Celebrations amid turmoil
Some events celebrating Krakow?s 750th anniversary are over, but others are still on tap. Political, military and religious dignitaries from Poland and abroad joined in a gala event at the Slowacki Theater on Tuesday, June 5, to mark the anniversary. It was the halfway point of the 10-day festivities.
One of the top events of the festival, Ennio Morricone?s concert, will be Friday.
On Tuesday there was a mass at Wawel Cathedral to celebrate Krakow.
Then dignitaries from far and wide came to the Slowacki Theater for an official salute to the city. They included two former presidents, Lech Walesa and Aleksander Kwasniewski, and Krakow Archibishop Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz.
President Lech Kaczynski was absent, explaining that he had to rest before the scheduled visit of U.S. President George W. Bush.
However, some Krakow political insiders think it was a snub.
They contend that Kaczynski and his team dislike the city. And they noted that important people from such farflung places as Russia, the Middle East and even Brazil attended.
Foreign guests included ambassadors, mayors of Krakow?s sister cities and Japan?s Ko?chiro Matsuura, director general of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
?I?m already under the spell of Krakow, although I arrived here only yesterday,? Matsuura said. ?When I had an audience with the late Pope John Paul II, he asked me if I had seen ?his? city, as he always referred to Krakow. When I said I hadn?t, he insisted on me seeing this place. And here I am.?
During the official salute, the speakers, including Mayor Jacek Majchrowski and City Council President Pawel Klimowicz, discussed Krakow?s longevity and its important role in Polish history.
The City Council then approved a resolution vowing to continue Krakow?s glorious traditions, passing them on to generations to come.
The event ended with a ceremonial march from the theater to Rynek Glowny.
?If we walk together, we show that we are together, heading towards common goals,? the mayor said.
The celebrations started Friday, June 1, with an eagerly anticipated performance of the cantata that Piotr Rubik wrote for the anniversary.
Although some liked it, many complained that the cantata consisted of music that was fancy but superficial. The critics also contended that the lyrics in the cantata?s songs were unsophisticated and simply dealt with facts about Poland?s past, adding nothing new. The weekend was full of lively events. One was a dragon parade. There was a light-and-sound show on the banks of the Wisla near Wawel Castle.
And there was a comedy contest in which teams of Krakow comedians competed with teams from the rest of Poland.
Unfortunately, a popular Krakow team had to scratch because of an accident that one member suffered during a rehearsal. The member of the Ani Mru-Mru comedy group slipped and fell, badly injuring his hand. The other teams were excellent, although the humor was difficult for English-speaking spectators to understand.
Luckily, the universal language of music appealed to everybody at Saturday?s and Sunday?s evening concerts, which drew many people from places besides Krakow.
Even a sudden rain Saturday failed to spoil the mood of the crowd that watched internationally renowned Polish jazz great Tomasz Stanko perform with musicians from younger generations.
On Sunday, some of Krakow?s most famous musicians united in a heartwarming concert of the most beloved songs about the city. The audience sung along.