Igor Lipinski gives a lecture-recital at Northwestern University

On May 29, 2015, Igor Lipinski presented his doctoral lecture-recital at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois entitled: From Liszt to Victor Borge: A Legacy of Unique Piano Performances. The lecture was part of Lipinski’s doctoral thesis which investigates the performance practice behind some of the most remarkable piano recitals of the past. Since completing his doctoral residency in June of 2014, Lipinski works at Northwestern as an Instructor teaching courses in music appreciation and piano literature. Balancing his performance career with an academic lifestyle, Lipinski passed a series of comprehensive examination and achieved his doctoral candidacy status (all but dissertation) on June 5, 2015.

Igor Lipinski performs at South Dakota State University

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.

Igor Lipinski performs with the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra at the Oyster Harbors Club

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 performs with the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra

In early August, Igor Lipinski was a soloist with the Woodstock Mozart Festival Orchestra. Lipinski joined the chamber orchestra conducted by Istvan Jaray to perform Mozart’s keyboard masterpiece: Piano Concerto no. 20 in D-minor K. 466. The two performances took place at the legendary Woodstock Opera House – the sight of the great dramatic debut of Orson Welles and Paul Newman.

Igor Lipinski performs during the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition in Salt Lake City

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.

“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 performs during the National Independence Day celebrations at the Polish Consulate General in Chicago

Igor Lipinski gave a piano recital featuring compositions by Fryderyk Chopin and Ignacy Jan Paderewski during the National Independence Day celebrations at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland in Chicago. Lipinski performed at the Consulate on several occasions; among other celebrations, he was a part of the fundraising committee who assisted in renovating the vintage 1911 Steinway Grand Piano.

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.

[quote_center]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![/quote_center]

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. [quote_right]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.[/quote_right]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.

Gratuluję Jarkowi Gołębiowskiemu – pianiście, kompozytorowi, założycielowi i prezesowi działającej od 2004 roku Chicago Chopin Society, która zorganizowała koncert. Polecam stronę organizacji: chicagochopinsociety.com.

Wracając do domu myślałam o tym, jak bardzo kojące, krzepiące, rewitalizujące są takie przeżycia i jak bardzo ma rację Krystian Zimerman, który sprzeciwia się tezom, że da się zastąpić koncert nagraniem na dysku. Istotę muzyki stanowią emocje. Jak mówi Krystian Zimerman muzyka, to emocje zachodzące w czasie…Piękne jest to, że słuchając nagrania możemy przywołać wspomnienie tych emocji, ale najpierw musimy je przeżyć.

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.”