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Hurrah! and “Sto Lat”
On A Street In Washington

By Richard Poremski

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  If you happen to be walking here on Pennsylvania Avenue, two blocks west of the White House, between 18th and 19th Streets, N.W., you are not imagining things if you hear the joyful notes of Sto Lat floating  gently in the air. These notes are emanating from a unique urban musical instillation christened Hurrah! in Edward R. Murrow Park between the two bordering streets.

In photo: One Amazing Urban Musical Instrument. Polish artist and designer Karol Murlak is depicted with his creation of Hurrah! It plays out all of the notes of Sto Lat when the individually-tuned vertical columns are tapped in succession with the attached rubber-tipped baton, as being expertly demonstrated by Mr. Murlak.

The Hurrah! instillation, hand-crafted in Poland, is a large scale vertical xylophone consisting of 36 stainless steel tubes, with each tube being fine tuned to a separate note of Sto Lat, all arranged in a circle 8.5 feet in diameter. When (as per the posted instructions) the tubes are tapped in succession with the attached rubber-tipped baton the iconic Polish birthday, anniversary and celebratory song Sto Lat! (wishing “One Hundred Years!”) is played out. Each tall tube is marked in Polish and English with the song’s lyrics. “The vertical tubes allude to the Polish forest and allow the participant to feel enclosed in a space while still being connected to the greater landscape”, as per the Polish Cultural Institute New York, a key Hurrah! cooperating organization.

Hurrah! was conceived and designed for the celebration of the 100th  anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between Poland and the United States (1919-2019). Its exuberant name was aptly chosen to reflect the excitement and joy of the century’s true friendship and familiar comradery shared unequivocally between the Poles and Americans.

In photo: Polish Pride. A beaming duo of artist/designer Karol Murlak and Poland’s Ambassador Piotr Wilczek both proudly pose with the musical public art instillation Hurrah! at its launching ceremonies in Murrow Park on Pennsylvania Avenue in the heart of our nation’s capital.

“This year,” said Poland’s Ambassador Piotr Wilczek at the launching of Hurrah! on September 19, 2019, “the Polish Embassy has been organizing a wide range of events aimed at drawing attention to various aspects of the relationship between our countries (re: the on-going PLUS 100 Together initiative). This instillation, located in the heart of Washington, D.C. among the most important U.S. and international institutions, is a fun way to engage the public in the celebrations of this anniversary, and in cross-cultural dialogue intended to bring people closer together.”

Also speaking, and/or representing at the event, were the co-sponsors and supporters of the project: Golden Triangle Executive Director Leona Agouridis, Matthew Lussenhop – U.S. State Department, Michael Curtis – Deputy Head of Delegation of the European Union, and The World Bank.

Both Poland and the United States owe a world of thanks to Polish designer and Pratt Institute Prof. Karol Murlak and the design team of Danielle Begnaud, Katarzyna Michnowska and Marzena Krupa for the amazing creation of Hurrah!

At the annual NYCxDesign event in New York this past May, Hurrah! made its very well received American debut after being installed in Manhattan’s Times Square. It will now remain here in Washington’s Murrow Park until August, 2020. It has the honor of being the first in a series of public international art instillations on the west end of Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

So, if you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Murrow Park on Pennsylvania Avenue, very near to the White House, please do make it a point to stop by Hurrah! and perform Sto Lat on this unique instrument.  You will be personally celebrating PLUS 100 Together in unison with the people of Poland and America.

Richard P. Poremski
Polish American Journal
Washington, DC Bureau
October 3, 2019    

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