Coronavirus Updates: USC  |  SCA


November 3, 2013, 4:45 P.M.

The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108, George Lucas Building, USC School of Cinematic Arts Complex, 900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007


Outside the Box [Office], USC Thornton Polish Music Center, Polish Film Festival Los Angeles, and Gina Project, invite you and a guest to a special screening of

Why Competitions

Directed by Christine Jezior
Written by Christine Jezior and Oskar Jezior
Produced by Slawomir Jezior
and Gina Lopacinska-Komasa
Followed by a discussion with Composer Krzesimir Debski, Thornton Faculty/Composer Veronika Krausas, and Pianist Marek Zebrowski, Program Director for the USC Polish Music Center
4:45 P.M. on Sunday, November 3rd, 2013
The Ray Stark Family Theatre, SCA 108
900 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles, CA 90007

About Why Competitions

Nobody less than the Hungarian Bela Bartok once declared: "Competitions are for horses, not artists!" Using the example of the Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw, the documentary film Why Competitions looks into the question whether the competitive spirit that dominates music competitions is conformable with objective and ethical precepts, whether the prize winners actually benefit from their success and what happens to those who are often being stigmatized as "losers".

This documentary film about the most important piano competition in the world was produced on the occasion of Frederic Chopin's 200th birthday. It lets the participants and jury members have their say, some of who have learned to keep their distance to their experiences, yet most of them are unable to forget and accept the fact they had to suffer injustice even after 60 years. The film focuses on the scandal following the elimination of the Croatian pianist Ivo Pogorelich who did not pass to the final round at the competition in 1980, which caused the world-famous Argentinian pianist Martha Argerich to leave the jury in protest, thanks to which Pogorelich became a star overnight. 1980 also marked a turning point in Polish history: A few months before the competition began the trade union "Solidarnosc" was established.

The film is divided in several chapters with each of them dealing with another competition year. In 1980 it was Pogorelich who took center stage, in 1975 the three Soviet competitors who instead of winning the competition only took 2nd, 3rd, and 4th prize were "penalized" by the Soviet Regime and thus prevented from making a career after the competition. The last chapter deals with the general question whether music competitions can be just and useful. Never before has such a wide range of world-famous musicians and eminent pedagogues spoken on this subject so candidly. With some ugly truths about corruption and bribery being revealed by these respectable persons, the question remains: Why do these people often chose to remain an integral part of the international competition circuit?

Provided courtesy of Gina Project. Not rated. Running time: 78 minutes. In Polish, German, English, and Russian, with English subtitles.


About the Panelists

KRZESIMIR BESKI is a prominent Polish composer as well as a virtuoso violinist, pianist, and a celebrated orchestral conductor. Equally at home in the world of jazz and classical music, Debski is chiefly known in Poland for his numerous and highly popular film scores. In addition, he is also famous as a songwriter and arranger, and a composer of music for theatre.

Born in Walbrzych on October 26, 1953, Krzesimir Debski studied music from an early age. His father, Wlodzimierz Slawosz Debski, was a musical educator who served as music school director in various cities throughout Poland. Already during middle school Krzesimir Debski played in various musical ensembles, including The Hazards and Maszyna Rytmu [The Rhythm Machine], and made his debut in 1973 at the Rack Avant-Garde Festival in Kalisz. He later joined the group Warsztat [The Workshop] as a jazz violinist, performing at the Jazz on the Odra River Festival in Wroclaw in 1975. Later Debski worked with the Tey Cabaret in Poznan, Jonkisz Jazz Orchestra, Górny Orchestra, and Orchestra of the Eighth Day.

Starting in 1973 Debski studied composition with Andrzej Koszewski and conducting with Witold Krzemienski at the Poznan Academy of Music. He graduated in 1977 and by 1980 began touring all of Europe and North America as violinist with the celebrated String Connection ensemble, giving well over one thousand concerts, including radio and television appearances. Winner of the First Prize in the International Jazz Competition in Belgium, Debski was also honored by Jazz Forum Magazine with its Best Violinist and Best Arranger Prizes. Listed in 1985 as one of the ten best jazz violinists by Down Beat Magazine.

Since the 1980s, Debski has scored over seventy feature films, and numerous popular TV series. Among his best-known feature film credits are Ogniem i mieczem [With Fire and Sword], W pustyni i w puszczy [In Desert and Wilderness], and Stara basn [An Old Tale]. Mr. Debski’s soundtrack for Ogniem i mieczem went platinum in Poland, selling over two hundred thousand copies. Debski has also scored hundreds of episodes of popular Polish TV series, including Klan [The Clan], Zlotopolscy [The Zlotopolski Family], Ranczo [The Rancho], Na dobre i na zle [For Good and Ill] and children TV series Maszyna Zmian [The Transformation Machine].

Debski’s score for the 1987 film The Young Magician was nominated for the 1988 Genie Film Award in Canada. He also received the Fryderyk Composer of the Year Award in 2000 and also won the 2000 Philip International Film Academy Award for his music to the film With Fire and Sword. Debski’s soundtrack to In Desert and Wilderness was recognized with an award at the Pyros International Music Festival in Greece in 2001 and his score for The Old Fairy Tale received the Golden Duck Award in 2003. His most recent film scores include a soundtrack for the first Polish 3D film, Battle of Warsaw 1920, Sztos 2 [Polish Roulette], and Siberian Exile. Debski’s film scoring projects in the United States included writing new soundtracks for Charlie Chaplin’s short and mid-length films from the mid-1910s.

Krzesimir Debski is also a prolific songwriter, with over one hundred pop songs to his credit. Many of them are written to texts by Jacek Cygan and feature prominently in the repertoire of such well-known artists as Edyta Górniak, Anna Jurksztowicz, Grazyna Lobaszewska, Ryszard Rynkowski, Zdzislawa Sosnicka, Mieczyslaw Szczesniak, Natasza Urbanska and Borys Szyc.

Throughout the last decade, Krzesimir Debski has received a number of commissions for large-scale orchestral works from outstanding soloists and major symphony orchestras in Poland and abroad. He has shared the stage with such internationally acclaimed artists as John Blake, Jose Carreras, The Canadian Brass, Jose Cura, Nigel Kennedy, Adam Makowicz, Ewa Malas-Godlewska, Mark O’Connor, Jean-Luc Ponty, and Vadim Repin. Krzesimir Debski’s expanding catalogue of orchestral compositions currently includes two symphonies, an opera, ballet music, and eleven concertos for various solo instruments and orchestra. In great demand as conductor and performer, his recent foreign tours included performances in Mexico, India, Brazil, Germany, and the United States. Debski’s music has been recorded on MAG Music, Pool Music, Pomarton, EMI Classics, Polstar, Warner Music Poland, Polskie Nagrania, Proton, Koch, BMG Poland, Si Music, Universal Music Polska, and Pol Music labels.

Krzesimir Debski has served as Deputy Chair of the Polish Contemporary Music Society and has given summer course guest lectures in Ankara, Darmstadt, San Diego, and Los Angeles. He also served as professor of composition at music academies in Lódz, Poznan, and Warsaw. In 2010 Debski received the Ecce Homo Order, a Polish Catholic Church award for: “Depicting life with music and creating a musical imprint on the picture of Poland and the world, as well as for beautiful transformation of everyday reality through good works, orderliness and harmony.”

Visit Krzesimir Debski’s website at:

Composer VERONIKA KRAUSAS has had her works performed internationally. The Globe & Mali (Toronto) writes that "her works, whose organic, lyrical sense of storytelling are supported by a rigid formal elegance, give her audiences a sense that nature's frozen objects are springing to life." Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times said of her chamber opera “Something novel this way comes.”

She has had commissions and performances by the Penderecki String Quartet, San Francisco Choral Artists and the Alexander String Quartet, Ensemble musikFabrik, Esprit Orchestra, The Vancouver Symphony, ERGO Projects, Continuum Music, Toca Loca, and Motion Music. She has music composition degrees from the University of Toronto, McGill University in Montreal, and a doctorate from the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Krausas has directed, composed for, and produced multi-media events that incorporate her works with dance, acrobatics and video. Her chamber opera The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth, based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, was premiered at the New York Opera’s VOX 2008 festival. It was staged and won both the Best Opera and Best Performance for The Mortal Thoughts of Lady Macbeth with soprano Michelle Jasso at Goat Hall Productions Works for Opera (San Francisco - 2009). A full production was mounted in Los Angeles in August 2010 to sold out audiences.

In 2008 she organized a concert and CD release for The Player Piano Project, a collection of works for player piano by 22 composers from 6 countries.

In February 2009 the Penderecki String Quartet gave the US Premiere of midaregami, her work for string quartet and mezzo-soprano, at REDCAT Theater in Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles. A commission for the 25th Anniversary of the San Francisco Choral Artists and the Alexander String Quartet, using text by the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, premiered in May 2011 in San Francisco. It was released on CD with Foghorn Classics with Ferlinghetti reciting the poetry.

Her chamber orchestra work analemma is an official selection of the US for the 2012 World Music Days in Belgium.

Of Lithuanian heritage, she was born in Australia, raised in Canada, and lives in Los Angeles. Krausas is an Assistant Professor in the Composition Department and the Assistant Director of Undergraduate Theory at the Thornton School of Music, on the advisory council of Jacaranda Music, an associate artist with The Industry, a lecturer at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and an artist with Catalysis Projects.

Visit Veronika Krausas' website at:

MAREK ZEBROWSKI began studying piano at the age of five. After graduating with the highest honors from the Poznan Music Lyceum, he studied with Robert Casadesus and Nadia Boulanger in France and Russell Sherman at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, where he received his Bachelor's and Master's Degrees. Hailed as “firm and eminently musical” by the Boston Globe, “strong and noble” by the Washington Post, and accorded highest accolades by the world press, Marek Zebrowski has appeared as soloist in recital and with symphony orchestras throughout the world. He has recorded works by Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Debussy, Scriabin and Prokofiev for the Polish Radio and works by Ravel and Prokofiev for Apollo Records in Germany, and his performances and compositions are featured on the Titanic Records and Harmonia Mundi labels. Recognized as a composer with a catalogue of orchestral and chamber works, piano compositions and transcriptions, and film and stage scores, Zebrowski has received commissions from Meet the Composer and The New England String Quartet, among others, as well as composition prizes in the Netherlands. Zebrowski's works were premiered throughout the United States, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, and South Africa. For the past several years he has collaborated with director David Lynch and their album of free improvisations, Polish Night Music, was released in April of 2008.

A prolific writer, Zebrowski has authored such books as Celebrating Chopin & Paderewski and Paderewski in California, highlighting the holdings of the Polish Music Center at USC. For the CAMERIMAGE Film Festival, Zebrowski has written several monographs on the greatest filmmakers of modern times, including directors David Lynch and Volker Schloendorff, and such iconic cinematographers as Pierre Lhomme, Roby Mueller, Stephen Goldblatt, Michael Ballhaus, Dante Spinotti, John Seale, Vilmos Zsigmond, Vadim Yusov, and Slawomir Idziak. These books are published by the Tumult Foundation.

The 2007 recipient of the Silver Gloria Artis medal from Poland’s Minister of Culture and National Heritage, in 2011 Zebrowski was recognized with the Telly Award for his score to a documentary film, The Labyrinth and awarded the Golden Cross of Merit by the President of Poland. In April 2012, together with Lech Walesa and Professor Wladyslaw Bartoszewski, Marek Zebrowski was honored by TV Polonia with the Award for the Promotion of Poland and Polish Culture abroad.

Zebrowski has lectured for the Pacific Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Harvard University, and The New England Conservatory of Music, and for several years was a contributing writer for the Boston Book Review. He has given master classes and has coached various chamber music ensembles and chamber orchestras, as well as maintaining a private piano studio. His academic career has included teaching at the University of Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and UCLA. Currently, Zebrowski resides in Los Angeles and serves as the Program Director for the Polish Music Center at USC and the Artistic Director of the Paderewski Festival in Paso Robles, California.

Marek Zebrowski is a Steinway Artist.

Visit Marek Zebrowski’s website at:


About the Polish Film Festival Los Angeles

The Polish Film Festival Los Angeles is organized by the Polish American Film Society, a 501c3 organization formed to educate and inform the public about Polish culture, Polish films and the country of Poland generally. The organization’s largest event is the annual Polish Film Festival Los Angeles. Held since 1999, the goal of the Polish Film Festival is to promote Polish cinema in America through the presentation of features, short films, documentaries and animations. Understanding the importance of preserving the past, embracing the present and imagining the future, the Festival focuses on entertaining and inspiring stories of who we are as individuals, families and communities.

Visit the Festival website:

About the USC Thornton Polish Music Center

The Polish Music Center (PMC) is a research and information center devoted to gathering and disseminating knowledge about all aspects of Polish music to researchers, students, and music lovers. In addition to the information available on our extensive website, the PMC publishes a monthly Polish Music Newsletter, a semi-annual scholarly Polish Music Journal, as well as the Polish Music History Series, published since 1982. The PMC is associated with the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California, Robert Cutietta, Dean, and together we organize many concerts and special events.

The PMC houses the largest collection of Polish music in the U.S. and is the only center at an American university devoted solely to Polish music. Selected items from our collection are available on loan for exhibitions (see Reference Services). Copies of PMC-owned materials may be obtained for a fee. Copyrighted materials still in print are subject to appropriate clearances from publishers. Copies of manuscripts and early prints may be provided for research purposes only. Users of PMC materials are required to acknowledge the Polish Music Center, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as the owner and source of the materials.

The Center is located in Stonier Hall (STO) on the USC University Park Campus: 837 Downey Way, Los Angeles, Room 120 (1st floor, East hallway). Until September 2000, it was known as the "Polish Music Reference Center."

Visit their website at

About Outside the Box [Office]

Outside the Box [Office] is a weekly showcase for upcoming releases highlighting world cinema, documentary and independent film titles. Recognizing a need for greater diversity on campus, the series will draw from around the globe to present movies that may challenge, inspire or simply entertain.

To view the calendar of screenings, click here.

Check-In & Reservations

This screening is free of charge and open to the public. Please bring a valid USC ID or print out of your reservation confirmation, which will automatically be sent to your e-mail account upon successfully making an RSVP through this website. Doors will open at 4:40 P.M.

All SCA screenings are OVERBOOKED to ensure seating capacity in the theater, therefore seating is not guaranteed based on RSVPs. The RSVP list will be checked in on a first-come, first-served basis until the theater is full. Once the theater has reached capacity, we will no longer be able to admit guests, regardless of RSVP status.


The USC School of Cinematic Arts is located at 900 W. 34th St., Los Angeles, CA 90007. Parking passes may be purchased for $10.00 at USC Entrance Gate #5, located at the intersection of W. Jefferson Blvd. & McClintock Avenue. We recommend parking in Parking Structure D, at the far end of 34th Street. Metered street parking is also available along Jefferson Blvd.

Contact Information

Name: Alessandro Ago