FeaturedInterviewsIssuesJune 2024

Elzbieta Wolenska Artist Interview

Elzbieta Wolenska - flutist, tutor, soloist, chamber, and session musician.
Elzbieta is a dynamic artist who embraces both traditional and contemporary classical music. An avid performer, Elzbieta frequently appears as a soloist with orchestras in China, Europe, and the United States. She also appears in notable chamber music groups. Her repertoire includes works for bass, alto, and piccolo flutes. Enthusiastic about creative music, Elzbieta often collaborates with composers. She is interested in performing jazz and contemporary music, including compositions with electronics. Her most recent performance accolade was her solo recital debut at Carnegie Hall on October 4, 2019.

Elzbieta is currently a Professor of Flute at Zhaoqing University in Guangdong, China. She previously taught at the Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw, Poland. She also taught at the National School of Music in Opole, Poland, the Academy of Music in Katowice, Poland, and the National School of Music in Bydgoszcz, Poland. She obtained Diplôme Supérieur de Concertiste à l’unanimité avec les félicitations du jury in Paris under the supervision of Professor Pierre-Yves Artaud. She finished her undergraduate studies with distinction under Professor Jerzy Mrozik at The Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wroclaw. In 2006 she received a doctoral degree in Arts and a post-doctoral degree in 2013.

Elzbieta was the winner of the 2014 Salamon Prize (Danish-Polish Friendship), and Laureate of the International Flute Competition in Cracow, International Concours Moderne Chain, International Competition in Dabrowa Gornicza, National Flute Competition in Warsaw, National Competition in Radziejowice, and National Competition for Wind Instruments in Olsztyn.
Elzbieta has been the Polish Flutists Association President since 2010. She has recorded two solo albums: Elzbieta Wolenska & Friends with Claude Bolling's music and pieces for flute solo, and Souvenir with Johann Sedlatzek's virtuosity romantic music from the 19th century.
Elzbieta plays the Arista flute.

What are your goals personally? Professionally?

Personally - my goal is to live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment.

Professionally - I just want to continue doing what I love and maintain my health to prolong my playing career. 


What inspires you the most in life?

I believe that life itself is what inspires me, rather than any one specific thing. Meeting new people, encountering unpredictable situations, and observing the beauty of nature is what I find beautiful and inspiring. 


What has been your greatest challenge?

As a flute player, I faced a challenging experience while preparing for my diploma in Paris.  One of the pieces I had to perform was the Boulez Sonatine (which I have never played before). Unfortunately, I didn't have enough time for rehearsals with my pianist, Misaki Baba. The first time we played together I was completely lost. When my professor, Pierre-Yves Artaud, heard our first rehearsal, he was very unhappy because he noticed all of my rhythmic mistakes. He expected me to play perfectly on time, without cheating. It took me some time to prepare better by practicing with recordings, but I still remember this embarrassing situation until today. Haha! 


What is the most exciting thing in your life right now?

The perspective of the upcoming summer holidays haha


What are you completely bored with right now?

I guess I am a very lucky person since there is no such thing! 


What is keeping you busy these days?

Apart from teaching and performing, I am also learning how to edit and publish the music scores of Johann Sedlatzek. 


One habit you wish you could break?

Procrastination is something that unfortunately happens to me sometimes. 


If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would love to possess the ability to speak every language in the world, allowing me to communicate with anyone without any barriers. This superpower is something I have long dreamed of. 


What is one thing you wish you knew at 19?

If I had known I was going to live in China, I would have started learning Chinese earlier haha.


What is your Spirit Animal?

No surprise to my friends - I am a cat lover! I can easily identify with them and I hope understand them. I often fall asleep, love to play around and I am independent - all like cats. 


Can you share with us your journey in becoming a flutist? What drew you to the flute initially?

My music journey began at Primary Music School in Bytom, Poland, where I started learning the piano. After four years, I had the opportunity to choose a second instrument, which would become my primary one. I wanted to learn the trumpet, just like my elder brother, but unfortunately, the trumpet teacher refused to teach me because I was a girl. He said that girls can't play the trumpet! As a result, I started playing the recorder, and after six months, my teacher suggested that I could be good at playing the flute. So, in a way, it was not intentional, and it just happened because the trumpet teacher didn't want to teach me haha.


Could you tell us about your practice routine and how it has evolved over the years to maintain your high level of performance?

From the beginning, I have always enjoyed practicing the flute. And that has not changed over such a long time. I am a big fan of practicing scales, including many different patterns and playing them from memory. This keeps me focused, and I have to think about what to play next all the time. During years of playing, I have changed my way of practicing in general. For example, I try to avoid mistakes during practice and practice as if I am performing in a concert. If I have to prepare for a long recital, I start by playing the entire repertoire from the beginning to the end without any breaks, just like a concert. Then, I practice to improve the parts where I was not satisfied. At the end of practice, I play the repertoire again from the beginning to the end, like a concert. I have noticed that this way of practicing prepares me much better for long recitals. It's like building my physical and psychological stamina to stay focused for a long time or to know when I may lose my focus.


Collaboration is often essential for musicians. Could you share some of your experiences working with special conductors, composers, and other musicians?

I have been fortunate enough to work with many talented composers and exceptional musicians. From my experience, what I value the most is collaboration with musicians who are well-prepared and have a creative interpretation of the music. Being inspired by their new ideas is something I really enjoy. Although I strive for perfection, I also believe in being flexible and open to changes if it leads to a better performance. 


Many aspiring musicians look up to accomplished performers like yourself. What advice would you give to young flutists who are aspiring to have a successful career in music?

Prepare yourself for an endless journey filled with practice, travel, sacrifices, and constant learning. If you're ready for this, pursue your dreams and never give up. 


Lastly, what are your upcoming projects or performances that your fans can look forward to? 

I am inviting everyone interested in attending the upcoming flute festivals in: Mexico (Flutes By The Sea, July 15-20), Macau (Flute Art Festival, July 20-26), Macau (International Youth Symphony Music Festival, August 18-19) and Slovenia (Slovenian Flute Festival, September 28-29). Also, I am hoping that by the time of these festivals, my project to publish the scores of Johann Sedlatzek's music, which I recorded on my CD "Souvenir”, will be completed. 

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