Interview with Piotr Jasiurkowski, a talented Polish violist, winner of the Polish Person of the year prize in the Netherlands, in the category culture
Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska: You were born in Poland in Lublin and your professional career is impressive. You followed your first violin lesson at the age of seven, were accepted as the youngest violinist ever in the history of the Maastricht Academy of Music. In 2011 you graduated summa cum laude with a Master’s degree with distinction in Violin Performance and shortly after graduation were appointed as professor of violin at the Maastricht Academy of Music. In 2006 you received the Prize of the Minister of the Culture of the Republic of Poland for the most prominent young artists and in 2007 the highly valid two-year Huygens Scholarship in the Netherlands, which was extended for another two years in 2009 due to outstanding achievements. Where does your motivation come from, is it an unlimited passion and love for music?
My father is a violinmaker and my mother used to play the violin. Classical music was always present at my parents’ home. They introduced me to music; they also decided to enrol me in the Music School in Legnica (Poland). That is how my journey with the music began. Since then music has been my life. Everything what I have experienced in life was directly or indirectly linked to my violin playing. My violin has become also a tool to express my feelings and emotions. Therefore I am also very grateful to the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation (Stichting Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds) for the possibility to play a beautiful instrument that helps me to communicate with the audience.
At the Maastricht Academy of Music you studied in the violin class of Professor Robert Szreder, a distinguished Polish musician. What did he teach you that you would like to share now with the young generation of artists hoping to become as good artist as you are?
He always told me to not to be afraid to show my feelings on stage, to always know what I want to ‘tell’ to the audience through my playing and to remember that the developing good violin technique should help to realize one’s musical ideas but should not be a goal in itself.
You came to the Netherlands when you were 11. Why Netherlands? And what do you like most in the Netherlands and what do you miss most from Poland?
When I was 8 or 9, the teacher of mine noticed that I stood out among other children. He and my parents decided that I would take part in the Master class in Łańcut (Poland), where I could learn from the best artists and professors. There I met professor Robert Szreder, who invited me for other Master classes and concerts. He also suggested that I should apply for the preparatory class program at the Conservatorium Maastricht, and after the entrance exam I was accepted as a youngest violinist in the history of the Academy. I travelled to the Netherlands few times a year, but I moved to Maastricht when I was 18 – at that time I became a regular student of the Conservatorium.
Now I can say that I consider Maastricht, The Netherlands a home. However, I could not imagine not spending Christmas in Poland; that is a time when I want to be in Poland and enjoy it with my family.
How would you recommend Poland to foreign visitors? What does this country have to offer?
Poland is a really beautiful country. Someone who can appreciate the nature will definitely enjoy its very varied landscape, with the Tatra mountains in the south and the Baltic Sea coastline in the north. Every time I travel with a non-Polish friend to Poland, I am proud to show Poland’s historic towns and cities, traditional Polish cuisine and since I am musician, I take my friends to concerts in impressive concert halls and music academies, many of them built very recently. They can notice that Poland has changed a lot over recent years, becoming a European country, while preserving a Polish socio-cultural heritage.
You performed as a soloist with many major orchestras, including Sinfonia Varsovia, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, National Philharmonic Orchestra of Estonia, Lithuanian State Symphony Orchestra, Korean Chamber Ensemble and Sinfonie Orchester Biel. You gave recitals and concerts in Poland, Germany Russia, Austria, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Tunisia, Korea, Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Egypt, Jordan soon you are going to perform in the famous Dutch Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. Have all you dreams already come true or are there still challenges you would like to face?
Indeed, I am very grateful for all the possibilities that were given to me like concerts I have had a chance to perform. Of course, I hope my career will develop further, that I will have a chance to play even more important concerts, thus I will continue sharing my music with a bigger audience. I have many ideas and plans regarding my career as a soloist, teacher or organizer that I will try to expand on and I really hope that many of them I will be able to accomplish and, ultimately, it will result in further career development.
You also won many prizes such as: a finalist at the 11th Eurovision Competition For Young Musicians in Berlin, winner of the Grachten Festival Music Competition in Amsterdam 2005, and in 2007 winner of the “Violin International Kärtner Sparkasse Wörthersee Music Scholarship Competition” in Austria. You won the Polish Person of the Year Prize in the Netherlands this year. What does this prize mean to you personally?
I really did not expect to be named a Polish Person of the Year in the Netherlands. It was a nice surprise. I had a pleasure to perform on the Gala Polonus in 2014 and back then I was amazed how well organized that event was. Therefore, I was happy to be nominated and to experience the gala this year from the audience perspective. This award confirms my belief that some time ago I made a right decision to become a professional violinist. I am happy that people can appreciate what I do.
How would you assess the chances of young classic music artists in achieving great successes in the world which is dominated by commercialism?
I have learned in the past years that being a violinist does not only mean to practice and play concerts but also to be ‘an entrepreneur’. It is crucial for the classical music industry and one’s career to find new ideas about how to deliver the music and engage today’s audience. There are many young musicians that are very successful worldwide, there is an audience for this sort of music. However we have to remember that the market for the classical music is not as big as for ‘popular music’.
Your debut CD was released in 2010 by the Belgian classical music label “Pavane Records”. The CD was advertised and warmly reviewed by the “Fanfare Magazine” in their May/June 2010 issue. When and where can we admire your talent in the coming months?
The highlight of the artistic season for me will be the full evening recital I will give with the pianist Tobias Borsboom in one of the most important concert halls in the world – Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam on April 8th, 2015. I cordially invite everyone to come and listen.
Text: Beata Bruggeman-Sękowska: Communications-Unlimited.nl
Photo: cover: Piotr Jasiurkowski: http://www.piotrjasiurkowski.com/gallery
Photos: Polonus 2015: Gosia Lubbers-Dąbrowska
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