Bartek Niziol :” Music transports us to a different dimension of the world”

The following interview is written by Irini Mitsa and originally published in Greek in

Shortly before his appearance in the program organized by the International Summer Music Academy in Spetses, the violinist talks to “a” about his participation in the ten-day academy.

The International Music Academy of the Anargyreion and Korgialenei School of Spetses (MAAKS.S.) presents this year’s program, from July 24 to August 2, 2023. The Music Academy gathers in Spetses young musicians from all over the world for the third consecutive year, forming a unique platform for musical education and intercultural exchange for the island and the wider region. The ten-day program includes a series of master high level classes for seven classical musical instruments including lyric singing with teachers from top soloists of international recognition. Throughout the duration of the Academy, a series of excellent concerts will take place in important locations, filling Spetses with music. All concerts are held with free access for the public.

This year the Academy will for the first time create a chamber music orchestra with the young musicians who will participate in the program, under the direction of the internationally acclaimed Polish violinist Bartek Niziol .

In addition, the Music Academy will run daily music workshops for children from 18 months to 11 years old, open and free to the public, which will take place alongside the Academy’s program.

Bartek Niziol, winner of many international competitions, has appeared as a soloist with many famous orchestras such as the Zurich Opera Orchestra , has participated in music festivals, one of them being MIDEM in Cannes. While still studying in Poznań in 1991 he won the first prize at the Henryk Wieniawski International Violin Competition , as well as the first prize at the Int. Violin Competition in Adelaide . Shortly before his appearance in the program organized by the International Summer Music Academy in Spetses, the violinist talks to “a” about his love for music, about his successful career to date and about his participation in the ten-day program in Spetses.

Why did you choose the violin?

In my family, my parents were very fond of music. And they went to the Philharmonic every Friday, and they decided it would be great for their kids to play or learn to play an instrument. They bought a piano, and my elder sister, who is six years older, started learning the piano. I went to a music school where one of the teachers said: ”Look, actually, the violin is a wonderful instrument. And if you look at an orchestra, then you see 20 violinists and only one pianist. That way it will be easier to find a job and why don’t you play the violin?” And I was a little kid, like I said, my sister was six years older. So she would practice at home and I would watch when she was practicing and playing, and I loved it, I could instantly sync what she was playing. And a teacher who often came to our house to give violin lessons to my sister decided that maybe this little boy – I was five years old at the time – could also start playing the violin. And so it happened. So I started from the age of five because of my sister.

What is music for you?

Music for me is actually a very big part of my life. I mean, besides my family, my wife and kids, I also have a granddaughter. Music is what I do every day. I like it, I can’t imagine living without music, it’s a very important thing for our society, for every people and for children to listen to music. And I think it does something to our brain, you know, it takes us to a different dimension of the world. I mean through music, you can really feel or you can experience emotions that you don’t have the experience to experience and there’s no other way to experience. I mean you can just close your eyes and listen to the music, you can enjoy it, you can relax or sometimes also feel like pushing yourself a little bit more, let the music give you energy. I also listen to different kinds of music, I play classical music, but I really like to listen especially to jazz and also sometimes rock. I think it’s important to listen to different kinds of music.

You have had a very successful career with many international awards and collaborations. What else is coming?

I have many plans in my life, to make recordings to discover new compositions, to discover new composers. I really enjoy bringing music that has been forgotten over the years back to the public, so I really enjoy discovering forgotten composers and making recordings. So, for example, over the next two years, I will record five violin concertos by Felix Yaniewicz . He was a very, very famous violinist and composer in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and he wrote five violin concertos. And that’s exactly what my next plan is.

For the third consecutive year you will participate in the ten-day program organized by the International Music Academy in Spetses. What is your relationship with the organization?

My relationship with the Music Academy in Spetses is very, very warm. I love the atmosphere, I love the island. First of all, I love the people who organize the Music Academy. I like that they are open to new ideas. They are trying to create something special. And I remember in the first year, in the second year, the students were really in love with this academy. That’s why I think we need more support, we need more sponsors, this is very important to have a few more sponsors and a little more support money to buy e.g. a piano and I know Leni just organized to get one. But actually it would be nice to have more really good instruments in the School that we could play in lessons like the piano.

What is the purpose of the Music Academy?

The purpose of the Academy is that people from different countries meet, students as well as teachers. It is also nice to meet the Greek students and exchange our cultures, discuss what is happening in Switzerland, Poland, Russia and learn about each other’s reality. I know that many friendships started in Spetses, at the Music Academy.

Can you tell us a few words about the place where it takes place?

As I said I like this music school, the Academy. The place is really fantastic. We have really nice venues to do concerts. We play a concert at the Posidonio hotel, we have a choir concert at the church, we have a concert at the amphitheater. So it’s really fantastic.

Who is the training program for?

The training program is indeed for advanced students. We certainly have secondary school students and high school students as well. But maybe its not really focused on teaching kids lessons. I mean, it’s more for people who really can and have some confidence that they’ve reached some level of musicianship.

Who are the musicians who will deliver masterclasses for the students of the program?

The musicians who will deliver masterclasses are famous teachers in the world. We have professors from Switzerland, the Music Academy at the Music University of Bern, also from Geneva. We have teachers from Germany from Berlin, from Breslin and we have different nationalities as well, so it’s really very international. And so last year, I thought it would be really cool to create a chamber music orchestra.

This year a chamber music orchestra with young musicians will be created under your direction. What is it like to conduct an orchestra?

In fact the orchestra will include all strings and a number of brass as we will also have lessons for clarinet, flute and trombone. And of course singing lessons. So I would like to create a nice program that everyone will participate in. I think playing together gives a special feeling and brings people together. I think it is very important for young people, because not everyone will be a soloist. So I think most of them will actually play in orchestra or chamber music ensembles, so I thought it’s a good idea to create this orchestra in Spetses. Yes and this actually answers your last question, they will get that feeling of playing together. They will remain friends I hope and learn from each other, not just from us, but it’s a special feeling when you play together. I hope that is clear what I am trying to say. I think the most important thing is to have more sponsors for this music academy so that we can develop the program even more every year. The place is great, the people are fantastic. And yes, I can’t wait to be there again in Spetses.