Sinfonietta Cracovia's 30 years!
19 January 2024
The story can be told with encyclopaedic precision: the first incarnation of the orchestra was the ensemble founded in 1990 by students at the Academy of Music in Kraków, and two years later its artistic directorship was taken over by the violinist, violist and pedagogue Robert Kabara. In 1994, supported by eminent personalities of artistic circles including Elżbieta and Krzysztof Penderecki, the orchestra obtained its status as a municipal institution and its current name: Sinfonietta Cracovia. Between 2014 and 2021, it was led by Jurek Dybał, cultural animator and double bassist at the Vienna Philharmonic. Since late 2021, Sinfonietta has been led by Agata Grabowska (director and cultural manager) and Katarzyna Tomala-Jedynak (artistic director and first conductor).
We can also tell the story through the prism of guest conductors and soloists. Krzysztof Penderecki, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Antoni Wit, Gabriel Chmura, Christoph Eschenbach, Lorin Maazel, Marc Minkowski, Rafael Payare, John Axelrod, Kaja Danczowska, Daniel Stabrawa, Maxim Vengerov, Boris Pergamenschikow, Krystian Zimerman, Rudolf Buchbinder, Kevin Kenner, Piotr Anderszewski, Mischa Maisky, Ilya Gringolts, Grigori Zhislin, Gábor Boldoczki, Xavier de Maistre and Łukasz Długosz are just some of the acclaimed musicians who have worked with the orchestra over the years.
We can also provide a neat description: Sinfonietta Cracovia specialises in classical, contemporary and film music, promotes new music and works by Polish composers at home and abroad, and takes part in myriad phonographic projects and recordings for film and television. Here’s another angle: the orchestra has performed at airports and on trams, in offices, hospitals and shopping malls, and, more recently, in the car park of the developing Kraków Centre of Music; once the centre is completed, Sinfonietta will be a co-creator of its repertoire. In any case, regardless of venue, music is always the most important element.
In 2024, the Orchestra of the Capital Royal City of Kraków Sinfonietta Cracovia celebrates its 30th anniversary, recalling past decades as a period of passionate beginnings and grand traditions initiated by its original patron Krzysztof Penderecki, as well as planning for the future and exploring new challenges. Spread throughout the year and two artistic seasons, the events will be a great opportunity for the ensemble to showcase its versatility and flexibility.
The orchestra presents celebratory versions of its flagship cycles. Special guests of Stars with Sinfonietta will include the Berlin Piano Trio, violinists Kim Bomsori and Mari Silje Samuelsen, and conductors Dirk Brossé, Lee Reynolds and Toby Thatcher. The chamber Espresso Concerts, previously presenting a string repertoire, will be expanded to include piano and harp, with the string section remaining as strong as ever and welcoming the acclaimed violinist Daniel Stabrawa. Andrew Burke, artistic director of the London Sinfonietta, takes over as curator of the Sinfonietta Nova cycle, and soloists from the British ensemble join Cracovian musicians. The new cycle for teenagers Elektro Sinfonietta aims to develop future audiences of classical music in Kraków and beyond. The anniversary celebrations at the threshold of the summer will bring back many memories as it will gather the former members of Cracovian ensemble, now eminent musicians in orchestras all over the world. The jubilee culmination comes in autumn with Penderecki | Korzeniowski gala concert which idea concentrates around the works of Maestro Penderecki and his student Abel Korzeniowski, Kraków-born, Hollywood-based eminent film music composer. The latter will also be one of the conductors of the concert alongside Katarzyna Tomala-Jedynak.
The orchestra will also recall Krzysztof Penderecki – acclaimed artist well-known for his love of trees and the creation of the arboretum in Lusławice – through an environmentally-themed project: the musicians will plant 30 trees for its 30 years at the developing Kraków Centre of Music in Cichy Kącik, and we can be sure they will continue celebrating the composer’s musical heritage.
“Sinfonietta Cracovia has been co-shaping our city’s cultural life for 30 years. It is a symbol of Kraków and Polish music at home and abroad. I want all Cracovians to join us for this anniversary. There won’t be fireworks and a single gala, but myriad celebratory events aimed both at seasoned music fans and people just starting their adventure with classical music,” explains Agata Grabowiecka. She adds, “We are building a diverse repertoire for different audiences. New formats are the future. I’m not afraid of eclectic programmes – what makes Sinfonietta Cracovia stand out is its top quality, regardless whether we play Penderecki or film music!”
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