Wunder-barn! Violinist turns old cowshed into cosy concert hall featuring Berlin chamber orchestra
A German violinist who turned a cowshed into a concert hall in a Polish border village is enjoying soaring popularity with his community concerts led by top international classical musicians.
Inaugurated in 2018, the now regularly sold out concerts are hosted in Michael Winker’s 160 square metre renovated barn at his home in the village of Czachów, near the historic town of Cedynia.
Just 20km from the German border, their increasing popularity attracts fans from near and far to hear international musicians playing the likes of Chopin and Beethoven in the cosy village setting.
Winker, who is a violinist of the Berlin Opera, ‘Deutsche Oper Berlin’ first bought a house in Czachów 20 years ago and when searching for a place with a Polish friend he fell in love with a huge abandoned farmhouse.
Deciding to use the place as his main residence, he then set about renovating it, as well as the animal barn which, after some deliberation, he decided to transform into a concert hall furnished with his own piano.
But it was not until a chance conversation with the Mayor of the village, that Winker decided to organise his first public concert for the local community in 2018.
Winker told TFN: “I was at the town hall in Cedynia and we were just having a friendly conversation with the Mayor and she asked me what I did for a living.
“I said I was a musician and she said, ‘Why don’t you play for us?’. I replied ‘I don’t know, is there an audience?’ and she said ‘There is, there is, play’. So that’s what started it.”
Organising his first concert shortly afterwards, he then decided to develop the idea by inviting some of his colleagues from the Berlin opera to create a small chamber orchestra.
With space for 100 listeners, the concerts, featuring musicians from Germany as well as Poland, are usually held in the warmer months starting from around April until September, but the last of this year’s concerts was held on the 2nd of October with a repertoire of Rossini, Beethoven, Debussy and Mozart.
Winker told TFN: “I love organising the community concerts in Cedynia. In my daily work, I am not my own master, but this is my own project and people are very curious and that’s wonderful.
“I am very happy to be able to do it here in Poland as a German. At the beginning I was very apprehensive and wasn’t very comfortable because of the Polish-German history and how people would react to me as a German, but people are very open.”
Cedynia is historically significant in Polish-German history as it was the location for the first chronicled battle of the newly formed Polish state under the rule of Duke Mieszko I in 972, a battle which Mieszko’s army decisively won over the forces of Hodo or Odo I of Lusatia in Saxony.
With the popularity of Winker’s ‘Kameralne Koncerty’ (Chamber Concerts) in Cedynia continuing to grow and people inquiring when the next one will be held, Winker is now also planning to expand to concerts to include ones specifically for children.
Further details can be found on the event's page 'Sala u Kinala' on Facebook.