Today, hearing implant technology and medicine give people who are deaf or hard of hearing opportunities earlier unheard of – with rehabilitation, most can achieve a high level of speech understanding, even in noisy environments. But some people desire more – to fully appreciate music and play, develop their musical talents, and have a professional music career.
The Festival “Beats of Cochlea” proves they can achieve it in style!
The Festival is the brainchild of Prof. Henryk Skarzynski, who performed the first cochlear implantation in Poland in 1992. Today, he heads the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing in Warsaw, one of the leading CI centers, which cares for nearly 13 thousand implanted patients. His patients were his inspiration – many have extraordinary musical talents and are regular guests at the “Beats of Cochlea.”
1st International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 15-16 July 2015
The Festival aims to show the world that hearing loss is not an obstacle to enjoying and playing music.
More than 100 hearing implant users from all over the world entered the competition. They represented the whole spectrum of society: from children as young as 8 years to 69-year-olds. Some were prelingually deaf; others lost hearing as adults when they had already studied music. Their musical repertoire was diverse, from classical music to heavy rock, from vocal to playing piano, violin, and even bagpipes or Chinese zither. The Jury of the Festival, composed of musicians, actors, specialists in auditory rehabilitation, and journalists, under the direction of Prof. Ryszard Zimak, rector of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, selected 34 finalists, who came to Warsaw for auditions, and out them the 14 laureates who performed at the Gala Concert.
The Gala Concert took place on 16 July 2015 in Witold Lutoslawski Concert Studio. The laureates performed accompanied by the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Krzesimir Dębski.
The 1st Festival has left behind beautiful memories, new friendships, newfound self-confidence, and the courage to pursue dreams. The whole world has heard the message: we can achieve whatever we set our minds to!
2nd International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 11-14 July 2016
The second edition of this extraordinary international music competition enjoyed even greater interest than the first one. Over 150 amateur and professional musicians with hearing implants submitted their entries for the competition. Based on the submitted demonstration pieces, the Jury selected 32 participants invited to Warsaw for the auditions. The Jury selected 10 musicians who performed on 13 July in the Concert Hall of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music at the Gala Concert.
The Festival celebrates success for many people: implant users, their families, teachers, therapists, and doctors. The joy of this success expresses the Festival’s anthem: “The World That I Can Hear,” with the lyrics by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński and music by Prof. Krzesimir Dębski, performed during the Gala Concert. It says: A sound can make a change. A sound that I can hear. A sound that broke the absolute silence.
3rd International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 10-14 July 2017
Participants of the Festival speak different languages, are of different ages, and like different kinds of music, but they share one passion. Music. And they persistently pursue their dreams. Once deaf or hard of hearing, they now perform on the stage with a symphony orchestra during the “Beats of Cochlea” Gala Concert.
The third edition of the “Beats of Cochlea” took place at the World Hearing Center in Kajetany on the 25th anniversary of the first cochlear implantation in Poland performed by Prof. Henryk Skarżyński. This year, the Festival had a new formula with four days of Master Workshops involving individual and group classes with music masters and lessons in stage image and music memory. In the evenings, participants, their families, instructors, and many guests coming especially for these events participated in science and music evenings with lectures from specialists in rehabilitation, psychology, speech therapy, pedagogy, and music therapy, with performances by previous laureates and participants of the present Festival.
4th International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 9-13 July 2018
The Gala Concert “Beats of Cochlea” in the Sinfonia Varsovia Concert Hall was a beautiful celebration of the musical talents of people with hearing implants, their determination, and their success. The laureates, selected by the Jury from among twenty finalists, represented a broad spectrum of music genres, instruments, and hearing conditions, from prelingually deaf children to adults who lost their hearing when already advanced in their musical careers. They all got a standing ovation after the Concert.
The four days leading up to the gala Concert were busy and exciting. At the International Conference “Music in Human Auditory Development” on 9 July, invited experts spoke about sound and music perception and music therapy. In the following days, there were workshops in music and stage image with musicians and actors. Each evening, all participants, their families, and guests met at the music and scientific show, with topical presentations interspersed with music performances. The time outside scheduled activities is a unique opportunity for the implanted musicians and their families to meet with people facing similar challenges, make friends, and exchange experiences and support.
5th International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 8-10 July 2019
The 2019 Festival was unique because it was the fifth jubilee edition. Patients from around the world met at the World Hearing Center in Kajetany under the banner of “World Music Meetings of Masters and Artists.”
After the auditions with the Jury, on the second day of the Festival, all participants had the opportunity to play music and sing together with master musicians and laureates of the previous editions. The meetings had form of individual workshops divided into instrumental groups and joint musical workshops. In the evening, all participated in the music therapy concert “Music makes everything better.”
The crowning event of the fifth jubilee edition of the “Beats of Cochlea” was the Gala Concert on 10 July in the Palladium Theatre in Warsaw city. The laureates of the current edition performed their competition pieces accompanied by the ‘Divertimento’ orchestra conducted by Krzesimir Dębski. The special guest stars of the Concert were the laureates of previous editions, who performed in duets or trios with musicians famous from the world’s stages.
8th International Music Festival for Children, Youths, and Adults with Hearing Disorders “Beats of Cochlea,” Warsaw, 14-15 July 2022
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Festival “Beats of Cochlea” has moved online. All workshops, scientific lectures from the “Music in Human Auditory Development” series, and artists’ performances were available online through the Festival’s website.
The Gala Concert of the 8th “Beats of Cochlea,” entitled “Artists to Patients,” celebrated two important events in the history of the Institute of Physiology and Pathology of Hearing: the 30th anniversary of the first cochlear implantation in Poland and the 25th anniversary since Prof. Henryk Skarżyński initiated the world’s first program for the partial deafness treatment with cochlear implants. The Concert was organized in the concert hall of the “Mazowsze” National Folk Song and Dance Ensemble. The laureates of the 8th Festival “Beats of Cochlea” performances were presented as video recordings. The “Mazowsze” made a special appearance in the Concert’s second half with the show “Kaleidoscope of Polish Colors.”