The Polish & Slavic Center in Brooklyn


presenting Jakub Polaczyk.

The Polish and Slavic Center celebrated its 50th anniversary last year and serves as an important institution promoting Slavic Culture in New York City. Polish immigration to New York has shrunk in the last few years but there are quite a few Polish artists that is based in NYC. Some came to the Big Apple as students, some keep working as freelancers and the others relocated from abroad or to different states. Polish and Slavic Center in Brooklyn On top of offering social help center also promotes art. It is s also a home for Polish and Slavic Artists representing different genres like: music, visual art, music and dance. On the March 9 there was an evening dedicated to the Polish/American musician currently based in NYC: Jakub Polaczyk. Jakub is a composer, pianist  and pedagogue, who just turned 40. He came to USA 12 years ago. Part of his story coming to USA was presented on the documentary movie done by Dennis Woytek presented that night. Jakub is also the radio broadcaster in the Polish Radio Chicago, director of the International Chopin and Friends Festival I NYC. He also likes to collaborate with others artist, he teaches at the New York Conservatory of Music. His compositions have been performed internationally on festivals, conferences, courses on such prestigious venues as: Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center in New York City, Recital Hall West in Sydney, “Bulgaria” Hall in Sofia, Vietnam National AM in Hanoi. He collaborated with many new music ensembles, orchestras. As a pianist he performed with singers, instrumentalists and ballet companies in NYC and Poland. He achieved scholarships to name a few from: ASCAP, Carnegie Mellon Foundation, Sapere Auso, Minister of Culture of Poland and Mayor of Cracow. For artists achievements in 2019 was nominated for the Szaflarska Prize in Arts in his native Southern Poland. His works are published mainly by: Donemus in the Netherlands and online by Babel Scores and were recorded by Ablaze and recently by Albany Records.

            On that evening Jakub was celebrating his new CD : Union Square released under Albany Records label. It is is a brand CD recorded during pandemic. It presents mostly works composed in NYC in last 5 years. On the CD there are featured chamber musicians from NYC, Rome and Poland. We can hear: Argus Quartet from New York, Blow Up Percussion from Rome and Brooklyn based singer Kofi Hayford and instruemnftalists from Poland: Wioletta Strączek, Renata Guzik, Paweł Kubica, Paweł Cieslak, Maciej Zimka, Małgorzata Mikulska, Katarzyna Zabielska and settled in USA Wojtek Komsta. Some of them perform together with composer playing on the piano. CD is inspired by the Union Square and title is derived from the composer’s percussion quartet that is  also included on the disk: Union Square at Dusk. Album has 9 pieces, it begins from the piece written as a student in Krakow and ends with one of his recent work for flute and harp dedicated to composer’s son. The host of the entire evening was talented and Polish rising star actress Weronika Woźniak. She graduated from The Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in New York City and he comes originally from Poland but has been living in New York City since 2016.

The premiere screening of the movie: “Conversations with Jakub Polaczyk” done by Professor Dennis Woytek also took place that night. The film director is an American and is a Czech-Polish decent professor emeritus from the Duquesne University in Pennsylvania. He specialized in documentary movies. He got awarded for his movies on different competition in the country.  Before the projection there was a short introduction and online interview with the author. It was explained why he got interested in the story to make  that documentary and explained the process of making the video. The presented movie showed a journey of Jakub from his early years his childhood until his recent times and life in New York. Movie combines a few interviews with the Jakub done by Dennis Woytek in the span of 10 years. First one right after graduating from the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh in 2013,  than settling in 2016 in New York right before the premiere of his Mass written for the anniverary of Christianity of Poland in 2016, until the CD release remark done at the composer’s home a few weeks ago.  For those who would like to watch  watch it with Polish captions is available on the PSC YouTube chanel:. For those who wants to watch it with the original English captions is available on the channel of the filmmaker Dennis Woytek.   

Jakub Polaczyk made a few comments about his album and sign his CDs. He mentioned about a few tributes paid to the Polish masters like: K. Penderecki, C.K. Norwid, F.Chopin and K. Szymanowski along with some tributes to European culture like: Combinations on Olympus and Arlequin and Asian culture: Earth my Pillow, Yoolcoo-Youlcoo-Yoolcou as long as tribute to Native Americans in the trio: Ojibbeway. He claims himself as post-modernistic artist with some doze of surrealism and synthesis of different techniques and multicultural inspirations. However everything is rooted his music in his native Polish culture as sur-synthethic because having both synthetic elements and elements of surrealism. During the event on March 9th we could hear two works by composer presented by: Karolina Mikolajczyk and Iwo Jedynecki, renown and awarded Polish Violin-Accordion Duo currently living in NYC on the Fullbright Scholarship. We could hear one for solo accordion inspired by his homeland and one for duo together with composer’s participation. The last piece that was composed for his Carnegie Hall debut as composer in 2015 and got inspired by the sound of ringing glass. After the event artist distributed and signed his recent CD’s. For those who are interested in “Union Square” it is available on label Albany Records website or to purchase online on: Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music.

What do you think?

Written by Joshua White

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