Spotlight – Maestro Piotr Gajewski

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GaiewskiPiotr Gajewski, a native of Poland, is the founder, artistic director, and conductor of The National Philharmonic, in residence at the Music Center at Strathmore in Rockville, Maryland. Maestro Gajewski is widely credited with building The Philharmonic into one of the Washington metropolitan area’s most respected ensembles and bringing it national recognition. He has been hailed by The Washington Post as an “immensely talented and insightful conductor, whose standards, taste, and sensitivity are impeccable.” Under his leadership, The National Philharmonic has also become a major force in education through its “all kids, all free, all the time” initiative; summer institutes for young string players and singers; master classes with visiting artists; and a concerto competition for high-school students. Each year, more than 20,000 primary school children attend The Philharmonic’s specially designed youth concerts led by Maestro Gajewski.

In addition to his work with The National Philharmonic, Maestro Gajewski is in demand as a guest conductor, having conducted, in recent years, orchestras that include the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and the Karlovy Vary Symphony. He has appeared frequently with major orchestras in his native Poland and in the United States. Last season, his engagements included the Wroclaw Philharmonic and the Buffalo Philharmonic, where the Buffalo News reported: “His courtly, conservative movements matched the music’s mood. A flick of his finger, and a fanfare sounded. He held up his palm, and the musicians quieted. It was like watching a race car in the hands of a good driver.” Maestro Gajewski’s credits also include opera engagements.

In 2007, Maestro Gajewski served as the only American on the jury of Poland’s eighth Grzegorz Fitelberg International Competition for Conductors. In 2012, he will return to sit on the jury of the ninth Fitelberg Competition.

He has conducted many important world premieres, including works by Steven Gerber, Joel Hoffman, Andreas Makris, Gerhard Samuel, and Peter Ware. His recording on the Koch International label of Steven Gerber’s Violin Concerto, Cello Concerto, and Serenade for String Orchestra with the National Chamber Orchestra garnered enthusiastic reviews.

Born in Poland, Maestro Gajewski began studying the piano at the age of four. After immigrating to the United States in 1969, he continued his studies at the Preparatory Division of the New England Conservatory, at Carleton College in Minnesota, and at the University of Cincinnati College–Conservatory of Music, where he earned bachelor’ of music and master of music degrees in orchestral conducting. He refined his conducting skills as a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood Music Center in 1983. His teachers there included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier, and Maurice Abravanel. His many honors include a prize at New York’s prestigious Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition.

A true renaissance man, when away from music, Maestro Gajewski continues to play competitive soccer, holds a law degree and a license to practice law in two states, and from 2007-2011 served on his hometown (Rockville, Maryland) City Council.