Outstanding soloist and conductor Yehudi Menuhin came to Poland in April of 1984 at the invitation of the Polska Orkiestra Kameralna / Polish Chamber Orchestra. Yehudi Menuhin was thrilled by what he encountered and immediately signed on to be a regular guest conductor, and shortly afterwards the orchestra assumed the name Sinfonia Varsovia.
In order to meet the demands of the planned performance repertoire, the Orchestra expanded its membership to forty musicians, inviting exceptional artists from the entire country to join. Both the public and critics responded enthusiastically to radio and television concerts offered by the ensemble and conducted by Yehudi Menuhin. And the idea of an orchestra composed of twenty-four string instruments and a double array of woodwinds and brass became a fact.
Much time did not pass before the ensemble received its first offers to perform in the United States and Canada. These were followed by yet more offers - from France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, Holland, Great Britain, Switzerland, Greece, Federal Republic of Germany; and in more recent years from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. The Sinfonia Varsovia has appeared in concert at Carnegie Hall in New York, at the Théâtre des Champs Elysées in Paris, the Barbican Centre in London and the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires; at festivals in Gstaad (the Yehudi Menuhin Festival), Montreux, Schleswig-Holstein, Wurzburg and Aix-en-Provence; at the Pablo Casals Festival (San Juan), in Salzburg, at the Alte Oper (Frankfurt am Main), the Festiwal Muzyki na Morzu / Festival of Music on the Sea and others. Long-term commitment and careful work constitute the basis for the orchestra's excellence, and all performance positions in the body are filled through competition.
Possessing an almost limitless repertoire, the orchestra performs under the direction of some of the world's best conductors, who have included Claudio Abbado, Charles Dutoit, Justus Frantz, Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, Hans Graf, Leopold Hager, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jan Krenz, Emmanuel Krivine, Witold Lutosławski, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Yehudi Menuhin, Wojciech Michniewski, Grzegorz Nowak, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michel Plasson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach, Jerzy Semkow, Mariusz Smolij, Jerzy Swoboda, Muhai Tang, Bruno Weil, as well as with world famous soloists like Salvatore Accardo, Maurice André; Martha Argerich, Teresa Berganza, Alfred Brendel, José Carreras, Sarah Chang, José Cura, Placido Domingo, Augustin Dumay, Justus Frantz, James Galway, Fou Ts'ong, Krzysztof Jabłonski, Kiri Te Kanawa, Gidon Kremer, Alicia de Larrocha, Elisabeth Leonskaya, Christa Ludwig, Radu Lupu, Mischa Maisky, Yehudi Menuhin, Shlomo Mintz, Oli Mustonen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janusz Olejniczak, Ewa Osińska, Michaela Petri, Murray Perahia, Maria Joao Pires, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Samuel Ramey, Vadim Repin, Katia Ricciarelli, Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Henryk Szeryng, Maria Tipo, Maksym Vengerow, Andreas Vollenweider, Alexis Weissenberg, Christian Zacharias, Frank-Peter Zimmerman, Tabea Zimmerman, Grigorij Żyslin.
The orchestra has produced numerous recordings for companies like Pathe Marconi-EMI, Virgin Classics, Decca, Denon Nippon Columbia, Aperto, Polskie Nagrania (Polish Recordings), IMG Records/Carlton Classics, Virgin and CD Accord, and in the process as garnered many prestigious awards, including the Grand Prix du Disque, the Diapason d'Or and three Fryderyk (Polish music awards) statuettes (in 1995, 1996 and 2000).
In celebration of the eightieth birthday of Lord Menuhin in 1996, the Sinfonia Varsovia recorded the complete symphonies of Ludvig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert for IMG Records under Menuhin's direction. The orchestra also embarked on a series of concert tours, giving sixty-five concerts in among other places... The group also took part in the Klangbogen Festival (Vienna), as well as festival events in Strasbourg, Montpellier, Pollenca (Mallorca) and Gstaad (Switzerland).
In 1997 Krzysztof Penderecki, who had enjoyed a relationship with the Sinfonia Varsovia for many years as a conductor, became the orchestra's musical director. Penderecki and the orchestra perform in concert throughout Poland and around the world, with the orchestra's repertoire including such works by this composer as Sinfonietta per archi, Sinfonietta No. 2, Koncert na flet / Flute concerto, Koncert na altowkę / Viola concerto (also in its version for cello and clarinet), Stabat Mater, De profundis, as well as his Credo and Siedem bram Jerozolimy / Seven Gates of Jerusalem. Krzysztof Penderecki has recorded a number of CDs with the Sinfonia Varsovia, among them an album of his own compositions.
The Sinfonia Varsovia's permanent presence on some of the world's best-known concert stages and universally favorable reviews from renowned critics confirm the opinion that this ensemble is one of the world's leading chamber orchestras.
Source: Polish Music Information Center, Polish Composers' Union, January 2002; updated 2006.