History of the “Polonia-Paderewski” Chorus
It is not an easy task to convey almost 60 years of activities by any group or organization, especially one as resilient and productive as “Polonia-Paderewski Chorus, which was founded in 1952.
The origins of the chorus can be traced to January 1952, in New Britain Connecticut, by the meeting of two groups of Poles, men and women of faith, passion and above all a love of vocal music. One of these groups was from New Britain, led by Władysław Guziewicz. The other group was from Hartford, numbering 18 people and led by Józef Węglewski, they were the remnants of the Hartford “Polonia” Chorus, which has been founded in 1951 and could not support itself due to lack of venue for conducting practices. The meeting of these groups took place in the Blue Room of Falcon’s Nest 88.The Falcon’s President Lucjan Losek agreed to allow the chorus to hold practices in the Blue Room. The first gathering was attended by the first director of the chorus Władysław Hankiewicz, who had recently arrived in New Britain because of his friend from England, Władysław Guziewicz.
The first chorus was composed of 45 eager singers: 30 men and 15 women. This ratio of voices was not ideal, but hope was not lost, and female singers were sought in earnest. The first practices were held in February 1952, shortly after the joining of the original groups. The chorus’s first public debut was on May 3rd 1952, at the Bushnell memorial in Hartford where the group performed an all-male piece. The demand for polish ensemble was great, as the chorus received many invitations to perform: May 3rd in New Britain, Soldier’s Day in Hartford, National Gathering of Falcon’s in New Britain, the Jubilation Chorus’s concert at St. Cecil in Hartford, at Holy Cross, at Memorial Hospital, At the Christmas Celebration at Falcon’s Nest 88, and even on the radio.
On May 11, 1952 the Chorus held a constitutional meeting, at which statutes were adopted, elections for chorus leaders were held and the chorus was officially named “Polonia” Paderewski Chorus, New Britain, Conn. Thus the only secular Polish chorus in the state of Connecticut was established.
In the spring of 1952 the first Dance Party was organized by the chorus.
The chorus established friendly ties with the chorus of St. Cecil in June 1952, when both groups performed at Holy Cross Church in New Britain.
In July 1952, the “Polonia” Paderewski Chorus is accepted into the Polish Singer’s Alliance in America, and is registered as Group #287.
During September 1952, members of the chorus form the Organization of Polish National Dance , who were self-taught. The “Polonia” Paderewski Chorus has contributed to charitable causes throughout its history. In December 1952, during the Christmas Season, members organized a concert whose proceeds were used to help Polish children in German camps. December charity concerts became a yearly tradition for the chorus.
The year of 1952 was very eventful and productive for the “Polonia” Paderewski Chorus. Subsequent years were similar, bringing many surprises, successes, “accidents”, and separations. Many members treated the chorus as an extension of their families. They enjoyed meeting other members, traveling on trip together, and spending free time with each other. Certain members of the chorus even met partners whom they eventually married! Among the members there was always enthusiasm, faith, and hope, that they would sing Polish music, bring joy to those listening, and share Polish tradition and culture with those born in America.