Piano unites Paso and Poland: Local musicians and wine travel abroad



As Paso Robles furthers its ties with Poland, it’s sending over two of San Luis Obispo County’s most cherished assets this summer — its youth and wine.

Lindsay Reed of Paso Robles, Rory McClish of Morro Bay and Matthew Fauria of San Luis Obispo will travel to Poland on a 10-day trip — all expenses paid — to perform in two concerts at the end of the month.











Rory McClish, 13, and Lindsay Reed, 15, who were 2008 finalists of the Paderewski Festival, will travel to Poland along with Matthew Fauria, 16, who was a finalist in 2007

Photo: www.sanluisobispo.com

Rory McClish’s mother, Dana McClish, will accompany them as a chaperone.

Two members of the wine industry will travel as well, bringing with them six cases of Paso Robles wines to pour at tasting events held in conjunction with the concerts.
The students were finalists in recent Paderewski Festivals — a Paso Robles piano competition and concert each fall to celebrate renowned Polish pianist and statesman Ignacy Jan Paderewski.
Paderewski considered himself a resident of Paso Robles after growing wine grapes there during World War I.

The youngsters — who secured their spots over other concert winners and finalists through applications to the festival board — will visit Paderewski’s former estate, go sightseeing, take master piano classes and perform for Poland’s arts and political society.
“I still can’t believe it’s happening,” 15-year-old Lindsay said.
“I can’t wrap my mind around it, actually.”

Lindsay was a finalist in the 2008 festival competition.
“The kids represent the music and arts,” festival board member and artistic director Marek Zebrowski said, “and the new generation of American youth reconnecting to Paso roots.”

Festival ties

The festival began in the 1990s but went on hiatus after the 2003 San Simeon Earthquake. It was revived with a reprise concert in 2006 and larger event in 2007.

Last November, Paso Robles signed an informal sister city agreement with officials from Tarnow, Poland, when they attended the festival.
The agreement is designed to explore partnerships in commercial and community ventures, such as exporting Paso wines to Poland, festival board president Joel Peterson said.
Gracie Rey of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance and festival board member Cri Cri Eastin-Solak will go on the upcoming trip to begin the wine talks.
The festival board held a fundraiser and raised money for airplane tickets for the six travelers, while the Polish government will provide room and board.

Paso Robles agreed to do the same for young Polish composers in the future. Piano means different things for the students, they said, but all are more than excited to play abroad.

For 16-year-old Matthew, a 2007 festival competition finalist, it’s the thrill of connecting to other composers throughout history, his mother, Debbie Fauria, said while he was away at boarding school.
“When he played his first piece of classical music, it was love,” Fauria said of her son. “It was just hard to get him away from the piano.”

For Lindsay, it’s an organic kind of admiration.
“Playing piano is like an extension of myself,” she said. “It’s like an arm or leg. I can’t really explain it.”
And, for 13-year-old Rory, another 2008 finalist, it’s all about the challenge. “I just love playing piano — the fast action part of it,” he said. “I really like the complexity of classical and jazz.”
Last year, city officials took a similar Poland trip with concerts and political talks, but festival organizers said they are excited students will be able to travel this year, too.
“This trip was the goal of the Paderewski Festival when we organized it three years ago,” Peterson said.