Our first concert, titled " Lulajze Jezuniu and Other Gems of Polish Carols," was
performed at the Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan
on January 6th, 2002. We wanted to bring the Polish tradition of singing
Christmas carols to the CIC community, and therefore we sang them in Polish
as well as in English. We hoped that everyone would join our singing, whether
they remembered the words, or just the melodies, or maybe had only the
memories of their parents singing these songs a long time ago. But we also
wanted to welcome those who may simply enjoy the carols for their unquestionable
It was only during our first concert that we realized
just how strongly this tradition is rooted in the people of Polish
heritage. There were many thanks but also many tears, stories and nostalgic
reflections. We promised to repeat our caroling the following year
and we have kept the tradition since.
This recording is dedicated to everyone who treasures
the beauty of the Polish carols and the tradition of singing them together.
Jerzy (George) Bugaj--baritone, pianist, organist
and musicologist--came to the United States from Warsaw, Poland,
in 1989. While in Poland, Jerzy worked for the Public Radio
as a broadcaster and a classical music journalist. Political
changes in 1982 (martial law) steered Jerzy back to playing
piano and also to singing in vocal and vocal-instrumental
old music ensembles, namely Bornus Consort and Ars Nova. He
also performed with the Warsaw Chamber Opera's Ars Antiqua
Choir as a member and soloist. With these ensembles he performed
in concerts and festivals throughout Europe, including France,
Italy, Germany, Estonia, Switzerland, and Austria.
In the United States George continued his vocal studies, pursuing
his master and doctoral degrees at West Virginia University.
In 1997 George was the laureate in the West Virginia University
Young Artists Competition. He was also a guest soloist with
the Toronto Sinfonietta in Canada. Since 1999 George has been
the Music Director at the Catholic Information Center in Grand
Rapids, Michigan. It was during this time that he prepared a
program of Polish Carols which evolved into an annual concert
and ultimately the CD titled Lulajze Jezuniu and Other Gems
of Polish Carols (2004).
Stephanie Wiltse is a choral singer and vocal
soloist, performing frequently in the greater Grand Rapids
area. She has studied voice with Dr. Russell Hammar, former
Music Director of the Kalamazoo Bach Festival; Carl Kaiser
of Calvin College; and Larry Biser, music director of the
Chamber Choir of Grand Rapids. She has sung in numerous small
ensembles in the area, including the quartet Nobistri, and
an octet, the Cooler Consort, which was formed especially
for the Keller Cooler Concert series. She has sung both as
a choral member and a soloist in the Kalamazoo Bach Festival
Chorus, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, the Chamber Choir
of Grand Rapids, and currently in the Bach Chorale of St.
Cecilia Music Center. She is a member of Trinity United Methodist
Church and serves as music leader and pianist for the 8:45
AM worship service, as well as director of the Matin Ringers
and a member of the Chancel Choir.
She is founding member of Embellish, a professional community
handbell ensemble in Grand Rapids, and has served as Music Director
of the group since the fall of 1999. She is director of the
Calvin College Handbell Ensemble and the Valenti Handbell Ensemble
of Aquinas College. She has held positions directing church
handbell choirs since 1992, including South Congregational Church,
UCC, Park Congregational Church, UCC, and currently directs
choirs at LaGrave Avenue Christian Reformed Church and Trinity
United Methodist Church.
Soprano Amanda Hagy has been singing since she began to talk.
During her freshman year in high school she began taking professional
voice lessons and joined the school choir, eventually becoming
involved in the musicaltheater program. She has performed in
numerous musicals, including The King and I, 42nd Street, and
Crazy for You, where she played the lead role of Polly Baker.
In 1999 she became a cantor at the Catholic Information Center
and joined its choir. She received a B.S. in History, Anthropology
and Museum Studies and is now pursuing a Master's degree in
Museum Studies and Art History, with a concentration in curating
Ancient Art at the George Washington University. Amanda continues
performing and hopes to keep singing well into the future.
Mialtin Zhezha, a violinist, native of Vlore Albania is a student
of Pinchas Zukerman pursuing a Master of Music degree at Manhattan
School of Music in NYC. He is a recipient of numerous awards
and scholarships. These include WMU Honors String Quartet, Fetzer
Foundation Scholar, Kalamazoo Symphony Artist Scholar School
of Music String Scholarship, Music Alumni Friends Scholar, the
Denny and McKee distinguished scholar award and the Presidential
Mialtin has also won numerous awards and competitions such as
Concerto Competition at WMU, MTNA National Competition, Fort
Wayne Concerto Competitions, Islam Petrela International Competition,
Nicola Piccini String Competition as well as the Downbeat Magazine
Student Music Award.
Mialtin has an extensive artistic life and he performs in many
events inside and outside WMU. He plays with the Kalamazoo Symphony
Orchestra and has also played with the Battle Creek, West Shore,
National Orchestra, and Academy of Arts Orchestra in Albania.
He has also premiered chamber works by Carter Pann and Curtis
Curtis-Smith and performed as a soloist with various orchestras.
Agata Bugaj began playing the violin at age five. Her teachers
include Hong Guang Jia, assistant concertmaster of the Pittsburgh
Symphony Orchestra, and members of the Pittsburgh Piano Trio.
She has participated in the National Youth Orchestra Festival
as well as several chamber music festivals around the country.
Winner of the Duquesne Young Artist Competition and the West
Virginia MTNA, Agata was the concertmaster of the West Virginia
All-State Orchestra and Principal violinist of the Pittsburgh
Youth Symphony Orchestra.
Agata graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with degrees
in Computer Science and French. She worked for IBM as a software
engineer and has presented at various technical conferences,
including SIGCSE and the Microsoft Womens' Conference. She was
the Director of Development for the Winchester Orchestra and
a member of the violin section.
Violist Katarzyna Bugaj began musical studies on the violin
in her native Poland. Currently pursuing a Doctorate of Music
at Indiana University, Katarzyna is a graduate of Western Michigan
University, The Peabody Conservatory, and Interlochen Arts Academy.
Her teachers include Victoria Chiang, Igor Fedotov, Yuval Gotlibovich,
and David Holland. She also has a degree in writing from Johns
Hopkins University and is pursuing a certificate of literary
translation from Indiana University.
Ms. Bugaj is adjunct faculty at Valparaiso University; she was
a member of the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra and a supplemental
musician for the Grand Rapids Symphony Orchestra and the Louisville
Orchestra. She was also the principal violist of the Southwest
Michigan Symphony Orchestra (2002-2004), and a member of the
2000-2001 Jerusalem International Symphony Orchestra.
Katarzyna has published several articles about music and is
an active translator of Polish musical texts. She also updated
the translations of Polish carols recorded on the Lulajze Jezuniu
and Other Gems of Polish Carols CD and the Oj, Maluski Maluski
and More Gems of Polish Carols CD.
|* Oj Maluski, Maluski
and More Gems of Polish Carols