hamula Excitement mounted among members of the American Council for Polish Culture (ACPC) and their guests during the Council’s annual convention in Cleveland, Ohio this month as the hour had arrived for the concert featuring the winner of the annual Marcella Kochanska Sembrich Voice Competition.  Members of the Music Committee, Alicia Dutka, Chair; Dr. Robert Dutka; and Jaroslaw Golembiowski were highly pleased with their selection of the Competition’s winner, Julie-Anne Hamula, a very beautiful and talented soprano. Ms. Hamula attended Westminister Choir College for her Bachelor’s degree in voice performance and completed her Master of Music degree at the University of Texas, Butler Opera Center.  She had been lauded as a “pliable and rich soprano” when she sang as Antonia in Les Contes d’Hoffman.  Julie-Anne has performed in various operas and has been praised for her “technically sound, rich performances.”  Accompanist for the recital was Jacek Sobieski, pianist. 

L/R:  Alicia Dutka; Deborah Majka; Julie-Anne Hamula (with Sembrich Award Plaque)


 Ms. Hamula’s Sembrich performance was conducted at the beautiful St. Stanislaus Shrine in Slavic Village, Cleveland.  Her first offering was “Martern aller Arten”, Wolfgang Mozart.  She made a vivid and enduring first impression – very effervescent with a beautiful expressive face and truly powerful voice.  Julie-Anne’s performance of “Robert, tai que j’aime” by G. Meyerbee revealed her enormous and surprising power as a singer, providing an enchanting sense of immense human emotion.  She has a regal princess bearing.


L/R: Jacek Sobieski; Deborah Majka; Julie-Anne Hamula; Alicia Dutka

          Yet, Julie-Anne has the strength and grace to sing songs like “Moja Pieszczotka” (“My Darling”) and “‘Tis the Last Rose of Summer” with a coquettish charm and warm and loving delivery.  The praise that had been lavished on her by reviewers following previous performances for her warm tone, agile phrasing and considerable vocal energy was fully endorsed by ACPC members at the current concert in Cleveland.  The ACPC members and guests reacted to her mesmerizing performance by rising and applauding vigorously at length, showing their appreciation for Julie-Anne’s outstanding performance of her entire program.

          Alicia Dutka presented Julie-Anne Hamula with a bouquet of flowers and the ACPC’s Sembrich award, a $1,500 check – an award designed to encourage budding vocal artists.  President Deborah Majka offered warm and hearty congratulations to the gifted singer on behalf of the American Council for Polish Culture.

          The accompanist Jacek Sobieski was the music director for almost two decades at the National Theatre in Warsaw, Poland.  He holds a Master of Music degree from the State College of Music in Warsaw.  Since 1988 he has resided in the U.S. where he has performed as a soloist and accompanist.  Together with his wife Dorota, Jacek Sobieski founded the Opera Circle in 1995, musically directing and conducting over 20 opera productions.  He is also Music Director at St. Charles Church in Boardmen, Ohio.  Mr. Sobieski’s performance as an accompanist to Ms. Hamula was strong and well focused.  When he performed a solo piece during the recital break, he left the audience in awe of his skill and intensity, which made a vivid and enduring impression of his playing as a soloist and accompanist.


          A very happy concert audience filed into the Shrine’s garden to enjoy the reception prepared for the occasion by our host, the Polish American Cultural Center, where we were wined and dined. Inspired by the outstanding Sembrich prize winner, soprano Juli-Ann Hamula and the many talented instrumental and vocal soloists who appeared during the convention, ACPC members formed an impromptu chorus led enthusiastically by Aundrea Heschmeyer.  The group raised their voices in popular Polish and English songs.  Among their Polish selections were “Gdzie Jest Ta Dziewczyna?” (Where is that Girl?), “Gdybym ja była słoneczkiem na niebie” (If I were the sun in the heavens), and many others. 

L/R: Aundria Heschmeyer; Dr. Robert Dutka

Dr. Robert Dutka, DDS, who is also a highly skilled accordionist, at times provided the necessary musical accompaniment.  The old beautiful Polish songs moved the impromptu singers to feelings of happiness and joy as they closed the memorable evening’s performances by singing “Jak szybko mijają chwile” (“How swiftly time flies by”). 


Informal choral group ACPC members

          If you are interested in joining our organization, playing a role in our cultural activities and  experiencing with us the lively and happy moments of our Polish heritage, please contact Membership Chair, Florence Landridge, 860-521-4934, [email protected].  Individual membership dues are only $10 annually!