Annual Paderewski Festival kicks off tonight in Paso Robles

The annual Paderewski Festival kicks off tonight with a reception at Vina Robles Winery in Paso Robles, followed by a concert by the Cuesta College North County Chorus.

The program features choral music by Polish composers Waclaw z Szamotul and Feliks Nowowiejski, as well as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Morten Lauridsen.

Other festival highlights include a concert by Polish jazz pianist Leszek Mozdzer on Friday and performances by Russian pianist Eduard Kunz and the winners of the Paderewski Festival Youth Piano Competition on Saturday.

Created in 1991, the Paderewski Festival honors the legacy of Polish pianist, composer and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.

The pianist visited Paso Robles frequently between 1914 and 1939, staying at the El Paso de Robles Hotel, soaking in the hot springs and cultivating crops on nearly 3,000 acres of farmland.

He’s also credited with popularizing zinfandel grapes in the North County. For information about the festival, which runs through Sunday, call 769-4622 or visit http://www.paderewskifestival.com .