Sinfonia Varsovia: 40th Anniversary

April 2024 marks the 40th anniversary of the historic concerts of the outstanding violinist Yehudi Menuhin at the Warsaw Philharmonic with a symphony orchestra established for the occasion, built around the strings core from Jerzy Maksymiuk’s Polish Chamber Orchestra. After these concerts, an offer to conduct the orchestra was made to Menuhin by its then manager Franciszek Wybrańczyk and Studio Art Center director Waldemar Dąbrowski. Led by the new first guest conductor, the ensemble soon began to give regular concerts under the name Sinfonia Varsovia – from 1997 co-led by Krzysztof Penderecki as music director and then artistic director. For years, the orchestra celebrated this founding act with festive birthday concerts held in the spring at Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, but decided to mark its 40th anniversary with a year-long birthday series.

The concerts will be held in Warsaw at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of the Polish Radio and the Warsaw Philharmonic, as well as at the Szczecin Philharmonic and the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk. As one of the country’s leading orchestral ensembles, boasting an international brand, Sinfonia Varsovia is also a regular guest at important Polish and foreign festivals. This year, it will perform at anniversary events including the International Piano Festival of La Roque-d’Anthéron, the La Folle Journée Festival in Nantes, the Leoš Janáček International Music Festival in Ostrava, the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, Eufonie Festival and the Chopin and His Europe Festival. During the latter, it will premiere, among other things, the Piano Concerto by conductor–composer Jerzy Maksymiuk with soloist Janusz Olejniczak.

The invited artists will include figures of particular importance to the orchestra’s history: whether as its previous directors – such as conductors Jerzy Maksymiuk and Marc Minkowski – or people with whom it has important, long–standing artistic ties, such as conductor Jacek Kaspszyk, pianist Piotr Anderszewski and violinist Daniel Hope. There will also be other significant names whose relationship with Sinfonia Varsovia is shorter, such as great individuals Marek Janowski and Pinchas Zukerman, as well as outstanding artists of younger generations: conductors Alejandro Cantalapiedra, Martijn Dendievel and Henrik Nánási, violinists Gordan Nikolić, Josef Špaček and Arabella Steinbacher. Characteristically for Sinfonia Varsovia as an ensemble that pays special attention to chamber music – in concerts with Piotr Anderszewski, Daniel Hope, Gordan Nikolić and Pinchas Zukerman, it will perform without conductors, led by the soloists from their instruments.

 

 

Sinfonia Varsovia in photographs

Sinfonia Varsovia begins its anniversary this December with Mark Janowski (December 20, 2023, Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio), under whose direction it will perform two Beethoven symphonies – the Fifth and Sixth. It is around this composer’s symphonics that the orchestra’s regular meetings with the German conductor have been centered so far, referring to the legendary recording of the complete Beethoven symphonies by Sinfonia Varsovia conducted by Yehudi Menuhin in the 1990s (IMG Records 1995).

A year later, the series of anniversary concerts will be culminated by British violinist Daniel Hope (December 9, 2024, Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera). A teenage prodigy, Hope accompanied Sinfonia Varsovia on its first tours, and it was with him as soloist that it gave the last concert of Menuhin’s career. The evening will feature Andrzej Panufnik’s Violin Concerto and the Jupiter Symphony by W.A. Mozart.

Two concerts have been scheduled for February 2024 at the Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, featuring the outstanding Serbian violinist and leader of the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra, Gordan Nikolić. The artist has a habit of leading orchestras from the lectern even in such demanding repertoire as Johannes Brahms’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 77 (February 25, 2024). In his interpretation of Alban Berg’s Violin Concerto (February 28, 2024), on the other hand, the orchestra will be conducted by Alejandro Cantalapiedra.

On March 11, 2024, Piotr Anderszewski will perform with Sinfonia Varsovia at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera, on the eve of the 25th anniversary of Yehudi Menuhin’s death. Considered one of the world’s most charismatic and individual pianists, he will lead the orchestra from the instrument in keyboard concertos by Joseph Haydn and Ludwig van Beethoven. It is worth recalling that a joint recording of Mozart’s piano concertos for Virgin Classics in 2002 was Anderszewski’s first and immediately successful attempt to tackle the dual role of conductor and soloist. The concert in Warsaw will be preceded by performances at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk (March 07, 2024) and the Szczecin Philharmonic (March 8, 2024).

On March 25, 2024, Sinfonia Varsovia will perform under the baton of American violinist Pinchas Zukerman. His relationship with the orchestra, following a hugely successful tour of Spain in 2023 – during which he performed as soloist and conductor in Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D major, Op. 61 – is fresh and therefore extremely lively and inspiring for both parties.

Another major event on the anniversary calendar will be a concert on May 13, 2024 at the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera. Sinfonia Varsovia will celebrate the bicentennial of the premiere of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (May 7, 1824) and the 20th anniversary of Poland’s accession to the European Union (May 1, 2004). To mark the occasion, a civic choir of Warsaw residents is planned to be selected in auditions to participate in a performance of the final Ode to Joy. The performance will be conducted by award-winning Hungarian kapellmeister Henrik Nánási, associated with such prestigious stages as the Komische Oper in Berlin, Covent Garden in London and the Met in New York. The concert will also be the inauguration of the 24th edition of the Franciszek Wybrańczyk Sinfonia Varsovia to Its City Festival.

  1. February
    10
    Saturday
    18:00 / Warsaw Philharmonic, ul. Jasna 5, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  2. February
    25
    Sunday
    19:00 / Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, ul. Zygmunta Modzelewskiego 59, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  3. February
    28
    Wednesday
    19:00 / Witold Lutosławski Concert Studio of Polish Radio, ul. Zygmunta Modzelewskiego 59, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  4. March
    07
    Thursday
    19:00 / The Baltic Philharmonic in Gdańsk
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  5. March
    08
    Friday
    19:00 / Mieczysław Karłowicz Philharmonic in Szczecin
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  6. March
    11
    Monday
    19:00 / The Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  7. March
    25
    Monday
    19:00 / The Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises
  8. December
    09
    Monday
    19:00 / The Teatr Wielki - Polish National Opera, Warsaw
    Orchestral concerts | off-premises