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How did your musical adventure start? Why did you choose piano?
It’s quite funny, but I only know the early beginnings from the stories that my family members used to tell me. I was basically too young to remember anything particular. According to testimonies made by my parents, I was always demonstrating an unleashed and rather undisciplined tendency to improvise music whenever and wherever possible. The good examples were singing out loud on the bus stops (usually making the other commuters a bit confused) and the very first performances on my keyboard connected to the huge loud-speakers (which, now I realise, must have been very frustrating for my neighbours) .
I started my proper musical education in the State Music School when I was 7, which seemed to be the natural consequence of developing my earlier interests. The piano was a purely intuitional choice. I can’t remember making any aware choices to be honest. In general, at this stage
I considered playing to be fun rather than the serious choice which is going to influence my whole life-style in the future!
As a graduate from both the Karol Szymanowski of Music in Katowice and the Royal College of Music in London, have you been ever offered any scholarships for promising young pianists?
In Katowice, I used to have a status of external student, because of moving to UK to study
at the Royal College of Music in London. During my postgraduate studies I was offered a couple of scholarships. Without them it wouldn’t have been possible to complete my course. The Royal College of Music Scholarship helped me with paying my tuition fees. At the same time (but from completely different reasons) I was also offered the Polish Ministry of Culture Scholarship for Outstanding Artistic Achievements. After graduating from the Royal College with the Master Degree I was also offered a place and a partial scholarship for the Artist Diploma in Performance Course – however, even with the part of the fees already paid, another year of studying was too expensive to afford.
Did you have any musical traditions in your family? Or at least, was somebody a musician- amateur?
Quite funny, but according to my records the musical tradition in my family basically does not exist! My parents’ jobs are completely not connected with music. If there were any musical episodes in the family, they must have happened a long time ago – nowadays there’s no trace of musical tradition at all! Surely, being the first musician in the family has a lot of various consequences. There’s definitely no pressure – in fact hardly anybody has a clue about what I am actually doing and aiming for. On the other hand, every single aspect of the profession I have to learn by myself and on my own mistakes.
As a pianist you performed on the masterclasses with many famous performers, including Kevin Kenner, Dhang Thai Son, Alexander Orlovietsky, just to name a few. How did you benefit from that?
The person who influenced me the most was definitely Kevin Kenner – winner of the International Chopin Competition in Warsaw and professor who used to teach me at the Royal College of Music.
It was his approach to the piano interpretation and to all performance-related issues which affected my way of thinking about the performance process and played the vital role in shaping my artistic personality and determining my artistic choices.
In general, performing on the masterclasses seems to be the most efficient way of learning for all performing musicians. The greatest pianist share their experience with us, and the fact that lessons are observed by the audience makes whole process more motivating and gratifying.
In 2010 you established the A Piacere Trio with Barbara Dziewiecka. Recently, a new cellist has joined the group. How does having three strong individualities influence working and performing together?
I think that it’s the variety of personalities, emotional approaches and temperaments which creates the deepest sense of Chamber Music. The one side of the problem is we always need to work out a consistent and logical approach – this is where all the arrangements and compromises happen, which makes the interpretation consistent. On the other hand- the power of performance communication is also determined by the fact that we all have different personalities, ideas and characters! Therefore, after learning the basics together, we consciously let ourselves speaking our minds and hearts on the stage individually!
Your piano interpretations usually put emphasis on colour, emotional and intellectual aspect of the performance at the same time. How do you achieve this?
I have always considered proper balance between the emotional and intellectual content to be one of the most important parts of piano interpretation. In my opinion, the performer is able to communicate effectively with the audience only when the mentioned balance exists!
The emotional sphere is basically our reaction to the music and either we have it or not, depending or our overall attitude, temperament, mood, etc. Things are not that easy with the intellectual aspect! This is a skill which needs to be trained and exercised. Technique, awareness of the style and historical factors, logical narration and discipline – all these are part of intellectual content and they need constant developing and polishing.
The kind of sound (tone, colour) in my opinion is so important, because it is the WAY we communicate with the audience, the tool we use to project the emotional and intellectual content. No matter how wonderful the content is, it still needs to be expressed in the form that is easy to understand and speaking clearly.
Apart from classical performance you are also interested in piano improvisation and composition. How does it influence your playing?
Probably, it’s because of one of these undisciplined parts of my artistic nature which always wanted to speak freely, without learning the notes and practicing! I remember my first teachers and their struggle to make me practice what’s written, not something I felt like playing!
This interest became more and more organized when I was getting older and finally made me studying improvisation at the Royal College with Sophie-Veronique Cauchefer- Choplin- one of the leading classical improvisers of our times.
I have always felt it’s good to know what are the elements that music is made from. Knowing them allows me to put them in my way and improvise when I feel like doing this, but also perform the classical repertoire in more conscious way – especially that the vital part of piano repertoire
is strongly connected with improvising tradition!
What are your hobbies apart from music? Is it actually possible to have any as a musician?
I have always loved reading, probably because there’s a strong connection between music and literature. I usually spend most of my free time reading, especially when travelling. Ever since I remember, I had been always fascinated with computer science, especially programming, website designing, etc. Nowadays, this seems to be particularly useful and helps me establishing online presence for all my artistic projects. Recording techniques seem to be another useful hobby, but again this is rather getting back to the music! Seems that there’s no way to escape from the real passion!