Gala Ceremony of the 1st International Music Festival for Children, Youths and Adults with Hearing Disorders ‘Beats of Cochlea’

The Gala Concert which took place on 16th July 2015 in Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio, with the accompaniment of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra directed by Krzesimir Dębski was the crowning event of the 1st International Music Festival for Children, Youths and Adults with Hearing Disorders ‘Beats of Cochlea’. Festival is an original project initiated by Professor Henryk Skarżyński, an ear surgeon who in 1992, as the first one in Poland, performed cochlear implantation in a totally deaf patient. The Festival has been organized with the objective of showing to the world that thanks to the achievements of modern science and medicine, problems with hearing are no longer an obstacle to professional career in music or developing a musical talent. The Festival was a demonstration of abilities of people who, after receiving hearing implant, not only have no problems in communicating with others, but who have a gift for music and a passion which fills their lives! They sing, compose music, play different instruments, record albums. They are a living proof that thanks to the incredible technological progress in science and medicine, even severe hearing loss does not necessarily hinder one’s career in music. With this Festival, Prof. Henryk Skarżyński wanted to help them achieve their musical dreams and plans, and to show to the hearing part of our society the clinical achievements that normally pass unnoticed.

The Festival took two days and was organized in a popular form of competition. Out of more than 100 entrants, the international Jury selected 14 finalists from all over the world: from Australia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Portugal, Romania, Spain and Israel.

The age range of participants was very wide – the youngest was 8, the oldest 69. They presented their vocal and instrumental skills. Some participants played popular instruments like piano, violin, saxophone, recorder, but there were also more unusual ones, such as bagpipes. Music repertoire was very diverse, from classical music to heavy rock.

The laureates performed at the Gala Concert in Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio, accompanied by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Krzesimir Dębski. The Concert was hosted by Agata Młynarska and Maciej Miecznikowski.

There were also special guests performing at the Concert, among them many professional musicians who have hearing problems. One of them was a well-known opera singer from Austria, Johanna Pätzold, who is a cochlear implant user. This did not prevent her from performing a difficult aria from the The Marriage of Figaro. Other guests included Karol Nowakowski – the first in the world patient with bilateral auditory brainstem implants, Maciej Miecznikowski, Grzegorz Wilk, Łukasz Żelechowski and Weronika Niczyporuk.

All guests who sang and played at the Final Gala had problems with hearing. It is phenomenal that today, after treatment, it does not stop them from playing, signing, or composing great music. The Festival was the place and time, where music became inextricably tied with medicine. Progress in medicine allows deaf and hard-of hearing people pursue their musical passions. For these people it opens a road to the musical scene; they are free to make their mark on today’s world.