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Free piano recital at St. Joes

Leszek Bartkiewicz practices for his Sept. 30 recital. Photo by L. Farrell (click for larger version)
September 19, 2012 - Wanna hear a joyful noise? Wanna get your monthly culture fix? Then make your way out to St. Joseph's at 4:00 p.m. on September 30 when Leszek Bartkiewicz will perform piano compositions by Scarlatti, Liszt, Bartok, Tchaikovsky, Gershwin, and Chopin. In the space of one hour, listeners will be swept through more than three hundred years of musical history.

Bartkiewicz, a Polish native who emigrated to the United States in 1981, has performed similar recitals for the Lake Orion community over the years. The first was held in 2008, and then another to mark Chopin's 200th birthday in 2010; this year marks the third such recital Bartkiewicz has brought to Lake Orion.

As Director of Music at St. Joseph Church (715 N. Lapeer Rd), Bartkiewicz knows that music can be a "great source of happiness and consolation through the difficult times that we all experience. Music has the ability to develop a completely different dimension to our lives that we might not even be aware exists."

For these reasons, "I don't want this to be just for St. Joseph's Church," he insisted. The recital is designed for any lover of music in the area, and is available for free to everyone in the larger community. "There are pieces I believe people will love, and then there are pieces they will be puzzled by"

Bartkiewicz said the program is "very eclectic . . . (and) in selecting it, I was just basically guided by . . . what I felt like playing or learning."

The recital will begin with a light and cheerful three minute Scarlatti piano sonata. "The Benediction of God in Solitude," composed by Franz Lizst, follows the opener, and is a piece that has Bartkiewicz particularly excited. This composition is a meditation of sorts and is music that highlights the introspective and spiritual mood of much of Lizst's later output.

Excerpts from Bella Bartok's "Out of Doors" will succeed "Benediction." Coming right after Lizst's searching and heavenly harmonies, Bartkiewicz expects listeners will be challenged by the change-up. Bartok will "certainly be a big contrast. I'll just leave it at that," he said with a smile.

Arrangements of original themes by George Gershwin come near the end of the recital, and should be familiar to most listeners, as will the Chopin that rounds out the afternoon's performance.

A seasoned and world-renowned pianist, Bartkiewicz's main goal for this recital is, simply stated, to "captivate the listener." After a lifetime devoted to music, his objective is to move the audience. "If I can reach a listener who claims she or he is not necessarily a classical music lover and get them interested, that is a great victory and that will be the measure of success."

Admission is free and donations will be graciously accepted at the door. "Come just as you are and spend a little over an hour. I'll dress up, you don't have to. Be open to it."

The piano recital begins at 4:00 p.m. on September 30. For more information, visit

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