Goodbye, Mother Poland

“When you’ll sing Gaude Mater Polonia, you’ll see the audience stand up” said Fabrizio Barchi to his choristers, before embarking towards Poland. “Just like us during the Mameli Hymn?” is what crossed our mind ,we, skeptical citizens of a peninsula considered less and less as our country. Not quite. For the Polish Gaude Mater Polonia (Rejoice Mother Poland) is a sacred, medieval hymn, which the polish knights used to sing after a victorious battle: the music is a Gregorian melody that in the 19th century Teofil Klonowski harmonized for four voices, making it, from then on, a proper national hymn. For them it’s not only a “song” they teach in school to be then forgotten; Poland rises at the first notes, Poland sings, Poland is moved by it.
On April 24th Coro Musicanova performed in the San Giovanni Battista basilica, in the Old Warsaw, destroyed in 1944 during WWII and considered one of the pantheons of the nation, because inside the church there are buried many Polish personalities. After performing pieces by Pärt, Palestrina, Lotti, Mendelssohn, Britten and many more, the choir sang the famous “Gaude Mater Polonia”, and the magical picture that Maestro Barchi had predicted came to life in front of the chorister’s incredulous eyes: the audience all stood up to sing that sacred and cherished hymn, in complete devotion.
The same moving picture happened again the following day at the conservatory in Siedlce and on that Sunday in the town’s Cathedral. Siedlce, a rural town, hosted the Musicanova choristers invited to perform the three concerts: the round of applause, long and sincerely emotionally involved, accompanied the choir’s performances, which felt praised and was showered by a great quantity of compliments and good remarks, both accurate and professional.
In Warsaw, once known as the “Paris of the north” for its wide tree-lined avenues and its classical architectural structure, which was then almost entirely destroyed by the bombings during the war, you can sense the music in the streets: in every road of the Old Town you can find street performers, boutiques, blooming terraces, people sitting at the tables outside the coffee shops; the resounding music is that of Fryderyk Chopin, born in those streets. Even the pedestrian crossings are made to resemble the keys of a piano. The people, warm and inviting, carry a certain sorrow for the history of their country, but they seem confident and positive for their future. A statue of Karol Wojtyla, the great polish Pope born in Wadowice, stands out in Siedlce’s plaza: for the polish he’s a “father”, a spiritual guide, a symbol of compassion. It’s not surprising that people brought up with such a role model cried while saying goodbye to the Musicanova choristers, as their bus left for the airport. “I want to learn Italian!” shouts a parishioner; “Your music is amazing: today I learned what a choir really is” says another; “This isn’t a farewell, right? Come back next year for the World Youth Day in Krakow!” many say inviting the choir singers to return in 2016. Those endless applauses, those smiles and tears, the warmth and the hospitality of the host families, are memories that Coro Musicanova will treasure forever. After a musical and compassionate experience of that beauty what else can you say? Just: so long and see you at the next trip!

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