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

Go to content
Organ Concert to Mark the 120th Anniversary of the Warsaw Philharmonic
fot. Thomas Dagg

Gustav Holst’s artistic personality was initially moulded by German neo-Romanticism – like many composers of his generation, his musical vision and outlook owed a great deal to Wagner and Strauss; and by the turn of the century, he was close to such artists as Parry and Stanford, who were drawn to folk songs and their stylisations. Holst’s work exerted considerable influence on the following generation of British composers; however, in general, its appeal was limited outside his homeland, with one exception – the impressive The Planets suite penned during the First World War. It was inspired not so much by astronomy as by Holst’s fascination with astrology: the belief that the planets shape the human psyche and destiny. Hence, the seven planets depicted through the prism of a colourful orchestral setting are accompanied by qualities borrowed from horoscopes and expressed by means of subtitles.

A cosmological-astrological context also accompanies the symphonic miniature Scorpius (its title refers to the zodiac constellation of Scorpio) composed in 1990 for the Toronto Esprit Orchestra by Raymond Murray Schafer. This Canadian composer’s interests revolve around the captivating theme of sound ecology, often treated as a niche subject, and the relationship between music and the environment. He is the creator, propagator and researcher of the notion of soundscape and many of his works, in various ways set in the natural sound environment of human habitats and nature, refer to this concept.

Percussion was the main passion of the American composer Lou Harrison – he used it in many highly original ways and also enjoyed treating as members of the percussion family previously unrelated instruments. He used both exotic instruments and built his own (including whole sets of them, such as the American gamelan). One of the composer’s final works, Concerto for Organ and Percussion Orchestra (1972), shows his skilled manipulation of this sound – he once claimed that he wanted to create a bridge between the sound of the organ and percussion families, in which idiophones with fixed tuning, i.e. celesta, vibraphone and bells, and their different variants, would be generously represented, as would be the piano.

The Warsaw Philharmonic Patron of the Year – PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna – warmly welcomes you to join us in this concert

Bartosz Michałowski

Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir since 2017.

Bartosz Michałowski graduated with distinction in choral conducting from the Academy of Music in Poznań. In the years 1998–2005, he was assistant to Professor Stefan Stuligrosz and conductor of the Boys’ and Men’s Choir of the Poznań Philharmonic (known as the Poznań Nightingales), with which he has performed extensively in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Austria, Russia and Japan.

He won first prize in the 9th Polish National Choral Conductors Competition in Poznań, as well as a special prize for his diligent work on voice production with choirs. In 2015, he won the Orphée d‘Or of the Académie du Disque Lyrique in Paris, and was nominated for a Fryderyk Award. In 2020, he received a Fryderyk Award for a recording of Karol Szymanowski’s opera Hagith (with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir). He also received two nominations for the International Classical Music Awards 2022.

Bartosz Michałowski is the founder, Artistic Director and conductor of the Poznań Chamber Choir – one of the best Polish ensembles of its kind. He is likewise the founder and Director of the ‘Opus 966’ Polish Composition Competition, and devised the ‘Pisz Muzykę – to proste!’ (‘Write music – it’s easy!’) composing workshops for children and youngsters. He also co-produced the ‘Obrazogranie’ project at the National Museum in Poznań.

As the Director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir, he has conducted – both in the Warsaw Philharmonic concert hall itself and in external venues – Szymanowski’s Kurpian Songs, masses by Kodály and Gretchaninov, Rossini’s Petite messe solennelle, Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Requiem, and oratorios: Paulus by Mendelssohn and Messiah by Handel. He prepared the ensemble for the first ever performance of Anton Rubinstein’s sacred opera Moses (cond. Michail Jurowski) and has also helped prepare a dozen vocal-instrumental concerts of the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra, during which he has collaborated with such eminent conductors as Ton Koopman, Christoph König, Matthew Halls, Martin Haselböck, Jacek Kaspszyk and  Krzysztof Penderecki.

He has been invited to participate in renowned festivals including the SchleswigHolstein Musik Festival and Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, and has collaborated regularly with renowned institutions and orchestras. He has numerous first performances to his credit.

In addition to gaining experience as a conductor, Bartosz Michałowski has spent many years working on enhancing his skills and knowledge in the field of voice production, completing masterclasses with Poppy Holden (Great Britain), Christian Elsner (Germany) and Józef Frakstein (Poland). Bartosz Michałowski holds a PhD from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.