Konstantyn Napolov, percussionist

Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music?

It was definitely my father who first introduced me to the world of arts, although he was not an artist himself. He always has been inspired by Deep Purple, Led Zappelin, Pink Floyd and other bands from the 70s and 80s. I guess his love for music became my life. At this point of my life I am immensely thankful to my father that music became my love and profession. I just can’t imagine my life without Art.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

I consider myself very lucky, because I had the chance and privilege to meet some wonderful teachers and inspiring mentors. They taught me about the world without borders and answered my questions in moments of creative struggle.

Just to name some of them: Vladimir Leonov – my first teacher in Odessa (Ukraine), Emmanuel Sejourne (Strasbourg) – he helped me to understand the sense of percussion, and Peter Sadlo – who destroyed most of my doubts.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

1) To be accepted to the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague – I graduated three years ago with cum laude Masters diploma.

2) To pass at least through the preliminary round of ARD Musikwettbewerb – I went through 4 rounds till the semi-final and was at the 6th position.

3) To win the Dutch National Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds prijs – 15.000€ .

4) To work with Steve Reich and perform “Music for 18 musicians” at the stadium with more than 5.000 in public during the “Lowlands festival”.

5) Win principal position at “The World Percussion Group” and tour as a soloist and coach through 26 states in US and Mexico.

6) The Dutch Golden Collection to debut CD “The Collectors”. Facing the challenging process through commissioning pieces from famous composers. Perform, organize and record the CD.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

Videos from the first edition of The Dutch Golden Collection. Couple | Martijn Padding –

Woodpecker | Louis Andriessen –

Live performance of Solo Theatrical Snare Drum piece on Dutch National TV –

And of course my latest CD release “The Collectors”.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

This question is quite relative. Constant mastering of skills, knowledge and technique changes my perspective and performance. I see a big difference even in my interpretations from a year ago. Nevertheless for the videos mentioned above, I have received quite a lot of positive attention, won big auditions and received good comments from stars such as David Lang, Louis Andriessen etc.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season?

Ever since I’ve graduated from the conservatory I’ve decided to stop taking part in competitions and focus mainly on performing pieces that were written for me. Therefore I founded The Dutch Golden Collection project in order to develop and promote the percussion repertoire, but from time to time I do perform existing pieces.

My taste and preference tends to shift towards powerful and, at the same time sensitive works that contain a lot of different elements and effects. This is my approach even with the minimalistic pieces: I am always searching how to enrich and bring more colours into them.

As an example, see this work by Simeon ten Holt – Canto Ostinato. I think together with my colleague we managed to bring more colours into it

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why?

Oh! Actually there are quite a lot of them and in some of them I already performed and fell completely in love with them: Júlio Prestes Sala São Paulo (Brazil), Royal Concertgebouw Amsterdam, Konzerthaus Berlin, Elbphilharmonie, Galeria de Clássicos da Arquitetura, Shanghai Oriental Art Center, etc.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are so many I will only mention a couple of them: Valery Gergiev, Peter Sadlo, Glenn Gould, Robert Plant, James Brown, Beth Gibbons, Leonidas Kavakos, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Gidon Kremer…

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

To me this word has both positive and negative aspects. It can inspire or kill the artist. I don’t think I have one definition for you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t want to succeed in what I do; however since I’m an innovator in this particular field, I can’t foretell where will this path lead me to. This is probably one of the reasons why I love it so much.

What I would like to achieve is to create a legacy what people can use in the future as a basis for something bigger and, of course, see the happy and joyful faces of the public.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?

I do not necessarily think of myself as an example, but I do have a set of rules that help me to stay focused. They seem easy, but in reality are quite challenging.

Have a clear goal – the bigger the better. Plan your work days and know for 101% what, when and why do you want to do. Follow your goal and listen to your surroundings, but in the end make your own decisions. Think, analyse and make what you do the essential part of your live.

Where would you like to be in 10 years’ time?

I would like to continue commissioning pieces for percussion solo, duo, etc. from famous and talented composers, and perform concertos with other instruments and/or orchestra all around the world.

In the future I can also see myself teaching in an institution for higher education, and establishing a foundation for young musicians who recently graduated from conservatories, in order to help to build their careers. Organise percussion – chamber music festivals.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I don’t have one. I just want do wake up every morning with new ideas and explore them till the sunset, but if it happens next day – no problem either.

What is your most treasured possession?


What is your present state of mind?

I have started planning the third edition of The Dutch Golden Collection! And now my mind is occupied with thoughts of how to embody it…

‘The Collectors’ – music for piano and percussion – is available now on the Dutch TRPTK label



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