This is the name given to the symphony orchestra of the Karol Szymanowski State General Secondary Music School in the State Music School Complex in Katowice. The orchestra’s activities are linked closely to the history of the oldest music school in Poland.
The orchestra was established in the year 1945 by Karol Stryja. On 29 March 1997, on the 60th anniversary of the death of Karol Szymanowski the orchestra has adopted his name, under which it operates to this day.
After Karol Stryja the orchestra was directed by Czesław Orsztynowicz, Napoleon Siess, Zdzisław Szostak, Renard Czajkowski, Aleksander Warykiewicz (a long-term director of the school), Sławomir Chrzanowski and Jan Miłosz Zarzycki. Szymon Bywalec has held this post since 2000.
The orchestra has performed in many concert halls in Poland and abroad. It has represented Poland at World Youth Festivals in Budapest, Berlin, Bologna, Mannheim, and also in Australia and Canada. In Poland the young musicians performed several times at the National Philharmonic. The orchestra has also participated in many music festivals. Many renowned musicians have acquired their experience in the orchestra and many famous artists played their debut peformances with the orchestra. These include Lidia Kozubek, Witold Szalonek, Józef Świder, Tadeusz Żmudziński, Wojciech Kilar, Jadwiga Romańska, Krystyna Szostek-Radkowa, Tadeusz Strugała, Napoleon Siess, Edward Bogusławski, Eugeniusz Knapik, Aleksander Lasoń, Krystian Zimerman, Stanisław Sojka and Marcin Pospieszalski.
Guest conductors who have directed the school orchestra include Jerzy Maksymiuk, Marek Pijarowski, Jerzy Salwarowski, Massimiliano Caldi and Tadeusz Strugała.
The orchestra has recorded a number of CDs and many radio and television programmes. The orchestra’s professional performing level resulting from the high level of teaching in the instrument and chamber music classes, as well as the musicians’ youthful enthusiasm has caused the orchestra’s concerts to meet with great public acclaim of both audiences and critics both in Poland and abroad.