Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny is a biologist, singer and conductor. She was born on 24th March 1976 in Głubczyce. ’From the scientific perspective, singing raises your endorphin levels, and as such it can be addictive’, says Franków-Żelazny.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny graduated from University of Wrocław in 2000 with a degree in biology, as well as from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, where she studied at the Faculty of Music Education (diploma 2004) and at the Vocal Faculty (diploma 2005). She also has a Ph.D. in Arts. In 2006 she completed the Postgraduate Voice Production and Training Programme at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz and, in 2014, the Academy of Culture Leaders at the Economic University in Kraków. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
As the conductor said in an interview conducted by Ewa Schreiber:
For a young person, signing in a choir is an important chance to experience music and to develop a sensitivity to beauty and subtle details. But it has some other indisputable values: it teaches young people how to work in a group, be systematic and responsible for their commitments, and plan work ahead. It is also their first contact with stress on the stage, with success, but also failure. Moreover, there is an emotional value: chance to express their emotions, release tensions and fulfil their need for acceptance.
She started her career in mixed choirs in high school in her hometown, Głubczyce, then she performed in academic choirs in Wrocław. In 2000 she established the Kameralny Chór Akademii Medycznej (now the Medici Cantantes Choir at the Medical University of Wrocław), which has been awarded many times both in national and international contests. Since June 2006 she has been the artistic director of the National Forum of Music Choir (previously known as the Philharmonic Choir of Wrocław), and, since 2013 the head of Polish National Youth Choir, which she also founded. As the artistic advisor for the Polish Radio Choir from January to July 2013, she has reactivated its team and reintroduced it to the Polish music scene.
In January 2015 she became the programme director of the Choral Academy, a project by the National Forum of Music (NFM) is aimed at popularising singing as a common cause by creating a coherent programme of developing choirs – from primary schools to professional choirs. In 2016 Franków-Żelazny was a music curator of Wrocław European Capital of Culture.
Franków-Żelazny has also been guest conductor and choir master for groups such as Gabrieli Consort, NFM Wrocław Philharmonic, Wrocław Soloist Group Ricordanza, Chamber Orchestra of Academy of Music in Wrocław, Festival Choir of Wratislavia Cantans International Festival, Choir of Silesian Philharmonic, Chor der Bamberger Symphoniker, Schleswig-Holstein Festival Choir, Choir of Poznań Grand Theatre, and Kaunas State Choir.
She has been awarded more than 70 prizes, performed over 600 concerts in 18 European countries and the United States, and written over 600 vocal and almost 100 instrumental-vocal pieces. In 2004 she won the first prize in the National Contest for Choir Conductors. In 2008 she was awarded the special prize for conductors on the 39th Legnica Cantat National Choir Contest. In 2014 she was distinguished with the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny has recorded several albums with choral music. The album DE PROFUNDIS – Polish Psalms of the 20th and 21st Century with by the NMF Choir with her direction was awarded with Fryderyk prize as the best choral, oratorio and orchestra music of 2017.
Sources: National Philharmonic, Academy of Music in Wrocława, Meakultura.
Originally written in Polish by Filip Lech, June 2017. Translated by NC