Carnegie Hall concert celebrates Poland's independence anniversary

A Polish music concert at Carnegie Hall and the unveiling of a relief depicting an icon of Polish independence, Ignacy Jan Paderewski, at the Polish Slavic Center dominated Sunday celebrations in New York of the centenary of Poland regaining independence.

The highlight of the anniversary concert in the famous concert hall in Manhattan was a performance by the third prize winner at the 17th International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw. Kate Liu performed Chopin's three Mazurkas op. 59 as well as Paderewski's Melodies op. 16. no. 2.

In addition to being a composer and pianist, Paderewski was a politician, statesman and spokesman for Polish independence. He was Poland's first prime minister after World War I and the Polish delegate to the UN's predecessor, the League of Nations.

The concert at Carnegie Hall also marked the final event of the 20th "Chopin & Friends" festival, held under the slogan: Celebration of Women In light of the Centenary of Women's Right to Vote in Poland.

The host of the ceremony, actress Liliana Komorowska, noted that Polish women were given the right to vote in 1918, earlier than women in America and Canada. She referred to the role of women like the writer Maria Konopnicka or the singer Marcelina Sembrich-Kochańska, who collaborated with Paderewski and was the president of The American-Polish Relief Committee, which propagated the idea of Poland regaining independence.

The Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United Nations, Joanna Wronecka, pointed out that granting the right to vote to Polish women was in some sense the result of recognising the important role they played in the process leading to the rebuilding of the country. As the most important Polish women in this context she mentioned scientist Maria Skłodowska-Curie and poet Wisława Szymborska, both Nobel Prize winners, as well as theatre actress Helena Modrzejewska and Sembrich-Kochańska.

Also on Sunday, the relief sculpture of Paderewski was unveiled on the facade of the Polish-Slavic Centre building in Greenpoint. The relief was created by Polish sculptor Andrzej Renes.