Post Eagle Newspaper


Jul 13, 2024

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2013 Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Award
Presented To Sarah Kate Walston

Since its inception in 1948, the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) and its national affiliates have produced a wide range of programs supporting and promoting artists, scholars and musicians who have helped to advance an awareness and appreciation of Polish culture in the United States.  For over forty years, the ACPC’s  Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Voice Competition and Vocal Award have been foremost among these initiatives.  Each year, through a national competition, the ACPC Music Committee selects one emerging young vocalist as the recipient of the $1,500 Vocal Award in support of the young artist’s career development.  As part of this process, the selected vocalist is invited to present a recital at the organization’s annual convention.  The American Council for Polish Culture is proud to announce that Soprano Sarah Kate Walston has been selected as the recipient of the 2013  Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Voice Award.   The Award was presented on August 4, 2013 at the ACPC’s annual Convention in Baltimore, Maryland.

In photo: Celebrating the presentation of the ACPC’s 2013 Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Award are (left to right) President Deborah Majka, pianist Joy Schreier, Music Committee members Jaroslaw Golembiowski, Dr. Wanda O’Brien Trefil, Soprano Sarah Kate Walston, Committee member Robert Synakowski, and Music Committee Chair Alicia Dutka.

Ms. Walsxcvb ton, a native of Richmond, Virginia, received a Bachelor of Music Degree at Lee University and a Master of Music degree and Graduate Performance Diploma at the Peabody Conservatory. She has performed with the Baltimore Symphony, the Annapolis Symphony and the Virginia Symphony. She has attended Lorin Maazel’s Castelton Residency for Young Artists program, the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival and was engaged as a Virginia Opera Spectrum Resident Artist during the 2010/2011 season.  She has played numerous operatic roles including Musetta in La Boheme, Despina in Cosi fan Tutte and Zerlina in Don Giovanni, among others.  Ms. Walton has received numerous enthusiastic reviews from music critics nationwide. According to the Cleveland Daily Banner, “To possess a voice so silvery that it soars among the more memorable classical timbres has made Sarah Kate Walston a musical must see….”

Ms. Walston’s August 4th recital included selections from Donizetti, Mozart (Le nozze di Figaro),  Hugo Wolf and Richard Strauss.  The broad spectrum of her repertoire ranged from these classical pieces to a selection of Songs from Kurpie Opus 58 by Karol Symanowski, which the artist sang in Polish, to popular tunes by Duke Ellington and traditional spirituals.  The accompanist for the recital was pianist Joy Schreier of Maryland.

Ms. Walston was introduced by the chair of the ACPC Music Committee Alicia Dutka, of the affiliate Polish Arts Club of Chicago, who presented the soloist with the 2013 Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Award.  Members of the Music Committee include Jaroslaw Golembiowski, of the Chicago Chopin Society; Robert Synakowski, of the Polish Heritage Club of Syracuse, NY; and Dr. Wanda O’Brien Trefil, of the Polish American Arts Association of Washington, D. C. who has accepted  the appointment as Chairman of the Music Committee at the ACPC August National Convention.

The Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Vocal Competition and Award honors Polish vocalist Marcella Kochanska Sembrich, a coloratura soprano who is regarded as one of the most brilliant representatives of the vocal art of all time. The Polish artist was born in 1858 near the former Polish city of Lwów in the Austrian administrative region of Galicia.  Kochanska Sembirch had an important singing career, chiefly at the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London and was a tremendous favorite at the Italian Opera in St. Petersburg, Russia.  The Polish coloratura made her American debut in 1883 with the newly founded Metropolitan Opera Company after a sensational European career. Her retirement in 1909 was a gala affair at the Met, but she continued to give recitals until 1917. Kochanska Sembrich then taught privately and at the Juilliard and Curtis schools for as long as her health permitted. She died in New York in 1935. Throughout her life, Kochanska Sembrich was a great Polish patriot. During World War I she served as President of the American-Polish Relief Committee of New York. She was wholly devoted to raising money, food stuffs and clothes for her suffering countrymen.

By Dave Motak


Founded in 1948, the American Council for Polish Culture, Inc. (ACPC) is a national non-profit, charitable, cultural and educational organization that serves as a network and body of national leadership among affiliated Polish American cultural organizations throughout the United States.  The council represents the interests of some 21 affiliated organizations located in the 15 states and the District of Columbia. Further information can be found at