For the Third Millennium
2001– 2015

The Philharmonic entered into the third millennium with a belief in a lucky turn of the wheel of Fortune.

On 23 June 2000, before midnight, the most famous work by Carl Orff – Carmina Burana – performed by soloists, combined Wrocław choirs and the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Marek Pijarowski, sounded on the Wrocław Market Square.

The audience welcomed Orff and his Fortuna with delight, and the young people treated the performance of the Wrocław Philharmonic like a rock concert. They melted into the magical rhythm of the music, clapped, sang and danced. Although one must agree with the thirteenth-century author of the song

O Fortuna that
hateful life
first oppresses
and then soothes
as fancy takes it;
and power
it melts them like ice  

the new millennium turned out to be happy for the Philharmonic.

The number of concerts increased (from seventy-seven in the 2001/2002 season to one hundred and nineteen the following year), Young People’s Concerts was expanding too (forty concerts for children and young people in the 2003/2004 season), and more and more stars began to come to Wrocław. The recital by Denyce Graves, a star of the Metropolitan Opera, in May 2003 was awarded by the audience with a standing ovation. A year later, music lovers were delighted with the recital of the Drzewiecki family, the most famous Polish piano clan. The joint performance of Stanisław and his parents – Jarosław Drzewiecki and Tatiana Shebanova – was an advertisement par excellence for the Family Concerts, an interesting project that was created for whole families coming to educational concerts on Sunday mornings.

Moreover, a strong emphasis was placed on education: students were given the opportunity to take master classes with virtuosos visiting the Philharmonic (including the famous American French horn player William VerMeulen), conducting workshops were organized, and projects were launched to educate new audiences.
Since 2005, the Wratislavia Cantans festival and the Philharmonic (renamed the National Forum of Music in 2014) have been managed by Andrzej Kosendiak. He is, inter alia, author of the “Singing Wrocław” programme, thanks to which thirty-five choral groups were established in Wrocław primary and middle schools, and so was the project “Mummy Daddy, Sing to Me”. As part of the latter initiative, philharmonic choristers conduct classes for parents expecting children or having small children.

The benefits of the workshops are twofold: not only for children who absorb music like a sponge during the first thirty-six months of life (that’s why specialists say that only highlanders are musical in Poland, because they sing at home), but also for their parents. By singing together, they integrate, make friends, build a choir.

And we really need choirs to support the European Capital of Culture. Let us be honest, as Comrade Mayakovsky to Comrade Lenin: “An individual! Who needs them?! / Individual voices are thinner than a squeak. / Who will they reach? – hardly my wife! / And that’s if they lean close.” The choir of several thousand people is different, and it is composed of groups that will come to Wrocław from all over the continent in 2016 as part of the “Singing Europe” meeting. On 6 August, they will give a mega-concert at the city stadium with the participation of opera soloists, including Aleksandra Kurzak and Roberto Alagna, and the event will be conducted by the former Artistic Director of the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans, conductor of the excellent London ensemble Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh. It is clear that Wrocław also has to sing with a strong voice.

Andrzej Kosendiak was supported by the excellent conductor Jacek Kaspszyk, who from 2006 to 2013 was Artistic Director of the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra. Kaspszyk, giving concerts all over the world (including with the Berliner Philharmoniker, New York Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, and London Philharmonic), knew how to take care of the ensemble. It is thanks to regular concerts with Kaspszyk – and also thanks to the complete rejuvenation of the orchestra – that the Wrocław Philharmonic caught the wind in their sails and started to climb the national hierarchy of orchestras. “I have an emotional relationship with this orchestra, our cooperation is almost exemplary: I am not a corporal for musicians, but, I hope, a partner. I can also see how well artists with years of experience and those who came to the orchestra after graduation can communicate well in this ensemble,” lauded Kaspszyk. He cared about the perfection of the performance, but also that the audience felt well at the concerts, so that they would not be intimidated or patronized. Kaspszyk emphasizes that classical music is elitist and should remain so, but it is important to encourage people to aspire. He believes that snobbery for classical music is better than for a fashionable restaurant or car.

In addition, we need committed music lovers, because in September this year the building of the National Forum of Music in Plac Wolności, one of the most modern concert hall complexes in Europe, opens its doors. It resembles a violin, covers four and a half hectares and has nine floors. The lightness of this massive block is added by façade glazed gaps referring to the drawing of strings and the vertical glazing of the foyer showing all the above-ground levels of the hall. You can play four concerts at the same time (including one, in the largest hall, for 1,800 listeners).
There will be no problem with the performers, as part of the NFM are ten resident ensembles. In 2006, Andrzej Kosendiak founded, among others The NFM Choir, whose Artistic Director is Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny, and the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, working under the direction of Jarosław Thiel. They are young ensembles, but with a long list of successes. The Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, the only resident ensemble of a philharmonic in Poland playing period instruments was awarded a Fryderyk in 2010. The NFM Choir participates in a phonographic project led by Paul McCreesh, which includes recordings of great oratorios. The albums released so far have won prestigious awards: twice the BBC Music Magazine Award, Diapason d'Or de l'Année and Editor's Choice of the Gramophone magazine.
“The NFM building will be teeming with life – I have no doubts. [...] It is enough to move our current activity to the new venue, we will get about seven hundred events a year. These are symphonic and chamber concerts, but also educational activities. Enough for two events a day there. We estimate that the NFM will be visited by over three hundred thousand people during the year, so we are not building the venue only for a handful of interested people,” explained Andrzej Kosendiak in an interview published in Gazeta Wyborcza. Music has to win.

Beata Maciejewska

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