Tag Archives: Twin Cities Polish Festival

Polish Festival 2012 Welcomes All to St. Anthony Main Festivities August 11 & 12

The Twin Cities Polish Festival is about to bring music, dance, Polish food and a mighty burst of energy to the Mississippi riverfront.  Polka contestants are primed, bakers are braving the heat, traditional musicians and artists are counting the days till the Twin Cities Polish Festival 2012, scheduled for Saturday, August 11 (10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.) and Sunday, August 12 (11:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m.)  All festivities are on Main Street on the banks of the Mississippi River and at sites in or near Riverplace, new home of the Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota.

As always, music is everywhere at the Polish Festival:

  • Akordissimo, the classical accordion ensemble, is part of the larger, renowned Accordion Orchestra CHORD of Koszalin.  In 2011 Akordissimo won First Place at the European Youth Festival in Belgium and was awarded the Grand Prix at the International Accordion Competition in Russia.  This is Akordissimo’s first visit to America.  The ensemble will perform on the Cultural stage both Saturday and Sunday.
  • During the Festival young Minnesota talent and local professionals will perform the works of Chopin and other Polish composters at three Chopin Celebration Concerts.  The concerts are sponsored b Wells Pianos and hosted by Kieran Wells.  Performances will be held in the air-conditioned comfort of the Stone Arch Cinema at St. Anthony Main.

By tradition, planners of the Polish Festival introduce a new program each year.  This summer’s treat – literally – is a Polish Baking Contest in which fine bakers will compete in three baking categories: Makowiec, a sweet bread rolled up, jelly-roll fashion, with a poppy seed filling, Kolazcki, delicate cookie-like pastries traditionally filled with fruit, poppy seed or sweet cheese fillings, and Babka, a sweet, rich leavened cake traditionally baked in a classic Babka or other fluted pan.  The contest is open to all.  Deadline: postmark by Tuesday, August 7; details online

Throughout the Festival grounds dancers are showcasing traditional choreography.  Heading the dance program at this year’s Polish festival are Dolina Polish Folk Dancers and Mosaica.  The State Amateur Polka Dance Championship will also be performing during the Festival. The  Polonia Polish Folk Dance Ensemble from Regina, Saskatchewan, dates back to the 1930’s when a social club was formed for couples who had recently immigrated to Canada from Poland.  Dancing soon became an important way to preserve Polish cultural in the area.  Today’s Polonia Polish Folk Dance Ensemble, officially organized in 1970, is comprised of 16 dancers performing under the leadership of director Tamara Scrimbit and assistant director Lisa Abrahamowicz.

The “Little Stars” Theatre Workshop, founded in Chicago in 2004, promotes the Polish language through theater.  Originally begun to involve children who wanted to speak Polish, the Workshop later expanded to offer adult classes.  The “Little Stars” have recorded audio and television plays that have been aired on Chicago area media.

Those whose tastes run to professional sports will have a chance to meet the Minnesota Stars FC.   The Stars are looking to defend their 2011 NASL Championship.

Jim Krzewski, aka Spoon Man Jim Cruise, has performed for audiences and prominent politicians including former President Gerald R. Ford and Mikhail Gorbachev in Moscow, says his show is “part goofball entertainer, part faith-filled spiritual guy.”

As in the past, Polish film lovers will have the chance to enjoy a showcase of Polish films at the Twin Cities Polish FilmFest, presented in partnership with The Film Society of Minneapolis/St. Paul.  Seven days of award-winning films will be screened at the Stone Arch Cinema.  Watch for the schedule of films to be shown during the Festival.

The Polish Festival is free and open to the public – from wherever and of whatever heritage!

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Jazz Vocalist Grazyna Auguscik Graces Twin Cities Polish Festival

Art critic Howard Reich is an ardent and articulate fan of jazz vocalist Grazyna Auguscik who will perform for Minnesota fans at the forthcoming 2011 Twin Cities Polish Festival.

Writing in July 2010 Reich rhapsodized about Ms. Auguscik’s performance of the work of Poland’s national musician, Frederic Chopin:

The music world has been awash with 200th anniversary celebrations of Frederic Chopin’s birth, but surely none as free-wheeling as Sunday night’s marathon at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.  (Chicago Tribune, July 26, 2010, quoted online)

Reich goes on to “hazard a guess” about how the Master might have responded to Auguscik’s jazz interpretation of his work:

Chopin himself might have reveled in these sounds. His piano music, after all, bristles with the spirit of improvisation, as if the composer had sat down at the keyboard and instantaneously invented some of the most enduring works in the piano repertory.  Most of Chopin’s preludes, etudes, and nocturnes unfold in utterly unpredictable ways, changing emotional tone at the drop of a sixteenth note—just like jazz. (Ibid)

To this lay person, Auguscik is becoming a YouTube superstar.  Her several videos are not to be missed!

Auguscik is recipient of countless awards and testimonials for her vocal talents.  Recently she was honored for yet another accomplishment.  Now a Chicago resident who carries her unique talent throughout the nation and the world, Auguscik is the May 2011  recipient of the Polish Promotional Emblem Foundation award.  The prestigious award recognizes “the achievements of Polish-born émigrés in the fields of business, culture, science and personality.”

The Twin Cities Polish Festival 2011 is set for Saturday, August 13 and Sunday, August 14, on the Mississippi Riverfront.  For details on this fun- filled – and free – family event click here.

 

Polish Festival on the Riverfront August 13-14 – Open to All!

The very word  “Festival” conjures thoughts of up-beat music, lively dance, great food, fun in the sun.  The 2011 Twin Cities Polish Festival offers all of this  (well, the sun is always iffy) and much more!  What is magnificent about the Polish Festival is the unbounded celebration of Polish culture — Chopin, Conrad, classic films, ethnic food, modern jazz, polka and more mix with accordion playing, folk dance, vodka tasting, a 5K Run and more in a wondrous mix of fun and exploration of the Polish heritage.

All are welcome to join the festivities on Saturday, August 13, 10-10 and Sunday, August 14, 11 – 6.  Gather on the banks of the Mississippi, across from Riverplace and St. Anthony Main.  This grand celebration of All Things Polish is definitely a community event, not just for Polish folks anymore – not that there is anyone who will admit to total dearth of Polish heritage!

Some highlights offer a glimpse of  what’s happening:

v    Grazyna Auguscik, internationally acclaimed Jazz singer/composer renowned for her progressive jazz vocall, accompanied by a group of jazz notables including Paulinho Garcia, Brazilian singer/guitarist and Polish electric violinist

v    Polka Family Band, the five times Grammy nominated band from Pennsylvania.

v    The Megitza Quartet offering a unique jazz/world fusion/gypsy repertoire

v    Jaroslaw Golembiowski, the distinguished composer and pianist who is the featured performer for the Chopin Celebration Concerts

v    Vodka tasting – new this year

v    The 2011 Minnesota State Amateur Polka Dance Championship

v    The 3rd annual NaZdrowie! (to your health) 5K race

The Polish FilmFestival, a highlight of the two-day Festival, offers a weeklong program with film showings every evening, August 12-18.   The FilmFestival, co-sponsored by The Film Society, is at the St. Anthony Main Theater.

– Details, updates, a map, bus, NiceRide, parking and more on the Twin Cities Polish Festival website.

Women of the Polanie Club Share the Polish Heritage for Eighty Decades and More

Of the scores of clubs and organizations that have donated their priceless archives to the James K. Hosmer Special Collections at the Minneapolis Central Library none collected and preserved the record more thoroughly than the Polanie Club.  Known well by Polish Americans everywhere and by residents of Northeast Minneapolis in particular, the Polanie Club is mighty force committed to preserving – and sharing – all that is good about Polish culture.

The Polanie Club  became a reality in October 1927 when a dozen young women of Polish descent gathered for a social club and welcome home to a friend who had just returned from Poland, “full of enthusiasm” to share what she had learned.  The young women agreed to a common purpose,  shaped a collective vision and a shared mission: to preserve their Polish heritage – the history, language, art, music and cuisine of their native land.  The fledgling group called themselves the Polanie Club, “polanie” meaning “people of the prairie.”  From the outside the Club served as a resource, providing Polish national clothing, exhibits, recipes, and a library open to the community.  In the   1930’s the Club sponsored Polish language classes at the U of M and at two public high schools.

Nearly a half century after the formation of the Polanie Club the publication  Northeast: A history described the women and the early days of the club they shaped:

Each was beginning her career as wife, mother, teacher, social worker, lawyer, musician or University student.  Even the Depression years, which followed, were gay times at the Club…The group celebrated each other’s birthdays, engagements, graduation, scholarship awards, and new babies, but never lost sight of its main purpose, to enhance understanding of Polish culture.  This was largely due to the influence of Monica Krawczyk.  (from notes found in the Polanie Club file housed at the James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Minneapolis Central Library)

The unidentified author of this article reminds the reader that the Polanie Club grew at a time when many Polish Americans were changing their names by dropping the RZ-SC-CA combination that native Americans found difficult.

Over the years the Polanie Club continued to meet in members’ homes where they enjoyed comraderie and a monthly gourmet dinner.  Though they ardently supported the defense effort, they held firm to their commitment to preserving the Polish culture.  Wartime programs included “The Music of Poland”(1939), Musical Education in Poland”, and “Poland, a Songland of the World from Music and Youth,”  Later programs featured “Polish Folklore” and” “Polish Women Authors” among a long list of serious discussions of Polish culture, talks often presented by noted scholars and artists.

At these monthly meetings, the women reviewed their many projects and pondered how best to promulgate Polish culture in this country.  Focus on writing and publishing, they agreed, was the best way to spread the word.

Their first publishing venture was launched in 1942 with a collection of the lyrics of 110 Polish songs, Piesni Ludowe. On their 15th anniversary they published Victoria Janda’s collection of poems entitled “Star Hunger”.  That was followed two years later by the poet’s “Walls of Space.”  In 1948 the Polanie Club published its premiere best seller, a cookbook entitled Treasured Polish Recipes for Americans, illustrated by Stanley Legun, a Northeast Minneapolis artist.

The presses were kept busy with Polish publications – poetry, short stories and, in 1957, a compilation of over 300 songs – music and words.  This major work, entitled Treasured Polish Songs with English Translations was illustrated by Maria Werten and translated by Polanie members.

A major event for the Polanie Club came in 1966 when the organization sponsored the Annual Convention of the American Council of Polish Cultural Clubs (now known as the American Council for Polish Culture.)   The conference, held at the University of Minnesota, celebrated the Polish Millennium with a program of distinguished lecturers on the theme, “Poland through a Thousand Years”  The Polanie Club also supported the Polish American Cultural Institute of Minnesota in hosting the 1996 ACPC convention, held in Minneapolis.

The following year, in 1967, the Club celebrated their fortieth anniversary. In that year four members of the great (Josepha Contoski, Cecily Helgesen, Rose Polski Anderson and Marie Sokolowski), received research grants for study in Poland.  Their experiences and the realia with which they returned to the Twin Cities launched Polonie on a more formal exhibition program.  The Club had long supplied Polish costumes and memorabilia for local projects.  Now the Exhibit Committee, armed with the materials brought back by the grant recipients, extended the program of displays – for which they soon began to receive acclamation and awards.

In 1977 members of the Polanie Club celebrated their 50th anniversary in style with a Red and White Ball at the Holiday Inn on the Nicollet Mall.   They also expanded their publications list.  Treasured Polish Folk Rhymes, Songs and Games was translated into English then published in both languages.

Over the years the list grew.  In 1983 Polanie published Bocheck in Poland: A children’s story about the white stork, the fairytale bird of the old world, by Joseph Contoski.  In the late 1980’s the Club diversified their publications later with a 1989 cassette of Polish Christmas Carols and later a CD of Christmas carols created my piano virtuoso Bonnie Frels.

Let it not be written that Polanie Club members look only to the past – one of the most active programs of today’s Polanie is the scholarship program for post-secondary education.  Minnesotans of Polish-American descent are eligible for stipends to attend the post-secondary institution of their choice.  Since the inception of the program in 2000 tens of thousands of scholarships have been awarded.

When the American Council for Polish Culture met again in Minneapolis in 2003 Polanie  seized the opportunity of the organization’s lifetime when they were called upon to conduct national wide auditions for the Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Competitions.  The winner performed in concerts at both Hamline and Universities, events that offered hundreds of Twin Citians an opportunity experience the beauty of Polish culture.

A delightful tradition of Polanie is the annual Wigilia celebration, a Polish Christmas tradition kept alive in this community.  Wigilia, meaning “watchful vigil,” is hosted by Polanie during Advent, offering Minnesotans a chance to prepare for the Nativity in a celebratory but reflective gathering feature Polish food, live performances and an altogether “magical evening.”

At this writing, members of the Polanie Club are working feverishly on preparations for the Twin Cities Polish Festival 2011, August 13-14 on the banks of the Mississippi near St. Anthony Main.  The event itself is a celebration of Polish culture featuring a Chopin Celebration, a Polish film festival, an exhibit of the works of Joseph Conrad, Polish jazz and folk music and dance – along with fabulous food and great exhibits where visitors can learn about the Twin Cities Polish community, including the Polanie Club.  Don’t miss it!

Notes:

v    In truth, having lived in Northeast Minneapolis fewer than thirty years, I am a newbie.  Learning about the women of the Polanie Club expands my understanding and appreciation of my neighborhood.  My profound thanks to those who have maintained the record, everyone who kept the minutes, clipped the newspapers, and preserved the reports.

v    It is worthy of note that the files are replete with the individual names of Polanie members and their roles in the Club.  Though I would love to have been able to attribute some of this credit, there were just too many women to name!

v    Most of the publications of Polanie are still available.  Check the Polanie publications on line.  If you don’t find the title you want there, check Amazon.  My google search was successful in finding virtually all of the titles new or used and at reasonable cost.

v    This piece was written for my blog, whimsically, if accurately, known as Poking Around with Mary.  That is what I do, poke around  – around my neighborhood, the city, libraries, parks, coffee shops, and any other sites or gatherings that catch my eye.  I also search online a range of interests, including a current passion to learn about and draw attention to threats to open government.  When I’m not poking around, I write about what I have learned.  If you’re interested you might take time to poke around the blog where you’ll find past posts on related issues including a piece on last year’s Polish Festival and several pieces of what’s happening in Northeast Minneapolis  You will find an easy subscription link online.