The 7th Festival of Polish Music

The 7th Polish Music Festival dedicated to promotion of Polish classical and contemporary music is underway. The Festival presents works by Polish composers in outstanding performances. Although it hasn't been a full year since the previous Festival of Polish Music, the 7th edition is moving from November to July

The Festival of Polish Music takes place every year in Krakow under the auspices of the President of the City - Jacek Majchrowski. The programme of the Festival consists of Polish compositions only. Among the performers one can find outstanding Polish musicians and famous foreign artists. The aim of the Festival is to promote Polish music both locally and abroad.

This year there are more innovations in the programme, the festival's new general director is Paweł Orski, until now its the main organiser, who has also taken over the role of programme director from Andrzej Kosowski. The new general director has somewhat refreshed the event's profile - still focusing on Polish music, although foreign composers' works with Polish themes are being introduced to the programme. This idea is embodied by a festival recital by the outstanding Irish soprano Helen Kearns, who - alongside songs by Chopin and Szymanowski - performs Poulenc's "Eight Polish Songs" (18 July 2011). Another novelty is introduction of the matinee performances at the auditorium of the Collegium Novum, featuring the finalists of this year's Chopin International Piano Competition Paweł Wakarecy (17th of July) and Nikolay Khozyainov (24th of July).

On the 21st of July the world premiere of the opera "The Passenger" by Mieczysław Weinberg, directed by David Poutney and conducted by Teodor Currentzis is screened at the Japanese Art and Technology Centre Manggha. The recording was made at the Bregenzer Festspiele 2010.The opera tells the story of a meeting between a former female SS overseer and a former concentration camp female prisoner during a cruise to Brasil. The libretto by Alexander Medvedev was inspired by a novel by Zofia Posmysz, a former Auschwitz prisoner.

Previously, the Festival had the pleasure to host such great artists as: Kronos Quartet, pianist Ivo Pogorelić, violinist Nigel Kennedy, Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, London Sinfonietta, Elżbieta Chojnacka, Akiko Suwanai, Piers Lane, Peter Jablonski, Jonathan Plowright, Grigorij Żyslin. Famous Polish composers have visited the Festival as well, including Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, and Paweł Mykietyn.

The biggest star of the 7th Festival of Polish Music is once again undoubtedly the American Kronos Quartet, one of the world's finest chamber ensembles, performing at the Kraków Philharmonic Hall on the 22nd of July 2011. The boundlessly versatile group visiting the Polish Music Festival second time already specialises in the contemporary classical music but also performs adaptations of jazz and rock music, collaborates with artists as diverse as the American industrial rock stars Nine Inch Nails, the British avant-garde cabaret band Tiger Lillies or the Inuit Throat Singer Tanya Tagaq and have recorded soundtracks for well-known films such as "Requiem for a dream", "21 grams" or "The Fountain". Since 1973, when the ensemble was founded, they have performed over  thousands times, recorded close to fifty recordings and have in their repertory over seven hundred world premieres, including works written especially for them by some of the greatest composers including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, and Polish composers such as Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and Paweł Mykietyn. In Kraków they perform Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Genesis I: Elementi per archi, string quartets by Olga Hans, Hanna Kulenty, Marek Nowakowski, Bryce Dessner and Ken Walicki, as well as a work arranged especially for them, entitled "Sim Shalom" by Alter Yechiel Karniol, the Jewish cantor born in the environs of Kraków, deceased in 1928 in New York.

The repertoire consists of the most known compositions as well as forgotten ones (often presented in a form of the first performances) and brand new musical works composed especially for the Festival.

The Polish Music Festival is also dedicated to research in the field of music and this year, on the 23rd of July a concert version of an opera entitled "Pierre de Medicis" by Michał Xawery Poniatowski, a Polish composer and opera singer who was born in 1816 in Rome, lived in France and died in London. The score of the opera was found at the National Library of France in Paris. The performance at the Krakow Philharmonia features the Chinese tenor Xu Chang as well as the Polish soprano Aleksandra Buczek who in 2010 recorded an album entitled "Poniatowski rediscovered" with 10 arias from the composer's most popular operas . The recording met with acclaim of the critique.

The inaugural concert on the 15th of July at the Church of St Peter and St Paul stars Laurent Albrecht Breuninger, who since recording two albums of violin concertos by Karol Lipiński, has been hailed as an expert on this composer's violin music. The German virtuoso plays Lipiński's "Concerto No. 2" in D major, accompanied by the Sinfonietta Cracovia orchestra conducted by Michał Nesterowicz.

The Festival concerts are broadcast by radio which gives the chance for many music lovers to enjoy Polish music. Also during the Festival, vocal training by professor Helena Łazarska takes place.

The Festival ends on the 24th of July with the performance of Józef Elsner's "Solemnis Coronationis Missa in C" and Karol Kurpiński's "Te Deum" conducted by Kaspar Zehnder at the Franciscan Church  in Krakow.

The Festival runs from the 15th of July through the 24th of July 2011.

The full programme for the Festival, archival materials and all up-to-date information is available at

Organised by the Association of Polish Music.

This event is part of Attention Culture!, the Cultural Program of the 2011 Polish EU Presidency.


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