The Saint Nicholas Orchestra is said to have “invented folk music in Poland”. The group came into existence in 1988 when traditional Polish music was despised and neglected. Then, through the songs of Lemko Ruthenians once living in eastern Polish Carpathians, we discovered that music from old villages can be fashionable and intriguing for a modern listener. Since then we have focused our activities on everything associated with folklore, especially whatever has been condemned to be forgotten, and yet can inspire and enrich contemporary culture.

The most distinguishing features of our music are: originality, complexity, dynamism, „white” vocal and acoustic sound. We do not imitate anyone but we always set ambitious musical goals for ourselves. On stage there are seven musicians and more than twice as many instruments (e.g. a few pairs of the violin, nyckelharpa, dulcimer, mandolin, mandola, doublebass, dutar, flutes, various drums and percussion instruments, guitars, koboz). We are meticulous about consonance. We enjoy playing with riffs and various shades of sounds, not avoiding references to rock and jazz. We are keen on trance and progressive arrangements which captivate and frequently astonish the listener.

Nevertheless, we do not aim to modernise the folk source, but rather to create its continuation on the basis of both the contemporary world and our knowledge and sensitivity to tradition developed by us while exploring the folk culture. It is our own tale of the world that has faded away but is still extremely significant for us.

Our goal is to harmonise all modern influences on our music with traditional ways of playing and singing into one communicative and vigorous whole. According to us the greatest value of folk music is its spirit which we want to discover together with our audience. This is why foreign listeners sometimes understand our music as a quite genuine continuation of living folk tradition – because we play acoustic and try to preserve the folk vitality and liveliness of the original in our arrangements and performance.

Over 20 years of we have released 11 albums (and appeared on 7 „various artists” compilations):
- New Music (2007) – consists of CD “New Music”inspired of Polish traditional music and a compilation “The best of...”
- "Lem-agination" (2007) – inspired Lemko folk music
- Hutsul Music (2006) – concert recording with a group of Ukrainian highlanders (the audience prize for the Best CD of 2006 at “New Tradition” Festival organized by the Polish Radio).
- About Love at Hay Raking (2004) – folk music of the Romanian Carpathians
- Live (2002) – concert CD
- From the Far-off Times (2000) – Polish folk music
- The Land of the Boyns (1998) – Lemko and Boyko folk songs (Polish "Folk CD of 1998")
- It’s Time to Head Home (1996) – Polish folk music
- From the Hill Fields (1994) – Hutsul, Boyko and Polish songs
- The Music of the Mountains (1992) – Hutsul, Lemko and Polish songs from the Carpathians

We have played over 1000 concerts in 14 countries of Europe and Malaysia (Germany, Ukraine, Belgium, Holland, Czech Republic, Spain, Lithuania, Belarus, Sweden, Moldova, Portugal, Hungary, France, Scotland), e.g.: at the Rain Forest Festival in Malaysia (2009), Polish Culture Festival in Edinburgh (2009), ArtPole Festival in Ukraine (2009), in Nancy in France (2008), Kaunas in Lithuania (2008 and 2004) in Serpa in Portugal (2006), Nagymaros a Duna in Hungary (2006), Körro and Rörun in Sweeden (2006), at "Sheshory Festival" in Ukraine (2005 and 2004), in Namest nad Oslavou in Czech Republic (2005), in Moldova (2005 and 2003), at Chanson Folklore Festival in Burg Waldeck in Germany (2004), in Nuernberg and Duesseldorf (2004), in Utrecht in Holland (2004), in Prague (2004), Gewandhaus in Leipzig (2002), during Polish Days in Spain (2001), at Expo 2000 in Hanover, at "Sfinks Festival" in Belgium (1999), at the Festival of European Broadcasting Union in Rudolstadt as the representatives of the Polish Radio (1994).

Laboratory of Tradition. St. Nicholas Orchestra is not only a musical ensemble. Nowadays, tradition is a branch of art which demands creating new styles and patterns. For this reason, and also because we act at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, we sometimes think of ourselves as the „laboratory of tradition”. In 2005 we received Oskar Kolberg Award, very prestigious in Poland, for „popularisation of folk culture.” For the first time in its history the Award was granted for achievements from our domain, which was an important sign for us that what we do really matters.

Magazine – Apart from playing music we also publish the only magazine in Poland dedicated to folk music and other arts inspired by tradition. The magazine, entitled “Gadki z Chatki” has been published since 1996, with 69 issues so far and about 2000 articles by 170 authors. The magazine has a rich collection of materials in English available online under the headings: Polish Folk Music, Eastern Folk and Links.

Festival – Since 1991 we also organise the oldest folk music festival in Poland “Mikołajki Folkowe.” The festival lasts 3 days, with 150-200 performers (20-25 groups and soloists), 25 hours of music and 20 hours of films. It has an integrating atmosphere of “folk music celebration.” During its 16 editions more than 300 groups performed at the festival (half of them at "Open Stage": a concert - competition for debuting artists), together over 1200 musicians from 21 countries.

Ultimate Indulgence – A trip from Orchestra’s music and perception of the world – this time in the direction of medieval music and knighthood movement. In 2003 Odpust Zupełny was awarded Grand Prix of the Polish Radio Folk Music Festival „New Tradition” and recorded the CD “Renaissance of the Middle Ages.”

St. Nicholas Orchestra has considerably contributed to the development of folk music in Poland and to defining notions associated with folk, through a variety of cultural enterprises that have popularised and stimulated the development of this kind of music. However, it is best to experience this live, at a concert, just as folk music used to be listened in former times. Old folk dancing occasions were replaced by open-air gigs, playing in inns – by performances in clubs. Music of St. Nicholas Orchestra does not have an age; both grandparents and grandchildren have a good time listening to it. It suits all circumstances.

Orkiestra św. Mikołaja
ACK UMCS "Chatka Żaka"
ul. Radziszewskiego 16
20-031 Lublin

phone/fax: +48/81/53-332-01 w.114
mobile phone:+48/0601732249

Wirtualne Gęśle Lublin - Miasto Inspiracji