Tomasz Skweres, cellist & composer

Tomasz Skweres is second prize-winner in the 2019 Zemlinsky Competition, an international initiative of the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music (CCM), which exists to promote and encourage the development of young composers

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

I can’t imagine my life without music. Music is not only my profession, it’s my way of life, the way to express my thoughts, my feelings. I get new inspirations every day. Every moment I experience something new which is interesting, impressive, inspiring. It happens when I contact people, listen to a concert or visit an exhibition, but also while playing with my little daughter or spending time in nature. My parents say I had written notes already before I started writing letters. Unfortunately, I can’t remember that…

Who or what were the most significant influences on your musical life and career as a composer?

I was inspired by many creators, especially by the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, Béla Bartók and Witold Lutoslawski… As a cellist I had the opportunity to study in detail many works of great composers of different music periods and styles, to analyze them… I still have the possibility to do it, when I play chamber music or in orchestra or as a soloist.

What is the greatest challenge of your career so far?

When I was commissioned to compose a work for symphony orchestra for the first time:  it was a challenge, a big responsibility to take on… That was also a great experience for me.

Which works are you most proud?

I like the works for orchestra the most, but I must say I am happy also with some pieces written for smaller numbers of players, Saxophone Quartet “Penrose Square”, “Event Horizon”, the work for ensemble, and the piece named “Impact” for solo violin, which I dedicated to my violinist wife Yui Iwata.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working on a commissioned piece?

All the pieces I’ve composed in the last few years are commissioned pieces: each of them required a different way of musical thinking and therefore different organization of my work. When the commissioned work is written for intrumentalists I know, during the process of creating I try to take into consideration their musical individuality.

What are the special challenges/pleasures of working with particular musicians, singers, ensembles and orchestras?

Many of my friendships began with working together with instrumentalists on one of my pieces. I love to work with musicians. It is a huge privilege for me and a great pleasure to have the possibility to share with them my musical world, to talk about my new musical ideas…

How would you characterise your compositional/musical language?

The balance between intellectual and emotional sides in music is for me significant. My musical language is certainly expressive, focused on very characteristic musical gestures – bound together with a long narrative line.

How do you work?

It depends on the piece. When I write a short composition, I have the whole idea for the piece at the very beginning. When I work on a longer piece, its general character is known; the ideas are born during the process of composing.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

When I see that my music evokes emotions, touches other people, makes them understand my musical language…

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

It’s important to be true to yourself, to be faithful to your own way of thinking and way of expression.

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

In 10 years time, I would like to have the endless feeling that every day, every moment I can learn more about the world, people and also about myself. And I would like to express those impressions in music.

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