Orchestra in a nutshell
The year 1830 is considered to be the date of creation of the institutionalised mining orchestra in Wieliczka, under the name of Imperial and Royal Salinary Music. The contemporary salinary orchestra operates and plays under the name of the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Representative Brass Band.
Then and now
Since 1830, that is, over 185 years of the band’s existence, the Orchestra was led by 18 conductors. The bandmaster selected the repertoire and conducted all rehearsals, as well as led the orchestra during the more important concerts. On less important occasions, he was replaced by a drum major (sub-bandmaster). In the absence of the bandmaster, as well as during the parade marches, the contemporary orchestra is conducted by Stanisław Zięba, saxophone player and drum major, connected with the Orchestra since 1997.
Currently the band numbers 42 musicians, including 41 instrumentalists and the conductor.
The history of the band is inseparably connected with the history of the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine as a tourist attraction. Some of the workings were turned into concert halls or ballrooms (such as the Łętów Chamber). Many of the chambers, which were or still are parts of the tourist routes in the mine has special galleries prepared for the band (such as the majestic Michałowice Chamber). A special place for the orchestra was also prepared in the Gołuchowski Station Chamber, which in the near future will be made available to the visitors.
The band performs – as it was in the past – on all special occasions, anniversaries, as well as patriotic, religious and miners’ celebrations, official visits of monarchs, dignitaries and luminaries of culture and science. It performs not only deep underground in the mine, but also on the surface – in Poland and abroad.
Since 2005, the “Wieliczka” Salt Mine Representative Brass Band performed over 1100 times. Every year, the sound of the orchestra can be heard more than 100 times. In 2016 the band performed during the 800th anniversary of the Benedictine convent in Staniątki, consecration of John Paul II Church at the John Paul II Centre “Do not be afraid” or during the 25th anniversary of the Municipal Guard, which took place at the Main Market Square in Krakow, accompanied by ceremonial guard. In July and August during the summer meetings with lovers of wind music, the audience could listen to eight concerts at St. Kinga’s Park
The majority of instrumentalists of the miners’ band are professional musicians. However, for many of them being a part of miners’ orchestra is not only a job, but also a passion, to which they devote their free time. The band welcomes both experienced musicians, as well as young adepts, who wish to hone their skills. The youngest musician currently in the band is not even 20 years old yet, while the oldest celebrated their 70th birthdays long ago. Some of them might even boast being a part of the salinary orchestra for more than 20 years, with Stanisław Fiołek being the longest active member of the orchestra. The horn player and the current head of the miners’ band has been working with the ensemble for almost five decades – since 1968.
The repertoire of the orchestra comprises over a 1000 pieces, including marches, waltzes, polkas, popular songs, overtures, hymns, songs and film music. The band also has an archive of historical scores, including pieces for string ensemble. Among the oldest scores preserved by the orchestra are pieces from operas and operettas, which were bought in 1849 and 1850.