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13 maja 2007
My Perspectives
Urszula Lang

“Mount Kosciuszko Music on the Mountain” and “Mound and Mt Kosciuszko Festival” were very successful because:

1. Both events were truly effective in their promotion of Polish achievement in Australia and Polish culture to the wider Australian Community. They were not Polish festivals designed to satisfy just the Polish community, which is the approach (not good) often taken for some of the other Polish Festivals in Sydney and other State capitals;

If Poles wish to be acknowledged and respected in the Australian community, and their views considered in relation to significant decisions such as the renaming of Australia’s highest mountain, then its important to hold and support these types of events;

2. The events had interest for everyone and were dynamic because of the involvement of our Aussie friends in The Sydney Windjammers, John Hospodaryk (ballads in English), local jazz musician Paul Dion, local choir “Snowy Centenary Choir”, local Czech duo Vashek and Vendulka, the local Dance School in Cooma, local balladier/guitarist Jim Lay and local folk musician David Turner.

The youngest performers

Olivia Kierdal

The integration of the performances of the above people with those of Polish artists Krzysztof Malek, Halina Gad, Olivia Kierdal, Basia Kierdal, Alicia Polak (Adam Wasiel, Joanna Gad and Slawek Kazan joined us on the mountain) and Polish Dance Ensembles Syrenka, Lajkonik and Pol-Hop, formed the basis of a festival which, by its format, was about “Integration”, and promoting Polish culture in a way that it is likely to be better received and enjoyed by non-Poles. In this way, it made a greater impact. We all had fun together!

Syrenka: Kosciuszko's Polonaise

Lajkonik: Kosciuszko's Polonaise

3. MC for the Saturday concert was Tom Barry, Chairman of the Local Heritage Committee. MC for the Sunday concert was Alyson Hulley-Jefferies from Radio Bega. Rotary Club in Cooma organized the Cooma Festival with us, and Jindabyne Scouts catered for the Saturday concert. Tom Shumak, Deputy Mayor of Snowy River Shire Council represented Council at the Saturday concert and Cooma Mayor Tony Kalthoum, opened the Sunday Festival. Consul-General Richard Sarkowicz officially presided over both events. Father Przybylak gave Polish mass at Strzelecki’s Monument in Jindabyne Park at 8am on Sunday morning.

Holy Communion at the Strzelecki Monument

4. Many other local people helped us in a host of different ways, for which we were extremely grateful.

5. The event was rich in content and diverse, though linked by themes in material relating to Kosciuszko, Strzelecki, the Snowy Mountains, migration, the Snowy Hydro scheme. The highlights for me were:

• Chopin music by Krzysztof Malek. He brought audiences, Polish and Australian, to their feet on both days, even though we could only provide him with a Piano-organ! He was just wonderful!

• A little cameo play act about Strzelecki by Lajkonik dancers, Basia Gadd and Robert Mitas, called “Portrait of Strzelecki”. They performed this very nicely, and I’m sure it will be a special moment in the Film Documentary being prepared;

• Olivia Kierdal’s own composition about Kosciuszko! What a terrific song!

• Little Lajkonik dancers, 3 and 4 years old, performing Krakowiak and Highland dances both in Jindabyne, and in Cooma Park! These little ones actually had a good idea of what they were doing!

• Czech Duo Vashek and Vendulka – gorgeous talented singer/musicians with charming personalities both on and off stage and with a great future ahead of them!

The Czech Duo: Vasek & Vendulka

• The improvement in Polhop Dance Group with some great new choreographies and seeing their growing confidence in what they love to do!

• The quality of the image exhibition and seeing my Ensemble “Lajkonik” included as part of this in a series of beautiful large photos!

• The effort and quality of Lajkonik’s performances. I received many compliments from the local community about this.

• A beautiful choreography to Kosciuszko Polonez Nr.2 prepared by Iwona Kower and performed by 4 lovely Syrenka girls!

6. Final Wrap Up

Ernestyna and I really could have done with more help in organizing this Festival. There was so much work and it caused us a lot of stress and worry – so much so that some of us are still recovering.

Funding from Blum Foundation (thankyou!) came through at the last minute and it has made so much difference to such things as putting special corbalite backing sheets onto the photographic images to enable them to be exhibited in different future locations and for use as gifts to the National Parks and Wildlife Service and the two local Councils; a professional sound system for the Saturday concert; and the filming of both events – good material for further promotion of Kosciuszko and Strzelecki.

I must also thank the parents and dancers from Lajkonik, the total number of which was around 80, all of whom travelled to Jindabyne to support the Festival, at their own expense and simply to support “the cause” and because I asked them to. I am very proud of Lajkonik’s significant contribution and wish to give them MY special thanks publicly!

May I also put on public record that our founding objective for the Mound and Mount Kosciuszko Festival was for full participation of not just Lajkonik, but Kujawy and Syrenka, from Sydney, Wawel from Wollongong, Wielkopolska from Canberra, and if possible, Polonez from Melbourne and Tatry from Adelaide, as well as individual artists from all the above cities. If the Festival is ever to be repeated, then it will be even better if more Ensembles and artists join in. More businesses and artisans showing their wares would also be needed. There is always strength in numbers.

Polish potato pancakes

We need more of the attitude of Pan Pazdzior from Polonez Smallgoods, Sydney, who said he would definitely come because it was such an important cause, even if he didn’t make a profit. As it turned out, he did quite well, and everyone loved his Polish pancakes and sausages with bread, and there was a long queue to his stall whenever I looked! Thumbs up Panie Wiesiu!

On a final note, I would like to say a sincere thankyou to everyone who helped in some way, big or small, and especially the many sponsors, to making the Mound and Mount Kosciuszko event a great success!

Urszula Lang
Organising Team