Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny 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.
Sir James Loy MacMillan completed his undergraduate studies in composition at the University of Edinburgh in 1981, where he studied with Rita McAllister and was introduced to the music of Stravinsky, Webern, Messiaen, and Russian composers Sofia Gubaidulina, Alfred Schnittke, and Galina Ustvolskaya. “During my [undergraduate] study, my main interest was studying the cosmopolitan masters, [like] Boulez and Elliot Carter… absorbing the modernist spirit and techniques,” he said. MacMillan continued his studies at Durham University under John Casken. While at Durham, Casken introduced MacMillan to the works of Polish composers, including Witold Lutosławski. James MacMillan has served as a professor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and composer-in-residence with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. Other appointments include the position of visiting composer and artistic director of London’s Music of Today contemporary music series and Philharmonia Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and successor to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies as the BBC Philharmonic’s principal composer and conductor.