The Choir was founded in 1952 by Zbigniew Soja and gave its first concertin May 1953, under the artistic director of the Warsaw Philharmonic Witold Rowicki. The present choirmaster Henryk Wojnarowski has held thisposition since 1978.
In its wide repertoire the choir has more than 150 oratorios andchoral works ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary music. Each yearthe choir gives about ten symphony and oratorio concerts with theWarsaw Philhar- monic Orchestra. These concerts constitute the mostimportant part of its artistic activity. The Choir also performs regularly at the "Warsaw Autumn" Festival and in Wroclaw at the "Wratislavia Cantans" Festival. Many of these concerts were recorded eg. Haendel's Messiah, Israel in Egypt and Judas Maccabaeus, Verdi's Requiem, Beethoven's Fidelio and La Damnation de Faust, Bruckner's Te Deum, Mozart's Requiem, Elsner's Passion, Penderecki's Passio secundum Lucam. One of the CDs, recorded with the Polish Radio National Symphony Orchestra and the Warsaw Philharmonic Choir under Maestro Krzysztof Penderecki with his works has been nominated for the Grammy Award.
Polish music, in particular Krzysztof Penderecki's works, are a very important part of the choir's repertoire. The choir has performed all Penderecki's oratorios and acappella works: Polish Requiem, Passio secundum Lucam, Te Deum, Utrenia, Psalms of David, Dies irae, Veni Creator, Cheruwimska Piesn, Seven Gates of Jerusalem, Credoas well as his opera Paradise Lost. All concerts conducted by the composer are enthusiastically applauded all over the world. The choir performs not only in Warsaw but also in other Polish cities. This useful activity makes it possible for the orchestras, which do not have their own professional choirs to present musical masterpieces to their audiences.
The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir is also very active internationally. From the 1980's the critics have praised it across Europe. The Warsaw Philharmonic Choir performed for audiences in Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Spain, Russia,Switzerland and Turkey. The Choir appeared with the most renowned orchestras, including the Munich Philharmonic, the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, the RIAS Orchestra, the Bamberger Symphoniker, the Israel Philharmonic, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia Symphony Orchestra, the Brussels Opera Orchestra, the Palermo Symphony Orchestra and the La ScalaOrchestra.
A significant event in the choir's history was the invitation to takepart in the La Scala production of Donatoni's Atem in 1985. As a result of its superb performance, it was invited to La Scalaagain to participate in Weber's Oberon and Beethoven's Fidelio. The Choir also performed in Stravinsky's The Rake's Progress and Mozart's The Magic Flute at La Fenice in Venice. The choir was also asked to take part in operaproductions of Beethoven's Fidelio in Paris, Szymanowski's King Roger, Stravinsky's Oedipus Rex and Honegger's Antigone in Palermo and Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri in Pesaro.
In 1988 and 1990 the choir was invited to the Vatican to take part inthe celebrations of the successive anniversaries of Pope John Paul II's pontificate. The two concerts were broadcast by TV throughout Europe.
Among the conductors who performed with the Warsaw Philharmonic Choirwere: Witold Rowicki, Jerzy Semkow, Kazimierz Kord, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Krzysztof Penderecki, Stanislaw Skrowaczewski, Leopold Stokowski, Gary Bertini, Sergiu Comissiona, Lorin Maazel, Seiji Ozawa, Giuseppe Sinopoli and IgorStravinsky.