Organ Concert to Mark the 120th Anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic Filharmonia Narodowa

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Organ Concert to Mark the 120th Anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic
Chrmistian Schmitt, fot. Uwe Arens

The first of a series of organ concerts with which the Warsaw Philharmonic will be celebrating its 120th anniversary features several appealing works by three great German neo-Romantics and Wojciech Kilar, who was always very closely associated with our institution (in 2001 he honoured its centenary with his Missa pro pace). His hypnotic Exodus (1981) is a vocal-symphonic poem, a great “crescendo” for choir and orchestra, similar in this regard to Ravel’s Bolero.

Following the Overture to Wagner’s Tannhäuser we will hear Bacchanal – a scene added specially to the Parisian staging of the piece to allow room for a display of dance and in this way meet the demands of the French capital. Unfortunately, it diverged so greatly from the audience’s expectations that it caused a scandal, which long cast a shadow over the reception of Wagner’s music in France.

Born in the Principality of Liechtenstein, Joseph Rheinberger proved himself to be a child prodigy; he later pursued (mainly in Munich) a career as an organ player, conductor, chorus master, and respected teacher. His works are characterised by perfect technique and subtle harmony, with a particular penchant for euphony – these features are evident in his extensive and spectacular Organ Concerto, the first of two such works he composed, and one of only a few ever written for organ and orchestra.

The programme of the 1913 inaugural concert of the Wiener Konzerthaus, attended by Emperor Franz Joseph, included Beethoven’s Ninth and a new piece written especially for this occasion by Richard Strauss – the solemn Festliches Präludium, which opens with the sound of the organ. The Philharmonic’s jubilee is a perfect occasion to reacquaint our audiences with this relatively rarely performed work.


Bartosz Michałowski

Bartosz Michałowski graduated with distinction in choral conducting from the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Academy of Music in Poznań. In the years 1998-2005, he was assistant to Professor Stefan Stuligrosz and conductor of the Poznań Philharmonic Choir. Together with this Choir, otherwise known as the Poznań Nightingales, he has performed extensively in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Russia, and Japan.

Bartosz Michałowski won the L’Orphée d‘Or 2015 of the Académie du Disque Lyrique in Paris, was nominated for a Fryderyk 2015 award for his 2CD album featuring works by Pasquale Anfossi, is the recipient of one Gold Disc, and also won the 9th Polish National Choral Conductors Competition, where additionally he received a special prize for his diligent work on voice production with choirs.

Bartosz Michałowski is the founder, conductor and Artistic Director of the Poznań Chamber Choir, one of the best ensembles of its kind in Poland. He is likewise the founder and Director of the Opus 966 Polish Composer Competition, and the author of Pisz muzykę – to proste! (Write Music – It’s Easy) composing workshops for children and young people. He is also a co-author of the Obrazogranie project organised as part of the Art for Children Biennale in Poznań.

Together with the Poznań Chamber Choir his talents have been recognised in prestigious competitions in Germany and France, and he has also received First Prize and the Audience Prize at the International Choir Festival in Neuchâtel (Switzerland).

The Poznań Chamber Choir is the only choir in Poland to collaborate with the legendary Concerto Köln Orchestra; in addition, it has appeared with the Irish Baroque Orchestra and performed many times with the Poznań Philharmonic Opera, the Polish Radio Orchestra, the Lower Silesia Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gorzów Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Czech Virtuosi.

As a conductor, Michałowski has garnered major prizes in reputable choral competitions as well as numerous special awards for, inter alia, best vocal technique of an ensemble, best performance of contemporary music, and best conductor.

During his 18-month stint with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, he conducted – both in the Warsaw Philharmonic concert hall and outside of it – Szymanowski’s Kurpie Songs, Kodály’s and Gretchaninov’s Masses, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle and Mozart’s Coronation Mass. In October 2017, as the Choir’s director he prepared the ensemble for a performance of the world premiere of Anton Rubinstein’s sacred opera Moses (cond. Michail Jurowski) and in February 2018, he recorded Roman Padlewski’s Stabat Mater as part of the “100 na 100 – Muzyczne dekady wolności” (100 by 100 – Musical decades of freedom) project launched by the Polish Music Publishing House. He also helped prepare a dozen vocal-instrumental concerts of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, during which he collaborated with such eminent conductors as Ton Koopman, Christoph König, Matthew Halls, and Jacek Kaspszyk, as well as with Krzysztof Penderecki on his Polish Requiem.  

He has been invited to participate in prestigious festivals, such as the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, the Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, the Gaude Mater International Festival of Sacred Music, the International Grzegorz Gerwazy Gorczycki Festival, the Transatlantyk Festival, the Nostalgia Festival, the Wojciech Kilar Contemporay Music Festival, the Poznań Spring Contemporary Music Festival, the Musica Sacromontana Oratorio Music Festival, the Lower Silesia Music Festival, and the Mikołów Music Days.

To date, Michałowski has rehearsed and staged several hundred a capella pieces from all musical periods, and he has also collaborated regularly with renowned institutions and orchestras on performances of vocal-instrumental works. His output includes numerous first performances.

In addition to gaining a wealth of experience as a conductor, Bartosz Michałowski has spent many years working on enhancing his skills and knowledge in the field of voice production – he has completed master classes with Poppy Holden (Great Britain), Christian Elsner (Germany) and Józef Frakstein (Poland). As a conductor, chorus master and soloist, he has featured on 20 albums.