Sacred Music G. P. da Palestrina’s Association in Toruń
Singing has always been our passion. If someone, however, asked when it had started to be regular and organized, with no doubt we would state the date: 5th of September 1982, when the choir of the Saint Maximilian Parish in Toruń had been formed.
Some of our current members organized that ensemble and were participating from the very beginning, others fulfilled the most important administrative and artistic functions, and others – mostly the youngest – joined later. Practically, for each of us this adventure started at different time, however, the first artistic education was gained in that choir. Even though, today we are a totally separate ensemble, this date is conventially accepted as a beginning of our artistic pathway. The pathway, that turned out to be difficult and rough, but always truly satisfying. At first, it was a couple of us – mainly members of other choirs of Torun. Very quickly, though, the four-vocal structure of the ensemble was constituted. On the date of 22.11.1985 – Saint Cecilia’s Day – the authorities with Bernard Czajkowski as the chairman were chosen.
During our first 10 years of existence, we were perceived mainly as the ensemble that performs during parish celebrations, what resulted from the duties and assumptions accepted on the general, founding meeting. Apart from it, however, we gave concerts in other cities of Poland too.
In 1988, when Toruń was visited by Miraculous Picture of Our Lady of Częstochowa, we sang along with Toruń’s Chamber Orchestra during the concert of Marian songs. Moreover, in 1989, we went on a concert tour to Lwów. Until the administrative division of Polish Church (march 1992), we actively participated in yearly organized Competitions For Church Choirs, getting recognition and flattered critique.
The period between 1992 and 1997, passed on the intensified performances and activities, complete reconstruction of the repertoire and the increase of choir members. These tendencies demonstrated beginning from anniversary concert in 1992. Furthermore, we took part in Włocławek Diocese’s Choirs Competitions, we sang during the mass transmitted by Polish Radio and Radio Maryja. We actively participated in the inauguration of the Year of Culture 1993 in Toruń, we performed during the celebration connected with the International Year of Maximilian Kolbe 1994. We took part in the Tournament for the Toruń Governor’s Cup, where we won a first prize in the category of adult choirs.
At last, in 1994, qualified part of members of the choir of the Saint Maximilian Parish in Toruń s, bearing in mind technical, financial and legal support, created Pomeranian Association of Sacred Music. In September 1996, accepting the invitation of the Ministries of Polish and Ukrainian Culture, as the only amatory ensemble from Poland, we participated in the First Festival of Polish Culture in Ukraine. In the same month, PSMS organized in Toruń the celebration of 30th death anniversary of the priest I. O. Mański, well known composer. In November 1996, we executed our first professional phonographic record of Christmas Carols.
Years 1998-2004, in spite of stagnation in our artistic development, inscribed in out memories mainly because of trips abroad: in 1999 the tour around Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Finland – up to Arctic Circle, Russia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania). Also, in 1999, our ensemble, along with other choirs of diocese, we participated actively in the musical setting of the celebration of John Paul II’s visit in Toruń (7.06.1999). It was also the time of a clear increase of the personnel.
In 1998 and in 1999, we took part in Toruń Diocese’s Choirs Festival, gathering the prize for the performance of the song about Saint Michel. The trip to Rome, Vatican, Monte Casino, Assisi, Padova and Venice in the Jubilee Year 2000, was a great joy. During this tour, along with a choir from Philadelphia, we gave a short concert for the Pope. Also in 2000, PSMS came into co-operation wit a catholic choir in Leiden, that resulted in our short visit in Leiden in 2001. On the 6th of November 2004, under the patronage of Toruń’s Bishop and The President of Toruń, with a considerable support of PSMS, the fist Choir Festival ARS LITURGICA was organized. The following editions of this competition turned out to be the biggest artistic join venture of PSMS.
The period between 2005 and 2008, passed again on the intensified work on the increase of the artistic standards. Despite the initial decrease of members and the limitation of the concerting activities, at the beginning of June 2007 the choir again gave concert in Leiden (Holland) as a part of yearly partners exchange between cities program. On the day of XXV anniversary of activity (34th of November 2007), the Bishop of Toruń, His Excellency Bishop Andrzej Suski, handed the congratulating letter along with the decision of granting our singing family the medal “Deserved for Toruń’s Diocese”.
At the same time, the idea of organizing annual trips abroad, appeared. Following this idea, in 2008, PSMS organized a travel around Balkans and Turkey. Unfortunately, at the end of the year, it came to the inner personal conflict. As a consequence, a part of ensemble broke off with the Saint Maximilian Parish, creating a separate choir singing initially under the auspices of PSMS.
In July 2009, PSMS along with other choirs, soloists and Symphonic Orchestra of Warmińsko-Mazurska Philharmonics, participated in world premiere of Tomasz’s Oratory, authored by Tomasz Glanc. Moreover, it organized IX concert tour to Ukraine and the Autonomic Republic of Crimea. In the presence of deepening conflict, in August 2009, PSMS was finally dissolved. Its members, however, decided promptly to establish totally secular G.P. da Palestrina’s Association of Sacred Music. As members of this new organization, we set ourselves the same tasks as we tried to fulfill while being a part of either parish choir or later PSMS.
In the past, the function of choir conductor was performed by several people. Nowadays, Czesław Grajewski, musicologist, full professor of the Kard. Stefan Wyszyński’s University in Warsaw, is the choir conductor.
transl. by Agnieszka Sałuch