By D. K. Christi
Bower School of Music & the Arts at Florida Gulf Coast University has a bright future as seen through the vision of its new director, Krzysztof Biernacki, who brings a high level of sophistication and worldwide experience to the role. A performer in his own right, Biernacki says his voice is best suited to Bach, Handel and Mozart in opera. In art song repertoire, he sings a lot of Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann and Brahms, which he considers pretty typical for a lyric baritone.
When he works with students, faculty and the multiple university and community connections who make it possible for the school to flourish, it’s personal as well as professional: he is one of them. Even with the challenges facing a director of multiple music and art programs, Biernacki deliberately maintains his voice quality for his own vocal performance.
Originally from Poland, he immigrated to Canada where he spent 16 years. Biernacki also has lived in Germany and came to FGCU after 12 years in North Florida. Most recently, he performed his art song repertoire at international music festivals in Spain, Italy, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, France, Norway and Canada. As an opera singer, Biernacki has appeared in principal roles with several Canadian companies: Vancouver Opera, Manitoba Opera, Calgary Opera, Orchestra London Canada and Banff Center for Performing Arts.
Concert appearances include Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, North Czech Philharmonic, Orchestre Philharmonique du Nouveau Monde in Montreal and Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra. He is a researcher of vocal works by Polish composer Karol Szymanowski, and his recording of Szymanowski’s art songs titled “In the Mists” is available on classical record label MSR.
As director for the Bower School of Music & the Arts, Biernacki expands his administrative horizons after serving as a distinguished director of opera and professor of voice at University of North Florida for over a decade. Art, music, theater and digital media design are all under his direction at FGCU, including a full season of performances, events and exhibitions by renowned performers, artists and students.
While the scope may appear daunting, Biernacki’s spirit of enthusiasm and optimism is infectious.
“I am an eternal optimist,” said Biernacki. “My glass is always half full. The future trajectory for the Bower School Music & the Arts is bright — inspiring.”
The school’s newest degree program, digital media design, has more than 100 students enrolled in just six month’s time, he noted.
“I am also looking forward to advocating for the planned fine arts center to be located on campus, part of the university’s master plan for 2020-2030,” he added.
Currently, the entire community serves as an expanded campus with performances, events and exhibitions often held at local churches, performing arts centers and educational facilities.
The 40-page 2019-2020 season brochure includes more than 13 events in April alone, following a full program each previous month. Many events are free, and all are open to the public. While April and May events were canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school looks forward to beginning the new season in August with a full schedule of events at the galleries and in music and theatre.
The strong presence of an arts community in Southwest Florida is one of the things which attracted Biernacki to the area. This includes professional and community theaters, art galleries and two opera companies.
FGCU’s music, theatre and art programs reach beyond performances and exhibitions to touch the community in meaningful ways. Students complete their music practicum in local elementary schools, and music therapy interns work at local memory care facilities. The school’s motto is: “Inspire – Create – Perform: changing lives through the power of the arts.”
A broad reach connects learners, faculty members (who may also be performers), patrons, donors and benefactors; all contribute to the program’s growth and success. Sellout concerts illustrate strong community support.
“Every event promises new discoveries and fresh perspectives for our audiences and transformational learning opportunities for our students,” said Biernacki.
Check out the Bower School of Music and the Arts online calendar at fgcu.edu/CAS/BSMA to view all upcoming events!