The local authorities of Jaworki near Kraków have named a bridge after the famous British musician, Nigel Kennedy. The bridge lies on the Biały Potok River and leads from Jaworki to the music club, Muzyczna Owczarnia. The club became a legendary place where talented artists and musicians meet to create music, give concerts and enjoy playing and experimenting with music. Nigel Kennedy was appointed honorary chairman of the Muzyczna Owczarnia Association, which nowadays organises workshops, concerts, art exhibitions, and music education projects. The bridge was built because of difficult access to the club after the old wooden bridge was destroyed. Its construction was dedicated to cultural interaction and musical development. It was consecrated by the local parish priest, father Joseph Włodarczyk. The ribbon was cut by Nigel Kennedy, who declared the bridge officially open and then performed for all the invited guests. It was the 41st charity concert given by Nigel Kennedy in Muzyczna Owczarnia. Nigel Kennedy’s wife Agnieszka told Wienczysław Kołodziejski, founder of Muzyczna Owczarnia, that her husband values giving concerts at Muzyczna Owczarnia more than the title he received from Queen Elizabeth II. In his speech at the opening ceremony, Wienczysław Kołodziejski highlighted that this was the most important event in the history of Muzyczna Owczarnia. According to Kołodziejski, the Nigel Kennedy Bridge is a great achievement as it symbolises the aspirations and growth of the Muzyczna Owczarnia Association and, what is more, it is also a beautiful structure. Kołodziejski added that he was thankful people still cultivate the values of goodness, solidarity, family, help, tradition and history. From the very beginning, the bridge project had one clear message: it was built as a gift to music and to Polish culture. It stemmed from an initiative by a group of architects. Kołodziejski said that the bridge was an example of a renewed faith in humanity.
Nigel Kennedy was born in Brighton. His grandfather was principal cellist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra. His grandmother was a pianist who taught Enrice Caruso’s children. Nigel’s father, John, left his mother unaware she is pregnant and moved to Australia. John Kennedy did not know about the existence of Nigel until he met him for the first time when Nigel was 11. Without doubt, Nigel Kennedy is one of the most important musicians Britain has ever produced. Kennedy’s recording of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” in 1989 sold over 2 million copies and became one of the best-selling classical recordings ever. In 1997, he received an award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music at the Brit Awards. In 2001, he was chosen Male Artist of the Year. Kennedy is also famous for his cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” and his violin interpretation of several of the Doors’ songs. He has played at Saint James’ Palace, Buckingham Palace and the Royal Albert Hall. He has performed with the world’s leading orchestras in Europe, North America, Central and South America, South East Asia and Australia. He adores Polish and Poland. His second wife Agnieszka is Polish and they have a son together. “I am such a hen-pecked husband,” Kennedy laughs about himself. The world-famous violinist fell in love with Poland a long time ago. He came to Kraków and became fascinated with its incredible atmosphere and the Polish band Kroke, famous for its Jewish style, influenced by Balkan, Oriental and Indian music with elements of jazz. He has played with Kroke at numerous European festivals, every time receiving enthusiastic applause. In 2002, Kennedy was appointed Artistic Director of the Polish Chamber Orchestra. He built a house in Jaworniki and was made honorary citizen of Szczawnica, which is located near Jaworniki. Nigel Kennedy divides his time between residences in Malvern, Worcestershire, London, Kraków and Jaworniki. The only thing he complains about in Kraków are the noisy stag parties of drunken British tourists. Although he is a die-hard Aston Villa fan, he supports Cracovia FC when he is in Poland. He attended Cracovia’s centenary celebrations wearing a Cracovia shirt.
When he was asked by a journalist what Poland has to offer the world, he said: “Why don’t you believe in yourselves? For example, Polish jazz musicians are some of the best in the world. Tomasz Stańko, Michał Urbaniak, Jan Wróblewski are icons. Every time I go on a tour with Polish musicians, everybody respects and recognises Polish jazz. Together with Polish artists, like Anna Maria Jopek, we are working on the Nigel Kennedy Chopin Group project, dedicated to Chopin’s music. Polish musicians have nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, many countries envy Polish musicians for their feel for rhythm. My bands, the Nigel Kennedy Quintet and the Life Orchestra, are made up of Polish musicians. You’re the most emotional nation in the world. That’s why I fell in love with Poland. You’re not reserved, diplomatic or cold like the English. The combination of Polish discipline and sentimentalism is perfect for making music. When I play with Polish musicians, I feel a freedom of spirit that I don’t experience with German or English artists. If I had to describe the Polish spirit, I’d compare it to Polish honey vodka”. In fact, one of Nigel Kennedy’s albums is called, “Polish Spirit”. It has won numerous awards the world over. Kennedy is known for his eccentric image. He has been attacked on numerous occasions for his approach to classical music and has been criticised for his ludicrous clothes. At his last concert in Bydgoszcz, Poland, in September, 2013, he came out onto the stage wearing an Aston Villa top, leather jacket, tracksuit bottoms and bright green trainers. With his typical broad smile and charm, he took a concert programme from a person sitting in the front row to check what he was going to play during the concert. After a short break, he reappeared on stage with a bottle of beer in his hand winking cheekily at the audience. During the 2-hour performance he talked and joked with everyone and won over the Bydgoszcz audience who gave him a standing ovation.