ST. GEORGE – Dixie State College’s Cultural Arts Department is hosting a special scholarship benefit piano ensemble, featuring renowned pianist Robert Nakea, on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 26 and 27, at 7:30 p.m. The recital will be held in the DSC Eccles Fine Arts Center Concert Hall.
General admission tickets are $10 for the public, $5 for students, on sale now.
All proceeds will go to benefit the creation of a new Lidia Zakrzewski-Fryderyk Chopin endowed scholarship at DSC.
In addition to the two-night concert engagement, Nakea will host a special free Master Class on Saturday morning, Aug. 27 at 10 a.m. in the concert hall.
Nakea’s Friday performance will include the Four Ballades, Sonata No. 3 by Chopin, while his Saturday performance will feature Chopin’s Twenty-four Etudes.
A Native Hawaiian, Nakea started studying the piano at age six and by age 15 he debuted as a soloist with the Honolulu Symphony. Over his career, he has received recognition both in the United States and abroad for his playing. A two-time laureate of the Gina Bachauer International Piano Competition (1988 and 1994), Nakea placed first in the Joseph Fisch International Piano Competition in 1986, and third in the National Beethoven Sonata Competition (1991). He has toured extensively throughout Europe, performing in such venues as the Bergen International Music Festival, Llangollen Festival of Wales, and Operafestival di Roma.
Nakea graduated from Brigham Young University with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in piano performance. He currently teaches in Urbana-Champaign, Ill.
The scholarship endowment is named in honor of Lidia Zakrzewski, a native of Warsaw, Poland. She resided in Hurricane, Utah until she passed away last March. As the daughter of an accomplished violinist, Zakrzewski received a musical education at the Warsaw Conservatory, studying piano with Margerita Trombini-Kazuro, a pupil of Sgambatti who studied with Franz Liszt. She joined the Polish Resistance, serving as a courier, during the Nazi occupation of Poland. While the war was raging, she continued her piano studies at the Warsaw Conservatory, which was forced to go “underground” into a textile factory to avoid being shut down and having its teachers executed by the Nazis. At the same time, she also pursued a medical degree in the underground University of Warsaw in the face of possible imprisonment or execution.
Zakrzewski’s remarkable courage was evident in her dedication to music despite the seemingly insurmountable circumstances of the time. She often recounted when, during the Warsaw Insurrection, she stumbled upon an upright piano that had been miraculously spared from damage. It was being used as a barricade to protect a large hole in the wall of a bombed-out school. Tired of the war, and hungry to hear music of her beloved Chopin, (who had been outlawed by the Nazis), Zakrzewski dusted off the instrument and played Chopin’s Revolutionary Etude. German bullets pummeled the back of the piano through the damaged wall, fired upon by soldiers stationed outside the ruins. Protected by the thick wooden frame of the instrument, the young girl continued her anthem of defiance through Chopin’s impassioned strains. Halfway through the Etude the firing ceased. Perhaps the soldiers were coming to take her away, or preparing to shoot her on the spot. Instead she heard them clapping, crying “Noch einmal! Noch einmal!” (“Encore! Encore!”). The power of music had succeeded in stopping the war for a few moments.
After the war, and the devastation of Warsaw, Zakrzewski took up residence in London, England, where she received a full scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music. She married a Polish businessman in London, with whom she shared four sons. The family emigrated to the United States. She was obliged to raise her sons as a single mother, after her divorce. Years later, through the conversion of one of her sons, she joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and eventually moved to Utah where she taught Polish and religion classes at Brigham Young University.
Zakrzewski served three Polish-speaking missions for the LDS church, and was an avid family historian, submitting over 250,000 names for temple work. Her gentle and loving influence through music, education, faith and, most importantly, her unwavering charity towards others, has left an indelible mark on many in the community.
The scholarship fund in her name, the Lidia Zakrzewski-Fryderyk Chopin Award, will be available to piano majors at DSC.
For more information about the recital or if you would like to donate to the scholarship endowment, please contact Dr. Nancy Allred