The Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic—European Art Centre in Białystok is currently the largest arts institution in north-eastern Poland and the most modern cultural hub in this part of Europe. The General Manager of our institution is Damian Tanajewski.
Origins of the State Symphonic Orchestra
The history of the Symphonic Orchestra of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic began in 1954, when the State Symphonic Orchestra was brought to life in Białystok. At the time, its musicians had no seat of their own, so they rehearsed and performed at the Aleksander Węgierko Dramatic Theatre and the Branicki Guest Palace in Białystok. After 20 years of activity, the orchestra gained philharmonic status, was renamed to Białystok Philharmonic Orchestra and moved to the concert hall on Podleśna Street.
The new stage saw many famous conductors, soloists and composers, including Piotr Anderszewski, Edward Auer, Kaja Danczowska, Nelson Goerner, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, Lidia Grychtołówna, Wojciech Kilar, Kazimierz Kord, Jan Krenz, Witold Lutosławski, Shlomo Mintz, Garrick Ohlsson, Światosław Richter, Regina Smendzianka and Wanda Wiłkomirska. Other notable events that took place at the Białystok Philharmonic included the final concert of the Chopin Year with Ivo Pogorelić (2010) and the piano recital of the 15th Chopin Competition winner Rafał Blechacz (2005).
Throughout over 60 years of the institution’s history, its artistic direction was shaped by subsequent General Managers: Kazimierz Złocki (1954–55), Leon Hanek (1955–58), Jan Kulaszewicz (1958–71), Tadeusz Chachaj (1971–89), Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk (1990–96) and Marcin Nałęcz Niesiołowski (1997–2011), who was the first to advocate building an opera in Białystok. The idea to open a new, modern arts centre was rooted in a deep conviction that this part of Europe deserved a genuine cultural hub. Białystok, a city linking Western Europe with the East, strived to be just that: a centre open to national minorities, interested in cooperating with Eastern European and Baltic states.
Founding of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic—European Art Centre
The letter of intent concerning the construction of the “European Centre of Music and Art—Podlasie Opera” was signed on 9 July 2004. In August 2005, in view of the dynamic artistic and organizational development of the institution and the fact that the new building was scheduled to open in 2011, the Białystok Philharmonic was renamed to the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic.
In 2005, the Minister of Culture Waldemar Dąbrowski and Governor of Podlasie Province Janusz Kazimierz Krzyżanowski signed an agreement on founding a national cultural institution: the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic—European Art Centre. On 22 April 2006, the foundation stone was laid for the new building. The construction lasted six years.
The new seat of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic—European Art Centre was officially opened on 28 September 2012. The institution began its 58th artistic season in a new formula, headed by Director Roberto Skolmowski. The repertoire was broadened to include opera, musical and theatre productions. There’s symphonic as well as jazz, rock and alternative music concerts and artistic exhibitions are being held. The Opera building is home to the Orchestra of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (headed by Mirosław Jacek Błaszczyk), Choir of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (headed by Violetta Bielecka), Children’s Choir of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic (headed by Ewa Barbara Rafałko), Big Band of the Podlasie Opera and Philharmonic and various chamber ensembles, such as Aleksander Tansman Quartet, Early Music Ensemble Consort 415, La Vanagloria wind instrument quintet and Lontano piano trio.