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From Poland to El Paso, the Borderland Chopin Festival 2023

Jasmin Campoya
Magdalena Baczewska, Ph.D., hosted a masterclass at UTEP’s Borderland Chopin Festival March 3.

Frédéric Chopin was born March 1, 1810, in a small village town six miles from Warsaw, Poland. From an early age, Chopin knew he had a musical touch, writing his first composition at the age of seven, then performing in concerts and events just a year later. Many trained pianists of today’s generation marvel at Chopin’s talents, highlighting his ability at writing expressive pieces, as well as playing them. This past weekend, Chopin’s spirit was celebrated at the Borderland Chopin Festival 2023, hosted by UTEP’s own Music Department. The event, which was held the weekend of March 3, covered everything Chopin had to offer. From a masterclass detailing the auteur’s life to a special musical guest playing original Chopin pieces and more, the festival had it all.  

The idea of the festival spawned from fellow UTEP piano professor and Steinway artists honoree, Oscar Macchioni, Ph.D. Macchioni’s goal with the festival was to use Chopin’s music as a jumping-pad of sorts, to promote his and other works of underrepresented composers to the borderland region, being Southern New Mexico, Mexico, Chihuahua and West Texas. The festival was also used as an educational tool and for general entertainment. Showing aspiring young music students, the work of Chopin as well as works inspired by him will help shape the way they view compositional work.

One notable event of the festival for the benefit of gifted pianists in El Paso and the areas of that region surrounding it, was an official piano competition. The competition spanned from the ages of 5th grade and under all the way to college level who all competed for cash prizes as well as a chance to play on stage during the festival’s run. The competition was judged and scored by three professionals of music, Dr. Magdalena Baczewska (Columbia University), Dr. Daniel Linder (The University of Arizona), and Dr. Luis Sanchez (Texas A&M University-Commerce).  

One of the judges for the piano competition was Magdalena Baczewska, Ph.D., a special guest pianist playing music by Chopin and other similar styles March 4, at the UTEP Fox Fine Arts Recital Hall. Baczewska, a Poland native is a renowned pianist, making her solo debut with the Silesian Philharmonic at just the age of 12. She has played all over the world in different countries and has been in the attendance of many award-winning musicians. Baczewska expertly played original pieces from Chopin’s catalog like most notably “Nocturne in E-flat major, Op 9, No. 2,” one of Chopin’s most notable compositional pieces. It was an overall excellent performance with the attendance of UTEP President Heather A. Wilson, Ph.D., in attendance of the audience.  

Altogether, the Borderland Chopin Festival 2023 was a successful event. Not only was there a healthy attendance and engagement throughout the community, the goal of sharing underrepresented artists with a group that may not have been entirely familiar with it was realized too. Music can bring people together and teach them something new about themselves.  

 H. Catching Marginot is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]


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About the Contributors
H. Catching Marginot
H. Catching Marginot, Contributor/Writer
Henry Catching Marginot is a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso majoring in multimedia journalism and minoring in English: rhetorical studies. He is a contributor at The Prospector and freelances. He plans to pursue writing in the future.
Jasmin Campoya
Jasmin Campoya, Photographer
Jasmin Campoya is a bilingual student who is a senior currently majoring in digital media production at UTEP. She is a staff photographer for The Prospector, a photo editor for Minero Magazine, and is currently a social media and marketing intern for El Paso Inc. All while being a full time student, she also takes photos for her own small business, JasminCPhoto. Jasmin plans on continuing photography and hopes to work full time at an El Paso publication.
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From Poland to El Paso, the Borderland Chopin Festival 2023