Musician of the Month: Katarzyna Kowalik
Harpsichordist Katarzyna Kowalik performs a concert on Thursday 30 April 2015 of a musical journey around the world.
As part of the Handel House Talent concert series in March-April 2015, we spotlight each musician talking about their programme, instrument and progress with the scheme. harpsichordist Katarzyna Kowalik performs a concert on Thursday 30 April 2015 of a musical journey around the world.
Your concert on the 30 April is a musical journey around the world, what attracted you to this subject?
When I work on programming a concert I always try to have a theme or at least a thread which makes it work as a whole. I think that way the audience has an opportunity to look at the music in more complex way as part of the history, culture and to experience its various connotations coming from different backgrounds. My next recital is based on the idea of a musical journey around the world as I became fascinated by the way how different nationalities have been portrayed by French baroque composers. During my research I came across some lesser known pieces which turned out to be real gems!
Harpsichords come in all shapes and sizes, is this something you notice from certain composers works?
I believe that the history of music is closely related to the development of instruments and vice versa. I’m sure composers also had a strong influence on instrument makers and that is the way we can observe and enjoy different styles and evolution of various techniques and aesthetics in harpsichord music. It is also a fascinating experience to play music written for a particular instrument, such as a virginal, which affects some practical aspects to performing such as phrasing while using early fingering techniques.
The Bruce Kennedy harpsichord we have at the museum is based on a Ruckers style instrument and has many effects. How do you know when to use them?
It is a great instrument; it is very responsive and ‘speaks’ in very particular way. It is also quite universal and suits many types of music. I always try to use all the effects the harpsichord provides to demonstrate different dynamics, dimensions and variety of colors of the music I perform. For example I recently played in a recital dedicated to Wanda Landowska and used its effects to resemble the sound of Landowska’s multi-stop pedaled harpsichord.
What are you up to at the moment? Are you still studying?
At the moment I am enjoying my first year of freelancing after 4 years at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama where I did my Masters in Historical Performance and a Fellowship for two years. I must say I am quite busy, as I regularly play concerts with period ensembles and orchestras, teach privately, work with my fantastic Handel House Talent colleagues, and build up my solo repertoire for forthcoming recitals. I just came back from a competition in Pesaro, Italy where I have been awarded a continuo prize. I am also really looking forward to the York Early Music International Young Artists Competition as my group Royal Baroque have been selected for the final which is in July.
What have been the highlights of Handel House Talent so far?
It was an absolutely fantastic opportunity to have a masterclass with Kenneth Weiss. He is such a great artist and experienced musician, I was so happy that I could play for him and get his feedback. I also thought our recent historical performance workshop with Laurence Cummings was really inspirational and insightful. I also had the opportunity to accompany Cathy Bell’s masterclass with Mark Padmore. I work with singers quite a lot and it was an amazing opportunity to explore a different approach to vocal repertoire.