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Concert Celebrates Polish-German Cultural Links

Nowowiejsky's Oratorio “Quo Vadis” was featured at the Berlin University of the Arts

July 21st, 2016
Daniel Erhardt, News from Berlin

The piece was performed jointly by the Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choir of the Podlasie Opera this past Thursday, June 30th, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the German-Polish Vicinity Treaty, as well as the Nowowiejsky-Sienkiewicz Year

The concert was held at the Concert Hall of the University of the Arts of Berlin. Apart from the participation of the Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choir of the Podlasie Opera, it also included the participation of the Polish soloists Wioletta Chodowicz (soprano), Robert Gierlach (baritone) and Wojtek Gierlach (bass), all under the conductor baton of Polish conductor Łukasz Borowicz.

Feliks Nowowiejcki’s “Quo Vadis” concert performance commemorated 25 years after the adoption of the Polish-German Vicinity Treaty, an important highlight in the diplomatic relations between both countries, as well as 70 years of the death of the composer himself. It also honored the memory of Polish humanistic poet Henryk Sienkiewicz, as 100 years have passed since his death, as well as 170 years since his birth.

The actual inspiration for Nowowiejcki’s composition was the homonymous novel by Sienkiewicz, which acquired great popularity at the time, being one of the plausible reasons for the award of the Nobel Literature Prize unto him in 1905.

Another cultural highlight of the piece performed was that, although premiered in Amsterdam in 1909, it came into existence precisely in Berlin, where Nowowiejcki used to live and work. Before the actual premiere, parts of the oratorio had already been performed at the St. Paul’s Dominican church in the Berlin district of Moabit, where the composer served as the organist, which is still remembered today through a commemoration plaque.

As a tribute to one of the biggest Polish cultural ambassadors, a ceremonial flower-wreath was laid underneath the plaque on the day of the concert. Present were the Director of the Poznań Philharmonic Orchestra, Wojciech Nentwig; the orchestra conductor Łukasz Borowicz; Feliks Nowowiejcki’s granddaughter Bogna Nowowiejska; and Her Excellency the Polish Ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany, Magdalena Erdman.

According to the Polish music historian Włodzimierz Poźniak, Nowowiejcki had been the biggest international Polish culture ambassador since Chopin. This affirmation could have been easily proven as, since the premiere of “Quo Vadis” in 1909, till the year 1939, it had been performed more than 200 times worldwide.

Another performance of “Quo Vadis” by the same collaboration of performers took place a day earlier at the University Hall in Poznań as a Special Governor’s Concert.


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