Monika Wolińska is the first Polish female conductor who performed in Carnegie Hall. Critics praise her great sensitivity to the actual sound of the instruments in the orchestra.
Monika Wolińska is a conductor, born on the 4th May, 1974, in Chełm, Poland.
Wolińska commenced her musical education aged just 6, taking violin classes at the Ignacy Jan Paderewski Music Primary School in Chełm, and continued at the Karol Lipiński Secondary School of Music in Lublin. In 1998, she received a diploma in conducting vocal and instrumental ensembles at the Feliks Nowowiejski Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz, while in 2000 she completed a specialization in violin at the same academy. In 2003, she completed a course in symphony and opera conducting, led by Ryszard Dudek, at the Warsaw Academy of Music (since 2008, the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music). She was invited to conduct her degree concert at the National Philharmonic in Warsaw. It took place in June 2003, and was her first performance with the National Philharmonic Orchestra.
She perfected her skills at masterclasses led by Antoni Wit (in Vienna, where she received the award for best course participant from the Badener Philharmoniker orchestra), Gabriel Chmura, Kurt Masur, and Pierre Boulez (during the Lucerne Music Festival in Switzerland). In 2004, she received a grant from the Polish Minister of Culture. In 2007, she received a D.M.A. in conducting from the Warsaw Academy of Music.
As a violinist, she has played with the Lublin Philharmonic Orchestra and numerous chamber ensembles. She has also collaborated with the Pomeranian Philharmonic Orchestra and Capella Bydgostiensis, with whom she toured under the baton of Daniel Stabrawa (the then director of the orchestra).
As a conductor, she collaborated with the symphony orchestra of the Warsaw Academy of Music between 2003-2009. She also performed with a variety of orchestras in Poland and abroad, such as the Polish National Philharmonic Orchestra, Olsztyn Philharmonic Orchestra, Koszalin Philharmonic Orchestra, Szczecin Philharmonic Orchestra, Lower Silesian Philharmonic Orchestra, Rzeszów Philharmonic Orchestra, Zielona Góra Philharmonic Orchestra, Jelenia Góra Philharmonic Orchestra, Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Polish Radio Orchestra, Polish Sinfonia Iuventus Orchestra (in the 2007/08 season she was its full-time conductor), Toruń Chamber Orchestra, Lucerne Music Festival Orchestra, , the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra, Saint Petersburg Conservatory Orchestra, the National Orchestra of Moldavia, and Moscovia Chamber Orchestra.
In 2005, she led the monographic concert dedicated to Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz, during which she conducted the premiere performance of his 3rd Symphony. In 2007, she performed at the International Music Festival in Saint Petersburg, together with the local conservatory orchestra and choir. In the same year, she took part in the 50th International Festival of Contemporary Music ‘Warsaw Autumn’. 2009 was the year of her debut at the New York’s Carnegie Hall, where she led the Susquehanna Symphony Orchestra. This made her the first Polish conductor and one of the few female conductors to perform on this prestigious stage. After the concert, which was a huge success, the famous American critic David Dubal said:
Monika has what many contemporary conductors lack – a great sensitivity and a wonderful sense of the sound of instruments.
On 10 May 2014, to celebrate the 650th anniversary of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, she conducted the orchestra during the premiere of Jan A.P. Kaczmarek’s historical musical spectacle entitled Universa – an Open Opera. In October 2014 she conducted a concert in the Gorzów Philharmonic Hall with the participation of the world famous baritone Thomas Hampson, and in February 2015 – a concert dedicated to Marina Jaszwili with the participation of the outstanding violinist Roman Simović.
Monika Wolińska has conducted numerous premieres and archival studio recordings of symphonic pieces by Richard Wagner, Richard Strauss, Pyotr Tchaikovsky, and contemporary compositions for the Polish Radio and Süd-West-Rundfunk (SWR) Television.
Since 2004, Wolińska has worked as Jerzy Semkow's assistant on a regular basis. In the 2007/08 season, she also worked as an assistant to Krzysztof Penderecki. In 2005 she published a book about the great Polish conductor Stanisław Wisłocki entiled Stanisław Wisłocki. Conductor-Educator.
In April 2012, she debuted with her first album recorded with the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. It’s been also the first album with the music of the great Polish composer Eugeniusz Morawski, which was nominated for the Fryderyk Award in 2013. Since January 2013, Monika Wolińska has been collaborating with the Gorzów Philharmonic Orchestra, and since April 2013 she’s been its chief conductor.The artist also works as an assistant professor and lecturer at the Conducting Department of the Faculty of Composition, Conducting, and Theory of Music at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. In 2015 she successfully completed a postgraduate diploma programme in General Business Management at the Faculty of Management of the University of Warsaw.
Monika Wolińska was presented with the Medal for Merit to Culture by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Author: Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Centre, Association of Polish Composers, May 2008, Transl. AM August 2014, update: February 2016