Meet our DFCC 2018 candidates: Maciej Kotarba

Maciej (27), from Poland, recently won the second Adam Kopyciński Nationwide Conducting Competition. He recently graduated with a Master’s degree in conducting with Marek Pijarowski at The Fryderyk Chopin University of Music in Warsaw, and in June 2017 he made his debut with Warsaw Philharmonic.

headshotWhere are you at the moment and what are you currently working on?

Currently I am working with Sinfonia Carpathia, the emerging orchestra established in my hometown, Nowy Sącz. My nearest project is a gala concert for the 100th anniversary of Polish Independence. It is going to be a huge concert where I will be conducting six choirs, soloist, actors, ballet dancers and the symphony orchestra.

When did you first become interested in conducting?

The first time I became interested in conducting was in high school. Because I was the concertmaster of the orchestra I needed to conduct rehearsals a few times as a substitute. It was a great experience and it planted the idea in my head of becoming a conductor one day. A few years later I pursued this idea and discovered conducting is my greatest passion.

Who are your musical role models?

I believe that if you want to be a complete musician you cannot focus on just two or three role models. You need to remember that different people represent different values and that you can learn from any of them. But I think that there is one figure that I respect most – Carlos Kleiber, who I admire the most because of his extraordinary musicality and modesty.

How did you find out about the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition?

You cannot call yourself a conductor if you have never heard about the Donatella Flick Conducting Competition. It is one of the most prestigious events in the musical life of conductors. Every young conductor is dreaming about being part of this competition.

How have you been preparing for the competition?

For me the most important thing while preparing the repertoire is to understand the true sense and meaning of every piece. Naturally, I spend a lot of time learning the technical aspects of the composition. But I always try to read as much as I can about the context, trying to discover its essence.

What are your thoughts on the repertoire?

The repertoire of the Competition is like an x-ray for the young conductor. Every piece represents different difficulties, both technical and interpretational. The repertoire can easily reveal weaknesses of the competitor. But still it represents some of the greatest pieces of work in the music history that I cannot wait to conduct. Particularly I am looking forward to Kodály’s Dances of Galánta.

What is the piece that made you fall in love with music, either while performing it as a musician or experiencing it as an audience member (this doesn’t have to be a classical piece)?

The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky is a piece of music that completely crashes me with its beauty, power. I especially love the chorale of brass instruments in the finale. Every time I listen to it I feel deeply touched.

What is your all-time favourite piece of music?

I cannot choose my favorite piece. Every work, every period and genre have something different to offer. It is a little like choosing between sushi and steak – I love them both but I cannot say that either is better than other. I love listening to music, but it is always the matter of the mood that I am in the moment. One day I listen to Mahler's Fifth and the other day to rock or jazz. You never know.

How do you relax? What are your hobbies?

I love cooking and I am a connoisseur of good video games. I am also planning to start a home beer brewery as a hobby. Recently I also started to going to the gym. When there is time I love to hang out with my friends and sometimes go hiking.

If there is anything you could change about classical music, what would it be?

I cannot think of anything.

What advice would you give other budding conductors?

It is a very hard and difficult path, but always remember what’s the most important thing in it and why you are doing it.

What would the prize mean to you? How would it help your career?

Winning the money isn’t important at all. The greatest thing about winning this Competition is to have a possibility to work with one of the greatest orchestras in the world and to assist world-recognized conductors. That experience would have a huge influence in every young conductor career.

Meet the other candidates

Find out more about the competition in 2018