The WRATISLAVIA CANTANS INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL was initiated in 1966 by the conductor Andrzej Markowski, the then director of the National Philharmonic in Wroclaw.
Tadeusz Strugala, the subsequent director of the Festival, an accomplished conductor, developed the event in a number of ways, such as extending its duration to allow for the presentation of specific themes. He instituted "Days" devoted to ethnic music of selected countries (Japan, India, Turkey, the USA), religions (Judaism, Christian Orthodox) and European regions (Andalusian flamenco). He also expanded the Festival's educational programme by supplementing the projects of the Higher School of Music (scholarly sessions, oratorio music interpretation sessions) with the valuable Festival Academies led by outstanding researchers and focusing on lesser known music.
In 1978 "WRATISLAVIA CANTANS" was accorded the international festival status and put on a list of the European Association of Music Festivals in Geneva. A particular achievement of Strugala's, this act officially confirmed the high rank of the event. Meanwhile Strugala, who preferred to combine music with other arts, enriched the Festival programme with numerous exhibitions and films about music. Finally, in 1995, he enlarged the scope of "WRATISLAVIA CANTANS", adding "Music and Fine Art" to its title, a move which resulted in "WRATISLAVIA CANTANS" featuring also new kinds of events called "Concert-Vernissage".
In 1996 an idea was put forward to enhance the Festival's independence in recognition of its significance for the Polish culture. A national cultural institution called the Wratislavia Cantans International Festival was established with Lidia Geringer d'Oedenberg as managing director. She was given the task of organizing the Festival and raising money for artistic and publishing projects. As a member of the board of the European Festival Association, Geringer d'Oedenberg built closer ties with other festivals and launched an exchange programme. She also increased the Festival's reach by staging concerts in other towns of the region in addition to Wroclaw. Three artistic directors, Ewa Michnik (1998-2001), Mariusz Smolij (2003) and Jan Latham-Koenig (2005) helped her to put together the programmes of the three consecutive Festival editions.
Geringer d'Oedenberg, who was appointed when the Festival used the "Music and Fine Arts" formula, expanded it by incorporating the ballet art, concert and film versions of operas, and instrumental works. She then did away with it, restoring greater emphasis on vocal music (in line with the name "Wratislavia Cantans") and bringing to Wroclaw the finest singers, including Barbara Hendricks, Cecilia Bartoli, David Daniels, Derek Lee Ragin, Renée Fleming, Juan Diego Florez, Violeta Urmana and Joseph Calleja.
Geringer d'Oedenberg's successor is Andrzej Kosendiak, the managing director of the Wroclaw Philharmonic. Kosendiak, who was appointed in September 2005, invited Paul McCreesh to work in Wroclaw, and 15th May 2006 marked the start of a new age in the history of the Festival – the establishment of a new institution, the National Culture Forum, comprising the Wratislavia Cantans International Festival, Witold Lutoslawski Philharmonic, Wroclaw Opera and Karol Lipinski Music Academy. The Festival publishes films, books and CDs. Its CD portfolio so far includes
Krzysztof Penderecki, JUTRZNIA / UTRENYA (with Jadwiga Gadulanka, Vita Nikolajenko, Piotr Kusiewicz, Radosaw Zukowski, Gennadij Bezzubienkov, NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC CHOIR and Leipzig MDR ORCHESTRA under Krzysztof Penderecki
Krzysztof Penderecki, CREDO (with Bozena Harasimowicz-Haas, Izabela Klosinska, Ewa Marciniec, Adam Zdunikowski, Piotr Nowacki, CHOIR AND ORCHESTRA OF THE NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC, WARSAW BOYS' CHOIR under Kazimierz Kord)
Karl Ditters von Dittersdorf, GIOBBE (with Markus Schafer, Simone Kermes, Beat Duddeck, Bernhard Scheffel, Ekkehard Abele, Linda Perillo, "RHEINISCHE KANTOREI" CHAMBER CHOIR, BAROQUE ORCHESTRA "DAS KLEINE KONZERT" under Hermann Max)
Wojciech Kilar, TRYPTYK: BOGURODZICA, ANGELUS, EXODUS (with Izabela Klosinska, CHOIR OF THE NATIONAL PHILHARMONIC in Warsaw,NATIONAL SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA OF THE POLISH RADIO IN KATOWICE under Antoni Wit, choir prepared by Henryk Wojnarowski)
Chronicles no. 32, 33 and 34 of the "WRATISLAVIA CANTANS" INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
The Festival has also published a complete Festival overview on CD-ROMs i DVDs, video cassettes and two albums of photography:
"WRATISLAVIA CANTANS is a member of the prestigious European Festival Association (EFA) based in Geneva and, since 1998, of the International Society for Performing Arts Foundation in New York (ISPA). In 1999 it was one of the founders of the Reseau Europeen pour la Music Ancienne (REMA) in Paris. Such involvement has fostered cultural co-operation and exchange and has helped to promote Polish culture in the world. In 2000 the Ministry of Culture selected "WRATISLAVIA CANTANS" to represent Polish music abroad at the EUROPALIA POLSKA 2001 FESTIVAL held in the Benelux and northern France.
Polish Music Information Center
Polish Composers' Union
updated by Anna Iwanicka-Nijakowska
Phone: (+48 71) 342 72 57, 343 98 04
Fax: (+48 71) 330 52 12