Symphony Concert Filharmonia Narodowa

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Symphony Concert
Nicolas Altstaedt, fot. Marco Borggreve

Born in Szamotuły, into a family with Polish-German roots, the composer, pianist (a highly respected interpreter of Chopin’s music) and teacher Xaver Scharwenka gained great popularity as the composer of Polish Dance in E-flat Minor, which was published in a record number of editions over a period of several decades. And yet, the composer – a somewhat obscure figure today – is also the author of a great number of more serious works, which recently have regained – albeit rather slowly – recognition among both audiences and performers alike. The mysterious title of his only opera from 1894, Mataswintha (betraying his fascination with Wagner’s style) alludes to the figure and dramatic life story of a 6th-century Ostrogothic aristocrat, the heroine of Felix Dahn’s once popular novel A Struggle for Rome.

Nikolay Tcherepnin was a student of Rimsky-Korsakov and, like many other of the latter’s proteges, he inherited from his master an exceptionally sensitive ear for the sumptuousness of orchestral timbre. Not only was he a frequent conductor of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, but he also composed for the ensemble with great success (including the piece debuted by dancers in Paris in 1909 – Le Pavillon d’Armide). The subtle Narcisse et Echo was slightly overshadowed in the 1911 season by the sensational premiere of Stravinsky’s Petrushka, chronologically almost its contemporary; however, it has been remembered thanks to Nijinsky’s performance and the wonderful music, which can often be heard in its concert version.

Since its premiere, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto, a work infused with romantic rapture and impressive virtuosity, has become firmly enshrined in the strict canon of the cello repertoire. And yet it might never have been written! For a long time, the composer had reservations about the cello, regarding it mainly as an orchestral instrument. He finally gave in to years of persuasion from the virtuoso Hanuš Wihan and completed his still much-loved work in 1895 (in the end, the public premiere in London was performed not by Wihan but rather by Leo Stern).

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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.

Bartosz Michałowski holds a PhD degree from the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music.