In accordance to tradition, on the second Saturday of September – at the same time as London’s Royal Albert Hall resounded to the strains of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory – Kraków’s Filharmonia plays host to its own Last Night of the Proms.
The BPCC has been the patron of each of the Kraków Proms. This year also happens to be the 25th anniversary of the Krakow Industrial Society (KTP), the organiser of the concert.
The BPCC was represented by Antoni Reczek, chairman of the board, Paweł Siwecki, CEO, Urszula Kwaśniewska, regional director in Kraków and Katarzyna Chabinka, BPCC board member. As ever, the concert was an excellent occasion for many international businesses and local VIPs to get together and enjoy the great music. Many firms associated with BPCC were present at the Philharmonic as well as representatives of local authorities. PwC was the Golden Sponsor. Jerzy Miller, the Voivode of Małopolska was among the guests. The guest of honour was Professor Norman Davies.
The evening was opened by Tadeusz Syryjczyk, chairman of the board of KTP. He was followed by Sarah Tiffin deputy head of mission at the British Embassy in Poland, who explained about how the concert has become an icon of Britishness and what meaning it has for Britons.
Michał Mastalerz, partner at PwC in Kraków, spoke on behalf of the sponsors spoke. The bronze sponsors of the concert were the Krakow Industrial Park (Special Economic Zone in Kraków) and the Special Economic Zone in Katowice. Hotel Holiday Inn, a BPCC member was among the sponsors for the first time. To emphasise the efforts of the KTP in organising the concert over the years, Bogdan Klich on behalf of the Polish Senate awarded Mariusz Szymanski from KTP with Golden Medal of Merit.
After the speeches, beautiful sounds of classical music filled in the hall. Overtures, mazurkas and arias of the greatest composers; Dvorak, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. A bravura performance of a Henryk Wars piano concerto, played by a young artist from Krakow, Piotr Orzechowski, was met with a storm of applause. The orchestra was led by Australian conductor Daniel Smith. A cannon on the stage functioned as a music instrument and reinforced the strength of the orchestra greatly.
The interval was the time traditionally to loosen bow ties and sip a good ale. Just as in London, the concert is meant to be spontaneous in nature and involves the audience in joining in the singing. It is facilitated by the decorations of the concert hall and Union Jacks flags handed out to the guests. The second part of the concert is always less formal, artists might play sketches and the conductor might freely chat with the audience. And the audience is encouraged to stamp, clap along and loudly chant. This time we also could not have missed the funny scenes.
As an addition the orchestra, four other people came on stage. Tadeusz Syryjczyk, Bogdan Klich (former ministers of transport and defence respectively), Mariusz Szymański and Michał Mastalerz – dressed as street workers. They played… vacuum cleaners. Naturally, in the rhythm of the orchestra. Then they were killed one by one by the cannon. The finale was of course the tunes known best from the Royal Albert Hall: Fantasia on British Sea Songs, Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory. The concert ended – as always – with performing the national anthems of Great Britain and Poland.
After the concert, the guests went on to the historic halls of the City of Krakow, where informal conversations were continued.