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### Fostering Young Musical Talent and Passion for Music: The Chopin Society of Atlanta

JOHNS CREEK, Ga. — Dorota Lato, upon entering Musik21, a conservatory for young musicians located off State Bridge Road, proudly proclaimed, “This is our kingdom.”

The spacious interior of Musik21 was adorned with pianos available for both sale and rent, serving as the focal point of the conservatory. While pianos reign supreme, a dedicated team of over a dozen enthusiastic instructors provide personalized lessons on various instruments to students ranging from early elementary school to 12th grade.

Operated under the umbrella of the nonprofit Chopin Society of Atlanta, established by Dorota Lato and her husband Piotr Folkert in 2000, Musik21 aims to celebrate the music of Fryderyk Chopin and perpetuate his musical legacy.

Piotr Folkert and Dorota Lato, the visionaries behind the Chopin Society of Atlanta, can often be found amidst the pianos at Musik21, where the nonprofit offers both sales and rentals.

“All pianists share a unique language,” Lato remarked. “While most young individuals engage in sports like football, soccer, or swimming, those who play the piano often seek connection with others who understand their passion.”

Hailing from Chopin’s homeland of Poland, Lato and Folkert, both lifelong pianists, bring a wealth of experience to their roles. Folkert, an accomplished concert pianist, showcases his talent on global stages.

Originally, the nonprofit focused on hosting concerts at the Roswell Cultural Arts Center, featuring renowned pianists such as Sergei Babayan, Ingrid Fliter, and Kevin Kenner. The walls of Musik21 are adorned with posters from these memorable events.

Dorota Lato, the president of the Chopin Society of Atlanta, proudly displays student artwork from the nonprofit’s art competitions within Musik21, integrating creativity into their programs and promotional materials.

The inaugural concert organized by Lato, commemorating the 250th anniversary of Chopin’s passing, was a resounding success, with all 600 seats at the venue occupied.

Over time, the society expanded its activities beyond concerts to engage younger audiences. In an effort to introduce Chopin and classical music to children, Lato initiated art competitions featuring depictions of Chopin and historical themes.

Established in 2010, Musik21 currently boasts an enrollment of 400 students participating in multi-level music theory courses, composing original pieces, and engaging in lessons and recitals throughout the year.

In response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chopin Society of Atlanta introduced the Chopin Academy of Atlanta, offering a week-long summer program in June. The curriculum includes virtual and in-person piano lessons, master classes, and enriching lectures.

At Musik21, a conservatory affiliated with the Chopin Society of Atlanta, the walls are adorned with images from study abroad trips and news clippings, showcasing the nonprofit’s rich history since its inception in 2000.

Students enrolled in the society have the unique opportunity to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York City and pursue scholarship programs for international study trips.

As students traverse the halls of Musik21, they encounter numerous photographs capturing moments shared with peers during educational programs in Vienna and Paris, immersing themselves in the essence of Chopin’s musical legacy.

The Paris International Summer Sessions primarily feature master classes in collaboration with partner organizations, while the summer program in Vienna offers a more comprehensive experience, a brainchild of Lato and Folkert.

This year’s program promises lectures exploring the connections between music and medicine, as well as music and cinema. Vienna, renowned for its contribution to the music industry, has been a muse for legendary composers like Hans Zimmer.

Piotr Folkert recounted his recent visit to Żelazowa Wola, Poland, with a student to explore Chopin’s birthplace, reflecting on the profound connection between an artist’s music and their life experiences.

The journey to the death site of Hungarian composer Franz Liszt in Bayreuth, Germany, left a lasting impact on Folkert, underscoring the profound connection between music, history, and personal experiences.

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