Director of the National Forum of Music, artist, conductor and pedagogue, Andrzej Kosendiak has earned an enviable reputation as one of the most active and committed organizers of musical life in Poland. He graduated from the Department of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory of Wrocław Music Academy. In 2013 he obtained the academic degree of doctor habilitatus. For many years he taught at his Alma Mater, where from 2001 to 2009 he was head of the Cross-Department Early Music Studies program. Since 2014 he has been Professor at the S. Moniuszko Academy of Music in Gdańsk. In 2005 he became Director of the Wrocław Philharmonic and the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans.
Early music is of particular interest to Andrzej Kosendiak, and thus in 1985 he founded the Collegio di Musica Sacra and has continued to direct the ensemble to date. The group has performed throughout Europe and in the United States, where they collaborated with Chapel Hill University in North Carolina. They have also appeared at the most prestigious festivals and concert venues in Poland. His catalogue of recordings includes previously obscure works taken from the Wrocław University Library – Musica da chiesa (DUX), and from the Strasbourg Library - F. X Richter: 'Missa Pastorale', Dixit, Magnificat (CYPRES) as well as A. M. Bononcini’s Stabat Mater (DUX). In 2012 and 2014 he released two discs with works by G. G. Gorczycki (CD Accord) which he directed. The first disc was awarded the Wrocław Music Prize and was nominated for Fryderyk Award. As a conductor he performs regularly with the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic and NFM Choir, as well as the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra and other philharmonic ensembles across Poland. In recent years he has conducted Haydn’s The Creation, Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Mass in C minor and Requiem, Bach’s Mass in B flat minor and both Passions, which have become an annual performance tradition in Wrocław during the Holy Week, as well as Fauré’s Requiem, and Britten’s Saint Nicolas.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny was born on March 24, 1976, in Głubczyce. She graduated from the University of Wrocław in 2000 with a degree in biology. That year, she founded the Kameralny Chór Akademii Medycznej (Medici Cantantes Choir at the Medical University of Wrocław). In 2004, she received a diploma from the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław, where she studied Music Education and was awarded a diploma in 2005 from the Vocal Department. During this time, she was honoured with the first prize in the National Contest for Choir Conductors. In 2006, she completed the Postgraduate Voice Production and Training Programme at the Academy of Music in Bydgoszcz. Since June 2006, Franków-Żelazny has been the artistic director of the National Forum of Music Choir. In 2008, she was awarded a special prize for conductors from the 39th Legnica Cantat National Choir Contest. Franków-Żelazny became the head of Polish National Youth Choir, which she also founded, in 2013. She completed course work at the Academy of Culture Leaders at the Economic University of Kraków, in 2014 and was distinguished with the Gloria Artis Bronze Medal for Merit to Culture. The following January, she was named the programme director of the Choral Academy of the National Forum of Music. In 2016, Franków-Żelazny was a music curator for the year that Wrocław served as the European Capital of Culture. The album DE PROFUNDIS – Polish Psalms of the 20th and 21st Century with the NMF Choir under her direction was awarded the Fryderyk prize for the best choral, oratorio and orchestra music, 2017. She currently works as an Associate Professor at the Academy of Music in Wrocław.
Małgorzata Podzielny is a graduate of the Music Education Department in conducting, under professor Maria Oraczewska-Skorek, as well as the Composition, Conducting, Music Theory and Music Therapy Department of the Karol Lipiński Academy of Music in Wrocław. She completed her Postgraduate studies for Choirmasters in Bydgoszcz and is a grant holder of the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. Since September 2002, she has been conducting the ‘Con Brio’ Choir, String Orchestra and chamber ensembles at the Grażyna Bacewicz Primary Music School, in Wrocław. She currently holds the title of Artistic Director of the Vocal Ensemble ‘Rondo’ in Wrocław. For four years she has served as the deputy director of the Sacred Music School at the Theology Department of Opole University and as a lecturer at the Music Education Department of the Wrocław Music Academy. Additionally, Podzielny participates at workshops and seminars as a guest lecturer on the issue of voice emission in boys’ chorus.
Jarosław Thiel is a graduate of the Poznań School of Talents. He studied cello at both the Academy of Music in Poznań and the Academy of Music in Łódź, Poland. Since 1997, he has been focused on historical performance. He completed his post-graduate studies in Baroque cello at the Universität der Künste in Berlin, having worked with Phoebe Carrai and Markus a Möllenbeck. Thiel has participated in master classes run by Christine Kypranides at the Dresdner Akademie für Alte Musik and has collaborated with the most important Polish ensembles specialising in early music. Thiel has been the first cellist with the Dresdner Barockorchester and a member of the Festspiel Orchester Göttingen led by Laurence Cummings since 2000. He also works with leading German ensembles, such as Cantus Cölln, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, and Lautten Compagney. He regularly performs as a soloist and chamber musician in connection with festivals of early music world-wide. He currently teaches Baroque cello at the Academy of Music in Poznań and the Summer Academy of Early Music in Lidzbark Warmiński, Poland. In 2006 he was appointed Artistic Director of the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra.
Giovanni Battista Pergolesi was born in 1710, near Naples, Italy. He began composing at the age of twenty, but having struggled with health from infancy, sadly he died six years later from tuberculosis. In 1736 he had retired to the Franciscan house at Pozzuoli, here he composed his Stabat mater. The piece is believed to have been commissioned by the Most Noble Order of the Knights of Our Lady of Sorrows, in Naples, for devotional services which took place each Friday of Lent. Stabat mater, written for soprano, alto, and strings, is one of the most celebrated compositions ever written in praise of Mary. The text is a sequence of Latin verses inscribed by Jacobus de Benedictis in the 13th century that describe Mary, the sorrowful mother, witnessing the suffering of her Son from the base of the cross. Pergolesi's Stabat mater which sets the text both melodiously and expressively is considered unique among other sacred music as it elicits a particularly personal response to the religious experience. Pergolesi’s style, described as ‘natural’ or ‘galant,’ was achieved by simplifying the counterpoint and employing instruments as mere accompaniment to his writing for voice. The composer often doubled the voice parts and only occasionally provided anything of contrapuntal interest. The 18th-century writer, philosopher and composer, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, believed the opening to be “the most perfect and touching duet to come from the pen of any composer.” Lamentably, Pergolesi may have been the first composer who enjoyed little recognition during his lifetime, yet has achieved great retrospective fame. His Stabat mater appeared in more 18th-century reprints than any other work and is still widely performed.
Gabriel Fauré, born in 1845, moved to Paris at the age of nine. His Requiem is a traditional Catholic death Mass which began in 1877 with the composition of the Libera me. Fauré began constructing the larger work around 1885. The initial version, which did not include wind instruments, premiered at the church of The Madeleine in Paris where he was choirmaster, on January 16, 1888. The work at that time consisted of five movements, the Introit and Kyrie, Sanctus, Pie Jesu, Agnus Dei, and In Paradisum. It was scored for chamber chorus and an orchestra consisting of solo violin, strings, harp, timpani, and organ. Later, the composer decided to augment the orchestration and add the Offertoire and the previously-written Libera me. This expanded version including bassoons, horns, and optional trumpets was first performed in January of 1893. In 1900, likely at the request of the publisher, Julien Hamelle, a third version of the Requiem was published. It was a symphonic edition for large choir and full orchestra. The 1900 score was the sole edition known until John Rutter rediscovered a second rendering at the Bibliothèque Nationale de Paris in the early 1980s. This version composed for chamber orchestra is now considered to be the most authentic adaption.
Fauré’s Requiem is remarkable for its serenity and tenderness, as Fauré sought to create something unlike the operatic bel canto style of church music and the large-scale Germanic Romantic form. In an interview from 1902, Fauré affirmed, “It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death, and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: A happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience. The music of Gounod has been criticised for its over-inclination towards human tenderness. But his nature predisposed him to feel this way. Is it not necessary to accept the artist’s nature? As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.”
Alixandra Porembski, English Language Annotator