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The Opera and Philharmonic
The Białystok Symphony Orchestra was established in 1954. In 1974 the Orchestra received the status of State Philharmonic. Two years later it moved to a new and beautiful concert hall. Thanks to this It could embark on regular presentations of an ambitious and wide-ranging repertoire, including large-scale oratorio and cantata works and organ pieces, as well as the organization of festivals and competitions. The Orchestra's successive conductors and artistic directors were:
Kazimierz Złocki (1954-1955), Leon Hanek (1955-1958), Jan Kulaszewicz (1958-1971), Tadeusz Chachaj (1971-1989), Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (1990-1996) Marcin Nałęcz - Niesiołowski (1997-)

The long list of renowned conductors and solists who have performed with the Białystok Philharmonic inculdes, Jan Krenz, Jerzy Katlewicz, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Antoni Wit, Jacek Kaspszyk, Wojciech Michniewski, Tadeusz Strugała, Tadeusz Wojciechowski, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Krzysztof Jakowicz, Józef Stompel, Regina Smendzianka, Lidia Grychtołówna, Krystian Zimerman, Wanda Wiłkomirska, Kaja Danczowska, Światosław Richter, Garrik Ohlsson, Shlomo Mintz, Piotr Paleczny, Nelson Goerner, Kevin Kenner. In the regular series of monographic concerts, the Białystok Philharmonic has played host to such famous composers as Witold Lutosławski, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Józef Świder, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Kilar i Krzesimir Dębski.

Thanks to its long-standing contacts with the Institutes of Austrian, French, Hungarian, Japanese and Korean Culture, the Białystok Philharmonic has worked with leading foreign conductors, soloists and ensembles. Foreign tours have taken the orchestra to Italy, France, Germany, Austria and the United States. Performances at New York's Carnegie Hall and in Milwaukee under Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk in June 1995 were among the highlights in the history of the ensemble. In addition to regular concerts in its home town, the orchestra performs regularly in venues and at festivals throughout Poland.

For many years, Białystok served as the venue of the All-Poland Festival of Music and Poetry, the National Presentations of Young Talent and the International Accordion Competition. At present the town is host to the International Competition of Piano Duos and the "Summer Divertimento" chamber concert series. The broad presentation of oratorios and cantatas by the Białystok Philharmonic is possible thanks to regular cooperation with several local choirs ("Cantica Cantamus" Chamber Choir, "Schola Cantorum Bialostociensis", the Białystok University Choir and the Medical Academy Choir).

Since 1994 the Białystok Philharmonic has run the National Competition for Young Conductors named after Witold Lutosławski. The aim of the event - the only one of its type in Poland - is the promotion of young conductors, assisting them to pursue an artistic career in Poland and abroad. The prizewinners are ensured a place in the Grzegorz Fitelberg International Conductors' Competition in Katowice.

The Orchestra of the Białystok Philharmonic has recorded several CDs under the baton of Marcin Nałęcz-Niesiołowski. The first CD, recorded in 1998, has met with broad critical acclaim, winning a nomination for the "Fryderyk 1999" awards of the Polish recording industry. The second CD, with the outstanding, young Polish violinist Jakub Jakowicz, was also a success. To mark the centennial of Giuseppe Verdi's death in 2001 the Orchestra recorded a selection of overtures and tenor arias from the composer's most famous operas sung by the prominent soloist Kałudi Kałudov. In the same year, the Białystok Orchestra recorded a CD with music by French composers (with the soprano Teresa Zylis-Gara). In 2005 the Orchestra recorded CD with compositions Polish's composer Aleksander Tansman.

The Białystok Philharmonic devotes much attention to music education programmes, organizing an average of 900 themed symphonic and chamber concerts annually for children of all age groups, from the city and the surrounding region. In 2000 a series of concerts for students was lunched.

Recent years have seen several investments projects which considerable improved the standard of the facilities. In January 2002 a thoroughly refurbished and modernized concert hall was commissioned. Its equipment makes it also possible to serve as a recording studio, as well as the venue for academic sessions and conferences. It is worth noting that the activity of the Białystok Philharmonic is supported to a growing extent by both corporate and private sponsors.

Recent highlights in the history of the orchestra have included a gala concert in the European Parliament in Brussels (conducted by Marcin Nałęcz-Niesiołowski, with the up-and-coming pianist Stanisław Drzewiecki as solist), inaugurating the European celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the "Solidarity" movement. The audience in the Yehudi Menuhin Auditorium included the Polish Ambassador in Brussels Iwo Byczewski, the President of the European Parliament Josep Borell and many MEPs.

On 29 August 2005, the authorities of the Podlasie Province, of which Białystok is the capital, changed the name of the Białystok Philharmonic to the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic - the European Arts Centre in Białystok. On 9 September 2005, during the inauguration of the 2005/2006 artistic season, the Minister of Culture Waldemar Dąbrowski and the Marshal of the Podlasie Province Janusz Kazimierz Krzyżewski signed a declaration establishing The Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic as an institution of national culture. Its new home, planned to be commissioned in 2009/2010, will be the first professionally equipped opera and symphony hall in eastern Poland.

The Opera and Philharmonic.

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