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Polish Janitor in Scotland May Get Career as Concert Pianist

By Kevin Shihoten
20 Jun 2007

Aleksander Kudajczyk
photo by Jane Barlow

Aleksander Kudajczyk, a 28-year-old janitor at the University of Glasgow, has risen to fame with his renditions of Chopin initially captured on a webcam.

With reluctance, Keenan had allowed Kudajczyk to try out the university chapel's grand piano one day, and she watched the performance on a webcam usually used to view weddings and other events.

"When I first logged on to hear him, I couldn't believe it—he was playing the most amazing music," Joan Keenan, the university's chaplaincy secretary, told BBC News.

She immediately e-mailed her friends and colleagues, and soon Kudajczyk started receiving requests to perform in the chapel.

"He was nervous playing his first concert in the chapel, but the crowd were stunned," Keenan told BBC News. The university chaplain, Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, notified organizers of Glasgow's West End Festival, who then asked Kudajczk to open the event with three concerts. The last of those performances, scheduled to occur today, has been postponed.

Kudajczyk is no ordinary janitor: he attended the Karol Szymanowski Academy of Music in Katowice, one of Poland's most esteemed music schools, and worked previously as a pianist in clubs and restaurants and on cruise ships. He came to Scotland six months ago to escape Poland's weak economy, and landed his current job of cleaning the hallways of the University of Glasgow's law department. (He told The Scotsman that he earns as a janitor well over twice what he would make teaching piano at home.)

In his first two concerts at the West End Festival, Kudajczyk played selected Chopin nocturnes, preludes and waltzes as well as the four Ballades. He will next perform that composer's First Piano Concerto with the university's organ scholar, Peter Yardley-Jones, playing a reduction of the orchestral score. "If it's about the piano, it has to be Chopin" said Kudajczyk to The Scotsman.

"It is a remarkable tale," West End Festival director Michael Dale told the London Evening Standard yesterday. Dale believes the festival gigs will open doors for Kudajczyk, who is now being compared in newspapers to the cleaning math whiz potrayed by Matt Damon in Good Will Hunting.

"I hope to teach piano or become a concert pianist," he told The Scotsman. Cleaning alongside him at the university is his girlfriend, Eweline Lukawska, who studied business in Poland. She said, laughing, "perhaps I'll be his manager one day."





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