- About Festival
Conductor, founder and artistic director of the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot.
Born in Warsaw in 1948, Wojciech Rajski is a graduate of the Music Academy in Warsaw where he studied conducting with Bogusław Madey, gaining a diploma with distinction. He then studied at the Musikhochschule in Cologne, Germany, on a DAAD scholarship. In Vienna, he participated in Master Classes with Witold Rowicki.
He made his professional debut in 1971 at the Grand Opera Theatre in Warsaw conducting the ballet Giselle. From 1974-78, he served as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor for the State Philharmonic Orchestra in Poznań and also conduced the Betovenhalleorchester during 1978-80. In 1982 he founded the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot.
From 1993 to 2006 Wojciech Rajski served as Artistic Director of the Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Warsaw, regularly performing some of the best European concert halls in France, Switzerland, Sweden, Austria, Spain and Italy.
In addition to concert performances, he realised many recordings for Polish Radio.
Beside the regular work with Polish orchestras, Wojciech Rajski has appeared as a guest conductor with numerous orchestras in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Mexico, England, Sweden, Greece, Spain and Germany. He has worked closely with several orchestras, including the Orchestre de la Suisse Romaine, NDR Hannover and Bayerische Rundfunk. He has performed with many soloists of world renown including Mstislav Rostropovich, Henryk Szeryng, Sabine Meyer, Ivo Pogorelich and Krystian Zimerman, who toured Germany together with Wojciech Rajski and the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie.
Wojciech Rajski has taken part in numerous international festivals including the Prague Spring, the Festival of Flanders, Festival Gran Canaria, Festspiele Europäische Wochen Passau, the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Festivals at Evian and Montpellier, La Chaise Dieu and the Festival in Copenhagen. His discography includes over 50 albums for labels such as EMI, Chant du Monde, Claves, Thorofon, Tacet, Midas, Bis Wifon, KOCH, and many others. He has also records for radio and television in Poland and Germany for SAT 1, 3 SAT and ARD.
In 1993 Wojciech Rajski began teaching, accepting a position at the Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe where he was awarded the title of Professor. Since 1998 he has been a Professor of Conducting at the Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst in Frankfurt am Main, and has also taught conducting classes at the Music Academy in Gdańsk since 2008. In 2010, he received the title of Professor from the President of Poland.
It was as if the heady days of the Bel Canto Revival, with Sills, Sutherland and Callas, were back again, eerie and unforgettable. That is how Opera Magazine presented Aleksandra Kurzak.
Aleksandra Kurzak began to learn to play the violin and the piano at the age of seven. She graduated from the Vocal Faculty of the Academy of Music in Wrocław and from Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Hamburg. Winner of vocal competitions in Warsaw, Helsinki, Barcelona, and Guangzhou, she made her début on the stage of Wrocław Opera as Suzanne in The Marriage of Figaro by the side of her mother and teacher, Jolanta Żmurko, who was cast as Countess Rosine.
At the age of 27, she performed in the two most prestigious opera theatres of the world. Her performance in the role of Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann at the Metropolitan Opera garnered great recognition from the New York musical critics, who in unison announced the sensational début of the Polish singer. Her Aspasia in London’s production of Mitridate, re di Ponto at the Royal Opera House (Covent Garden) received an equally favourable reception.
Aleksandra Kurzak returned to the MET as Blonda in The Abduction from the Seraglio, Gilda in Rigoletto,Gretel in Hansel and Gretel,Adina in The Elixire of Love where again she was highly enthusiastically welcomed by both musical critics and the audience. The artist also regularly returns to the Royal Opera House in London which has almost become her home theatre. She also performed there as Norina in Don Pasquale, Adina in The Elixir of Love, Suzanne, and also as the title Matilde in Matilde di Shabran, Donna Fiorilla in The Turk in Italy, Rosina in The Barber of Seville, and Gilda.
Aleksandra Kurzak performs regularly on the world’s principal operatic and theatrical stages: Teatro alla Scala in Milan (Gilda, Suzanne, La Comtesse Adèle in Le comte Ory), Seattle Opera (Lucia of Lammermoor), Wiener Staatsoper (Rosina, Adina, Suzanne, Violetta in La Traviata, Marie in The Daughter of the Regiment), Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich (Cleopatra in Julius Caesar, Adela in Die Fledermaus, Rosina, Donna Fiorilla), Teatro Massimo in Palermo (Norina), Welsh National Opera in Cardiff (Aspasia), Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse (Gilda), Theater an der Wien (Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Amenaide in Tancred), Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía in Valencia (Adina), Lyric Opera House in Chicago (Blonda), Staatsoper in Berlin (The Queen of the Night in The Magic Flute), the Helsinki Opera (Gilda), the Salzburger Festspiele (Ännchen in Der Freischütz, Donna Anna), Rome’s Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia (Carmina Burana), Teatro La Fenice in Venice (Donna Anna), Teatro Regio di Torino (Violetta), Teatro Regio di Parma (Gilda), Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona (Adina), in the Teatr Wielki – Polish National Opera in Warsaw (Hanna in Straszny dwór / The Haunted Manor, Gilda, Violetta, and Lucia), Teatro Real in Madrid (Suzanne, Marie), Arena di Verona (Rosina, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Gilda), Los Angeles Opera (Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte), San Francisco Opera (Gilda) and Opera National de Paris (Adina in The Elixire of Love).
She is the first Pole in the history of vocal music to have signed an exclusive contract with Decca. Her first solo album Gioia! was released in August 2011 and became a platinum record. Her following CDs are Bel Raggio with Rossini’s arias and Hej, kolęda! with a collection of the most beautiful Polish Christmas carols (golden record). In turn the album Chopin: Songs, which she recorded for the Fryderyk Chopin Institute in Poland, was awarded the prestigious Diapason d’or.
Aleksandra Kurzak was awarded two scholarships from the Minister of Culture and Art and has also held one from Aleksander Gudzowaty’s Crescendum Est – Polonia Foundation. Her achievements have won her awards from the Mayor of Wrocław, Governor (Voivode) of the Dolnośląskie Region, and Minister of Culture and Art of the Republic of Poland. She is also the recipient of the Wiktor Award from the Polish Television Academy and the Gwarancja Kultury / Guarantee of Culture Award from TVP Kultura. In 2009, she was given a doctorate in art.
In 2015 she received not only the International Opera Award 2015 but also the Bachtrack Opera award as the best singer of the season just passing for her rendition of Donna Fiorilla at the Royal Opera House.
Michael Schneider is considered as a musician in a very broad sense:
As virtuoso both on the recorder and on the transverse flute he is active world-wide as soloist as well as a member of his chamber-music group CAMERATA KÖLN.
As conductor of his orchestra with period-instruments LA STAGIONE FRANKFURT he performs concerts and productions of symphonic repertoire as well as oratorios and operas of the baroque and classical era.
As professor he taught first since 1980 at the former “Hochschule Der Künste” Berlin (nowadays “Universität der Künste”).
In 1983 he changed to the „Hochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst Frankfurt/M“, where he is responsible not only for a recorder-class but also for the department of Early Music established by himself.
About 100 CD-recordings (chamber music, symphonic music, cantatas, oratorios and operas from the baroque an classical period) are mirroring his artistic output of more than 30 years now.
His last projects include the Complete Recording of Telemann’s Wind-Concertos (8 CDs) as soloist and conductor as well as 3 CDs with unedited baroque recorder concertos. (jpc/cpo)
Occasionally he likes to express his thinkings in articles and reviews in different magazines (Co editor of “Tibia”).
In 2000 Michael Schneider was awarded the „Telemann-Prize“ of the city of Magdeburg for his merits concerning the work of this composer.
Karl Kaiser studied at the Music Universities in Cologne and Münster. In parallel, he also studied theology, philosophy and musicology at the Universities in Bonn and Cologne, but then decided to become a professional musician. Since then, he has made an outstanding name for himself, not only as a soloist, a chamber and orchestral musician in the field of historically informed performance practice, but also as a pedagogue.
After having gathered many diverse and inspiring experiences in various Early Music orchestras and groups, Karl Kaiser concentrates today on just a few complementary ensembles. He has been a member and flutist of the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra for 28 years. With this orchestra he played in all the big halls around the world.
He has been flutist at the Camerata Köln for almost 30 years with world-wide concerts and over 50 CD recordings of a large part of the Baroque and Early Classical chamber music repertoire.
Karl Kaiser is also a founding member of the Frankfurt orchestra La Stagione under Michael Schneider, and soloist on CDs with flute concertos by Telemann, Abel and Holzbauer.
Karl Kaiser’s interests as an enthusiastic pedagogue are wide-ranging. He is professor for historical flutes and performance practice at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Frankfurt and at the Freiburg Music University. He gives masterclasses and lectures on 18th century performance practice on a regular basis. He is the author of the book Basiswissen Barockmusik (‘Basic knowledge on Baroque music’) published by the con brio Verlag. Karl Kaiser sees his teaching activities, beyond the mere instruction of skills, within a broader context.
In February 1982, Wojciech Rajski brought together a group of talented Polish string players to set up an orchestra which he called “Polish Chamber Philharmonic”. After meticulous rehearsals, the string orchestra made its début at the Musical Theatre Gdynia and abroad at the opening of Schliessheimer Summer in Munich and 37th Summer Music Days Hitzacker. The young ensemble has delighted the public and critics which gave rise to numerous invitations to all German festivals and to the most important concert venues like Berlin Philharmonic, Gasteig in Munich, Gewandthaus in Leipzig, Musikhalle in Hamburg, Pleyel House in Paris, Musikverein in Wien and Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Since 1984 the orchestra has performed also in an extended formation as a classical full orchestra and it has carried the name of Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot since then.
At the end of the 80s the orchestra gave about one hundred concerts every year especially in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Switzerland, the USA, China, Japan, Belgium, Denmark, Luxemburg, Great Britain and other countries. In 1987 the orchestra gave 33 concerts in the United States playing among others in J. F. Kennedy Centre in Washington and Metropolitan Museum in New York. It visited the US for the second time in 1999. The ensemble was also in Asia. (China – 1990 and Japan – 1997). The philharmonic has cooperated with the worldwide famous soloists such as Mscislaw Roztropowicz, Borys Pergamentschikow, Natalia Gutman, Irene Grafenauer, Sabine i Wolfgang Meyer, Guy Touvron, Misha Maisky, Raphael Oleg, Gil Shaham, David Geringas, Gary Karr and Ivo Pogorelić. The best Polish soloists cooperate continually with the orchestra in Poland and abroad.
The ensemble takes part in the most prestigious European festivals including Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rheingau Festival, Prague Spring, Weilburger Schlosskonzerte, Festival van Vlaanderen, La Chaise-Dieu and many others. Over 10 times the orchestra has attended the Musical Festival in Łańcut and at National Philharmonic in Warsaw for many times. In November 2010 the PCP gave 4 concerts during Chopin Festival in Geneva.
The Polish Chamber Philharmonic has recorded more than 60 CDs since the beginning. The first analogue long plays were recorded in 1983 for Wifon and Thorofon and since 1986 Philharmonic has recorded also for EMI, Midas, Claves, Sonomaster, Opus, Mediaphon, DUX and many others.
The recording of Piano Concerto in E minor of this CD is the first one recorded in versions for piano and strings orchestra.
After 15 years of waiting thanks to Sopot’s authorities’ and Baltic Artistic Agency BART’s efforts the Polish Chamber Philharmonic has lived to see its own seat located at the area of the Forest Opera in Sopot. The Polish Chamber Philharmonic is a cultural institution of The Pomeranian Voivodeship’s Local Government.
In 2012 the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot celebrated its 30th anniversary.
ENERGA Group is the patron of the Polish Chamber Philharmonic Sopot.
Playeres of Polish Chamber Philharmonic Orchestra Sopot
Paweł Kapica – constermaster
Anna Wieczerzak – sub-leader
Jacek Koprowski – leader of the group
Karol Jurewicz – leader of the group
Alicja Leoniuk-Kit – leader of the group