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

Alexander Shelley

Born in London in October 1979, Alexander Shelley is a passionate and articulate advocate for the role of music in society. He has spearheaded multiple award-winning and ground-breaking projects, bringing symphonic music to new audiences.

He performs across six continents with the world’s finest orchestras and soloists, including Gewandhausorchester, Deutsche Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orchestre de la Suisse Romande, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, the Helsinki, Hong Kong, Luxembourg, Malaysian, Oslo, Rotterdam, Sao Paulo, Houston, Montreal, Toronto, Munich, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney and New Zealand philharmonics.

In September 2015, Alexander Shelley succeeded Pinchas Zukerman as Music Director of Canada’s National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ontario, the youngest in its history. With the ensemble, they have undertaken major tours of Canada and Europe, commissioned ground-breaking projects. This season they complete a major Robert Schumann and Johannes Brahms recording cycle and perform multiple world premieres, including Philip Glass’s latest symphony, which they presented at the Carnegie Hall.

Born to a celebrated concert pianists, Alexander Shelley studied cello and conducting in Germany and first gained widespread attention when he was unanimously awarded Grand Prix at the 2005 Leeds Conductors Competition.

In August 2017, the artist concluded his eight-year tenure as Chief Conductor of the Nürnberger Symphoniker. The partnership was hailed by press and audience alike as a golden era for the orchestra, transforming the ensemble’s playing, education work and international touring activities. As of January 2015, he has served as Principal Associate Conductor of London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom he curates an annual series of concerts at Cadogan Hall and tours both nationally and internationally.

In 2016, the conductor was awarded the ECHO prize for his second Deutsche Grammophon recording, Sergei Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, and both the ECHO and Deutsche Gründerpreis in his capacity as Artistic Director of the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen’s “Zukunftslabor”.