The OSM in Krakow: excitement in the hometown of Penderecki

Musicians of the OSM arrived in Poland on Monday night. A few hours before the concert at the ICE Krakow Congress Centre, we had a chat with Andrew Wan, concertmaster of the orchestra.


What have you done since your arrival in Krakow?

“It is my first time in Poland. Krakow is an interesting, beautiful and old city. There is a lot to do here. Many musicians made the trip to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp. I also did, with my partner. It was a tough thing to see. Even if you don’t go, everyone understands the gravity of it and how horrific the Holocaust was. Since I don’t know if I’ll ever make it back here any time soon, it was important for us to take the time to see it. There are a lot of other things to see in Krakow, including Wieliczka, a salt mine.”

How did the rehearsal go?

“Personally, I was a bit worried. I knew the choir was going to be good, but we never rehearsed together. The Montreal choir did an excellent job. That is a very difficult piece. Here, we work with the Krakow Philharmonic Choir and the Boys Choir of Warsaw, and they all sing extremely well. The kids sing very well together, and in tune. When a group of boys can sing beautifully in tune, it’s really something. The effect is very deep. The musicians I talked to after the rehearsal were very impressed. And of course, the soloists we have are fantastic. We are lucky to have them.”

Can you talk about the concert hall?

“It’s a huge conference centre with two concert halls, and we are playing in the hall number one. It’s pretty new, and there is a lot of wood. From where I was sitting on stage, it’s a huge sound. It’s really loud and really resonant. It’s a beautiful sound. You can hear a lot of details.”

Did you meet with Krzysztof Penderecki?

“Mr Penderecki came to the rehearsal. Maestro Nagano has been in contact with him a lot. All of us admire him, and I have admired him for many years. I was kind of starstruck when I saw him. He looks like he’s in very good health. The orchestra and the choir sounded very good, and he looked happy.”

A few hours before the concert, how do you feel?

“I think everyone wants this to go very well. It’s the composer’s hometown. Everyone is well rested, we have had two full days here. Of course, everyone is also happy to go to Salzburg and open that festival. I would say 99% of the orchestra did not know this piece and probably did not play it before. We think of it as a very impactful work. We are doing something that is going to make quite a statement there. I have never been there, myself. Hats off to Kent Nagano and the administration for making this happen.

We have a lot of tours coming up, one in Nunavut and another one in Europe. We love our public at the Maison Symphonique and we always do our best, but it’s important that we continue to do that, to be ambassadors of Montreal, Quebec and Canada.”