For most of his career, Gabriel Chmura has worked in low-profile conducting posts, gradually building a reputation of esteem among critics and a growing band of followers. In the new century he has at last achieved wide acclaim both in concert and the recording studio. As artistic director of the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Katowice since 2001, and with a series of acclaimed recordings of symphonies by Mieczyslaw Weinberg for the Chandos label, Chmura has emerged as a major podium talent. His repertory is broad, taking in works by Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky, Mahler, Sibelius, and lesser known figures like Basque composer Jose Maria Usandizaga and the aforementioned Weinberg. He has also led many operatic performances, including standards by Verdi, Bizet, Massenet, and Mozart. Besides Chandos, Chmura has made recordings for Sony, Orfeo, Eloquence, and Claves.
Gabriel Chmura was born in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1946. His family relocated to Israel in 1957. From 1964 he studied piano, conducting, and composition at the Music Academy of Tel Aviv University. Further studies in conducting came in 1968-1969 at the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris with Pierre Dervaux. Later on he took conducting lessons from Hans Swarowsky at the Music Academy in Vienna and from Franco Ferrara in Siena, Italy.
Chmura won a string of conducting competitions in the early '70s, the most important coming in 1971: first prizes at the Herbert von Karajan Competition and Cantelli Competition at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan. With numerous invitations to conduct throughout Europe, Chmura was suddenly in demand.
For about the next quarter century Chmura held a string of important though secondary positions, the first two in Germany: artistic director of the Aachen Opera Company (1974-1983), music director of the Bochum Symphony Orchestra (1983-1987), and then music director of the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa (1987-1990).
Even after leaving his Ottawa post, Chmura continued to work with the ensemble, as well as in Europe conducting the Berlin Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de France, and in Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Among his earliest recordings was a 1993 disc of Haydn symphonies (No. 6, No. 7, and No. 8) with the National Arts Centre Orchestra on the CBC label.
After his 2001 appointment with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Chmura made many successful tours with the ensemble: Prague (2003), Buenos Aires, and Côte St. André, France (2004); Tokyo (2005); and Dresden (2007). In 2012 Chmura was named artistic director of the Poznan Opera.