Songs from Sylvan Mazovia
Instructor Maria Bienias, Magdalena Szpuda
Maria Bienias (born in 1943) from Wola Korycka Górna near Garwolin is an accomplished singer and expert in local traditions. From the young age she heard stories from her mother and grandmother, which she now shares, as she describes what it used to be like in old times.
One can learn many lyrical and religious songs connected with annual and family customs from Maria. She also carries in her memory the scope of songs which used to be sung solely by men, such as Easter wishes. She is one of the last persons in the area to run vigils for the deceased and say eulogies. As a 13 year old she used to be a wedding singer. Maria tells lots of stories and gladly. One can learn from them a lot about the time of yore in the country, healing herbs, and local legends and even pick up some hand craft, such as weaving, making paper ornaments, cut-outs and regional cuisine. Since 1992 she has been leading a singing ensemble, which also stages old rites and customs.
She is an open and curious person who actively participates in all important local events. She is often invited by schools to give speeches about traditions. She is keen on visiting places of worship. She is a great ambassador of tradition who represents her village and the county of Garwolin at festivals and folkloric events. She has won many awards including the Oskar Kolberg Award and often recorded songs with the Polish Radio and researchers from other countries. She realizes how valuable her knowledge is and gladly shares it with others, opening her doors to the people who are interested in old traditions. She speaks a dialect. She is always cheerful and direct, a perfect teacher.