The Finding of the Holy Cross – Feliks Nowowiejski’s monumental oratorio will be performed at a special “Professor Mieczysław Nowakowski in memoriam” concert on the occasion of the Feliks Nowowiejski Year. The event will take place on November 24, 2017 at 8 p.m. at the Church of the Holy Cross in Warsaw.
Considered by critics to be Feliks Nowowiejski’s finest oratorio, The Finding of the Holy Cross (Kreuzauffindung) has not been performed very frequently. Even though the work’s first performance in Lviv in 1906 was a great success, the winds of history prevented it from becoming a staple of the Polish oratorio repertoire. Luckily, Nowowiejski’s output has become better appreciated in recent years. This has resulted in a growing number of concerts and recordings of works written by this exceptional composer, who was also a conductor, teacher, the pope’s chamberlain and virtuoso organist.
The Warsaw premiere of the work will take place thanks to the persistent efforts of Professor Mieczysław Nowakowski. This eminent conductor died in February of 2017. For a very long time he hoped to conduct his favourite oratorio to conclude his career in Warsaw. Professor Nowakowski not only had ties with Poland’s capital as a conductor, where he directed more than 1200 performances in the Teatr Wielki – the National Opera, but he was also a professor at the Warsaw Academy of Music. The performance of The Finding of the Holy Cross in the basilica in which Professor Nowakowski’s funeral ceremony was held eight months earlier thus acquires a new, symbolic meaning.
The Finding of the Holy Cross tells the story of St. Helena and her mission to find the true cross on which Jesus died. According to legend, on the eve of a battle emperor Constantine the Great saw a luminous cross in the sky, surrounded by the inscription “In hoc signo vinces” (In this sign thou shalt conquer). After a miraculous victory, the ruler promised to build a temple on the site of Christ’s crucifixion. This task was undertaken by the emperor’s mother Helena. Nowowiejski’s oratorio in three scenes shows her pilgrimage, her struggle with pagan cults in Jerusalem and her laborious search for holy relics. St. Helena will be sung by Ewa Biegas, while Macarius, bishop of Jerusalem will be sung by Krzysztof Szumański. The Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra will be accompanied by the National Philharmonic Choir, directed by Bartosz Michałowski. A monumental cast of 160 performers will be conducted by Sebastian Perłowski.
Admission to the concert is free. The event is organised by the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra and the Institute of Music and Dance and is co-funded by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage under the project “Nowowiejski 2017”, realized by the Institute of Music and Dance. Honorary sponsor: Kazimierz Cardinal Nycz, Archbishop of Warsaw.
The concert will be broadcast online at http://www.sinfoniavarsovia.org/pl/.
Media patronage: Polish Music Information Centre POLMIC.