Monday, December 5, 2022

Christmas Caroling with Wojciech Kocyan, Olivia Kierdal. Honoring Alicja Bobrowska, December 17, 2022


The Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club and friends will meet on Saturday, December 17, 2022 to celebrate holidays, break the Christmas wafer "oplatek" with best wishes for the next year, listen to Chopin played by Prof. Wojciech Kocyan, sing Christmas Carols with Olivia Kierdal, and enjoy a wonderful traditional Polish Christmas dinner prepared by the hosts, Helena and Stanley Kolodziey of Beverly Hills and the Modjeska Club Board of Directors. 

The traditional wishes are "glory to God in the highest and peace to the people on Earth"... This year, let's share the wishes of shared responsibility, respect, and care for our entire Polish American community and renewed dedication to the promotion of Polish culture in California. 

Video of Christmas Caroling 1: Fragment of "Mizerna, cicha..."
Video of Christmas Caroling 2: Fragment of "Wsrod Nocnej Ciszy"
Video of Christmas Caroling 3: "Przybiezeli do Betlejem"


Pianist Wojciech Kocyan was praised for his “highly distinctive performances (…) superb, intelligent artistry (…)” (.Classics and “incisive temperament, impeccable technique and sumptuous tone” (Le  Monde de la Musique.) He is a laureate of several international piano competitions, including F.Busoni and Viotti, as well as a special prizes winner of the XI International Chopin Competition and a First Prize winner of the Paderewski Piano Competition.  He performed in Europe, America, Mexico, Australia and Japan, participating in such music festivals as Musica Antiqua Europae Orientalis, Capri Festival, Bydgoszcz International Music Festival, H.M.Gorecki Festival, Beethovenfest, Paderewski Festival, Liszt Festival in Vienna, San Francisco Liszt Festival, Cervantino International Music Festival, Morelia International Music Festival and the Chopin Festival in Paris.  

He has recorded for television, radio and film and his performances were broadcast in Europe, United States and Australia.  His solo and chamber music recordings can also be found on DUX, Naxos and Spotify. His latest CD, of works of Robert Schumann, was released by DUX in 2012.  In 2007 the Gramophone magazine, published in London and considered the world’s most prestigious classical music journal, called him “a genius…  stands ground alongside Pollini, Ashkenazy and Richter" and chose Mr. Kocyan’s recording of Prokofiev, Scriabin and Rachmaninoff as one of 50 best classical recordings ever made, alongside recordings of such luminaries as Leonard Bernstein, Dietrich Fisher-Dieskau, Nicolaus Harnoncourt and Arthur Rubinstein.

Dr. Kocyan is a Full Clinical Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence at Loyola-Marymount University in Los Angeles. He is also active as an adjudicator, lecturer, scholar and arts administrator. He is regularly invited to judge music competitions at the local, state-wide and international levels. He has given masterclasses and lectures in France, Hungary, Austria, Poland, Japan, Mexico and United States. He serves as the Artistic Director and President of the Paderewski Music Society in Los Angeles and the Director of the American International Paderewski Piano Competition in Los Angeles. He is also the President of the California Association of Professional Music Teachers, Santa Monica/South Bay Chapter and serves on boards of several artistic organizations."


Olivia Kierdal was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and moved to Los Angeles in 2019. She completed a BA in Contemporary Music. She is a classically trained pianist, a vocalist and songwriter with over 2,000,000 listeners on Spotify, where she posted 15 songs.


Konsul wraz z przedstawicielami Zarzadow 2018-2024: Anna Sadowska, Maja Trochimczyk, Beata Czajkowska, Elzbieta Trybus. Chris Justin photo. August 8, 2022, The Penthouse, Santa Monica, CA.


The Board of Directors of the Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club voted to present Honorary Membership to Consul General JAROSŁAW ŁASIŃSKI in 2021. The presentation of the diploma and luncheon took place in August 2022 in Santa Monica, with Maja Trochimczyk, Anna Sadowska, Elzbieta Trybus, and Chris Justin in attendance. 

Consul Lasinski supported the activities of our Club most notably with a joint project of Independence Day Concert in November 2022. The Board assisted the Consulate with obtaining funding for the event, a concert by Kate Liu with Senator Anna Maria Anders in attendance at the Colburn School of Music from the Polish National Fundation. During the 2018-2022 term, Consul Lasinski approved three grants for the Modjeska Club - for the concerts by Piramidy group, Wiktoria Tracz with Krzysztof Dzikowski in 2019, and for the publication of the Album of 50-Years of the Club History in 2021.  The Consul also honored our Club with a special plaque on the occasion of our 50th anniversary in October 2021. Consul General Lasinski joins a group of distinguished Consuls honored with this distinction in the past: Roman Czarny, Maciej Krych, 

Alicja Bobrowska in 2014.


In November 2022, the Board of Directors of the Helena Modjeska Art & Culture Club voted to present Honorary Membership to long-term Club member, ALICJA BOBROWSKA, the first post-war Miss Polonia (1957), actress and artist noted for her large-scale 3-D relief works.

Alicja Bobrowska was born in 1936 in Włodzimierz Wołyński, then in Poland, now in present-day Ukraine. After the war, her family settled in Gdańsk. In 1956, she went to study in Krakow, where during the Juwenalia of Krakow students she won the title of the Nicest Student.  In Gdansk, she was the 1st Runner-up of Miss Wybrzeza beauty pageant, and then in 1957 she was selected Miss Polonia at an event held in the Gdańsk Shipyard. The prize - apart from money - was a cruise on the "Batory" ship to Copenhagen. In 1958,  Bobrowska traveled to the Miss Universe '58 pageant in California. She entered the final round and became the 4th Runner-Up. She also won the first prize for the best speech about her native country. After the competition, she was offered work as an actress and a model in the USA, but she returned to Poland to marry eminent actor Stanislaw Zaczyk (1923-1985). (They had one son, Maciej, who until today takes care of his Mom in California.)

 Instead of continuing her studies, she passed a special exam as an actress in Warsaw; this allowed her to perform on the stage. In 1959, she graduated from the Puppetry Department at the State Higher School of Theater. As an actress, she appeared in such films as Marriage of Convenience, The Visit and four films made in East Germany, including The Most Beautiful where she played the title role.  For Polish TV, she appeared in His Two Wives and TV Theater plays directed by Zygmunt Huebner and Jerzy Antczak. She also performed in National and Polish Theaters, with the most notable roles in Matwa by Witkacy, Ciezkie Czasy (Hard Times) by Michal Balucki and Dziady (Forefithers' Eve) by Adam Mickiewicz. That famous spectacle directed by Kazimierz Dejmek marked the beginning of student protests known as the March 1968 events.  Due to repressions afterwards, Bobrowska decided not to perform on the stage. Meanwhile, for six months worked as an announcer for Polish TV.  

In 1981 she traveled to California for a visit, but decided to stay after the Martial Law was declared in Poland and a return became impossible. She worked for 17 years as a nurse, taking care of dialysis patients during home visit. She also became an artist and created a series of original three-dimensional artworks, large-scale reliefs using fabric, ceramics, and other materials to create portraits and landscapes. In retirement, she is amused by the company of birds, her lovely and entertaining  parrots, cockatiels. 

Alicja Bobrowska  in Cracow folk costume at Miss Universe 1958.

Alicja Bobrowska joins a group of eminent creators of Polish culture who joined the Club and for many years participated in its activities, including but not limited to director Jerzy Antczak, actress Jadwiga Baranska (also the winner of the 2018 Modjeska Prize), actress Stephanie Powers and dancer-choreographer Stefan Wenta.

El Pueblo by Alicja Bobrowska

Florian Gate by Alicja Bobrowska

Power Plant - Abstract - by Alicja Bobrowska


We were very happy that despite the flu season so many of the initial 125 guests that sent in the RVSP could attend - we counted between 96 and 108 guests in attendance. Everyone who came wanted to enjoy the Christmas mood and sing Polish Christmas Carols. We listened to Wojciech Kocyan's holiday concert - a piece by Schumann, December by Tchaikovsky, two Mazurkas and two Waltzes by Chopin, and a  Bach Chorale arranged by Busoni to remind all what Christmas is all about. Then Olivia Kierdal led the caroling from the piano, 52 songbooks disappeared after the performance, so we have to reprint them for next year. The guests sang 12 carols and enjoyed the reception, one of the members stated that it was the most enjoyable event she attended in the Polish community in 30 years!

Here are some comments we received already, more to come, for sure: 

Jadwiga Inglis: "On December 17, 2022, at the residence of Helena and Stanley Kołodziey in Beverly Hills, a wonderful Christmas meeting of our Culture Club took place. The program included sharing the  Christmas wafer "oplatek" and making wishes, a delicious dinner, a beautiful concert of the pianist, Professor Wojciech Kocyan. Oliwia Kierdal led the carol singing from the piano and we sang beautifully. At the end there were desserts, nice conversations and joint photos. I would like to thank Helenka, Stanley, the president of the club Maja Trochimczyk and the Club Board for a fantastic evening. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays."

David Lehman: "Maja, Monique and I think you are such a fantastic person. Great Mother, Grandmother, artist, business person and so much more. Last night's event in Beverly Hills was fantastic. It was so well done. The food and entertainment were over the top. than you for remembering me in your introduction. the Modjeska Club is so fantastic because of the work you do." 

Ewa Malachowska: "Many thanks for your leading of the Modjeska Club and organizing such beautiful events!" 

Jennifer Audette to Helena Kolodziey: "Thank you so much for opening your home up for such a memorable and enjoyable event! We had such a wonderful time. Merry Christmas and man blessings in the New Year!" And to Maja Trochimczyk: "I had a FANTASTIC time!!!! Beautiful caroling!!!"

Dr. Jerzy George Kossek: "Helena Modejska’s Wafer-Oplatek night was a top-notch event last night. Here singing beautiful Polish Christmas Carols - Koledy with talented Olivia Kierdal. Everybody did great and had lots of fun doing it."