On March 22, the Residence of the Ambassador of Poland in Washington, D.C.— His Excellency Piotr Wilczek—hosted a gala to celebrate the gifting of a new grand piano to the Embassy by the “$100k for the 100th” Committee. “My sincere hope is that this beautiful new piano will serve as a platform for generations of talented pianists to perform the music of Polish composers. The exceptional efforts of the Polonia community to promote Polish culture is a beautiful tradition at this Embassy,” Ambassador Piotr Wilczek said.
The new Steinway Model B grand piano, carefully selected by experts, was presented to the Embassy as a gift from the “$100k for the 100th” Committee to celebrate Poland’s centennial of regaining independence. There was a definite need for a new piano to be used during the frequent events at the Residence – until now the Embassy only used a piano given by Ignacy Jan Paderewski in 1941. Due to its state, the historic instrument could not be transported to the Ambassador’s Residence from the Embassy on 16th Street.
Collecting funds for the piano was initiated in the fall of 2018 by Dr. Wanda O’Brien-Trefil, an American pianist of Polish descent, along with the group she formed – the “$100k for the 100th” Committee. The committee included experts working with Washington representatives of Steinway & Sons: Gregory Butler, Margaret Butler and David Slan, as well as renowned pianists and performers of Chopin’s music Brian Ganz and Thomas Pandolfi. On the part of the Embassy, the committee was supported by Deputy Chief of Mission Paweł Kotowski.
Thanks to the efforts and engagement of Dr. O’Brien-Trefil, which included organizing four concerts with the Embassy and other institutions, the necessary funds were already attained by the end of 2018. Especially significant was the donation from Sasha Kay in honor of her brother Randall J. Kay (1956 -2017), a lawyer and Polish historian who was very interested in the history of 20th century Poland and greatly admired Frederic Chopin’s music.
As the summation of the “$100k for the 100th” Committee’s work, on March 22 a historic gala was held during which Dr. Wanda O’Brien-Trefil officially presented the piano and Amicus Poloniae Awards were given to the committee members and to Sasha Kay and James Trefil. Established in 1996, the Amicus Poloniae Award is a distinction bestowed by the Ambassador of Poland in Washington on American citizens for exceptional merits in strengthening Polish-American cooperation and promoting Polish cultural achievements in the United States. The gala concluded with a performance of Chopin’s music by Brian Ganz. The evening’s guests included donors as well as members of American and Polish media.
[Sources: press release, waszyngton.msz.gov.pl]