GWO in Europe 2010, Day 5 & 6, Krakow Posted on January 28th, 2010 by

Day Five

Nearly half-way into its 16-day concert tour in central Europe, the Gustavus Wind

GWO at Wawiel Castle, Krakow

GWO at Wawiel Castle, Krakow

Orchestra and Conductor Douglas Nimmo travel to into southern Poland to the city of Krakow. This is its first-ever concert at St. Katherine’s in the former capital city of Poland. As with other cities the ensemble has visited, Krakow has a rich and colorful history. Legend tells of a dragon, a fierce and deadly creature that lived in a cave at the base of of Wawiel Hill. Fortunately for the people of the area (and for the telling of the legend), a courageous peasant named Krak devised a plan to dispose of the dragon, settled the city that bears his name, and became the first King of Poland. As Day Five ends, the wind orchestra enters the city. The Castle and Cathedral of Krakow rise above the Vistula River and greet us as we arrive in Krakow.

The legend must be true for there are no dragons here.

Day Six

At the Medieval Walls of Krakow

At the Medieval Walls of Krakow

A walking tour of the city takes us to Wawiel Hill and a visit to Krakow’s historic castle and the cathedral whose little-know Bishop Karol Józef Wojtya took the name of John Paul II in 1978 and became one of the most influential leaders of the Twentieth Century. His cathedral in Krakow is the crown jewel of the hilltop complex and dates back to the 16th Century. Poland’s historic connection to Sweden is evident throughout the castle with portraits and tapestries of Sigismund III, a member of Sweden’s royal Vasa family. He ruled as King of Sweden and Poland in the late 16th Century until be was, as a Catholic, forced from the Swedish throne and took residence in Krakow.

As we make our way to the city’s central square in the frigid temps that have followed us from the Czech Republic through Poland, we arrive at the center to hear the famous trumpet call from the towers on the square. Dating back to the Mongul invasions of the 12th Century, the call was a call to arms as the invaders advanced on the city. The alarm was cut short as a Tatar’s arrow found its mark. Since that time, the call is issued every hour from the tower and stops abruptly to mark the watchman’s valiant effort to warn the city.

Following lunch, the wind orchestra makes its way to St. Katherine’s Church and prepares for the evening’s

GWO in Concert, Krakow, Poland

GWO in Concert, Krakow, Poland

concert. Like many churches in Europe, the sanctuary is not heated and the challenge for the musicians is quickly realized. Radiant heaters over the area to be set for the stage offer some comfort for the players but the temperature in the sanctuary leaves breath vapor in the air and freezes water to the floor.

Adversity is like a dragon. It can be defeating or it can be defeated. At 7:00, the Gustavus Wind Orchestra took its seats in St. Katherine’s and, for the next 90 minutes, presented one of the most inspired and emotional performances of the tour. For many of the musicians, the performance of Eric Ewazen’s HYMN FOR THE LOST AND THE LIVING was especially emotional given the time spent a day earlier at nearby Auschwitz. For Karl Boettcher, whose trumpet solo at the beginning of the Ewazen composition sets the tone of the work, appreciation for the solo took on an added meaning. It will never be the same. It can never be forgotten. (View soloist comments and performance excerpts) In the beauty of St. Katherine’s sanctuary, the sound was magnificent and the normally reserved Polish audience was on its feet as the last note of Modest Mussorgsky’s THE GREAT GATE OF KIEV rang out.

Another dragon is conquered as another day ends.



  1. Terry Bauer says:

    The St. Katherine’s concert was inspiring and Karl’s trumpet solo very moving.
    Please continue to share your enthusiasm and talent, absorb the history, and enjoy this ILCHE.
    In a few days, you will be in the homeland of the Bauer’s and Beraneks’ (Brittany Bauer) as you visit Austria. Looking forward to your daily blog updates and your return Concert on the 13th.
    God’s Speed GWO

  2. Chad Malm says:

    Al, hello, I couldn’t find a day by day schedule..I have friends in Budapest who would like to see your concert. Could it be sent?

  3. Mary Ellen Malkasian says:

    Karl Boettcher–your grandma and grandpa M are busting their buttons with pride. What a beautiful piece and wonderful solo. Can’t wait to see you when you get back to play the homecoming concert.

  4. Candice Matykowski says:

    This morning we listened to all the music clips in the various blogs. Thank you Gwo for the best Saturday morning.