Symphony of Sorrowful Songs
date: place: world In progress
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki's Symphony of Sorrowful Songs counts among most popular contemporary music works:
I composed my Symphony No. 3 from October 30 to December 30, 1976, commissioned by the Südwestfunk station in Baden-Baden. The premiere took place on April 4, 1977 as part of the 14th International Festival of Contemporary Art [in Royan]. Sung by Stefania Woytowicz, played by the Symphony Orchestra of the station Südwestfunk under Ernest Bour the Symphony consists of three songs. The first - the longest (about 27 minutes) - is a strict canon interrupted by the soprano invocation. ABABC. In the third song I used a variational arrangement of an authentic folk melody from Opolski Region from the collection of Adolf Dygacz. I dedicated my symphony to my wife. The work lasts around 55 minutes.
H. M. Górecki
After its premiere, the work was appreciated yet remained known only to a limited number of music-lovers and specialists. It was only fifteen years later that Górecki's Symphony No.3 gained international recognition and made it to the top. The 1991 recording with the London Sinfonietta, conducted by David Zinman and featuring the soloist Dawn Upshaw, was released in 1992 by the Elektra imprint Nonesuch Records. Within two years, the recording had sold more than 700,000 copies worldwide; the recording climbed to number 6 on the mainstream UK album charts, and while it did not appear on the US Billboard 200, it stayed at the top of the US classical charts for 38 weeks and stayed on for 138 weeks. The Zinman/Upshaw recording has sold over a million copies. It probably counts as the best selling contemporary classical record of all time.
Fourty-five years after composing of the Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, the Japanese organist Mari Fukumoto pays tribute to Henryk Mikołaj Górecki and prepares the transcription of the orchestral part of the Symphony, to be performed on organ, together with the Polish soprano Iwona Sobotka.
Mari Fukumoto has today a busy concert schedule playing on the most eminent organs, and she is a regular guest at numerous international concert halls. She performs with outstanding orchestras such as the City of Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Wrocław Baroque Orchestra. In the 2020/21 season she was Artist in Residence at the National Forum of Music in Wrocław (NFM, Poland), where she will perform several times in the 2022/23 season as well.
Born in 1987, Mari Fukumoto received her first organ lessons at the age of twelve. From 2005 onwards, she studied at the National University of Fine Art and Music in her hometown, and in 2011 she continued her studies at the University of Music and Theatre in Hamburg with Wolfgang Zerer. One year later, the series of her spectacular competition successes began: in 2012, she won the International Organ Competition in Musashino, Japan, which was followed in 2013 by the first prize (Johann Pachelbel Prize) at the International Organ Competition of the 62nd International Organ Week in Nuremberg and by the Rotary Sponsorship Award of the Otto-Stöterau-Stiftung, and in 2014 she won the first prizes at the Daniel Herz competition in Brixen and at the Agati Tronci competition in Pistoia, Italy. In 2017 and 2018, Mari Fukumoto was awarded prizes at competitions in the Concert Church in Neubrandenburg, the International Organ Competition “Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck” in Amsterdam and at the International Music Festival Allegretto Žilina in the Slovak Republic.
Mari Fukumoto maintains a broad organ repertoire, which ranges from early music to contemporary compositions. She regularly performs world premieres and works closely with composers such as Shiori Usui, Scott Wilson, Rafał Zapała, and Elżbieta Sikora. In 2014, her debut album was released by Naxos. It contains works by Nikolaus Bruhns, Dieterich Buxtehude, Johann Sebastian Bach, Nicolas de Grigny, Olivier Messiaen, and Michael Radulescu. Her latest CD recording with the NFM Wrocław Philharmonic Orchestra will be released in the fall of 2022.
Since the summer term of 2019, Mari Fukumoto has been teaching church music at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar. She teaches the subjects of artistic organ playing, organ improvisation and basso continuo.
Iwona Sobotka achieved international acclaim as the Grand Prize winner of the Queen Elizabeth International Music Competition of Belgium. Other awards include the East & West Artists International Auditions in New York, where she was awarded her debut recital in Carnegie Hall.
Recent concert engagements include Beethoven’s Christ on the Mount of Olives with the Berlin Philharmonic, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Berg ’s Sieben Frühe lieder, Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater and Brahms A German Requiem with the London Symphony Orchestra, all under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle, Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder with the Orchestre Philharmonique de Luxembourg and Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France both under the baton of Marek Janowski. Though live concerts in the 2020-21 season were largely canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic – including the London Philharmonic Orchestra as Freia in Das Rheingold, Boston Symphony Orchestra in Gorecki’s Third Symphony, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis at the Tokyo Spring Festival and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony at the Bayreuther Festspiele.
Past collaborations have included performances with Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Staatskapelle Berlin, Vienna Symphony, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Mahler Chamber Orchestra, with renowned conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davies, Marco Armiliato, Marek Janowski, Jesus Lopez Cobos, Juanjo Mena, Massimo Zanetti and Vladimir Jurowski among others. In 2016 she joined the Berlin Philharmonic and Sir Simon Rattle for their concert tour in Japan and Taiwan.
Her operatic repertoire includes a number of leading parts in such masterpieces as Tosca, Madame Butterfly, Rusalka, Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Elisabeth (Don Carlo), Violetta Valery (La Traviata), Mimi (La Boheme), Magda (La Rondine), Liù (Turandot), Roxana (King Roger), Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro), Donna Anna (Don Giovanni). Invitations have included Opera National de Paris, Teatro Real in Madrid, Komische Oper Berlin, Chicago Opera Theatre, Teatr Wielki National Opera of Poland and Tchaikovsky Theater in Perm to name a few. She performed many times as Pamina in the world renowned Barrie Kosky’s production of The Magic Flute appearing in Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Macao and Taiwan to great critical acclaim.
In 2010, she participated in a ‘Szymanowski Focus’ program curated by the distinguished Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski to promote the music of Karol Szymanowski with concerts in Wigmore Hall, London and Carnegie Hall in New York. She was a contributing artist to a complete collection of Szymanowski’s songs for Channel Classics alongside the Polish tenor Piotr Beczala. Her subsequent release for EMI Classics in 2006, Songs of a Fairytale Princess with Sir Simon Rattle and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, received five stars in BBC Music Magazine.