Egyptian young pianists - Shadh Magdy, Andrew Milad, Mahmoud El Batran and Mostafa Hassan - during their visit to Poland. (Photo: Ati Metwaly)
The pianists are the winners of last year’s seventh Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youths in Egypt, whose top awards include a visit to Poland.
The musicians, who are all aged 16-19, are Shadh Magdy, Andrew Milad, Mahmoud El-Batran and Mostafa Hassan.
During their week-long stay in the country (between 7 and 13 August), the musicians are exploring numerous locations that commemorate Chopin’s years in Poland and his music.
The rich programme so far has included attending a Chopin concert at the Royal Park in Warsaw on the first day of their visit, followed by a walk through the city’s Old Town, a location which among many historical attractions offers musical benches that play Chopin’s compositions, and a coffee shop which, as the story goes, was attended by the composer himself.
The Old Town was also the ground for their participation in the “city game” on the second day of their visit. During the game, participants were given a map and cards with questions related to the composer, and were asked to complete numerous tasks while walking through the streets.
On the third day – Tuesday – the young musicians visited Chopin University of Music where they had an opportunity to meet the professors of the renowned institution. While at the university, the Egyptian musicians gave an impromptu short performance on the grand piano. The visit to the university was followed by a guided tour of the Chopin Museum.
The Chopin-related activities are interlaced with numerous other interesting visits that allow the young artists to get acquainted with the history of Poland and its culture. During the Warsaw stay, the musicians also visited the Uprising Museum, which presents a history of the major World War II operation by the Polish underground resistance to liberate Warsaw from German occupation that began in early-August 1944.
This year, the trip to Poland is enriched with a visit to northern cities of Gdansk, Sopot and Gdynia. Though this part of the programme is not connected with Chopin, these historical locations are filled with architectural gems carrying rich history of the northern Poland. The cities are also known for being home to many musical attractions including internationally known music festivals.
The group will return to Warsaw on 11 August, where they will spend their finals days visiting important museums and attending musical concerts. This will be topped with a visit to Żelazowa Wola, Chopin’s home, located 46 kilometres west of Warsaw.
The group will return to Cairo on 13 August.
The Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youths in Egypt was launched through the Egyptian Youth Music Association by Fawzy El-Shamy, the former dean of the Cairo Conservatory, who contributed to numerous musical initiatives in Egypt’s musical scene.
The competition is held in collaboration with the Embassy of Poland in Cairo.
The first edition of the competition took place in 2010, but its 2011 edition was cancelled due to political reasons. It returned in 2012 and was held annually until 2018 when it was suspended again until 2021.
In its seventh edition, the jury of the competition included Mariola Cieniawa-Puchala (Poland), Ahmed El-Saedi (Egypt), and Helgeheide Schmidt (Germany).
The 2021 edition was organised by European Foundation for Education and Culture Zielona Góra in cooperation with Rahn Education Schulen Kairo, maestro Ahmed El Saedy and Embassy of Poland in Cairo.