Gwendolyn Toth

Gwendolyn Toth is the director of the New York City-based early music ensemble, ARTEK, and a soloist on early keyboards (organ, harpsichord, fortepiano). She is married to harpsichordist Dongsok Shin, and they have three children.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Concert in Krasnobrod, Poland

On Saturday, August 10, we were driven about one and a half hours north to Krasnobrod, where I was to play on the organ in the 17th century church, the Shrine of Our Lady of Krasnobrod. The church and the attached monastery complex (which includes a small zoo, mostly exotic birds, tended by one of the priests) are the only ancient monuments in the area, everything else having been flattened  numerous times by battles between Russians and Germans in both World Wars.

Here, we stayed in a room in the monastery, but discovered that down the road a kilometer in the town proper of Krasnobrod, there was a thriving lake resort and actual restaurants and bars! Having tried Polish beers and finding them not my cup of tea, I realized that in Poland I should be ordering vodka drinks. In Krasnobrod I could order a White Russian drink for the equivalent of about $2.50. Not bad.

The priests in Krasnobrod were equally kind to us (we also ate meals with them, with the exact same basic menu as in Lubaczow). A notable moment was when Dongsok mistook a bottle of unmarked clear liquid for a water bottle. Whoops! That was the vodka. Fortunately he realized, from the surprised looks on the faces of the priests, before he slugged down a water glass of the stuff. We asked about wifi, but made the mistake of asking "is there wifi here" while we were in the dining room. No, they said. We resigned ourselves to being untethered from the devices, and using our Euro cell phone to call our son as needed. Ha! On our second day, a Polish priest Father Jerry, returned for a visit who now works in a parish in Chicago. Eureka! Someone to speak English with! At some point he mentioned that we could look up something on the internet for our return bus travel. To our surprise, there was super fast internet - in our rooms; just not in the dining room!

Like Lubaczow, I again played on a modern organ (again with the peculiar little tabs for stop combos), but the church's excellent acoustics were a great benefit.

The exterior of the church:
The beautiful interior:
The organ:

A few pictures taken during the concert:

Speeches after the concert:

The famous picture of Our Lady of Krasnobrod, which is attributed with a miraculous ability to survive potential destruction by weather, war, etc:

Here I am in a poster, right next to the poster of the Pope!
A teeny video taken when I was practicing & registering the stops (I had very little time to practice because of the mass schedule).

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