In April 1984, at the invitation of the Polish Chamber Orchestra, Yehudi Menuhin visited Poland to participate in a concert both as soloist and conductor.To accommodate to the repertoire to be performed, the orchestra was obliged to expand its ranks to 40 musicians and accomplished this by recruiting many talented young musicians from all over the country. The subsequent concert was broadcast by radio and TV and was met with such overwhelming enthusiasm by the critics and audience alike, exclaiming its outstanding musical quality, that the spontaneous idea of a permanent ensemble consisting of 24 strings and double wind section became a reality. So great was his interest in the new formation that Lord Yehudi Menuhin signed a contract before returning to England as principal guest conductor of Sinfonia Varsovia. Almost immediately the orchestra was invited to do concert tours in the USA and Canada. Further invitations from Great Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Portugal, Greece, Finland followed; in recent years Sinfonia Varsovia performed also in Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea. The orchestra played in the Carnegie Hall (New York), Théâtre des Champs-Elysées (Paris), Barbican Centre (London), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires); regularly appeared at numerous festivals: Yehudi Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, Montreux, Schleswig-Holstein, Wuerzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Pablo Casals Festival (San Juan), Salzburg, Alte Oper (Frankfurt), Festival de Musique en Mer, La Folle Journée.
The highest performance standards could not be maintained without an open competition system for all the positions in the orchestra. In addition, the "Orchestra Studium" attached to Sinfonia Varsovia gives a chance to young musicians to get acquainted with technique and specific ensemble playing style before entering the competition. This is why this orchestra is able to maintain its identity and the term "young orchestra" is frequently used by the critics writing about Sinfonia Varsovia.
Owing to its almost unlimited repertoire the orchestra has performed with some of the finest conductors of the world including Claudio Abbado, Yves Abel, Gerd Albrecht, Rafael Früehbeck de Burgos, Charles Dutoit, Phillipe Entremont, Hans Graf, Leopold Hager, Jan Krenz, Emmanuel Krivine, Witold Lutosławski, Jerzy Maksymiuk, Yehudi Menuhin, Krzysztof Penderecki, Michel Plasson, Mstislav Rostropovich, Jerzy Semkow, Peter Schreier, Mariusz Smolij, Jerzy Swoboda, Muhai Tang, Bruno Weil and soloists such as Salvatore Accardo, Sir Thomas Allen, Maurice André, Martha Argerich,Yuri Bashmet, Teresa Berganza, Alfred Brendel, José Carreras, Sarah Chang, José Cura, Plácido Domingo, Augustine Dumay, Justus Frantz, James Galway, Fou Ts'ong, Krzysztof Jabłoński, Kiri Te Kanawa, Gidon Kremer, Alicia de Larrocha, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Christa Ludwig, Radu Lupu, Mischa Maisky, Yehudi Menuhin, Paul Meyer, Shlomo Mintz, Olli Mustonen, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Janusz Olejniczak, Ewa Osińska, Michaela Petri, Murray Perahia, Maria-João Pires, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Samuel Ramey, Vadim Repin, Katia Ricciarelli, Mstislav Rostropovich, Heinrich Schiff, Henryk Szeryng, Maria Tipo, Maxim Vengerov, Andreas Vollenweider, Alexis Weissenberg, Christian Zacharias, Tabea Zimmermann, Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Sinfonia Varsovia has produced a number of highly successful classical and film music recordings for Pathe Marconi - EMI, Virgin Classics, Decca, Denon Nippon, Sony, Columbia, Aperto, Polskie Nagrania, CD Accord, many of which have received prizes such as "Grand Prix du Disque" and "Diapason d'Or" and the "Fryderyk"- Award of the Polish recording industry (1995, 1996, 2002).
In 1996, to mark Lord Yehudi Menuhin's 80th birthday, Sinfonia Varsovia recorded for IMG Records, under his baton, the complete symphonies of L.v. Beethoven and Schubert. It also made several tours under Lord Yehudi Menuhin, giving a total of 65 concerts in Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Brazil and the Republic of South Africa, and participated in several festivals, including those in Vienna ('Klangbogen'), Strasbourg, Montpellier, Pollença (Majorca) and Gstaad (Switzerland).
In 1997 Krzysztof Penderecki, who had been associated with the orchestra for many years, became its Music Director. They have since made many tours together, often performing his compositions, such as Sinfonietta per archi, Sinfonietta No. 2, Concerto for flute, Concerto for viola (also in versions for cello and clarinet), Stabat Mater, De profundis, Credo, and Seven Gates of Jerusalem. Under Krzysztof Penderecki Sinfonia Varsovia has recorded several CD's, including an all-Penderecki album.
In 2001-2004 the world famous Argentinian tenor José Cura worked with the orchestra as Principal Guest Conductor. Their collaboration was inaugurated with a gala concert at the National Philharmonic Hall in Warsaw in November 2000.
Sinfonia Varsovia is among the world's leading ensembles of its size. This is confirmed not only by excellent reviews from the most renowned critics but also by its permanent presence in the most prestigious venues around the world. Since 2000, its activities have been assisted by the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation whose statutory goals include all-round support and promotion of the orchestra at home and abroad, with the emphasis on the promotion of Polish music and young Polish musicians, and the popularization of orchestral performance. Sinfonia Varsovia acts under the aegis of the Stanisław Witkiewicz Arts Centre Studio in Warsaw.