Jadwiga Teresa Stępień is a mezzosoprano, born on 9th November 1954 in Milicz.
She graduated from the Academy of Music in Warsaw in the singing class of Jerzy Artysz (diploma in 1981). In 1983-84 and 1985 she improved her vocal skills under the direction of Irina Archipova in Moscow.
She is a laureate of many national and international competitions. In 1982, she received second prize in the category of female voices at the Moniuszko Festival in Kudowa, in 1983, she was a finalist of the International Vocal Competition in s’Hertogenbosch, in 1984, she received a special prize for the best performance of Spanish music at the Francisco Viñas Competition in Barcelona, and in 1986, she was a finalist of the International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow.
In 1982, Jadwiga Teresa Stępień became a soloist at Warsaw’s Wielki Theatre, where she sang the main roles in Baroque, 19th century and contemporary operas, including Zbigniew Bargielski’s In a Little Manor and Alban Berg’s Wozzeck. Her lively and spontaneous interpretation, as well as her lush temperament and the sensual beauty of her dark voice, make her particularly suited to performing Spanish music and the title role in Georges Bizet’s Carmen, which she has also performed outside Poland. She also played the role of an opera singer in Marek Nowicki’s film Sceny Nocne (Night Scenes, trans. MG).
The artist has had a dynamic concert career. She has performed, among others, in Ukraine, Germany, Belgium, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, the Philippines and the United States. She has taken part in prestigious festivals in Poland (such as Warsaw Autumn, Wratislavia Cantans, International Jewish Culture Festival in Kraków) and abroad (for example Le Mois Molière in Versailles). She has cooperated with many orchestras and outstanding conductors. In 1995, she initiated the performance W Drodze (On the Road, trans. MG), based on Sephardic songs, which premiered at the Royal Castle in Warsaw under the patronage of the ambassadors of Israel and Spain. The performance was also shown in Gdańsk, Bydgoszcz and at the International Music Festival in Łańcut.
Her albums Al Amor and Pieśni Sefardyjskie (Sephardic Songs, trans. MG) were nominated for the Polish phonographic industry award Fryderyk in 1996 and 1997. In 1999, her album dedicated exclusively to Polish music was released (world premiere of Ignacy Jan Paderewski’s set of songs). In 2001, she recorded 21 Pieśni Stanisława Niewiadomskiego (21 Songs of Stanisław Niewiadomski, trans. MG) for Polish Radio. In 2003, her album Dusza Kresów (The Spirit of Kresy, trans. MG) with Niewiadomski’s songs was released. The album featured pianist Mariusz Rutkowski. In 2004, with the same pianist, she recorded Paderewski’s songs for the Acte Préalable label.
Jadwiga Teresa Stępień is also a pedagogue. In 1998, in recognition of her artistic output, she was invited to lead a masterclass in South Korea.
She has been honoured with many awards. In 1999, she received the Medal of Mordechai Anielewicz, awarded to people who have special merits for the protection of Jewish cultural heritage in Poland (among others for the album Pieśni Sefardyjskie), in 2001 – a diploma and a medal for the Year of Reymont celebrations. The same year she was invited to join the Soroptimist International First Club of Warsaw.
In 2002-2003, she performed at the Royal Castle in Warsaw with Mariusz Rutkowski, in Düsseldof with Japanese pianist Yasuko Yamaguci, in Stockholm with Mirosław Feldgebel, and in Brussels with Maksymilian Bielecki. In 2004, she was elected president of the Dom Polski Soroptimist International Warsaw Club.
On 15th July 2004, she made her debut at the Le Mois Molière World Festival in the Palace of Versailles in France. The artist performed a recital of Polish and Latin American music together with French pianist Jean de Saint Guilh.
She is the author, initiator and organiser of the Polska Szkoła Mistrzów (Polish School of Masters) project, which launched on 27th August 2011 with the exhibition Mistrz… Uczeń… Autorytet… Respekt (Master... Pupil... Authority.... Respect) and a concert Radosne Bel Canto (Joyous Bel Canto). The aim of this project is to emphasize the values of Polish authorities from the fields of culture, science, diplomacy, medicine, who have contributed to Polish national heritage. The project involves interactive meetings, such as literary discussions, concerts, and paratheatrical events.
In 2012, Jadwiga Teresa Stępień was awarded the Bronze Gloria Artis Medal.
Contact with the artist:
Originally written in Polish by Małgorzata Kosińska, Polish Music Information Centre, Polish Composers' Union, June 2003. Translated and updated by Marcin Gozdanek, December 2019.