Opening the 2017 Cultural Exchange Festival in Chicago, American Music Festivals and the Chicago Chopin Society present Kupala – St. Johns Night: A Summer Solstice Concert on Sunday, June 11, 5PM at St. Barbara Catholic Parish, 2859 S. Throop, Chicago.  The concert will feature music of Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, and Poland, with the Lincolnwood Chamber Orchestra, St. Barbara Holy Name Society Choir, and composer/pianist Jaroslaw Golembiowski.  Philip Simmons conducts the orchestra in a diverse program of classical and folk music including works by Lysenko, Čiurlionis, Moniuszko, and Ogiński.


American Music Festivals is a nonprofit founded in 1997, committed to cultural exchange.  It has previously collaborated with the Chicago Chopin Society, a nonprofit promoting Polish music and heritage, in concerts at the Copernicus Center.  The 2017 Cultural Exchange Festival in Chicago will return to Copernicus Center for concerts honoring the 200th Anniversary of Thaddeus Kosciusko (September 2) at Taste of Polonia, and a Christmas Spectacular (with sing-along Messiah and Carols) on December 17.


The June 11 Kupala Concert is a celebration of friendship, remembering an earlier time of cooperation and peaceful co-existence between Eastern Europeans of different ethnicities, languages, and backgrounds.  In addition to the master composers of these countries, the program includes several works acknowledging the solstice: Jaroslaw Golembiowski’s “Five O’clock…Comes the Dawn,” “Rhythmic Variations on Two Ancient Hymns” by Howard Hanson, and Ilya Levinson’s “Kupala Folk Suite,” based on traditional melodies.  The choir performance, led by Music Director Eva Mrgen, will include “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.”


The 2017 Cultural Exchange Festival in Chicago is a coming together of American Music Festivals’ mission of exploring cultural diversity and Chicago Chopin Society’s desire to create a broader understanding of the influence of Polish music and history.  By connecting cultures and exploring musical languages, the organizations are celebrating both differences and similarities.  American Music Festivals is grateful for the support it has been receiving from Chicago’s Ukrainian, Lithuanian, and Polish communities for the Kupala Concert, and hopes to be able to build upon its success for other programs of exchange.