Krzysztof Urbański
Conductor

“A movement of Urbański’s left index finger has more impact [on the orchestra] than many colleagues manage to convey with both arms.” (Michael Struck, Kieler Nachrichten)

Contacts

Linda Marks +44 (0)20 3725 9120
Ed Milner +44 (0)20 3725 9178
Elise Jennings +44 (0)20 3725 9135

Biography

Music Director: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Chief Conductor & Artistic Leader: Trondheim Symfoniorkester
Principal Guest Conductor: NDR Sinfonieorchester

 

“That he is no mere flashy wunderkind of the baton was shown by the freshly invigorated playing he drew from the CSO … his keen musical instincts and vigorous way of translating his ideas into orchestral sound that has both shape and meaning” were the comments of the Chicago Tribune when describing conductor Krzysztof Urbański who in 2015/16 enters the fifth season of his highly acclaimed tenure as Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

As Chief Conductor and Artistic Leader of Trondheim Symfoniorkester, highlights of his five years with the orchestra include two tours (first with concerts in Germany, Austria and Poland and second at the International Chopin Music Festival), and a fully-staged production of Carmen as his first foray into opera, which this season he conducts with the Indianapolis Symphony.

In September 2015, Urbański formally became Principal Guest Conductor of NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and this season he takes them to the Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice and Aix-en-Provence with Thomas Hampson. He also continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

Music Director: Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Chief Conductor & Artistic Leader: Trondheim Symfoniorkester
Principal Guest Conductor: NDR Sinfonieorchester

 

“That he is no mere flashy wunderkind of the baton was shown by the freshly invigorated playing he drew from the CSO … his keen musical instincts and vigorous way of translating his ideas into orchestral sound that has both shape and meaning” were the comments of the Chicago Tribune when describing conductor Krzysztof Urbański who in 2015/16 enters the fifth season of his highly acclaimed tenure as Music Director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

As Chief Conductor and Artistic Leader of Trondheim Symfoniorkester, highlights of his five years with the orchestra include two tours (first with concerts in Germany, Austria and Poland and second at the International Chopin Music Festival), and a fully-staged production of Carmen as his first foray into opera, which this season he conducts with the Indianapolis Symphony.

In September 2015, Urbański formally became Principal Guest Conductor of NDR Sinfonieorchester Hamburg and this season he takes them to the Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw, Wroclaw, Katowice and Aix-en-Provence with Thomas Hampson. He also continues as Principal Guest Conductor of the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra.

Following a hugely successful debut with Münchner Philharmoniker in July 2015, when he conducted Carmina Burana before a capacity crowd of 8,000, Urbański returns to the orchestra in 2015/16 for Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra. His 2014/15 season culminated with him receiving the prestigious Leonard Bernstein Award when he returned to conduct the Schleswig-Holstein Akademie at the Schleswig-Holstein Festival. Notably, he is the first conductor to have ever received the award.

Urbański’s forthcoming debuts in Europe include Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden

Gewandhaus Leipzig. Other recent debuts include Berliner Philharmoniker, Danish National Symphony Orchestra, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra. Further ahead he will work with Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra and Wiener Symphoniker for their annual Beethoven Symphony No.9 New Year concerts.

In North America, Urbański debuts with San Francisco Symphony and returns to the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and Washington’s National Symphony Orchestra. Other recent US debuts have included the New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony and Pittsburgh Symphony orchestras.

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Contacts

Linda Marks +44 (0)20 3725 9120
Ed Milner +44 (0)20 3725 9178
Elise Jennings +44 (0)20 3725 9135

Reviews

“The lightness of the textures, the transparency, the refined playing and an overall electrifying tension are the main characteristics of these impressive performances.” (Remy Franck, Pizzicato Magazine)

“Krzysztof Urbański’s fresh, clear conducting style perfectly matches the orchestra's [NDR Sinfonieorchester] culture" (Spiegel, March 2016)

“The fact that the communication with the Tonhalle Orchestra works so well already at his debut speaks for the technique of the podium star with wild hairstyle and clear visions.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, February 2016)

“Because the dynamic Urbanski animated the Munich Philharmonic from a sparkling pianissimo into a powerful, yet carefully measured eruption of sound; a magnificent game played on the edge of their seats.” (KlassikInfo.de, February 2016)

“The lightness of the textures, the transparency, the refined playing and an overall electrifying tension are the main characteristics of these impressive performances.” (Remy Franck, Pizzicato Magazine)

“Krzysztof Urbański’s fresh, clear conducting style perfectly matches the orchestra's [NDR Sinfonieorchester] culture" (Spiegel, March 2016)

“The fact that the communication with the Tonhalle Orchestra works so well already at his debut speaks for the technique of the podium star with wild hairstyle and clear visions.” (Neue Zürcher Zeitung, February 2016)

“Because the dynamic Urbanski animated the Munich Philharmonic from a sparkling pianissimo into a powerful, yet carefully measured eruption of sound; a magnificent game played on the edge of their seats.” (KlassikInfo.de, February 2016)

“Urbanski’s podium style has little to do the kind of extravagantly broad look-at-me gymnastics that is so often associated with physical conducting. On the contrary, he operates within a narrow space. But within that space he makes use of every bodily resource available — not just hands and arms, but also shoulders, hips, knees and feet (his left instep in particular gave some notably eloquent cues).

The result is that Urbanski, like a 12-fingered pianist, seems to have more tools available for shaping an orchestral texture than many conductors do. And the remarkable performance of Dvorák’s “New World” Symphony — fervent, full-bodied and poignant — that occupied the second half of Thursday’s concert showed what he could accomplish with that interpretive arsenal.

Both the opening movement and the slow introduction that preceded it sounded impossibly plush, with a dexterous blend of strings and woodwinds that still found room for a crisp rhythmic profile in the first theme.  Russ deLuna’s English horn solo in the slow movement was at once serene and ardent, phrased with a sense of tenderness and grace, yet Urbanski ensured that the orchestra matched every gesture. And the finale, which brought a reminder of how dazzling the Symphony’s brass players can sound at their best, added a vein of steely grandeur to the proceedings.” (Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle, January 2016)

“Once the music started, though, Urbanski's musical gifts simply dominated. Currently in his fifth season as music director of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra -- he also serves as chief conductor of the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra in Norway -- he presided over the evening's works with a persuasive blend of vigor and refinement. His expressive style -- arms spread wide, he often seems to be physically gathering up the orchestra's sections into a cohesive whole -- yielded a tremendously buoyant reading of Dvorak's "New World" Symphony. Urbanski shaped the first movement's mellow horn themes and ebullient dance tunes with unerring focus. He eased into the Largo, letting the music breathe; the famous English horn solo was played with wistful grace by the always-impressive Russ deLuna.  The conductor took a painterly approach to the Scherzo, judiciously applying dabs of orchestral color and texture; the movement's pastoral trio registered with particular flair. The finale bounded forward, surging with youthful energy and showcasing the Symphony's woodwinds at their vibrant best.” (Georgia Rowe, San Francisco Mercury News, January 2016)

“Not a young hothead, but a maestro whose mature, tight and structured way of thinking makes a pleasantly discreet impression, avoiding any dramatic gestures. Instead, he relishes the rhythmical subtleties of Carmina Burana just as much as the striking effects of this famous score.” (Donaukurier, July 2015)

“Urbanski drew subtleties from the score that otherwise often disappear behind superficial effects. Jazz elements, folk music and medieval elements were accentuated in a remarkable way. He set different focal points in the many musical repeats, showing a variety of colours with the orchestra, and so avoided any repetitiveness and dullness.” (Münchner Merkur, July 2015)

“This conductor is an asset! The screen reveals every nuance and shows the determined, but charming way in which he operates.” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, July 2015) 

“In the Beethoven, music director Krzysztof Urbanski drew from the orchestra an immediate display of tensile strength: The first movement featured sharply defined rhythms and dramatic interplay of rising and falling lines. As the coda approached, the dialogue of woodwinds and strings was piquant and precise. Particularly gratifying was  the sound of massed lower strings, with the basses nestled in a bulge behind the violas and cellos — a harbinger of their unanimity in the insistent recitative passages that propel the first part of the finale.” (Jay Harvey Upstage blog, June 2015)

“The occasion marked the 33-year-old Polish conductor's TSO debut, which more than lived up to the climax. Conducting the entire concert from memory he afforded a trust in the TSO that was returned in spades. His style is incredibly graceful.” (Michael Vincent, Musical Toronto, March 2015)

“In the hands of Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, “Pictures” became a well-curated gallery...In his patient, sculpted interpretation, thoughtfully hewn solos and chamber-like sections were the individual sketches working toward a triumphant final image.” (Elizabeth Bloom, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, January 2015) 

“More conductors than you might expect surf on the excellence of the orchestras before which they stand. Far rarer are those who provide the leadership that helps orchestras be their best, to reach beyond their norm. Young Krzysztof Urbanski, showed his rare talents Friday night in his Heinz Hall debut....He has a gift for bold orchestral sonorities and is ready to adapt on the spot when the music takes a momentary lyrical or fanciful turn.” (Mark Kanny, Triblive, January 2015)

“Insisting that the strings use the full length of the bow, correcting wayward balances on the fly and allowing few passages to drift, he suggested mature structural understanding, and had the technical ability to bring it off, with a tease of woodwind detail here and an unexpected balance there.” (David Allen, New York Times, December 2014)

“On the evidence of this concert it appears that the Philharmonia Orchestra may have struck gold with Krzysztof Urbański…There was unusual delicacy in the flutes at the outset of ‘Vltava’ and it was noticeable how carefully the violas picked up the same motion and also matched tone colour to the preceding woodwinds. There was patience too in the way that Urbański allowed the string lines to flower and how he built towards the high point; seldom does one hear as much care devoted to cellos and double basses here, a feature equally marked in the ‘New World’ Symphony. If there was an ‘old world’ mellowness to much of the Smetana, the fierce crispness with which the final two chords were despatched showed the mark of a real conductor.” (Douglas Cooksey, Classical Source, October 2014)

“Urbański again showed an excellent grasp of the detail in this piece. The slow introduction was striking and dramatic and the transition to the faster material well handled….This was very impressive conducting by Urbański – he is clearly a name to watch out for in future.” (Robert Beattie, Seen and Heard International, October 2014)

“That he is no mere flashy wunderkind of the baton was shown by the freshly invigorated playing he drew from the CSO …his keen musical instincts and vigorous way of translating his ideas into orchestral sound that has both shape and meaning.” (John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune, July 2014)

“Here was a direction that lifted the story several levels - an orchestra who knew how to play on the colourful sound banks this music is so widely known for and who delivered the "Urbański effect" in both timbre, precision and dynamics.” (Adressa.no, on TSO's performance of Carmen, March 2014)

“Urbański does just about everything right. Every movement was well-paced, with crunching climaxes, plenty of detail, and enough of an electric charge to give you a nice buzz heading out of the hall.” (Richard S. Ginell, The Los Angeles Times, January 2014)

“Urbański is undoubtedly a musician of extraordinary intelligence and perception, with a physical disposition that allows him to communicate his musical will in a way that is easily recognisable.” (Kölner Stadtanzeiger, October 2013)

“Krzysztof Urbański 's wonderful flair for sensual sounds was particularly obvious in the trimmed, silvery expressionism of Prokofiev’s many rhythmical and sound effects. Pictures from an Exhibition was fascinating and wonderfully depicted by the young Pole and his excellent troupe of musicians. The deep and remote effects were so exquisite and refined and each noble detail so delightfully savoured, that Mussorgsky’s work couldn’t have been better framed behind Ravel’s feat of orchestration.” (Berlin Tagesspiegel, August 2013)

“In Pictures from an Exhibition, he was indispensable. The short character pieces need a careful baton which Urbański delivered perfectly, with great overview, clear conducting and superb detail. The musicians followed him spellbound, combining their individual skills in this magnificent ensemble. A huge and fully earned round of applause ended the concert.” (HNA online, August 2013)

“The concert was impressive all round but it was in Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition that Urbański's talent for balance and subtleties of sound really shone; in the ragged notes of Gnomus, in the tender pulse of The Old Castle the dark crescendo of Bydlo, the lashing of Baba-Yaga and finally, the luminous Great Gate of Kiev, he managed to convey the true spirit and sound of the Russian dances.” (Berliner Zeitung, August 2013)

“On the podium stands a phenomenon: Urbanski fascinates with spirit, heart and authority.” (Michael Struck, Kieler Nachrichten, July 2013)

“It was The Rite of Spring that was the winner this evening... Urbanski's "soldiers" sat focused on the edges of their chairs and conveyed a dose of musical magic which is rarely experienced in Trondheim. One could only raise one's hat for the orchestra this evening. It will be a long time before I forget this concert.” (Adresseavisen Trondheim, May 2013)

“The dialogue between the soloist and orchestra was fluid, resulting in a truly great version of the work... [Urbański’s] interpretation was volcanic, dramatic and violent... an effective and brilliant performance.” (Diario de Navarra, January 2013) 

“Without doubt, the precision and clarity of gestures of the young Polish conductor, perhaps due to the natural elegance of his youth, were not over-exaggerated and yet were still able to demonstrate his absolute control and talent to create a very well shaped interpretation.” (La Verdad Murcia, January 2013)

“Urbański sculpted the orchestral masses without overpowering the pianissimo moments, drawing from them instrumental accompaniment which offered every support and energy Gabetta could have needed. Their reading of Dvořák’s Concerto was exemplary, the orchestra proving as agile as the soloist in their joint expressive momentum.” (Luxemburger Wort, January 2013)

“Krzysztof Urbański conveys to the musicians a notion of flexible precision and constant concentration, but above all he is able to shape each musical moment so that it stands in a meaningful relation to the whole work. This worked well also in Witold Lutosławski’s Concerto for Orchestra, which was performed with a compellingly nonchalant virtuosity.” (Martin Wilkening, Berliner Zeitung, January 2013)

“Krzysztof Urbański left no stone unturned in bringing this musical survey of [Holst's] seven astrological planets to an emotional pitch no one prior on the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra's podium has achieved...Urbański's dynamic control was, once again, a marvel of subtlety.”(www.nuvo.net, March 2012)

“The Chopin concerto was framed by two other Polish works, Kilar's Orawa for String Orchestra and Lutoslawski's Concerto for Orchestra, both admirably performed and interpreted by the Polish conductor Krzysztof Urbanski. Urbanski has an amazing ability to bring out the dynamic contrasts, and it becomes apparent how comfortable the players and the conductor are with each other.” (Goteborgs-Posten, February 2012)

Discography