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Gala concert celebrates centenary of Polish Luxembourg relations

Gala concert celebrates centenary of Polish Luxembourg relations

1 by Sarita RAO 3 min. 11.11.2021
World-famous folk-dance group, Mazowsze, has performed 9,000 concerts in 50 countries
Performing traditional Polish dances, the orchestra, ballet and choir ensemble Mazowsze
Performing traditional Polish dances, the orchestra, ballet and choir ensemble Mazowsze
Photo credit: courtesy of Mazowsze

On Thursday evening a Polish choir, ballet and orchestra ensemble called Mazowsze will take to the stage at the City Conservatory, performing in Luxembourg for the first time in more than 30 years, to celebrate 100 years of Polish and Luxembourgish shared history and co-operation.

Mazowsze's performance will bring to a close a number of celebrations to highlight 100 years since Poland and Luxembourg formally established relations on 18 April 1921, when Count Wladyslaw Sobański first presented his credentials to HRH Grand Duchess Charlotte. 

Formed in 1948, Mazowsze has performed in 50 countries
Formed in 1948, Mazowsze has performed in 50 countries
Photo: courtesy of Mazowsze

The world-famous folk-dance group has performed 9,000 concerts in 50 countries since its formation in 1948.

 “The repertoire aims at preserving the culture and traditions of Polish towns and villages,” the group’s manager, Krzyzstof Kurlej, said. It also starred in the 2018 Oscar-nominated film Cold War.

The performance, which also takes place on Polish Independence Day, will include Polonaise, Cracovienne and Goral dances, in addition to the traditional polka dance. The performance incorporates acrobatic elements, and some of the dancers will wear costumers weighing 14kg. The choir and orchestra to which the group dances perform Christmas carols, Polish songs and classical compositions including Mozart’s Requiem, in addition to Chopin and other Polish composers.

Waves of Polish migrants to Luxembourg

Around 5,000 Polish people live in Luxembourg, the latest figures from statistics agency, Statec, show. The country has a rich history of welcoming Polish people. At the beginning of the 20th century an equal number of Polish migrants were living in Luxembourg, working in the mining and steel industry. The 1980s saw a second wave, this time of political refugees forced to leave Poland after the declaration of martial law, and which included architects, volleyball and football players.

After Poland’s accession to the European Union in 2004, Luxembourg opened its borders to the country in 2007, and more came to work in the EU institutions and elsewhere. 

Luxembourg’s glass airport terminal was designed by the Polish-Luxembourg architectural duo Bohdan Paczowski and Paul Fritsch, whilst artist Katarzyna Kot-Bach, who holds dual Polish and Luxembourgish citizenship, has sculptures on display across Luxembourg including the The Winemaker at Mertert, The Fisherman at Wasserbillig, and a totem-style bronze artwork commissioned by the commune of Lorentzweiler.

“Statistics today don’t include those descendants of Polish migrants who are Luxembourgish citizens, so we think there are probably more than 6,000 living here who still retain their Polish identity,” said Pia Libicka-Regulska from the Polish Embassy in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg is also the third largest direct investor in Poland, investing €24 billion in 2019, and the countries share working relations in the finance and space sectors, fintech, logistics and industrial production. 

'Very much part of Europe'

Despite recent news coverage highlighting contention between Poland and the European Union on the binding implications of EU treaties and the sovereignty of member states and their institutions, Polish Ambassador to Luxembourg, Piotr Wojtczak, is keen to underline Poland’s history as being “very much part of Europe”.

Polish ambassador to Luxembourg, Piotr Wojtczak
Polish ambassador to Luxembourg, Piotr Wojtczak
Photo: Polish Embassy of Luxembourg

“Poland voted for Europe’s first written democratic constitution in 1795, second in the world only after America,” he said. Poland fought for more than 120 years for national identity, gaining this after the First World War, and a bitter fight against communist Russia culminating in the Battle of Warsaw in 1920, he added.

A shared history, including occupation by Nazi Germany in World War Two, which saw one Luxembourger who was forcibly recruited into the German Army, desert it to join the Polish freedom fighters, is one element that brings the countries together. In addition it was under a Luxembourgish presidency that the European Council expressed in 1980 the right of Poland and its people to pursue political, social, economic and cultural development independently.

"[Thursday's] celebration is not just about diplomatic relations, but about relations between two countries where people live freely, in peace," Wojtczak  said.  "Europe is safe because of our history and strong European identity."

Watch the video celebrating 100 years of Polish Luxembourgish relations: 

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