The FORBIDDEN CONCERT PROJECT is a multi-disciplinary performance project of story-telling, visuals, concerts, and future plans for a stage play and documentary film depicting the daring preparations and performance of a secret Chopin concert during the Nazi occupation of Warsaw in 1942.
The project was inspired by a hand-written program I found in 2018 among the papers of my dear late friend, Matthew Bogdan Sydow, son of the great Chopin historian, Bronislaw Edward Sydow. Matt had been in Warsaw during the Nazi occupation of Poland from 1939-1945 and fought in the brutal 1944 Warsaw Uprising. He carefully recorded and saved the program of a clandestine Chopin concert. It was dated Warszawa, 17. V. 1942 (Warsaw, May 17, 1942.) No doubt he risked his life to attend this concert, as did many others before and after him. Knowing a bit about Matt and his remarkable family and being a pianist of Polish/Scottish descent, I felt compelled to follow this trail and see where it might lead.
But why did Hitler ban the performance of Chopin's music in Poland during WWII?
Polish composer Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin's music embodies the Polish spirit, and thus became a symbol of defiance against his country's oppression. On October 5, 1940, Hitler, through his appointed General Government Chief Nazi Hans Frank, ordered performances of Chopin's and other Polish music to be banned in Poland, under threat of torture or death, but Poles continued to perform their countrymen's music in clandestine concerts.
Through the FORBIDDEN CONCERT PROJECT'S multi-disciplinary performances, I wish to underscore the remarkable power of Poland's treasured composer to fuel the resistance of the Polish people against the oppression of their beloved country and seek to honor the indomitable spirit of daring, determination, and courage against all odds.
- Robyn Carmichael