Mariusz Smolij, Music Director and Conductor of the Riverside Symphonia, is considered one of the most exciting conductors of his generation. A frequent recording artist for NAXOS International, he has been consistently gaining international critical acclaim including praises by the New York Times for “compelling performances”. Maestro Smolij has led almost 100 orchestras in 25 countries on five continents appearing in some of the most prestigious concert halls of the world.
In North America, Maestro Smolij collaborated with Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Orchestra of the Chicago Lyric Opera, St. Louis Philharmonic, Rochester Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra or Hartford Symphony.
Internationally, Maestro Smolij enjoys a notable reputation appearing with important symphonic ensembles of Germany, Italy, France, Switzerland, Holland, Israel, South Africa, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic and Poland. Some of the most recent engagements include a collaboration with the Sinfonieorchester Basel, Switzerland (CD recording and series of concerts including the Tönehalle in Zürich); performances with the Florence Chamber Orchestra in Italy, Israel Sinfonietta, Belgrade Philharmonic in Serbia, Bogota Philharmonic in Columbia as well as numerous orchestras in Poland.
Maestro Smolij is currently the Music Director at Acadiana Symphony Orchestra (AS0) in Louisiana as well. For over a decade, Maestro Smolij was a permanent conductor with acclaimed orchestras and musical institutions in the United States and Europe. Between 2000 and 2003, at the invitation of Maestro Christoph Eschenbach, he served as the Resident Conductor of the Houston Symphony, where he led the orchestra in over one hundred concerts presenting an impressive and wide gamut of orchestral repertoire. He was also assistant conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (1994-1997) where he led the ensemble in over one hundred and twenty performances receiving the highest accolades from critics and public alike.
Maestro Smolij served on the faculty of the School of Music at Northwestern University in Chicago-Evanston as a professor of conducting and director of the chamber orchestra from 1996 to 2000. At that time he was the youngest full-time conducting faculty member among the top conservatories and universities in North America.
In Europe, Maestro Smolij has been closely associated with one of Eastern Europe’s most renowned orchestras, the Wroclaw (Breslau) Philharmonic in Poland. He is credited with restructuring the orchestra’s operations and its artistic season and with introducing innovative artistic concepts as well as a new repertoire. He has not only conducted this orchestra in Poland, but he successfully led it during foreign tours in Germany (Rheingau Music Festival), Czech Republic (Janacek May Festival), France (opening concerts in Strasbourg for “The Year of Polish Culture”) as well as during the first historical tour of the United States (concerts in New York’s Lincoln Center and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center, among others). Between 2002 and 2004 he presided over the International Festival Wratislavia Cantans.
In 2004 he appeared in the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam with the Rotterdam Chamber Orchestra, in 2002, he made his Paris conducting debut with the Orchestre des Concerts Lamoureux in the prestigious Salle Gaveau and in 2001, he made his highly acclaimed debut at New York’s Carnegie Hall with the Sinfonia Varsovia. His frequent collaboration with this premier Polish orchestra includes concerts on three continents; Europe, North America and Asia, and a series of recording projects featuring masterworks of Polish and American symphonic music. The first CD with music by Copland, Gershwin and Bernstein was released in July 2002, the second with music by Andrzej Panufnik, was issued by Naxos in November 2006. Other recording projects for Naxos include CD with music by Polish composer T. Szeligowski, (Poznan Philharmonic, Poland) released in October 2007 and music by M. Rozsa (Budapest Concert Orchestra) released in December 2008 – all met with high accolades from international critics.
The American Symphony Orchestra League in New York City named him to the prestigious list of the most promising young conductors in America and featured him during its special Conductors Preview.
Maestro Smolij has introduced many American audiences to several unknown works by Eastern European composers and he regularly performs American orchestral music in Europe. In January 1996, he led the Polish Radio Orchestra in Krakow, Poland in an all-American program, which was broadcast to several Eastern European countries. In 2001, he led a special gala performance of American symphonic music in the Hall of National Theater in Warsaw, Poland that was recorded and broadcast by both Polish and American radio stations. His recording of music by American composer Bill Karlins was issued by the Hungaroton label in 2000. With the Wroclaw Philharmonic he gave European and Polish premieres of works by American composers such as Barber, Copland, Kernis, Rouse, Ellington and others. As an extremely effective advocate and promoter of Polish music outside of his native country, Maestro Smolij frequently performs and programs works of Polish composers and organized the Polish Music Festival in Chicago in1998, which was the single largest presentation of Polish music abroad in the last quarter of century.
Maestro Smolij’s reputation as a conducting pedagogue reaches both sides of the Atlantic. He is a faculty member of the International Workshops for Conductors in the Czech Republic, teaches at professional conducting seminars in the USA and Poland and was invited to present conducting master classes at the Zürich Conservatory in Switzerland.
Born near Katowice, Poland, Maestro Smolij is an accomplished violinist and was the founder and violinist of the internationally recognized Penderecki String Quartet, performing and recording with this ensemble in Poland, Germany, France, Italy and the United States. After studies in Europe he studied conducting in the United States, earning a doctorate degree from the Eastman School of Music.