NEW BRITAIN - Polish families from across the region welcomed the Christmas season in with a symphony, dancing and singing from the homeland Sunday.
The Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra hosted the Moniuszko Choir and the Polanie Dance Troupe inside the Welte Auditorium at CCSU, for the Stanislaus A. Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish American Studies’ Annual Polish Concert.
Held every December, the event is a Christmas tradition for many concertgoers.
“We come each year for the Polish carols,” Berlin residents John and Barbara Barczak said as they walked arm-in-arm into the theater.
Savoring a Christmas cookie in the lobby before the music began were friends Irma Fikus and Dorothy Cashman, from Wallingford. Both are Polish.
“I can still speak the language and I hope I never forget,” Fikus said.
The pair listened to Polish Christmas carols on the ride to CCSU Sunday afternoon.
“They stay in your memory,” Fikus pointed out of these songs, which she has listened to since she was a child in Poland.
“I may have forgotten what I ate this morning for breakfast but I always remember the carols.”
Artistic Director Adrian Sylveen opened the show with “Polonaise” from Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s opera Eugene Onegin.
This was followed by Miezyslaw Karlowicz’s hauntingly beautiful Rapsodia Litewska, Op. 11 (Lithuanian Rhapsody).
“I tend to sneak in pieces perhaps you’ve never heard before but you may find interesting and educational,” Sylveen told his audience. “It’s not all Christmas music but I don’t really care.”
Alone backstage before the concert the conductor contemplated world travel and musical inspiration.
“My passport says European Union but I guess we are all part of this union we create together,” Sylveen said. “My first mission here today is to bring people some joy. We’re trying to present different elements of Polish heritage, from classical to folk to carols. These are all beautiful elements of the culture that are worthy of recognition.”
Greeting guests at the entrance into the theater was his 9-year-old daughter Sofia Sylveen.
“I saw the rehearsal,” she said. “There were kids dancing, the chorus singing. My dad is the conductor and my mom is the main violinist. It’s an exciting thing for us.”
Posing for photographs with relatives and friends was Polanie dancer Andrew Kiszkiel.
“There are a lot of Polish people here,” Kiszkiel said. “Many speak Polish or their parents or grandparents do.”
Ania Chudy and her daughter Milena, from Wethersfield, came to watch their grandfather and great-grandfather perform.
“He’s singing in the choir,” Chudy said. “It’s our yearly tradition.”
Erica Schmitt can be reached at 860-801-5097, @schmittnbh or firstname.lastname@example.org.
CT Virtuosi’s upcoming concerts:
Andante spianato et Grande polonaise brillante Symphoniette
Feb. 23 at 7:30 p.m. - First Church of Christ Congregational, New Britain
Feb. 24 at 7:30 p.m. - Cyril and Methodius Church, Hartford
Choral Concert with CCSU Singers
March 16 at 7:30 p.m. - First Church of Christ congregational, New Britain
March 17 at 7:30 p.m. - Cyril and St. Methodius Church, Hartford