The NFM Wrocław Philharmonic Choir
The Wrocław Philharmonic Choir was founded in 2006 by Andrzej Kosendiak and since its inception functions under the directorship of Agnieszka Frankow-Żelazny. In a short space of time it has established itself as one of Poland’s leading choral ensembles, thanks to its rich and varied repertoire, which includes works from the Renaissance to the contemporary, and a cappella to vocal-instrumental in the form of oratorio, opera, and the symphony. It has collaborated with such distinguished conductors as Paul McCreesh, Jacek Kaspszyk, Krzysztof Penderecki, James MacMillan, Łukasz Borowicz, Mike Brewer, Bob Chilcott, and Jan Łukaszewski.
In recent years the Choir has participated in many important projects, collaborating among others with the Gabrieli Consort and NDR Orchestra in performances at the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Barbican Centre in London as well as the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival and Gent Festival van Vlaanderen. In 2009 it was the first Polish choir to be invited to the legendary BBC Proms at London’s Royal Albert Hall for a performance of Joseph Haydn’s The Creation. This was followed by a further invitation in 2011 when the Choir joined forces with the Gabrieli Consort and singers of such stature as Simon Keenleyside in a presentation of Felix Mendelssohn’s Elijah. The same year it made its debut at Leipzig’s Gewandhaus, while at the Varaždin Baroque Evenings festival in Croatia it received one of the three main awards – the Kantor Award for exceptional performance of works by Johann Sebastian Bach. In Poland the Wrocław Philharmonic Choir performs in concert with, among others, the Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra, Wrocław Baroque Orchestra, Wrocław Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum, National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the other Philharmonic Orchestras in Poland, and Wrocław Opera. Each year it also appears at the International Wratislavia Cantans Festival.
The ensemble has participated in recordings of Franz Xaver Richter’s compositions under the baton of Andrzej Kosendiak (2009), Hanna Kulenty’s Music 4 album with Wrocław Chamber Orchestra Leopoldinum under Ernst Kovacic (2011), Hector Berlioz’s monumental Grande Messe des Morts (2011) and Mendelssohn’s Elijah (2012) – both under Paul McCreesh. The choir’s first own a cappella album, Words Painted with Sounds, and a CD with Bob Chilcott’s music The Seeds of Stars were released in 2012.
Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny, PhD, is a graduate of Wrocław Music Academy (choral conducting at the Music Education Department and singing at the Vocal Department). She also received a master’s degree in Biology from Wrocław University and completed post-graduate Studies for Choirmasters at Bydgoszcz Music Academy.
She began her career as a chorister in a Mixed Choir at a Secondary School in Głubczyce, and then continued as a member of several Wrocław university ensembles.
In 1999 she founded the ‘Con Amore’ Choir at the School Complex No. 1 in Wrocław, with which two years in a row, 2000 and 2001, she received recognition at the Polish Choirs Competition in Bydgoszcz. From November 1999 until February 2000 she was the conductor and artistic director of the Wrocław University of Technology Choir.
From 1993 to 1999 she was a member of German-Polish Choral Academy IN TERRA PAX, where she was a vocal coach from 1997 to 1999. In 2000 she founded the Wrocław Medical University Chamber Choir, with which she has been extremely successful both at Polish and international competitions. Since June 2006 she has been the Artistic Director of Wrocław Philharmonic Choir.
She was a guest conductor and choirmaster of ensembles such as the Silesian Philharmonic Choir, Gabrieli Consort, Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra, Wrocław Ensemble of Soloists Ricordanza, Wrocław Music Academy Chamber Orchestra and Festival Choir of the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans. She has received abundant recognition for her work at choral and conducting competitions. In 2004 she won the first prize at the 10th Polish Competition for Choral Conductors in Poznań, and special award for the best choral and vocal conducting methods. In recognition of her outstanding achievement she received Legnica Cantat 2004, 2006, 2008, 2010, Gaude Cantem 2005 awards for the best conductor. In April 2004 she was elected the best student of Music Academy and, representing the Academy, she was awarded the first prize of the regional round of Primus Inter Pares best student competition. Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny is also The Wroclaw Music Award laureate in 2010.
She has performed over 500 a cappella choral compositions and 70 vocal and instrumental works.
In addition to her artistic work, Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny also works as a scholar. She has joined the faculty at the Music Education Department of Wrocław Music Academy, to teach conducting and vocal technique. She has participated in a number of conducting courses and seminars. She is also frequently engaged as a vocal coach to present workshops for choirmasters and choir ensembles.
Vibrant and dynamic, Agnieszka Franków-Żelazny is at the same time sensitive and full of grace. It is obvious that choir is where her true passion and challenge lie.