Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra draws upon a rich long-time tradition of chamber music making, cultivated by artists associated with Warsaw Philharmonic (then still called “Warsaw” rather than “National” in Polish) ever since their first chamber ensembles were founded in the early years of the 20th century. In the 1960s and 70s, one ensemble which scored successes on concert stages worldwide was the Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Musicians’ Ensemble directed by Karol Teutsch. Other groups created by Warsaw Philharmonic musicians also gained international recognition. The 1990s saw the rise of a string ensemble which performed in concert with eminent soloists (Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Nigel Kennedy) as well as recording for TV and record companies.
Warsaw Philharmonic’s centenary celebrations provided an opportunity to reactivate – on Jan Lewtak’s initiative – Warsaw Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra, made up of the Philharmonic’s leading instrumentalists, including members of Karol Teutsch’s earlier ensemble. Patronage of the Orchestra was taken up by Antoni Wit, the Warsaw Philharmonic’s managing and artistic director. Their first concert, with pieces by Corelli, Kilar and Vivaldi, took place on 10th January 2002 in Warsaw Philharmonic Concert Hall, with Jan Lewtak conducting from the leader’s desk and acting as soloist in Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons.
The Orchestra has since appeared with such musicians as, among others: Salvatore Accardo, Jean-Louis Capezzali, Łukasz Długosz, Marek Drewnowski, Urszula Dudziak, Evelyn Glennie, Ryszard Groblewski, Krzysztof Herdzin, Andrzej Jagodziński, Krzysztof Jakowicz, Jakub Jakowicz, Yuko Kawai, Jacek Kortus, Jadwiga Kotnowska, Konstanty Andrzej Kulka, Rafał Kwiatkowski, Roby Lakatos, Adam Makowicz, Ewa Małas-Godlewska, Artur Pachlewski, Mariusz Patyra, Baiba Skride, Lauma Skride, Anna Maria Staśkiewicz, Agata Szymczewska, Edward Wolanin, and Edward Zienkowski.
The ensemble has made two CD recordings of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons: in 2003 under Antoni Wit with Jan Lewtak as soloist, and five years later under Jan Lewtak with Mariusz Patyra as soloist (for Lipinski Sound). In 2008, the Orchestra conducted by Antoni Wit also recorded Penderecki’s pieces for string orchestra under the Naxos label.
For the centenary of Grażyna Bacewicz’s birth, the Orchestra played an all-Bacewicz programme in February 2009 in Warsaw Philharmonic, performing, among others, the eminent composer’s two works rediscovered by Jan Lewtak: Sinfonietta (1929) and Symphony (1946), which were later released on a Sony Music CD together with the Orchestra’s interpretations of Bacewicz’s other compositions for string orchestra.
The ensemble takes active part in Warsaw’s musical life, performing at such renowned festivals as Warsaw Music Encounters, Festival of Chamber Ensembles and the Warsaw “Cross Culture” Festival. It has also given concerts outside Warsaw, e.g. in Łańcut Castle, at the “Mozartiana” in Gdańsk, Organ and Chamber Music Festival in Leżajsk, “Chopin’s Country” Festival in Mazovia, and (twice) at the “Al Ain Classics” Festival in the United Arab Emirates.