Michał Balas, a student of the Grażyna and Kiejstut Bacewicz Academy of Music in Łódź, is the winner of the 1st Polish National Dominik Połoński Cello Competition, which ended on 28 March 2021. The young cellist delighted the jurors with his sincerity, great virtuosity and playing finesse.
Michał Balas received the title of "Cello Individuality 2021", a statuette funded by the Połoński Family and designed by Jadwiga Gajda-Lusina, and a number of awards, mainly invitations to concerts and recitals. As the winner, Michał Balas will be promoted by TVP Kultura and Polish Radio Channel 2. In addition, he received the Marcin Mazur Violin Making Studio award for the best student of the Academy of Music in Łódź and – like other outstanding participants – sheet music editions of the latest cello compositions by contemporary Polish composers from Merakel Music and Printing Publishing House in Łódź.
The jury also selected five other participants who were awarded diplomas for outstanding cellists and extra-statutory prizes: Mateusz Błaszczak (FCUM Warsaw), Dominik Drewniak (AM Poznań), Jakub Lemański (AM Łódź), Maria Leszczyńska (UMFC Warsaw) and Agata Nowak (AM Bydgoszcz). The distinguished participants received numerous non-statutory prizes. Dominik Drewniak received an invitation from the Academy of Music in Krakow to a recital as part of the Krakow Cello Spring 2022 and two private awards: one founded by Professor Stanisław Firlej for the performance of Franz Schubert's Arpeggione Sonata (1000 PLN) and one awarded by the honorary chairman of the jury Izabela Połońska (rental of Dominik Połoński's cello for three years). Agata Nowak received two invitations to concerts with chamber orchestras, which she received from the AUKSO Chamber Orchestra of the City of Tychy and the Radom Chamber Orchestra, both in cooperation with Połońska Art Agency. The Pro Cello Foundation from Poznań invited Jakub Lemański to a concert as part of the 1st Summer Music Course in Szamotuły, Połońska Art Agency funded three more awards – chamber concerts for Dominik Drewniak, Urszula Markowska and Agata Nowak, who also received a special award from TVP Kultura.
36 students of Polish music academies entered the competition by submitting their recordings. The jury was composed of: prof. dr hab. Stanisław Firlej (chairman), prof. dr hab. Zdzisław Łapiński, dr hab. Tomasz Lisiecki, dr hab. Marcin Zdunik and dr hab. Jacek Rogala. The honorary chairman was dr Izabela Połońska – the wife of the patron of the competition, who died less than three years ago. After listening to all the recitals, the members of the jury unanimously emphasized the unexpectedly high quality of the recordings and their special atmosphere.
Media patronage: Polish Music Information Centre POLMIC.