Celebrating 10 Years of Visiting Poland (And What's Coming Up This Summer)
I visited Poland for the first time in 2006. At the time, if someone had told me that I would make regular trips back for the next 10 years, I wouldn’t have believed it. Here’s how it all started. Way back in 2006, our family decided that we should make a pilgrimage to Warsaw to find my grandfather’s birthplace. All I really knew was that he had been brought to the United States from Zyrardow, Poland in 1900, as a little boy of four. My mother’s family did not pass on the language or culture, so I didn’t have a connection beyond stories I was told and the few Polish songs and phrases I heard.
The first time, we visited Warsaw on a whim. We were already going to be in Vienna, and decided we should spend part of our trip in Warsaw. When I remember the worse-for-wear airport we arrived at in June of 2006 and compare it to today’s sleek, modern Frederic Chopin airport, it seems like it must have been a dream.
In Vienna in 2006, where they were celebrating Mozart’s 250th birthday, we were inundated with the great Mozart’s music during the 250th celebration in Vienna—little Mozarts in 18th century-style powdered wigs and breaches accosted crowds, selling tickets for dozens of concerts. We thought that there might be a similar situation with Chopin’s music in Warsaw. Though we arrived on a Friday and stayed for the weekend, we only found one Chopin-related event, which was an outdoor concert that ended up getting rained out. When we tried to go to the Chopin Museum on Monday, it was closed!
Since then, so much has changed, including the recent renovation of the Chopin museum. Thanks to the work of Jaroslaw Cholodecki, the owner of the Chopin Boutique Bed and Breakfast and a tireless champion of live music in Poland, many more opportunities to hear Chopin’s immortal works are now available.
Starting this June, my husband and I will live in Warsaw for nearly 3 months. The trip holds great promise and excitement – for playing concerts, reconnecting with our Polish friends and making new friendships, and hopefully, for experiencing more of Polish culture. I am excited to be performing 2 solo programs: an all-Chopin recital and Chopin Meets the Beatles. I will also team up with the great jazz pianist and educator, Stan Breckenridge. Stan is well-loved in Poland after an impressive 3 tours as a Fulbright Scholar there. More information about my upcoming collaboration with Stan Breckenridge is available below my signature at the end of this letter!
I keep coming back to one question: What would my Grandfather think of all this? I think he would be amazed. As for me, I am just so grateful; I wouldn’t be here if his mother had not made that journey from Poland to America. I can’t wait to bring you more news on my next Polish adventure!
All the best,