"No orchestra work I ever did has proven as satisfactory as the work I did as a soloist and conductor for the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra"
August 29th 2009
"...they are wonderful, they are one of the best orchestras, not only in Poland. First class."
August 23rd 2009
In April of 1984, the legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin was invited to Poland to perform as soloist and to conduct the Polish Chamber Orchestra. In order to match the exigencies of the planned repertoire, the orchestra increased the number of its members, inviting Poland's finest musicians to participate in the venture. The first concerts conducted by Menuhin were enthusiastically received by audiences and appreciated by critics. The delighted lord Menuhin expressed his desire to continue working with the newly-formed ensemble. The idea of establishing a permanent orchestra, made up of stringed instruments and a doubled winds section has become fact. Yehudi Menuhin accepted the proposition of Franciszek Wybrańczyk, the ensemble's general director, without hesitation, becoming the chief guest conductor of the orchestra, which was named SINFONIA VARSOVIA.
The ensemble was soon invited to play concerts in the United States and Canada, with more invitations to follow - from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland and Greece, with more recent proposals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. SINFONIA VARSOVIA has performed in the world's most celebrated concert halls, including New York's Carnegie Hall, Théatre des Champs Elysées in Paris, the Barbican Centre in London, Vienna's Musikverein, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Suntory Hall in Tokyo and Herkulessaal in Munich. The orchestra played at renowned festivals in Salzburg, Gstaad (the Yehudi Menuhin Festival), Aix-en-Provence, Montreux, La Roque d'Antheron, Schleswig-Holstein, the Pablo Casals Festival, Würzburg, Alte Oper (Frankfurt am Mein), the Sea Music Festival, the Beethoven Festival in Bonn, and many more. The celebrated "La Folle Journée" music festival organised by the French C.R.E.A. association and its director René Martin holds a special slot in the orchestra's performing calendar each season. Each year, the festival adopts a different theme and is hosted by a different city around the world, including Nantes, Bilbao, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro. The festival is a unique undertaking on a world-wide scale. In June 2010 "La Folle Journée" Fesitval for the first time was organised in Warsaw.
The orchestra's repertoire is exceptionally extensive, ranging from 18th century works to contemporary compositions. The orchestra has played Polish and world premieres of works by Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutosławski, Marta Ptaszyńska, Paweł Szymański, Paweł Mykietyn, John Adams, Onute Narbutaite and Krzesimir Dębski, to name but a few.
SINFONIA VARSOVIA has performed with many distinguished conductors, including
Claudio Abbado, Gerd Albrecht, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Hans Graf, Leopold Hager, Jacek Kaspszyk, Kazimierz Kord, Jan Krenz, Emmanuel Krivine,
Witold Lutosławski, Paul McCreesh, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Yehudi Menuhin, Marc Minkowski, Grzegorz Nowak, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michel Plasson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach, Jerzy Semkow, Antoni Wit and Bruno Weil.
During its numerous concerts, the orchestra has accompanied such renowned soloists as Salvatore Accardo, Piotr Anderszewski, Maurice André, Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Teresa Berganza, Rafał Blechacz, Alfred Brendel, Piotr Paleczny, José Carreras, Sarah Chang, Kyung-Wha Chung, José Cura, Placido Domingo, Augustin Dumay, Nelson Freire, James Galway, Sophie Graf, Fou Ts'ong, Sharon Kam, Kiri Te Kanawa, Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, Alicia de Larrocha, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christa Ludwig, Radu Lupu, Albrecht Mayer, Mischa Maisky, Yehudi Menuhin, Shlomo Mintz, Olli Mustonen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Olga Pasiecznik, Murray Perahia, Maria João Pires, Ivo Pogorelić, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Vadim Repin, Katia Ricciarelli, Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Howard Shelley, Henryk Szeryng, Maxim Vengerov, Andreas Vollenweider, Christian Zacharias, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Tabea Zimmermann and Grigori Zhyslin.
The orchestra devotes a significant share of its activities to promote Poland's most talented young musicians. SINFONIA VARSOVIA has played with the conductors Iwona Sowińska, Wojciech Rodek and Krzysztof Urbański, violinists Agata Szymczewska, Jakub Jakowicz, Mariusz Patyra, Aleksandra Bucholc and Anna Gutowska, singers Iwona Sobotka and Aleksandra Kurzak, and the pianist Beata Bilińska.
SINFONIA VARSOVIA has made numerous recordings on compact disc and for radio
and television. The orchestra boasts a discography of more than 200 albums, recorded for famous international labels: Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Sony, EMI, Virgin Classics, Naxos and Denon Nippon Columbia, as well as for Polish labels, including CD Accord, Polskie Nagrania, BeArTon, DUX and Polskie Radio. Many of these recordings received prestigious music awards, including the Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix du Disque, and, on more than one occasion, the Polish "Fryderyk" award. The orchestra's most celebrated recordings include "Polish Symphonic Music of the 19th Century" (CD ACCORD/ POLSKIE RADIO), "Martha Argerich - Live in Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera" (CD ACCORD), Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Symphony no. 3 (NAIVE), Mozart's Piano Concertos with Piotr Anderszewski as soloist (VIRGIN), a CD of works by Karol Szymanowski conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk (BEARTON) and "The Romantic Clarinet" with the famous clarinettist Sharon Kam (EDEL CLASSICS). Two albums with works by Bach and Haendel recorded for DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON with the virtuoso German oboist Albrecht Mayer were an artistic and commercial success, topping charts for a long time. The "Polish Spirit" CD ranks as one of the group's most successful albums to promote Polish music. Conducted by Nigel Kennedy and performed by the Polish Chamber Orchestra, the album features violin concertos by Mieczysław Karłowicz and Emil Młynarski (EMI). The orchestra's discography also features many recordings made with lord Yehudi Menuhin as conductor, including the complete symphonies of Beethoven and Schubert, recorded in 1996 for IMG Records to celebrate the artist's 80th birthday anniversary.
In June 2008, three albums recorded by Sinfonia Varsovia and the Polish Chamber Orchestra received the prestigious German ECHO Klassik 2008 music award. These were: WERKE FUR TROMPETE with Gabor Boldoczki (Sony/BMG Sony Classical), NEW SEASONS with Albrecht Mayer (Universal / Deutsche Grammophon) and POLISH SPIRIT with Nigel Kennedy (EMI Classics). The POLISH SPIRIT album, containing violin concertos by Karłowicz and Młynarski, was awarded the Polish "Fryderyk 2008" award in the Album of the Year - Symphonic and Concert Music category. Album with the music of Mieczysław Karłowicz and featuring Jerzy Maksymiuk as the conductor and Agata Szymczewska as violinist received two "Fryderyk 2009" awards: in the Album of the Year - Symphonic and Concert Music category and in the Outstanding Recording of Polish Music category. In 2010 CD with Fryderyk Chopin piano concertos performed by Jan Lisiecki (piano), Howard Shelley (direction) and Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra received a prestigous Diapason Découverte award.
KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI became the orchestra's musical director in 1997 and its artistic director in July 2003, a position he still holds, often also working together with the ensemble as its conductor. The orchestra performs in Poland and abroad, playing many works by the composer, including the Sinfonietta per Archi, Sinfonietta No. 2, the Flute Concerto, the Viola Concerto (also its versions for cello and clarinet), Stabat Mater, De Profundis, as well as Credo and The Seven Gates of Jerusalem. Krzysztof Penderecki recorded a number of albums with the orchestra, some of them with his own works.
SINFONIA VARSOVIA frequently plays at major musical events in Poland. It is a regular guest at the Chopin and his Europe festival, the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, Wratislavia Cantans, Warsaw Autumn, and the Polish Radio Music Festival. In the 2008/2009 season, the orchestra performed in Germany, France, at the La Folle Journée festival in Nantes, Bilbao and Tokyo, in La Roque d'Antheron, at the Polish Radio Music Festival, at the Baltic Sea Festival in Stockholm and at the Chopin and his Europe and the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festivals.
Of special note is the SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO ITS CITY festival. This unique project was initiated in 2001 by Franciszek Wybrańczyk, the founder and long-time director of the orchestra.
The festival is a recurring event of top artistic significance. Accessible to the public at large, the festival has become a landmark on the cultural landscape of Warsaw and is a favourite among music-lovers of the capital of Poland. The festival aims to showcase the greatest works of music literature as performed by the Sinfonia Varsovia with famous soloists and conductors. Each year, as the summer draws to a close, the orchestra performs free concerts in a plethora of venues in the capital normally not associated with mainstream cultural events. These include community centres, churches and open air concerts. The concerts are conducted by outstanding Polish conductors, including Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jan Krenz, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Michniewski, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, but also by a younger generation of artists, like Wojciech Rodek, Łukasz Borowicz and Michał Dworzyński. The festival is held under the honorary auspices of the Mayor of the City of Warsaw and is organised by the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation and by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra.
FRANCISZEK WYBRAŃCZYK - the founder of the Sinfonia Varsovia orchestra and a major contributor to its international success, founder of the SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO ITS CITY festival, passed away on 31 May 2006. In 2007, to commemorate this remarkable man - musician, talented organiser of the Polish and European music scene, enthusiast and thoroughly charming personality - the event was renamed to the Franciszek Wybrańczyk SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO ITS CITY festival.
THE SINFONIA VARSOVIA FOUNDATION was established in the year 2000 by Franciszek Wybrańczyk. The foundation initiates and supports the orchestra's artistic endeavours. It promotes in particular Polish composers and young talents and organises the annual SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO ITS CITY festival. The activities of the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation are supported by the POLSERVICE Patent and Trademark Attorneys' Office and by BANK BPH.
In 2004, Franciszek Wybrańczyk handed over the duties of the director of SINFONIA VARSOVIA to JANUSZ MARYNOWSKI - his assistant and long-time musician in the orchestra.
Until 31 December 2007, the orchestra operated from the St. I. Witkiewicz STUDIO Art Centre in Warsaw. On 1 January 2008, the SINFONIA VARSOVIA ORCHESTRA became a council cultural institution. The Orchestra's coordinator is the CAPITAL CITY OF WARSAW.
Mark Minkowski - musical director
Janusz Marynowski - general director
Krzysztof Penderecji - artistic director