Morgan Szymanski, guitarist


Who or what inspired you to pursue a career in music and who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career?

Ever since my father brought home my first guitar, I wanted to be a rock star. Initially, my heroes were Jimmy Hendrix and Led Zeppelin but in time this changed to JS Bach and Paco de Lucía.

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

The pandemic!

Which performances/recordings are you most proud of?

Each recording is like a musical son or daughter. I love them all equally! But I’m rather proud of our latest release, ´Music for the Moon and the Trees´ which was recorded in the woodland in Scotland with my amazing friend and producer Tommy Perman. It was recorded using solar and wind energy and all the sounds were recorded in the wild. It’s out now on Blackford Hill and available worldwide.

Which particular works/composers do you think you perform best?

I adore playing Bach and Vivaldi, but I grew up listening to Latin American folk music and rock. Every style is a different challenge and requires different skills.

What do you do off stage that provides inspiration on stage?

Yoga, meditation and lots of tea.

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

This very much depends on the various projects that one gets invited to. I try to keep my solo rep fresh and mix periods and styles in one program. 

This year I will be playing three concerts at the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival. On the 30th of September, my friend Adam Walker (flute) and I will perform Bartok´s Romanian Folk Dances and the world premiere of a new flute and guitar piece by our friend the composer Ivan Moseley which he wrote for us. I´ll also be playing some of Manuel De Falla´s Popular Spanish Songs with Guy Johnston. 

Then on the 1st of October I´m playing with Mark Padmore. Mark and I are really fortunate to have worked with composers Alec Roth and Stephen McNeff to create new songs for our duo. The songs by Stephen are settings of poems by Charles Causley and Alec´s amazing song cycle A Road Less Travelled is based on poems by Edward Thomas. We will be recording them for Signum shortly after. The programme is complemented with songs by John Dowland (who GuyJohnston tells me was at one point the resident musician at Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival!) and of course Schubert.

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

Not really. Every venue is special and each concert a unique experience. If one was to compare it to cooking, your main ingredients are the audience, venue, acoustics, repertoire and your instrument. Sometimes the weather can also influence. But no concert is ever the same since these ingredients always vary.

What do you feel needs to be done to grow classical music’s audiences?

Children need to be shown the magic of music from the earliest stages.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

There are too many! And each one is unique.

As a musician, what is your definition of success?

I don’t really think of success as such. But I suppose, if you can play a concert which your audience enjoys, then you have succeeded. 

What advice would you give to young/aspiring musicians?

Don’t give up. Music is demanding, but so is life. If you keep at it, you will eventually get over the hurdles and find your own voice. Music is like a plant or flower. You need to water it every day. Then, when you least expect it, it will blossom.

What’s the one thing in the music industry we’re not talking about which you think we should be?

Streaming….our recordings and life time work are worth much more!

What’s next? Where would you like to be in 10 years?

Working in my garden and playing Bach (and a bit of blues).

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

I often find it in nature. We just need to learn to look a bit closer.

What is your most treasured possession?

Hmmmm….at the moment, my Fender Telecaster.

What is your present state of mind?

Happy, in Ireland looking at the fields before a concert.

Morgan Szymanski performs at Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival Friday 30 September 2022, 17:00

Born in Mexico City in 1979, Morgan Szymanski started playing the guitar at the age of six. Early studies at the National Music School (Mexico) and the Edinburgh Music School led to a scholarship to study under Carlos Bonell and Gary Ryan at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, graduating in 2004 with first class honours. During his studies he won guitar prizes at the RCM as well as being awarded scholarships from the Tillett Trust, Countess of Munster Musical Trust, Leverhulme Trust, Wall Trust, FONCA and a scholarship to study at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He went on to become the first solo guitarist to be selected by the Young Classical Artist Trust and was awarded a Junior Fellowship at the RCM, where he completed his Master’s degree with distinction.

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