Ewelina Polańska-Sandecka – winner of the 1st place in the “French horn” specialty at the 2nd Michał Spisak International Music Competition gave us an interview in which she told about her memories about the competition and her further musical and personal path.
Olaf Otwinowski: You won the 2nd Michał Spisak International Music Competition in 2008 in the “French horn” specialty. Do you have any particular memories related to this competition?
Ewelina Sandecka: Each competition I have participated in has had a significant impact upon my further life as well as instrumental and mental development. This competition also meant a considerable level of stress and a lesson how to deal with it. I remember the unshakeable confidence of my professor, Kazimierz Pamuła, in my abilities. I am extremely grateful to him for that. I made new acquaintances, I met great musicians, young artists who loved music and did the best they could. The concert of laureates accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of Zabrze Philharmonic is also memorable due to really friendly atmosphere and support. Gaining experience as a soloist – priceless.
O. O: Can you perhaps remember the thoughts you had while participating in this competition? Did you think you were able to win the 1st place?
E. S.: I had never thought I was entering the competition in order to win, although during this competition there was a slight pressure, since I wasn’t as unknown as before. I always try to play the way I feel and do my best. The competition follows its own rules. It collects a lot of very good, great instrumentalists and choosing the best one is to some degree a matter of taste, to some degree it depends on defined guidelines, but a bit of luck is also needed – because there are better and worse days, and we are all but humans.
O. O.: What in the first place made you learn to play the French horn?
E. S.: I have always wanted to play. The French horn was a kind of accidental choice – which is often the case with French horn players – they choose it by accident. But I’m glad I made this choice, since it is simply the most beautiful instrument.
O. O.: Do you still play this instrument? If so, how do you fulfil yourself as a musician?
E. S.: Currently I am a full-time mother. At this stage of my life I have consciously resigned from constant cooperation with orchestras established after my return from Spain. I can always play, but my darling ones are not going to have another childhood. When I continued my professional development in Spain, in 5 years I gained huge, priceless experience as a musician. However, the sudden return, for personal reasons, showed me it was possible to find fulfilment everywhere, but some things are more important in life than others. I’ve already had two major breaks in my career and it’s like riding a bike – you don’t forget how to play the instrument. Playing must be a hobby; it must be fun and pleasure to give you fulfilment and satisfaction.
O. O.: If you were to name you greatest achievement in terms of music, which success would it be?
E. S.: I’ve been lucky to meet many outstanding teachers and musicians. The lessons they offered and their experience gave me a lot and shaped me both as a musician and as a person. I believe the talent school ‘Reina Sofia’ in Madrid gave me the most in this respect. So I believe getting there was my success.
O. O.: If you could, would you change anything in your music career?
E. S.: I wouldn’t change anything, because there is a reason for everything that occurs to us – all uphills, bends, rises …
O. O.: What is music for you?
E. S.: It is a way of expressing myself, my feelings, a wonderful method of conveying emotions, the source of unforgettable impressions; a passion, love and reliable friend … oh my … it’s everything … a thread to heaven.
O. O.: What’s the most important issue to remember when you take part in the music competition?
E. S.: To learn the material in the best possible way and to have the right attitude. To compete with yourself rather than with other participants. To raise the bar as high as possible, as this is the right time to check what you can do.
O. O.: The French horn in Poland is associated mainly with hunting and hunting traditions. In your opinion, what’s the soul of the French horn and what are your associations with it?
E. S.: And these hunting traditions are now cherished in a beautiful way. It seems almost unavoidable to quote ‘Pan Tadeusz’ here:
‘Thereupon grasped the Tribune, to his belt well knotted,
His great buffalo horn, long twisty and spotted
As the snake boa; two-handed to his lips pressed it,
Blew his cheeks out like pumpkins, eyes with blood congested,
Half slid down his two eyelids, drew in half his belly,
And to his lungs he sent off all his spirit swelling.
And blew: the horn, a whirlwind, with a mighty beating,
Drives the notes through the forest, the echo repeating.”*
And for me the French horn is a woman, with the full array of emotions … unpredictable.
O. O.: What advice would you give to participants of the 12th Michał Spisak International Music Competition?
E. S.: I wish them self-confidence, positive attitude, joy in playing, and free musicmaking.
O. O.: Did you know the works of Michał Spisak before you started to prepare to the competition?
E. S.: I surely knew the composer and I got to know his works during my studies. I suppose that the more the competition develops, the more interest in the composer there is and the more recognisable his work becomes. Anyway, in the era of the Internet, one click is all it takes to acquire new knowledge.
O. O.: In your opinion, what is the quintessence of Michał Spisak’s work?
E. S.: Unaggressive, true individualism.
*Translated by Marcel Weyland