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Conductor Piotr Gajewski awarded Knight's Cross by the Republic of Poland

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National Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor Piotr Gajewski was recently awarded the Knight's Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland by Polish Ambassdor Ryszard Schnepf at the Polish Embassy in Washington, DC.

The Order of Merit is granted by the President of Poland to foreigners or Polish citizens living abroad for distinguished contribution to cooperation between Poland and other countries. Maestro Gajewski has appeared as a guest conductor for major orchestras in his native Poland, including the Warsaw, Wroclaw, Lodz and Silesian Philharmonic.

Maestro Gajewski was among three prominent guests who were granted Orders of Merit, including Congressman John Dingell (D-Mich.), the longest serving member of the U.S. Congress, and multicultural media executive Mr. Walter Kotaba.

The ceremony took place at the celebration of the anniversary of Polish independence at the Polish Embassy. The week of November 11 marked the independence of Poland from 123 years of partition by Russia, Germany and the Austrian Empire.

Piotr Gajewski is widely credited with building the National Philharmonic to its present
status as one of the most respected ensembles of its kind in the region. In addition to his

appearances with the National Philharmonic, Maestro Gajewski is much in demand as a guest conductor. In recent years, he has appeared with most of the major orchestras in his native Poland, as well as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic in England, the Karlovy Vary Symphony in the Czech Republic, the Okanagan Symphony in Canada and numerous orchestras in the United States.

Gajewski attended Carleton College and the University of Cincinnati, College-Conservatory of Music, where he earned a B.M. and M.M. in Orchestral Conducting. Upon completing his formal education, he continued refining his conducting skills at the 1983 Tanglewood Music Festival in Massachusetts, where he was awarded a Leonard Bernstein Conducting Fellowship. His teachers there included Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Gunther Schuller, Gustav Meier and Maurice Abravanel.

Gajewski is also a winner of many prizes and awards, among them a prize at New York's prestigious Leopold Stokowski Conducting Competition and, in 2006, Montgomery County's Comcast Excellence in the Arts and Humanities Achievement Award.

Photo cutline: National Philharmonic Music Director and Conductor was bestowed the Knight's Cross of the Republic of Poland by Polish Ambassdor Ryszard Schnepf. Photo credit: Embassy of Poland.