
Two quotes come to mind. Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman once said that music is more than just an organized sound. Music is a flow of emotions organized in time. Musical work is an emotionally-charged story. By listening, learning and disseminating these stories with each other, music empowers us to connect, understand and strive to be better to one another. One of my mentors I have never met, Leonard Bernstein, said that “the best way to know a thing is to learn it in the context of another discipline.” Discovering the vast wealth of classical music can be a transformative experience to someone from outside of the music world: a medical student looking to become a virtuoso neurosurgeon, or a public school teacher searching for ways to inspire her students in the classroom. Finally, attending a live concert is a rare opportunity to focus, as simple as it sounds, on one activity, forgetting – if for a moment – the fast-paced hours of the day, disconnecting from the digital world and connecting with real people.

“Igor Lipinski: Magician at the Piano”

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.

“Pianist dazzles with Rhapsody”

The following article written by Leanne Heaton was published in the Butler Eagle on February 10, 2014.

Rhapsody on a Theme by Paganini by Sergei Rachmaninoff as performed by pianist Igor Lipinski was truly the star of the Celestial Fantasy concert of the Butler County Symphony Orchestra on Saturday night at the Butler Intermediate High School.

Rachmaninoff was a brilliant composer and pianist who was notorious for writing extremely difficult piano concerti as exemplified in the 1996 film “Shine,” which suggested that the strain of a performance of the “Rach 3” triggered the mental breakdown of an aspiring Australian pianist. Fortunately, Lipinski suffered no dire consequences from his masterful playing of the 24 variations. The nine-note theme was introduced by the trumpets and accented by the piano at the beginning of the first variation. Each subsequent variation was distinctly different in style and allowed Lipinski to showcase his dazzling versatility. He shifted minute by minute from crisp to lyrical to melancholy to grandiose with aplomb. One moment he played with frantic speed, lapsed into a languid theme, then a brisk march or a sweeping waltz and ended with a grandiose final movement that ended with a sudden sweet, almost humorous, pair of quiet notes. Variation 18 brought sighs of pleasure to the audience as they recognized the romantic theme that was used in the film “Somewhere in Time”.

As an encore, Lipinski offered Chopin’s “Nocturne in C Sharp” which was a favorite of Rachmaninoff. His control and interpretation were exquisite.

Igor Lipinski, Chopin i Fazioli – perfect match!

The following article written in Polish by Barbara Bilszta is a review of Igor Lipinski’s recital for the Chicago Chopin Society at the salon of Piano Forte Foundation that was published on October 25, 2013 in the Monitor Chicago.

Utalentowany pianista utwierdza nas w przekonaniu, że ma wiele do przekazania słuchaczom. Polska muzyka fortepianowa i Chopin, jakiego jeszcze nie słyszeliśmy – to, ujmując krótko, program pięknego recitalu zorganizowanego 19 października przez Chicago Chopin Society w salonie koncertowym firmy Fazioli w Chicago.

Miałam to szczęście, że byłam w gronie słuchaczy recitalu fortepianowego Igora Lipińskiego, który odbył się 19 października w salonie Fundacji PianoForte w Chicago. Zostaliśmy uraczeni prawdziwą artystyczną ucztą, na którą złożyło się wiele elementów: program, wykonanie, miejsce, czas. Z radością dzielę się z Państwem szczegółami tego wieczoru.

Igor Lipiński jest pianistą, który, mimo młodego wieku, dokonuje świadomych, przemyślanych wyborów, wynikających zarówno ze zdobytych w najlepszych uczelniach umiejętności i wiedzy, jak i z własnych poszukiwań artystycznych oraz doświadczeń wielu pokoleń wirtuozów fortepianu. Potrafi dzielić się swą wiedzą i robi to w sposób miły i bezpretensjonalny – bez cienia nonszalancji, nawiązując przy tym doskonały kontakt z publicznością – nie dla poklasku, ale dla ukierunkowania uwagi i ułatwienia aktywnego słuchania.

Gra Lipińskiego jest piękna: spontaniczna, ale nie bez kontroli, świeża, ale doskonale przygotowana, wrażliwa, naturalna, efektowna, a przy tym daleka od efekciarstwa, imponująca, lecz nie nastawiona na popis – po prostu: wspaniała!

Niespodzianką był program przygotowany przez pianistę. Pierwszą część koncertu wypełniły utwory polskich pianistów-kompozytorów, w jakimś stopniu związanych także z Ameryką. Utwory – trzeba podkreślić – niebanalne, ciekawe, warte prezentacji i poznania.

Usłyszeliśmy Ignacego Paderewskiego Nokturn op. 16 nr 4 B-dur w zestawieniu z Nokturnem op. 9 nr2 Es-dur Chopina, Teodora Leszetyckiego Arię op. 36 nr 4 B-dur, Leopolda Godowskiego„Alt Wien from Triakontameron”, nr.11, Zygmunta Stojowskiego„Chant D’Aour”, Ignacego  Friedmana „Mazurek g-moll” w zestawieniu z Mazurkami Chopina. Ta swoista lekcja uświadomiła nam, jak wiele jest mało znanych kart w historii muzyki polskiej i jak ważne jest poznanie i popularyzowanie dorobku naszych twórców. Igor Lipiński czyni to w sposób wzorowy.

Drugą część koncertu wypełniły 24 „Preludia” Fryderyka Chopina. Słyszeliśmy je kilka tygodni temu w wykonaniu tego samego pianisty podczas spektakli „Tańcząc Chopina” z udziałem grupy baletowej LA Dancers z Oregonu. Wówczas wykonywana na żywo muzyka musiała odpowiadać potrzebom baletu – Igor Lipiński dostosował tempa do potrzeb tancerzy, aby mogli wykonywać we właściwym czasie skoki, piruety, podniesienia itp. Podziwialiśmy wówczas nie tylko wspaniałą technikę w forsowanych niekiedy tempach, ale też elastyczność, umiejętność błyskawicznej adaptacji, zmiany interpretacji na inną, zawsze sensowną muzycznie.

Tym razem usłyszeliśmy te same „Preludia” w interpretacji własnej artysty. Pamiętać trzeba, że są one najczęściej wykonywane pojedynczo lub po kilka, przy czym stanowią wyzwanie każde z osobna – nawet te, które trwają zaledwie kilkadziesiąt sekund.  Grane jako cały cykl są bardzo ryzykowne i kuszące zarazem: mogą obnażyć niedoskonałości, ale też mogą potwierdzić artystyczne mistrzostwo pianisty. Igor Lipiński wykonał je jako muzyczną całość, z kilkoma niewielkimi, zaledwie kilkusekundowymi pauzami. W Preludiach różnorodność charakteru, budowy, czasu trwania, użytych środków przekłada się w najlepszych wykonaniach na bogactwo nastrojów, klimatów, ekspresji – i w rezultacie na całą gamę przeżyć słuchaczy: od radosnych po głęboko wzruszające, i poruszające w dramatycznych porywach. Taki właśnie metafizyczny seans podarował słuchaczom Igor Lipiński. Długa owacja na stojąco i bis, a potem gorąca wymiana wrażeń po koncercie świadczą o tym, że odczucia innych słuchaczy były podobne.

Jednym z głównych tematów pokoncertowych rozmów i dyskusji był fortepian Fazioli. Dodam, że choć słyszałam o marce, tego wieczoru miałam po raz pierwszy okazję sprawdzić na własne uszy krążące o niej legendy i przyznać muszę, że fortepian Fazioli brzmi zachwycająco. Skala możliwości tego instrumentu jest niezwykła: rozpiętość barw – od jasnych, słonecznych w górnych partiach, do ciemnych, aksamitnych, głębokich – w najniższych; klawiatura reagująca na muśnięcie palcem, wytrzymuje doskonale także gwałtowne lawiny dźwięków w potężnym fortissimo; selektywność, a jednocześnie wyrównane brzmienie – wszystko to daje pianiście nieograniczone możliwości. Potwierdził to Igor Lipiński po koncercie przyznając, że kilka razy zaryzykował ekstremalną dynamikę gry czując, jak instrument „rozumie” jego intencje – i za każdym razem fortepian sprawdził się. Oczywiście nie omieszkaliśmy obejrzeć egzemplarze Fazioli zgromadzone w obszernym salonie sprzedaży. Opowiem Państwu więcej za tydzień. Pasjonująca historia (…)

Igor Lipinski performs in South Florida

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.

“Gershwin tunes a lovely summer treat.”

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.

“From Buffalo To Broadway And Beyond, Igor Lipinski Remains A Magical, Musical Hit.”

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 nation’s most listened-to classical radio station, WQXR, during its first annual Classical Comedy Contest at the legendary Caroline’s comedy club on Broadway in New York City.

This unique addition to the classical musician’s 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 Caroline’s, 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 musician’s 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 Year’s Day concert, along with Chopin’s 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 master’s 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.

“Magic at his fingertips. Polish pianist Igor Lipinski has more than a gift for classical music up his sleeve.”

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.”

“Pianist, 24, brings real magic to the music.”

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.

Igor Lipinski wins the WQXR Classical Comedy Contest at Caroline’s on Broadway

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 applicants 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.

Press releases at BroadwayWorld.com and WQXR.org

Interview with Igor Lipinski in “Originals”

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 at the Geva Theatre Center in Rochester, New York

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.

Professor Caramia