NEW BRITAIN - Poles and non-Poles alike packed Trinity-on-Main Sunday night for a very special Christmas concert.
The Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber and the Moniuszko Choir joined internationally renowned vocalist Jūratė Švedaitė for Central Connecticut State University’s Stanislaus Blejwas Endowed Chair in Polish Studies Christmas Concert. The annual event is a tradition for many Polish families around the region, who sat beside music lovers and admirers of the orchestra
This was the first year the concert has been held at the downtown entertainment venue. It usually takes place in CCSU’s Welte Hall Auditorium, which was unavailable this year.
Virtuosi founder and Artistic Director Adrian Sylveen was pleased with the accommodations at Trinity-on-Main as he prepared for the concert backstage.
“This venue is very good acoustically,” Sylveen said. “This is a special event. We look at it as an evening of Polish art song. It’s a rare happening.”
The program opened with Moniuszko’s String Symphony No. 2 in F major, before a selection of Polish art songs, including Chopin’s “Moja Pieszczotka” and Moniuszko’s “Dziad I Baba.”
After a brief intermission, the Moniuszko Choir, also established by Sylveen, took the stage to perform more than a dozen Polish Christmas carols.
The audience heard traditional favorites like “Cicha Noc” and “O Jozefie.”
Choir member Anna Miroslaw enjoyed performing songs she knew as innately as the holiday itself.
“The Christmas carols are my favorite songs,” she whispered before the show. “I love it.”
Miroslaw moved to Connecticut from Poland 25 years ago. She lives in Glastonbury and has been singing with the choir about a year.
“I was singing these carols since when I was a little girl in Poland,” she remembered. “It reminds me of my home, my family.”
Švedaitė was also reminded of her childhood as she performed solo with the orchestra.
“My grandmother was Polish, so Polish culture is a very big part of me,” she explained. “This is going back to my history.”
As a longtime friend and colleague of Sylveen, she has performed with the Virtuosi dozens of times.
“We’ve done projects together in Israel, Italy, Poland, everywhere,” he said. “She’s a world-class singer. We’re very lucky to have her here.”
Bristol resident Maria Hurczyn brought two friends along with her for the show, which she attends every year.
“It’s the holiday season,” Hurczyn said.
Admission was free and donations were collected.
The Rev. Edward Przygocki and the Rev. Peter Kucer from the Holy Apostle College and Seminary in Cromwell were happy to give.
“I’ve been to these concerts before and I’m a fervent supporter of the Connecticut Virtuosi,” Przygocki said. “I’m of Polish heritage and very proud of the marvelous cultural accomplishments in both music and art of the Polish people.”
Kucer’s father is a professional musician from Slovakia.
“I’ve been surrounded by music and art my whole life,” he said.
Erica Drzewiecki can be reached eat 860-801-5097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.