These Polish Republikans

These Polish Republikans

I was on a flight to New York from Warsaw on the day, 22 December 2001 when Grzegorz Ciechowski, founder of Republika. It was a shock, not just because he was a great musician and artist, but because this was a time of shocks. It was just three months and a few days after 911. the fragility of life did not need to be hammered home any harder.

Meanwhile, I was worn out from a maddening road trip round Islamabad, Quetta, Peshawar and Jalalabad tracking the Northern alliance and. It was a time that changed me. Maybe to some degree, it changed all of us who remember it. It was an unreal time. Grzegorz's death added to the unreality. It still feels unreal when I think back to that time 15 years ago. And I reckon that all those who knew him and worked with him and loved his music still feel that sense of loss today, fifteen years later.

That's why it was fun to attend a memorial evening with about 300 fans of the band on Tuesday the 20th at the Warsaw Film School.

Here is a description of the evening in Polish at this link:

Przyjaciele i fani wspominali Grzegorza Ciechowskiego - Warszawska Szkoła Filmowa

Piotr Stelmach from Polish Radio 3 opened the evening. Close friends and family appeared: Leszek Biolik (bass) and Zbigniew Krzywanski (lead guitar) from the Republika. Malgorzata Potocka, Grzegorz's former consort who presented an exhibition of her art from the Citizen GC period, an interval between incarnations of Republika. their daughter Weronika flew in from New York where she has lived for nearly a decade. Agnieszka Wedrowska was also on hand. She is the sister of Grzegorz's third wife, Ana, who was not present.

This event followed a weekend of events in Torun, the band's hometown where there were a series of concerts and events last weekend.

Krzystof Ibisz, television presenter, made an appearance as did Stefan Laudyn, director of the Warsaw Film Festival.

Two authors were on hand. Leszek Gnoinski has penned an exhaustive (and no doubt exhausting) nearly 800-page history of the band. It's called Republika. This is a big book. In my flat it already is rivaling War and Peace for best doorstop.

Photographer Andrzej Swietlik signed copies of his book, Ciechowski, containing hundreds of photographs of the Republika front man and songwriter.

Grzegorz Ciechowski w obiektywie Andrzeja Świetlika

The event was topped off with an acoustic set of Republika/Ciechowski favorites performed by Zbigniew Krzywanski (guitar, backing vocals) and Jacek Bonczyk (guitar, vocals). 

Here is a song from Republika, the anthem, Biala Flaga (White Flag) from 2001.


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