Who or what inspired you to take up conducting and pursue a career in music?
I had two initial inspirations. First was a choir conductor and a Dominican monk who was leading a mass choir for the celebration of Christmas in a church I used to attend as a teenager in Warsaw. He was a highly- trained musician and one of the most inspiring conductors I have met. I loved the rehearsals and was fascinated by his conducting. My second inspiration was actually his teacher, and a woman who became my first conducting teacher as well. She was the director of the choir of my music school, led us to win multiple competitions, gave me first lessons in conducting technique and suggested that I could pursue the studies in conducting. I am still basing my technique on what I learned from her.
Who or what are the most significant influences on your musical life?
First it was my mother. She introduced me to music, helped me practice the piano, gave her opinions on my performances, shaped my musical taste (she is not a professional musician by the way). Many more came after that, many teachers and mentors and I think it is too difficult to choose which one is more significant than the other. I keep on trying to learn and develop every day and let myself be influenced at every occasion.
What, for you, is the most challenging part of being a conductor? And the most fulfilling aspect?
The time pressure is very frustrating. The pressure to learn scores quicker than it would be comfortable and right. The most fulfilling is the joy of a common experience of a fantastical musical moment with the whole orchestra. The group flow.
As a conductor, how do you communicate your ideas about a work to the orchestra?
I try to mostly do it with my conducting. If I speak, I like to use references to life and universal experiences outside of music, or maybe outside of just classical music. I sing or imitate voices as well…
How exactly do you see your role? Inspiring the players/singers? Conveying the vision of the composer?
Inspiring the players, understanding the composer, putting a frame in which musicians can express themselves, organising the time for us to work efficiently.
Is there one work which you would love to conduct?
There are many more than just one… and the number is growing.
Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in?
I love beautiful halls. I love halls that make it clear that they are a sacred space and put a special canvas for the music, where people feel uplifted and special. I can’t wait to perform in the concert hall of NOSPR in Katowice.
Who are your favourite musicians/composers?
Favourite musicians: Daniil Trifonov, Maria Brengtsson, Claudio Abbado, Yevgeny Mravinsky, Krystian Zimerman… and many, many more. This is just a random order.
Composers: if I were to choose one, it would be J. S. Bach. But I love Rimsky-Korsakov for his orchestration, Haydn for his wit, Beethoven for the magnificent symphonies, Debussy for the sensuality, Stravinsky for his primal rhythms, Szymanowski for standing in between the two previous ones and adding a huge dose of Polish folklore, Lutosławski for the mathematical beauty in his music, Chopin for making the solo parts of his piano concertos so divinely gorgeous and honest, that the orchestration forgives him anything, Brahms for the density and richness of sound… shall I continue???
As a musician, what is your definition of success?
Being able to realize projects that I’m passionate about at a level that satisfies me and my musicians.
What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians?
Integrity, curiosity, humility. Fending off cynicism at all cost.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Having enough time to spend with my family while still being fulfilled and developing professionally.
What is your most treasured possession?
A tiny metal statue of an elephant that I got from my brother for good luck when I was doing my Matura (end-of-high school/university-entrance exams)
What do you enjoy doing most?
What is your present state of mind?