• September 22, 2017
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Portuguese Grand Prix for a young vocalist from Czarny Bór

When on the 26th of August in the small, Portuguese city called Siea, the results of III international festival Da Cancao Da SeRRa da Estrela were being announced, in which participated singers from 19 countries, the doorbell rang in one of the houses on Mickiewicz street in Czarny Bór.

It was 4 am when the family of Żdanavičius heard the fantastic news. Their daughter and sister, Gabriela, won Grand Prix of the prestigious and international festival! It is not the first award of the young and talented Pole from Czarny Bór. She has been bringing glory to her neighborhood for many years now.

I intentionally chose the time to talk with mom – Maria, of 14-year-old Gabriela, before her daughter got back from classes in Tallat Kelpsa Conservatory in Vilnius. Let’s start with memories that are not too pleasant for the housewife of such a beautiful house. And yet, life seemed very promising.

Being 17, she met her first husband, Michał Romanowski, at the disco party in Wojdaty (Vilnius’ suburbs). First love, first dates. They were a couple for 3 years, and when Maria reached 20 years old and got an accountant diploma, they got married. It could not have been any other way, having the same point of view on life and the same family traditions.

In the family neighborhood of Michał, not far from his parents, they built a little house where they awaited twins.

He was devoted to his family and he was so happy about our boys – Maria says.

We were kidding, that we are lucky to have two at the same time because there won’t be a need for fighting while choosing the name. Our little men’s names were: Artur and Mirosław. These were 90’s, hard for all of us, but my husband had a sawmill, so we prospered not bad, and I was always willing to help him – she recalls.

At one point of our conversation, she stops talking and begins to think. She returned with her memories to that horrible day, when not far from Czarny Bór, a car accident took place, in which Michał died. I saw the tears running down her cheeks and I saw that these memories are still fresh.

She begins to talk again.

-I have no idea how I would have survived it, if not my boys who were 2.5 years old. I had to live and work as two. I never thought I will have another partner in my life ever again. My family saw it all, my 4 years old younger brother, who after 5 years from the tragedy, introduced me to Jurek Żdanavičius. We ran into each other once again in Vilnius. I have my previous surname, because we, Poles from a countryside, have always been stubborn – she laughs.

‘We liked each other, that is true, but I also had my sons, so I had to think it over well’. Jurek has done everything to win hearts of the boys, who missed father’s love so much.

He says that that the boys have always been well behaving, they were great students and now, after graduating from the university, they are running an internet company mokslinčius.lt.

-They could teach me so many things! – proudly admits the head of the family, who has also begun his new life in Czarny Bór.

We bought this land in 2002, surrounded by pine trees and we have begun to build our new, big house so there is enough space for everyone: both of us, our two boys and daughter, who was born in the same year – says Maria – actually Gabriela has been helping to ‘build’ this home not being even born yet. We have gone through all the formalities that every family building new house needs to go through, but when authorities saw I am in an advanced pregnancy, they let us go.

Only they are the ones, who know how much they have been waiting for their daughter. She has been ‘singing’ since being a newborn. More and more momentously, more melodically every day. To parents’ and first music teacher’s – Mirena Kasperowicz’s delight. To smaller delight of…brothers, who used to say that they cannot get peace in their own house. Constant music and songs. Right now they are proudly observing their sister’s achievements.

The fact that Gabriela has a great voice, are the husband’s genes. His family is musically talented. His grandfather (head of a paper ‘Sielskaya zizn’), he sang well, his father also has a great voice, he plays instruments, composes music. His family lived in the same neighborhood as Jurij Antonov, today famous, Russian singer and composer. Boys began together, but as everyone thought, Jurek’s father had bigger chances to be famous – she says.

As soon as they discovered the talent of their daughter, they decided to do everything to develop it. Their daughter has been studying in two schools – in Urszula Ledóchowska middle school and in music school in Rudamin. Right now she is attending conservatory of Tallat Kelpsza. The syllabus is tight, she needs to keep up with basic subjects, as well as, with specialist ones. There are days when Gabriela comes back home at 7 pm. She likes the atmosphere in the conservatory. Of course, she copes with difficulties, having her primary school finished in polish language, she has her lessons in Lithuanian now. Teachers are very understanding and they help her a lot.

Maria says that they happen to meet nice people on her daughter’s career path. Such one undoubtedly is her vocals teacher, Nijolė Maceikaitė, to whom she owes a lot. But the girl mainly owes to her parents. After all, you need to earn money in order to go to the interviews and competitions. Sometimes the organizers cover part of the costs, but in most cases, parents are the ones paying for it.

There should be a separate article about it. It might seem that it has been easy for them, that everything has been going like a clockwork. But they not once took out a loan from the bank, put all eggs in one basket. They have started up of one lorry car, then there were big trucks, now they have the whole transport company. Her husband, if needed, is behind the wheel too. He has always something to do.

Fate has hurt me, as well as, rewarded me. I have a great husband and we work together in our family company. When we are leaving with Gabriela to competitions and shows, he works as two. 25-year-old sons are doing great on their own. I leave my husband our cat and 5 dogs, as well as ones from the neighborhood that I take care of, because some owners simply cannot take good care of them – she ends.

Gabriela’s prizes is a different story. Listing state and international prizes would not fit in our article. Grand Prix in Riga, Jurmala, Portugal and one from Turgeliai, Druskininkai. First place at the International Festival Majowa Nutka in Częstochowa, first place in Sankt Petersburg, third place at the festival in Vilnius – it is only some part of all prizes Gabriela has gotten.

Her Cups stand on the piano, but as dad proudly says, we need new cabinets for the rest of them. Her mom showed me videos of her shows, one of them was from Lithuanian National Television, where 9 year old Gabriela performed ‘Ave Maria’ – written by french composer, Charles’a Gounod.

Repertory of Gabriela is wide – from popular folk songs to jazz, blues, rock… Do you have time to rest? – I asked.

– I have – she answered – I have danced for many years, attended to young model agencies. On Sundays I sing at the church of Father Michał Sopoćko in Czarny Bór, I perform with Extra Junior band directed by Wiesław Dudziński. I am soon taking part in chorus of Vilnius region which on the 30th of September at 3pm will perform after Mass in Dominican Church of the Holy Spirit in Vilnius and on the 14th of October at 5:30pm in The St. Peter the Apostle Church in Šalčininkai. It is not the end – I really like styling hair of my friends, doing make up, manicure and cook for my family. I would love to play on the saxophone too.

After the last competition in Portugal she received invitations to Romania and Bulgaria. Big prizes, banquet at Mayor’s of Siea city, Lisbon sightseeing, new friendships – it all makes her very happy, but it also obliges. Young, talented vocalist knows it very well and she does everything to continue succeeding.

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

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