GWO in Europe 2010, Days 7 & 8, Kety Posted on January 31st, 2010 by

Day 7 – January 27

As the Gustavus Wind Orchestra enters the midpoint of it Central European Concert Tour, it is time for the ensemble to leave Krakow. What should have been an uneventful drive to Kety takes on new meaning as we leave the city. Our drive takes us back through the village of Oscwiecm and past the Auschwitz and Birkenau death camps. Security is very high along the route leading from Krakow to the camps. Survivors, heads of state and other guests have gathered for a memorial service marking the 65th anniversary of the Soviet Army’s liberation of Auschwitz and Birkenau. While nearly all traffic is stopped along the road leading to the camps, we are allowed to continue on the way and pass by Auschwitz as the ceremonies are taking place.

It may be that the security believed we were a part of the memorial. We don’t know why we were allowed to pass. Whatever the reason, we became a part of the 65th celebration of liberation as we drove through the village. Whatever the reason, we were reminded again that we are all a part of these dark days in our history. Whatever the reason, we passed by Auschwitz and Birkenau on that day of remembrance and continued on to Kety. We were allowed to pass by Auschwitz and Birkenau when so many before us had not been allowed to pass.

Day 8

City Square of Wadowice, Poland

City Square of Wadowice, Poland

January 28 begins easily for the Gustavus Wind Orchestra in Kety. With our concert just a few block away at the Parafia Najswietszego Serca Jezusa Church, a late start is a great idea. For lunch we load the buses and drive a short distance to Wadowice, the birthplace of Pope John Paul II. A funeral mass in The Church of St. Mary, the former Pope’s church, prevented anything more than a quick glance inside the doors at the beautiful sanctuary. However, it is clearly evident who is Wadowice’s favorite son with photos, paintings, figurines of the Pontiff seen everywhere.

Following lunch, the wind orchestra returned to Kety and began preparations for the evening concert. The Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus welcomed the

Soloist Karl Boettcher at Kety Memorial

Soloist Karl Boettcher at Kety Memorial

wind orchestra as warmly as it had welcomed the ensemble in 2006. As we began to set, the priest approached Conductor Douglas Nimmo with a special request. Would it be possible for the ensemble to perform music for the Celebration of Liberation Service following the evening mass? It is, again, a day of remembrance. The day of our concert, January 28, is the anniversary of the liberation of Kety in 1945. Since the service was to be held outside, Karl Boettcher offered to play the opening trumpet solo of Eric Ewazen’s HYMN FOR THE LOST AND THE LIVING. As the wind whipped the flags surrounding the memorial in the church square, prayers in Polish were offered followed by Karl’s solo, the Polish Anthem and the Lord’s Prayer. Although none of us spoke Polish, the message and emotion of the service were easily understood. (Kety Liberation Ceremony)

The Parish Priest Jerzy Musialek and our host Jacek welcomed us to our concert in Polish and English. They were proud that we had returned to Kety and they were excited to hear this “renowned American orchestra” once again. This sentiment was evident for the audience as well. From time to time throughout the concert, the audience of 400 stood to watch sections of works, solos, percussion licks, unusual sounds or instruments that they did not recognize. Local television and newspaper reporters were in attendance. The full house in the balcony stood for the entire concert, taking photos and moving from one

GWO in Concert, Kety, Poland

GWO in Concert, Kety, Poland

side to the other to get a different perspective of the concert. As Organist David Fienen prepared to play Bach’s WIR GLAUBEN ALL AN EINEN GOTT, young and old members of the audience encircled the organ console to watch and listen. As THE GREAT GATE OF KIEV ended, the audience stood as one and continued to applaud until the priest stood at the microphone and, with our host as translator, spoke of our many connections and encouraged us to remember all that we believe in common instead of our disagreements. Then he invited us to pray the Lord’s Prayer with them, they in Polish, we in English.

In the silence that followed, we knew that it was yet another emotional evening in a tour filled with emotional moments.



  1. Gerald Matykowski says:

    So many feelings could be expressed. Very simply, these blog entries have helped us share a bit of what our children must be experiencing. For our family, it has been especially meaningful given that the Matykowski family originated near Wroclaw, and the Wirkus family (my grandmother) originated near Krakow. Thanks to Gustavus for giving these musicians such an opportunity to experience this culture and this history. We are so proud of GWO.

  2. Tom Emmert says:

    Hi everyone!

    I have been following the trip day by day, keeping you in my thoughts and prayers. I have just watched the YouTube clip from the Kety liberation service, and Karl’s solo left me in tears. “Ithaka gave you a splendid journey.
    Without her you would not have set out. She hasn’t anything else to give you.” Amen!

    Prof. Tom Emmert