The Polish Heritage Society
Chopin, Verdi and Gershwin help raise funds at PHS Concert
More than 100 people attended a Polish Heritage Society fundraising concert featuring Chopin’s piano music and a selection of popular songs and arias, which was held at the Polish Embassy on 23 May.
Soprano Cheryl Enever delighted the audience with opera arias by Verdi, Puccini, Strauss and Lehar, and a selection of Gershwin songs. But she drew the loudest ovation for singing in Polish for the first time, with assured performances of songs by Chopin and Szymanowski, as well as encore of the Polish national anthem. She was accompanied by Dr Andrew Parmley on the piano, who also acted as a jovial master of ceremonies.
Young British pianist Mark Dowd tackled some of the most popular and some of the most challenging of Chopin’s piano pieces, holding the audience spellbound with his technique and his musicianship.
The evening’s entertainment ended with a buffet supper kindly provided by the embassy. Deputy Ambassador Dariusz Laska, representing Ambassador Witold Sobkow, praised the work of the PHS in strengthening relations between Poland and the UK by connecting the past to the present.
PHS Chairman Dr Marek Stella-Sawicki reminded the audience of the many successful projects already undertaken by the PHS to highlight the contributions made by Poles to the UK and promised that all of the funds raised would be channelled to an ambitious series of future projects.
Welcome speech by chairman of the PHS, Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki, MBE, KM
" Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am delighted to welcome you here, at the 2013 fundraising Concert of the Polish Heritage Society UK.
It is very heartening to see that we are completely sold out and I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for attending tonight and for supporting our Charity.
The Polish Heritage Society was set up to help protect the heritage of the Polish diaspora in this country. Polish immigration to the UK goes back as far as the 1831 uprising against Imperialist Russian rule in Polish lands or even earlier. Although most of us will be more familiar with the Polish exiles of WWII and more recent migrants.
This Polish diaspora in the UK was made up of writers, poets, the military, politicians, Presidents, Artists, Professionals from all walks of life, who played an important role in the creation of a large and vibrant Polish community in the UK.
Witness to their achievements can be seen in buildings, statues, plaques, monuments, former military installations, churches, organisations, clubs and societies all over the UK. The aim of the Polish Heritage Society is to ensure that these historical assets are remembered and if required protected or refurbished.
Since our formation as a British charity, The PHS has worked on projects ranging from a major Chopin statue in the centre of Manchester, the refurbishment of a Chopin statue at Southbank, Royal Festival Hall - missing for 40 years, busts of Chopin in Ealing and Trinity College of Music in Greenwich.
To celebrate the centenary of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, the only woman to win two Nobel prizes, PHS donated two bronze busts, one to a Hospice in Hampstead (in the name of our dear friend and colleague Dr Andrew Meeson-Kielanowski) and the other to an Oncology Hospital in Wimbledon.
This year we produced a documentary film on General Sosabowski and the Polish Airborne Brigade in Arnhem in 1944 and closer to home we positioned a plaque to General Sosabowski in the place where he last lived.
Our largest donation to date went to Ognisko Polskie/The Polish Hearth Club last autumn, when The Polish Heritage Society refurbished the front façade of this iconic Grade II building in Exhibition Road.
Last week PHS in partnership with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, completed the renovation of the grave in Kensal Green of Krystyna Skarbek-Granville, an SOE agent during the WWII, and Churchill’s favourite spy.
PHS has some exciting new projects in the pipeline which include the renovation of the grave of Prince Poniatowski, a plaque for the Polish Navy at their former London Headquarters during WWII and some form of commemoration for shell-shocked polish soldiers recovering at the Horton Hospitals in Surrey.
So I would like to thank the following people and organisations for supporting our work in the past and I hope will do so in the future;
The Polish Ambassador, His Excellency Witold Sobkow, the deputy Ambassador, Mr Dariusz Laska, the Consul General Mr Ireneusz Truszkowski as well as the staff of The Embassy of the Republic of Poland – most especially Mrs Marie Kato-Kmiec and Mr Robert Szaniawski. I would also like to thank the following businesses for their support - Edwards Duthie Solicitors, Over Taylor Biggs commercial Legal Practice, the Montessori St Nicholas Charity and Abbey Printers and our very supportive friend Mr Andy Penny.
Finally a thank you to all the PHS team who have helped bring this event together for us, and a special thank you must go to our accomplished performers of this evening’s concert, who are donating their time towards raising funds for our Charity. Our Soprano, Cheryl Enever who is accompanied by Alderman Dr Andrew Parmley and Mark Dowd.
Ladies and Gentleman, please enjoy this evening and welcome our performers."
Dr. Marek Stella-Sawicki, MBE, KM, Chairman of the Polish Heritage Society UK