Legendary violinist Yehudi Menuhin arrived for concerts in Poland as a soloist and conductor in April 1984 year on the invitation of the Polish Chamber Orchestra functioning already for some time. To meet the planned repertoire's needs the orchestra enlarged its composition by inviting distinguished musicians from around the country. With initial concerts of the ensemble conducted by Yehudi Menuhin meeting with an enthusiastic applause of the audience and critics' appreciation, delighted Lord Yehudi Menuhin expressed his desire to continue cooperation with the new formation. The idea of creation a standing orchestra made of stringed instruments and doubled wind instruments had become a fact. Yehudi Menuhin without any hesitation accepted proposal of the Ensemble Director Franciszek Wybranczyk and took up duties of the first visiting conductor and the orchestra was named SINFONIA VARSOVIA.
Soon the ensemble got first offers to give concerts in United States and Canada with other invitations arriving from Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Finland, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Great Britain, Switzerland, Greece and in the last years also to Argentina, Brazil, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. Sinfonia Varsovia performed in the most prestigious concert halls of the world - New York's Carnegie Hall, Theatre de Champs Elysees in Paris, Barbican Centre in London, Viennese Musikverein, Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires, Suntory Hall in Tokyo or Herkulessaal in Munich; it participated in renowned festivals, among others in Salzburg, Gstaad (Yehudi Menuhin Festival), Aix-en-Provence, Montreaux, La Roque d'Antheron, Schleswig-Holstein, Pablo Casals Festival, Wurzburg, Alte Oper (Frankfurt am Main), Festival "Music on the Sea" and many others.
The famous Festival of Music ,,La Folle Journee'', organised by French association C.R.E.A. and its head - Rene Martin, takes remarkable place in artistic season of the orchestra. The Festival, which has a different leitmotiv every year, takes place in Nantes, Bilbao, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro and is an exceptional project on international scale.
Repertoire of the ensemble is virtually unlimited and includes works ranging from the 18th Century to the present day. The Orchestra has made world-wide and Polish premiere performances of works by e.g. Krzysztof Penderecki, Witold Lutoslawski, Marta Ptaszynska, Pawel Szymanski, Pawel Mykietyn, John Adams, Onute Narbutaite and Krzesimir Debski.
SINFONIA VARSOVIA has performed with world-famous conductors, including Claudio Abbado, Gerd Albrecht, Charles Dutoit, Rafael Fruhbeck de Burgos, Hans Graf, Leopold Hager, Jacek Kaspszyk, Kazimierz Kord, Jan Krenz, Emmanuel Krivine, Witold Lutoslawski, Paul Mc Creesh, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Yehudi Menuhin, Marc Minkowski, Grzegorz Nowak, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michel Plasson, Mscislaw Rostropowicz, Volker Schmidt-Gertenbach, Jerzy Semkow, Antoni Wit, Bruno Weil.
During its numerous concerts orchestra accompanied soloists of such calibre as: Salvatore Accardo, Piotr Anderszewski, Maurice Andre, Martha Argerich, Yuri Bashmet, Teresa Berganza, Rafal Blechacz, Alfred Brendel, Jose Carreras, Sarah Chang, Kyung-Wha Chung, Jose Cura, Placido Domingo, Augustin Dumay, Nelson Freire, James Galway, Fou Ts'ong, Sharon Kam, Kiri Te Kanawa, Nigel Kennedy, Gidon Kremer, Alicia de Larrocha, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christa Ludwig, Radu Lupu, Albrecht Mayer, Mischa Maisky, Yehudi Menuhin, Shlomo Mintz, Olli Mustonen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Olga Pasiecznik, Murray Perahia, Maria Joao Pires, Jean-Pierre Rampal, Vadim Repin, Katia Ricciarelli, Mscislaw Rostropowicz, Heinrich Schiff, Henryk Szeryng, Maxim Vengerov, Andreas Vollenweider, Christian Zacharias, Frank Peter Zimmermann, Tabea Zimmermann, Grigorij Zyslin.
Promotion of the most talented Polish musicians of the youngest generation is also an important field of the orchestra's activity- it has performed with such conductors as, among others,- Iwona Sowinska, Wojciech Rodek, Krzysztof Urbanski, violinists - Agata Szymczewska, Kuba Jakowicz, Mariusz Patyra, Aleksandra Bucholc, Anna Gutowska, singers - Iwona Sobotka and Aleksandra Kurzak and a pianist - Beata Bilinska.
SINFONIA VARSOVIA made a number of disc, radio and TV recordings. Its discography exceeds 200 discs recorded for such renowned global companies as: Deutsche Grammophon, Decca, Sony, EMI, Virgin Classics, Naxos, Denon Nippon Columbia and Polish - CD Accord, Polskie Nagrania, Bearton and DUX, Polish Radio. Many of those recordings won prestigious phonographic awards, including Diapason d'Or, Grand Prix du Disque and also several ,,Fryderyk" statuettes. Among the orchestra's most recommended recordings one should mention the album ,,Polish symphonic music of the 19th century" (CD ACCORD/POLISH RADIO), Marta Argerich - live in the Grand Theatre - National Opera (CD ACCORD), recordings of the 3rd Symphony by Henryk Mikolaj Gorecki (NAIVE), Mozart's Piano Concertos with Piotr Anderszewski (VIRGIN), Karol Szymanowski's works conducted by Jerzy Maksymiuk (BEARTON) or the recently edited album ,,The Romantic Clarinet", recorded with the participation of a famous clarinettist Sharon Kam (EDEL CLASSICS). The orchestra's two discs (Bach, Haendel) recorded with the participation of excellent German oboist Albrecht Mayer for the company DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON proved to be both artistic and commercial success, remaining at the top of sales rankings for a long time. The album recorded by Nigel Kennedy and the Polish Chamber Orchestra ,,Polish Spirit" with Karlowicz and Emil Mlynarski Violin Concertos (EMI) was received around the world and proved a significant contribution into promotion of the Polish music. The ensemble's discography contains also many discs with recordings conducted by Lord Yehudi Menuhin, including complete sets of Beethoven's and Schubert's symphonies recorded for IMG Records in 1996 on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the artist.
Having worked with the orchestra for many years as a conductor, KRZYSZTOF PENDERECKI became its musical director in 1997 and since July 2003 he has been performing the duties of orchestra's artistic director. The musicians give concerts jointly both in the country and abroad and the ensemble's repertoire contains many composer's works, among others Sinfonietta per Archi, Sinfonietta No 2, Concerto for flute, Concerto for alto (also in cello and clarinet version), Stabat Mater, De Profundis as well as Credo, and Seven Gates of Jerusalem. Krzysztof Penderecki recorded some discs with the orchestra, including his author's album.
Starting in June 2008, the musical head of the ensemble is world-famous French conductor MARC MINKOWSKI.
Orchestra SINFONIA VARSOVIA regularly takes part in the most important musical events in Poland. It is a regular guest of festivals: ,,Chopin and his Europe", Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival, Wratislavia Cantans, Warsaw Autumn, Polish Radio Musical Festival. During the artistic season 2007/2008 the ensemble is giving concerts in, among others, Germany, France, Monaco, at the festivals ,,La Folle Journee" in Nantes, Bilbao, Tokio and Rio de Janeiro, La Roque d'Antheron, Cracow Sacrum Profanum Festival, the 10th Music Festival of the Polish Radio, Festival of Polish Music in Cracow, Wratislavia Cantans Festival, Warsaw Autumn, "Chopin and his Europe" and also Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival. From 15 to 17 March 2008 year the orchestra gave concerts in Germany and Austria, performing ,,Passion according to St Lucas by Krzysztof Penderecki, with the participation of soloists and Stuttgart Chamber Choir conducted by Frieder Bernius.
Worth special attention is festival ,,SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO THEIR CITY" - a unique project, initiated in 2001 year by the founder and long time director of the orchestra - Franciszek Wybranczyk. This periodic event of the highest artistic rank, is open to the wide public and has permanent place at the cultural panorama of Warsaw and stands high in habitants' favour. The idea of the Festival is to present to the audience great masterpieces of musical literature performed by Sinfonia Varsovia and excellent soloists and conductors. Every year, in late summer, the orchestra performs at various places throughout the capital, far away from the main stream of cultural events - at the culture clubs, churches and in the open air, offering free-of-charge concerts. At these events, the ensemble is headed by Poland's most significant conductors - Jerzy Maksymiuk, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jan Krenz, Krzysztof Penderecki, Wojciech Michniewski, Tadeusz Wojciechowski and young masters of baton - Lukasz Borowicz or Michal Dworzynski. The Festival, under the auspicies of Warsaw Mayor, is organised by the Foundation and Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. In September 2008 it will have its 8th edition.
Franciszek Wybranczyk - the founder of Sinfonia Varsovia and fellow-creator of its international success, the inventor and artistic head of the Festival ,,Sinfonia Varsovia to their City", died in May 31st 2006. Thanks of his marvellous managerial qualities the orchestra could come into being and perform on stages over the whole World., To commemorate this unique character - a musician, genius promoter of the Polish and European musical life, great enthusiast and charming person, in 2007 the Festival was named ,,Franciszek Wybranczyk Festival SINFONIA VARSOVIA TO THEIR CITY".
SINFONIA VARSOVIA FOUNDATION was founded in 2000 by Franciszek Wybranczyk. The Foundation initiates and supports artistic ventures of the Orchestra, particularly in promoting Polish composers and young talents and organising every year festival ,, Sinfonia Varsovia to their City".
In 2004 Franciszek Wybranczyk gave over his duties of the Sinfonia Varsovia Director to his assistant, long time member of the ensemble - Janusz Marynowski.
Ensemble was affiliated to the St. I. Witkiewicz Art Centre STUDIO in Warsaw till 31 December 2007. From the 1 January 2008 Sinfonia Varsovia is a municipal cultural institution. The promoter of the Orchestra is the Capital City of Warsaw.