• July 29, 2014
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The “Polka” performed by Wilia at the World Festival of Polish Folk Bands

For the sixteenth time the World Festival of Polish Folk Bands takes place in Rzeszów. At this festival Lithuania is represented by the Polish Song and Dance Band “Wilia”.

Polish folklore enthusiasts arrive to Rzeszów triennially. This year, bands from Belarus, Brazil, Canada, Moldova, Germany, Czech Republic, Russia, Romania, Switzerland, Sweden, Ukraine, the USA, the UK and Lithuania participate in the festival.

Have a look at “Polka” performed by Wilia at the market square in Rzeszów.

The origins of the Song and Dance Band “Wilia” date back to 1955 when on March 19 a group of Polish youth, students of Vilnius University, established the art group. “Wilia” is the oldest group in the Vilnius region which promotes for more than 55 years of its activity the Polish culture, folklore and traditions in Lithuania as well as abroad.

Since its inception, the group is actively involved in national and international festivals and reviews as well as it performed nearly 1500 concerts on various stages in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece and had numerous recordings on the Lithuanian Radio and Television. The cooperation with the Polish People’s Theatre of Lviv, meetings with actors form Warsaw Operetta, the Old Theatre in Cracow and the Pantomime Theatre in Wrocław as well as creative meetings with “Mazowsze”, “Śląsk” and the Representative Group of the Polish Army are unforgettable.

“Wilia” brought up entire generations of singers, dancers and musicians who contributed to the creation and who manage until now groups such as “Wilenka”, “Prząśniczka”, “Świtezianka”, “Wileńszczyzna”, “Strumyk”, “Zgoda”, “Sto uśmiechów” and many others.

For the overall artistic activity and cultivation of Polish traditions in Lithuania, the group has received many Polish and Lithuanian badges, among others: the badge for the contribution to the Polish culture, the Oskar Kolberg’s medal, the badge of the Marshal of the Polish Senate – “Golden Laurel” and many others.

Rich and varied repertoire of “Wilia” brings together the folklore of various regions of Poland, Polish national dances and beloved songs and dances of Vilnius. Some of them gained the title “Golden Repertoire”, i.a.: Polonaise “Farewell to the Fatherland” by M.K. Ogiński, the Mazur from the opera “The Haunted Mansion” by Stanisław Moniuszko or the Mining Suite.

Both the picture of the Vilnius salon from the late eighteen century entitled “Salon Ogińskich na Dominikańskiej”, prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the activity of the group and “Magiczny świat muzyki filmowej”, presented at the jubilee celebrations of the 55th anniversary in November 2010, inscribed beautifully in the repertoire.

Today, the group consists of approximately 150 people, including the choir, dance group, band, children’s choir and children’s dance group. For the group, this year’s festival is already 9 in turn and the sixth generation of “Wilia” dancers arrives. For some of them it will be the first festival but hopefully not the last.

Translated by Anna Piecha within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.

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