UMFC Big Band

Big Band Uniwersytetu Muzycznego Fryderyka Chopina w WarszawieThe UMFC Big band was established in 2006 on an intitiative of Professor Bogumił Gadawski, head of the faculty of winds and of the dean, Professor Błażej Sroczyński.

In the years 2006-2012 the artistic director of the ensemble was the renowned musician – flautist, saxophone player and arranger, Ryszard Borowski. Under his direction, the Big band played many concerts at the university, as well as in other concert halls, performing a wide range of jazz and popular music and transcriptions of classical works.

The Big Band’s concerts often featured leading Polish jazz musicians, including Krzesimir Dębski, Krzysztof Herdzin, Atom String Quartet, Cezary Konrad, Henryk Miśkiewicz, Zbigniew Namysłowski, and musicians of the young generation, including Mateusz Smoczyński and Nika Lubowicz.

The ensemble has garnered awards and distinctions at big band festivals and reviews, including the Bydgoszcz Big Band Festival in 2007 and 2008. Currently members of the UMFC Big Band are students of all departments at the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw.

Since 2012, the Big Band’s artistic director is Piotr Kostrzewa – timpanist of the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra and co-founder and artistic director of the Szymanowski Big Band Warsaw.

In January of 2014, the ensemble was invited by René Martin to perform at the International La Folle Journée Festivale in Nantes (France) and received an invitation to perform in the Polish edition of the festival.

In 2014 the University Big Band recorded two albums – one in Nantes (L’histoire du big band) and the other in June, at the S1 recording Studio (UMFC – Classic on Jazz). The latter is an album of classical music arranged for big band.


Piotr Kostrzewa music director
Piotr Kostrzewa graduated from the Karol Szymanowski Secondary School of Music in Warsaw in 1985 in the percussion class of Henryk Mikołajczyk. In the same year he commenced his studies at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in the department of Orchestral Instruments with Professor Edward Iwicki and Henryk Mikołajczyk. He graduated from the Academy in 1989.

He began his professional career while still a student. In 1989-1991 he worked together with the orchestra of the Grand Theatre orchestra directed by Robert Satanowski, playing in numerous opera productions and foreign concert tours. He was simultaneously invited to perform in the National Philharmonic Orchestra and in the Polish Radio Orchestra.

Kostrzewa has been the timpanist and administrator in the “Camerata Akademia” orchestra since 1990. He was also invited to participate in seasonal orchestral projects.

He had the opportunity to perform in chamber music projects at such festivals as: the Warsaw Autumn Festival and the Young Composers’ Forum. He was also a member of percussion ensembles: Warszawska Grupa Perkusyjna and Young Percussion Studio.

Numerous theatre performances occupy an important position in his career. Between 1985 and 1993 he worked with a number of theatres in Warsaw (Dramatyczny, Studio, Ateneum, Współczesny, Rampa, Prezentacje, Mały, Komedia), enjoying the opportunity to perform in plays together with leading Polish actors. This work enabled him to gain experience in another genre of art which he could in turn apply as an orchestral musician.

Apart from symphonic and chamber music, Piotr Kostrzewa has also played jazz and pop and participated in many tours and recording sessions with leading Polish artists and ensembles.

Kostrzewa is also involved in teaching activity, having lectured at the Fryderyk Chopin Academy of Music in 2006-2009 and heading the percussion class in the Karol Szymanowski Music School Complex in Warsaw (in 1990-1993 and again, since 2004 to date).

In 1993 he was invited by director Franciszek Wybrańczyk to join the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra. Since then he has held the full-time timpani and percussion position in the orchestra.

He has played more than one thousand concerts in Poland and abroad with an extraordinarily varied symphonic and chamber music repertoire, performing at the most famous venues around the world, including Carnegie Hall, Theatre de Champs-Elysees, Barbican Centre, Teatro Colon, the Sydney Opera and Suntory Hall.

He has appeared on more than sixty Sinfonia Varsovia recordings for major labels, notably the complete Beethoven and Schubert symphonies and Rossini and Mozart overtures conducted by Lord Yehudi Menuhin. With the Sinfonia Varsovia Orchestra he was fortunate to have worked with such famous conductors and soloists including Yehudi Menuhin, Witold Lutosławski, Jacek Kaspszyk, Jan Krenz, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Grzegorz Nowak, Krzysztof Penderecki, Jean Pierre Rampal, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jerzy Semkow, Martha Argerich, James Galway, Nigel Kennedy, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Nelson Freire and Shlomo Mintz.

In 2000 he co-founded the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation, becoming its deputy-chairman in 2003 and chairman in 2007. The Foundation promotes the orchestra and organises its concerts.

In 2007 Kostrzewa co-founded the now well-known Szymanowski Big Band. The ensemble achieved spectacular success. In 2012 he was invited to take over the artistic direction of the big band of the Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw. In September of 2013 Kostrzewa formed the Szymanowski Young Power youth big band in the Karol Szymanowski State Music School Complex No. 4 in Warsaw.

Szalone Dni Muzyki
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