The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra has been a local authority-governed Institution of Culture since 1 January 2008. It is coordinated by the Capital City of Warsaw.
In April of 1984, Waldemar Dąbrowski, director of the St. I. Witkiewicz Studio Centre for the Arts in Warsaw and Franciszek Wybrańczyk, director of the then extant Polish Chamber Orchestra invited the legendary violinist Sir Yehudi Menuhin to perform in Poland as soloist and conductor. To match the exigencies of the planned repertoire, the orchestra increased the number of its members, inviting renowned musicians from all over Poland to perform together. The ensemble’s initial concerts under the direction of Yehudi Menuhin were enthusiastically applauded by audiences and praised by critics, while Lord Menuhin himself did not hesitate to accept Waldemar Dąbrowski’s and Franciszek Wybrańczyk’s proposal to become the first guest conductor of the newly established symphony orchestra bearing the name of Sinfonia Varsovia.
Until 31 December 2007 the orchestra operated from the Stanisław I. Witkiewicz Studio Centre for the Arts in Warsaw.
Krzysztof Penderecki became the orchestra’s musical director in 1997 and its artistic director in July 2003, a position he still holds, often also working together with the ensemble as its conductor.
In 2008-2012 the post of the orchestra’s musical director was held by the world-famous French conductor Marc Minkowski.
The Director of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra is Janusz Marynowski. The Deputy Director is Aleksandra Kielan.
The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra is a local authority-governed artistic institution of the capital city of Warsaw possessing legal personality.
The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra was registered on 2 January 2008 in the Register of Artistic Institutions kept by the Office of Culture of the Municipal Office of the Capital City of Warsaw on 25 October 2012, under the number RIA/2/08. The register of cultural institutions is kept pursuant to the regulation of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of 26 January 2012 on methods of keeping and provision of access to registers of institutions of culture (Journal of Laws of 2012, item 189). Pursuant to § 5 of the Statute, the Orchestra is coordinated by the Capital City of Warsaw and the Orchestra’s activities are supervised by bodies of the Capital City of Warsaw to the extent of their individual competencies.
The Statute of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra was established on 20 June 2012 by Resolution No. XXXVIII/995/2012 of the Council of the Capital City of Warsaw, amending the statute of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. The change of statute was based on the amended act on organisation and performance of cultural activities of 1 January 2012.
Type of activity according to the Polish Classification of Business Activities:
(PKD 2007) – 9001 Z Performing arts activities
(PKD 2004) – 9231 C activities of philharmonic halls, orchestras, choirs.
Legal grounds for the Orchestra’s activities are governed by the following: Act of 25 October 1991 on organisation and performance of cultural activities (consolidated text: Journal of Laws of 2012, item 406), Act on accountancy of 29 September 1994 (consolidated text: Journal of Laws of 2013, item 330), Act of 27 August 2009 on Public Finance (Journal of Laws of 2009, no. 157, item 1240, as amended) and secondary legislation to the act, Act of 8 March 1990 on municipal local authorities (Journal of Laws of 2001, No. 142, item 1591, as amended), Act of 15 March 2002 on the structure of the capital city of Warsaw (Journal of Laws of 2002, No. 41, item 361, as amended) and secondary legislation to the act, Statute of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra, Regulations of the Director, Decisions of the Director.
Activities of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra entail presentation, fostering and dissemination of the national and world music legacy; musical education and education of children and youths as future recipients and creators of national culture; establishing an environment that supports development of talent and the creation of music; promotion of Warsaw and implementation of the Sinfonia Varsovia to its City Festival, and other festivals; creation and implementation of a regular artistic season of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra in Warsaw.
To achieve the objectives listed above, the Orchestra organises concerts of symphonic and chamber music, produces recordings for radio & television, CDs and video, films and other forms of recording of sound and images. The Orchestra publishes audio and video recordings and other image and sound media, including on the web. It engages domestic and foreign performers, works together with the artistic education sector to properly train new artists; the Orchestra organises courses, training sessions and seminars, it develops, publishes and distributes printed materials and multimedia within the fields of its activity. The Orchestra works together with community organisations which operate in the field of culture, as well as with scholarship centres, foundations, associations and creative organisations. Management and promotion is carried out by the Orchestra itself or by means of specialised agencies.
The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra received, among others, the title of Zasłużony dla Warszawy [Distinguished in Service for the City of Warsaw], the Annual Honorary Award of the Minister of Culture and National Heritage for achievements in creative output and dissemination of culture and with a diploma of the Minister of Foreign Affairs for outstanding achievements in the promotion of Poland around the world.
Educational projects organised in the Orchestra’s headquarters are an important aspect of Sinfonia Varsovia’s activities.
In 2012 the Orchestra initiated its elite Akademia Sinfonia Varsovia programme – a cycle of workshops for students and young music academy graduates intended to prepare them to play in the best symphony orchestras. The workshops are led by Sinfonia Varsovia’s concert masters and principal soloists. The project has been implemented in collaboration with the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage.
Educational programmes for the youngest listeners include projects organised jointly with the Music is for Everyone Foundation: Smykofonia [Toddler Philharmonic], a programme of music for children up to five years of age and the Labyrinth Event, addressed to students and teachers in elementary schools.
Summer Concerts at Grochowska Street merit special attention. This is a cycle of chamber music concerts performed by young, talented artists recommended by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. The concerts are preceded by introductory lectures by musicologists and music critics. Admission to Summer Concerts at Grochowska Street is free.
In 2010 the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra has received a new home – the former Institute of Veterinary Science at 272 Grochowska Street in Warsaw’s Praga District. By a decision of the Council of Warsaw and Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, an open, two-stage international competition was held in June 2010 for the design of a new concert hall seating 1 850 and architectural development of the property located at Grochowska Street. The Grand Prix was awarded to Atelier Thomas Pucher of Graz (Austria). The design is unusual not only in the very characteristic frame surrounding the whole property, but also in the exceptional design of the concert hall itself, combining shoebox concert hall acoustics with a vineyard seating arrangement. According to the designers, the combination will provide an unsurpassed, unique listening experience. The authorities of the Capital City of Warsaw have decided to implement this project in Warsaw’s Praga district. In 2015, in the presence of the President of the capital city of Warsaw, Ms. Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, architect Thomas Pucher and Janusz Marynowski, director of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra signed a contract for the delivery of design documentation for a new concert hall for Sinfonia Varsovia and for the development of the property at 272 Grochowska Street. The new Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra Music Centre will be more than just an attractive place to present classical music and other arts. It will also be a place to spend leisure time. It will be an important space for the residents of the Praga District, for all of Warsaw and for foreign tourists visiting Poland. An extensive artistic and educational programme will be prepared with an audience of all ages and various degrees of involvement in the arts in mind. The first concert in the new facility is to take place in 2024.