By Roy Lie Atjam
The Polish Embassy The Hague, 22 March 2022, to what might be one of his last activities at the Embassy before taking up his new position as Secretary-General of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA), H.E. Ambassador Marcin Czepelak chaired an outstanding Polish Concert Lecture.
Ambassador Marcin Czepelak welcomed his guests, “I am happy that after the period of the pandemic and being locked up at home, we can see each other again at the Polish Embassy. We failed to forget one plague while another plague, even more terrible, namely the war in Ukraine has taken the world by surprise. The Russian Federation invaded a neighbouring state inhabited by a sister nation for no reason. And again the world comes to a standstill.
This spring we had many cultural events planned, but because of the international situation, we have cancelled them all. However, we have chosen to present today’s performance, Klara Biermasz and Jan Bokken.
Jan Bokken is a well-known Dutch journalist and publicist, a famous writer and a passionate historian with a big heart for Chopin.
Clara Biermasz is a Dutch pianist fascinated by Chopin, she founded the Chopin Foundation Netherlands and is its artistic director. She has been organizing Chopin festivals in the Netherlands for years.
Their concert lecture this evening, which tells about the rescue of Jewish refugees by the Polish Ambassador Tadeusz Romer to Japan in the early years of World War II, is like a reflection of history. The dramatic story that Jan Bokken will recite under the guidance of Chopin’s music by Klara Biermasz is an illustration of the events we witness in Ukraine.
Remembering the refugees of the past and those who helped them, let us remember the people fleeing Ukraine today count on our support. We stand with Ukraine!”
The working language at the concert lecture was Dutch. The Ambassador also spoke in Dutch. Jan Brokken delivered an epic lecture, he captured the attention of the entire audience. He was supported by Clara Biermasz, as a pianist.
Brokken spoke about the Polish ambassador Count Tadeusz Romer helped thousands of Polish Jews to flee to safe places between 1940 and 1943. Tadeusz was a convinced democrat and was the last Foreign Minister of the Polish government-in-exile.
Tadeusz Romer later lived in Canada, longed for Poland and polish music, Chopin of course. Like Chopin, Tadeusz Romer continued to believe in equality, freedom and humanism under all circumstances and in the healing power of music and culture.
Shortly before the break, Mr Jan Brokken paused and dedicate some time to phenomena “Chopin around the Equator”. Jan Bokken narrated passages from his non-fiction book “Why eleven Antilleans knelt before Chopin’s heart”. Music on Curacao, waltzes, mazurkas and danzas, are strongly influenced by Chopin.
Why eleven Antilleans knelt before Chopin’s heart is an impressive and entertaining cultural history of music on the Caribbean Island Curacao.
For sure, a surpassingly literature-musical narration evening enjoyed by all.