Barbara Bilszta-Niewrzol is the founder and executive director of the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra of Chicago. She received her music education and Master’s degree in viola performance from the Academy of Music in Wroclaw.
In 1988 and 1990 she was the winner of the Gioventu Musicale Italiana Stipend and was therefore offered a contract with the Italian Symphony Orchestra (ISO). For the next eight years she stayed with the ISO frequently touring both Europe and the U.S. As a member of several chamber ensembles in both Switzerland and Italy she collaborated with CD-producing labels (EMI, Sony, and Ricordi) and national television stations (TV RAI, Rete 4, Canale 5). Throughout her stay in Italy she taught at the renowned "Scuola di Musica di Milano."
In 1996 she moved to the USA, to become the artistic director of the “Naperville Chamber Orchestra” in Naperville, Illinois. In 1997 she founded the "Polish American Symphony Orchestra" (PaSO) - later to become the "Paderewski Symphony Orchestra."
The mission of PaSO is to enrich Chicago’s cultural life by adding to it the beauty and value of one of the most distinct European cultures and to serve as a cultural bridge between the Polish-American and other communities in Chicago.
As the executive director of PaSO, Barbara Bilszta sponsored and organized over 200 classical concerts for over 210,000 listeners, and many cultural events: classical, pop and jazz music festivals, conferences and workshops. Among her greatest achievements are concerts at the Orchestra Hall at Symphony Center of Chicago (namely the Chopin Gala and the Paderewski Gala), “Songs of Freedom”, “KILAR: Ardor and Prayer,” “PaSO Around the World” and many more, and a fully staged opera at the Rosemont Theatre - “The Haunted Manor” by Stanislaw Moniuszko.
Barbara Bilszta is a dedicated teacher and music education advocate. Together with her husband, violinist and conductor, Wojciech Niewrzoł, she founded in the year 2000 the PaSO Academy of Music – a school of music for over 120 children and youth. She supported talented children in the concert series entitled "The Four Seasons" and promoted youth artistic education in several media campaigns, summer music camps and family festivals. Over 27,000 students of Polish Saturday Schools participated in youth concerts of the Paderewski Symphony Orchestra.
Mrs. Bilszta’s continuous efforts to popularize Polish culture in Chicago have been noticed by both the Polish and American governments. Over the years Mrs. Bilszta received multiple recognitions from a number of different authorities, including the Silver Medal “Gloria Artis” from the Ministry of Cultural and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland
Throughout the 17 seasons of our existence, PaSO has had the pleasure and the honor of inviting some of Poland's best, most talented artists. We make an effort to work with both famous and renowned artists, but also to promote new local as well as Polish performers.
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