The Jubilee Gala concluded a year-long celebration of the Fulbright Program in Poland’s 60th anniversary.

  • Aleksandra Szaniawska
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On Friday, November 29, our year-long celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Fulbright Program in Poland came to a close with the Jubilee Gala held in the ballroom of Warsaw’s Sofitel-Victoria. Among the nearly 200 guests who participated in the event were alumni and friends of the Program. It was an evening filled with music, art, lights and most importantly human connections – a chance for everyone to celebrate the undying spirit of the Fulbright community in Poland. 

In the last 60 years, the Fulbright Program has allowed over 3000 Poles to pursue their research in the U.S., while around 2000 Americans have had a chance to come to Poland and engage in collaborations with Polish institutions of higher education. All of the Program’s alumni speak in unison when they say that the Fulbright grant has changed their lives and impacted the development of their careers. A tight network of connections – both professional and personal – established during the Fulbright grant makes it clear that the Program opens many doors and keeps its participants inspired for years to come.

It [the Fulbright Program] opened up great opportunities for me to grow as a person. I came here first in 2005 as a Fulbright Scholar and since then I have been 100 percent involved. What I learned from Polish people is to be proud of where you come from. 

– Stan Breckenridge. Fulbright Program alumnus

The official part of the evening included remarks by Dr. Anna Budzanowska, General Director at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education and a member of the Board of Directors of the Polish-U.S. Fulbright Commission, and B. Bix Aliu, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States.

The musical part of the evening comprised performances by our alumni: Magdalena Sas, Michael Poll and Nikodem Wojciechowski, accompanied by Kwartet Polonika. Their musical compositions were arranged by Przemysław Zych.

We had the pleasure to listen to i.e:

  • Cello Concerto in A minor, Op. 129, part II Langsam by Robert Schuman
  • Concierto de Aranjuez, part II Adagio by Joaquin Rodrigo
  • Piano concert in E minor op. 11, part II Romance (Larghetto) by Fryderyk Chopin
  • Night Club 1960 and Cafe 1930 from the cycle “Histoire du Tango” by Astor Piazzolla

Fulbright Poland alumnus, Stan Breckenridge with his Stan Breckenridge Quartet: Jarosław Kaczmarczyk – saxophone, Teofil Lisiecki – double bass and Krzysztof Dziedzic – percussion invited our guests on a journey across the USA by performing songs, such as:

  • Let the Good Times Roll (Sam Theard, Billy Strayhorn)
  • Take the A Train (Billy  Strayhorn) 
  • Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael)
  • Stand by Me (Jerry Leibera i Mike Stoller)
  • Ain’t No Sunshine (Bill Whiters)
  • What a Wonderful World (Boba Thiele i George David). 

The Quartet’s repertoire also included a song titled Waterfall composed by Stan Breckenridge.

Leaving for the U.S. with the Fulbright Program was a life-changing experience. I came back as a completely different person in a very positive understanding of this term.

-Dr hab. N. med. Marek Postuła, Fulbright Program alumnus

MUSICIANS

Profiles of our artists – musicians who took care of the musical aspect of the event.

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Stan Breckenridge

Stan Breckenridge is a musician, academic lecturer and the author of music-related books. Thanks to the Fulbright grant, he was a Visiting Professor at the University of Maria Curie-Skłodowska in Lublin and the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan.

Stan Breckenridge – 2019 RECIPIENT OF THE AMICUS POLONIAE AWARD – is a professional musician, academician, author, and holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Claremont Graduate University In Claremont, California, USA. He has performed and given lecture-performances in England, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, Poland, Slovakia, and the Ukraine. United States performances include The Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, The Greek Theater, The Los Angeles Forum, The Los Angeles Sports Arena, The Hollywood Bowl, The Watts Summer Festival, Capitol Records, and on various national TV programs. Stan Breckenridge has appeared with and/or performed for personalities such as Madeleine Albright, Bill Cosby, Mahalia Jackson, Jerry Lewis, Martha Reeves (of the Vandellas), Larry McCormick, Greg Morris, Rowan and Martin, David Ruffin (of the Temptations), Nancy Sinatra, John Travolta, John Wayne, and many others. Some recent performances include four appearances on Jaka to Melodia, one of Poland’s popular music programs on national TV; and a feature performance, for the Polish-American Military Picnic titled “Always close by, Safe together”, organized on the occasion of the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump.

Stan Breckenridge has ten albums: Stan Breckenridge Performs Jazz, Blues, Rhythm & Blues, and Soul (April 15, 2019), Black and Tan Fantasy (2017 with Jazz Band Ball Orchestra), Inspirations (2014), Out of Love for Jazz (2012), Reflections (2009), A soulful Christmas (2008), This is My Song (2007), Live in Poland (2005), Solo (2003), Meditations (2001), and Expositions (1999).

In addition to performance, Dr. Breckenridge is an “Artist in Residence” Visiting Professor in the Faculty of English at Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, Poland. Prior to this he was the Department Chair of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Dr. Breckenridge was selected as a United States Distinguished Chair Fulbright Scholar to Poland for the 2012–2013 and 2013-2014, where he taught at the University of Marie Curie Sklodowska in Lublin, and Jagiellonian University in Kraków, respectively. He also served as a Fulbright Scholar to Poland in 2005. Dr. Breckenridge has authored three textbooks: Music Taste or Waste: Critical Listening Skills for Students, Teachers, and Parents (3rd edition, 2018); Popular Music in America: Forging the American Spirit (3rd edition, 2015); and African American Music for Everyone: Including Theater, Film and Dance (3rd edition, 2014).

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Magdalena Sas

Magdalena Sas

Magdalena Sas is a cellist and recipient of numerous awards in national and international competitions. In 2014, thanks to the Fulbright grant, she had a chance to study with Eric Kim at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in the United States.

Polish cellist Magdalena Sas is a graduate of the Krakow Music Academy and the Royal Music Conservatory in Brussels. As a member of the Vistula String Quartet she completed a post-graduate chamber music course at the Universität für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Vienna and was also a member of the prestigious European Chamber Music Academy in Austria. In 2014, as a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship, she studied with Eric Kim at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University in the United States.

Magdalena Sas is a prize winner of many competitions, including The Charles Hennen International Chamber Competition in the Netherlands, the International Val Tidone Competition in Italy, the Josef Windisch Prize in Austria and the EMUSE International Competition in Greece. Magdalena is also a recipient of various scholarships and grants including the Adam Mickiewicz Institute Scholarship, the Mayor of Bielsko-Biała City Scholarship, Thomastik Infeld Vienna Grant, European Chamber Music Academy Scholarship, Jong Talent Musikfestival Scholarship, Hulencourt Art Project, and Jacobs School of Music Scholarship. In 2012, she received a scholarship from the Yale School of Music in the USA and was selected to participate in the renown Norfolk Chamber Music Festival in Connecticut.

As an orchestral musician, Magdalena had the opportunity to collaborate with ensembles such as the Australian World Orchestra, the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, and was a guest member of the Sinfonietta Cracovia, the Beethoven Academy Orchestra in Poland, YES Camerata and Hulencourt Soloists in Belgium, and SFK Orchester in Austria. She participated in many international Chamber Music festivals including Consonances Chamber Music festival in France, Mozartiade in Germany, Ad-Libitum in Poland, Paschim Rang in India, performing alongside musicians such as Ivry Gitlis, Philippe Graffin, Gary Hoffman, and Raphael Wallfisch. During her stay in India she regularly participated in projects of world-famous Indian musicians: Zakir Hussain, Rakesh Chaurasia and Sabir Khan, and appeared as a soloist at the opening concert of the Royal Opera House in Mumbai.

Passionate for teaching Magdalena is a faculty at the Emporia State University String Camp in Kansas, Community Music Lessons Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Fellow at the International Cello Institute in Northfield, Minnesota in the United States. In 2015-17 she was in charge of the cello program at the Mehli Mehta Music Foundation and volunteered as teaching artist at the Happy Home and School for the Blind in Mumbai, India. In 2019, she participated in the MusAID Teaching Artist Summer Lab conducting individual and group classes as a teacher for EL SISTEMA in San Salvador.

In 2018 Magdalena was awarded the Paul Collins Wisconsin Distinguished Fellowship (USA), and is currently a doctoral student in the Mead Witter School of Music at the UW Madison, under the tutelage of professor Uri Vardi. In 2019/2020, she will represent Poland as a member of the international Global Leaders Program, where she will receive training from prestigious institutions, such as Harvard University, Duke University, John Hopkins University, and McGill University.

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Michael Poll

Michael Poll is a classical guitarist and conductor. During his 2010 Fulbright grant, he researched Polish folk music at the Academy of Music in Poznań.

Classical guitarist and conductor, Michael Poll, has performed across North America, South America, and Europe, including in Barbican Hall, Wigmore Hall, and the National Theatre of Panama. His debut guitar album, 7-String Bach, was called ‘masterful’ by Gramophone magazine, and Wholenote praised his ‘Warm, rich, and full tone’. Since its release in April 2018, 7-String Bach has been streamed over 500,000 times on Spotify, has been played on Classic FM in London, WRTI in the United States, and was BBC Guernsey’s Feature of the Month for July.

Poll’s 2018-2019 season includes recitals at St James Piccadilly and The Warehouse in London, engagements in Germany and Italy, and a tour of UK Cathedrals.
From 2014-2018 Poll served as Music Director of the Goodensemble Orchestra in London, where he conducted 24 concerts including a Gala Performance in honour of Queen Elizabeth II, a complete St John Passion, and Bloomsbury Opera’s 2018 production of Le Nozze di Figaro.

As a guitarist he has appeared in Boston, Washington, San Francisco, London, Philadelphia, and New York. Poll’s collaborators have included composer Elizabeth Ogonek, pianists Stephan Ciric, David Malusa, John Fisher, and Jason Bae, tenor Peter Devoran, barritone Jake Muffett, and his brother conductor Teddy Poll.

Poll’s compositions Three Preludes for solo guitar were premiered in 2012 as a part of the Dresden String Spring festival.

A 2010 Fulbright and a 2012 Marshall Scholar, Michael Poll holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in music summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania and was a visiting student at the Curtis Institute of Music in conducting with Virginia Allen and in solfège with Eric Sessler. In 2012 he received the Graduate Performance Diploma from the Academy of Music in Poznan, Poland, and in 2014 the MPerf degree from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where he was a Junior Fellow from 2015-2017. Poll’s teachers have included Frederic Hand, Lukasz Kuropaczewski, Emiliano Pardo-Tristán, Benjamin Verdery, Piotr Zaleski, and Robert Brightmore. Poll has been a member of the faculty of the Bryn Mawr Conservatory of Music and the Polish Guitar Academy, a fellow of the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and has held scholarships to the Aspen Music Festival and the European American Musical Alliance. He has performed live on the radio in Poland, Panama, and the US, and has had music broadcast by the BBC World Service.

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Nikodem Wojciechowski

Nikodem Wojciechowski is a pianist and a recipient of multiple national and international awards. As a Fulbright grantee, he received his second Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in prof. Arnaldo Cohen piano class.

Nikodem Wojciechowski graduated with honors from the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz (prof. Katarzyna Popowa-Zydroń piano class). As a Fulbright grantee, he received his second Master of Fine Arts from Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music (prof. Arnaldo Cohen piano class). Currently, he is a Ph.D. student at the University of Cincinnati College - Conservatory of Music, where he works with prof. Awadagin Pratt. He participated in many master courses led by renowned artists such as John Perry, Thomas Hecht, Jerome Rose, Jeffrey Swann, Massimiliano Ferrati, Victor Rosenbaum, Steven Mayer, Mykola Suk, Daniel Shapiro, Victor Rosenbaum, Andrzej Jasiński, Józef Stompel, Waldemar Wojtal, Joaquín Soriano, Tamás Ungar, Jerome Rose, Choong Mo Kang, Mikhail Voskresensky, Nelson Goerner and Daniel Blumenthal.

Nikodem Wojciechowski performed at major music centers in Poland, the United States, China, Indonesia, Russia, Great Britain, and Luxembourg. In 2010-11, he toured China with a series of concerts. Every year, he gives Chopin concerts in Poland, i.e. in Palace Pacoltowo, and Palace in Sanniki. He also played Chopin recitals, and taught master classes in Indonesia at the Institut Français Indonesia in Bandung, and Irama Indah Music Centre in Bali. Nikodem participated in many music festivals, including: “Tydzień Talentów” (“A Week of Talents”) Festival in Kąśna Dolna; “Chopiniana” – Fryderyk Chopin Days in Warsaw; 6th Russian-Polish Classical Music Festival “Dziecięca Akademia Muzyki” (“Children Academy of Music”) in Moscow; International Chopin Festival in Duszniki Zdrój; and International Festival “Chopin in the Colours of Autumn” in Antonin. In 2017, he was invited by Kansas State University’s School of Music, Theater and Dance to teach master classes for students, and play a piano concert.

Nikodem was awarded second prize at the 1st Krogulski International Piano Competition in Tarnow (2018), received Taylor Merit Award at NSAL 2016 Instrumental Music Competition in Bloomington, Indiana (2016), third prize at the 10th International Competition “Young Virtuosos” in Sofia (2014), as well as second prize at the Polish Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw (2010). He was granted scholarships by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, J. Kwaśniewska “Porozumienie bez barier” Foundation, the Marshall Office of the Wielkopolska Region, Poznan City Council, the Mayor of Poznan, Polish Children’s Fund, the Ministry of Culture in Luxembourg, the H. Cegielski Society, and the Polish Arts Club of Youngstown.

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AUCTION

Upon the conclusion of the musical part of the evening, the stage turned into an auction house. Our Fulbright alumni art auction comprised works of art donated by Fulbright artists and available for purchase to the highest bidder. Artists present at the Gala – Joanna Kaiser, Monika Niwelińska, Endi Poskovic and Joanna Pottle – breathlessly followed the auction unfold. And so did the crowd. All proceeds from the auction will be used to assist the Commission in financing our grants. Several of the donated works are available in our online auction on the platform Allegro Charytatywni.

Upon the conclusion of the Jubilee Gala’s formal part, hosted by Zuzanna Lewandowska, our guests were driven straight to the dancefloor by the two-hour concert of Singin’ Birds.

VIDEO

We encourage you to watch the video report from the event prepared by Onet News (Onet Wiadomości). Click the picture below or here to do so.

PHOTOS

Photo credit: Mariusz Kosiński. For more photos, please check out our Facebook profile

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

We would like to thank our event partners: The Ministry of Science and Higher Education, The U.S. Department of State, Steinway & Sons, The Fryderyk Chopin Institute and onet.pl News

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