I didn’t find Magdalena through auditions, but through Tomasz Górny, who knew her from the conservatory. I don’t believe in auditions, it’s too detached and too much just waiting. You have to look for yourself and see who appears on your path.
Magdalena Golebiowska has been born in Poland, in Wloclawek, a small town in the heart of the country. She is the eldest of six children, three girls and three boys. She tells me how she got enchanted by the piano playing of a nephew who played Chopin. At a young age she went to the music school to learn how to make music, playing the piano and singing. The singing became more and more important and it was the pianist Bogdan Holownia who gave her the advice during a vocal workshop and stimulated her to spread her wings and to continue her studies abroad. In Europe, so she could stay close to her family, she chose for the Amsterdam Conservatory. Maybe the technical quality of the musical development did not turn out that different, but it’s the diversity of cultures, the encounter of people from everywhere that gave the extra dimension to her development.
In Amsterdam Wiebe Cnossen was teaching her further classical and technical skills and Magdalena directed herself to Polish folk music, especially from the region Kujawy. Certain rhythms from these sources have been a strong inspiration for Chopin as they were worked out in his mazurkas. She played them on the piano, but more and more the singing became important. She tells me how singing gave her more control over the music, with herself as instrument and slowly singing became more important than playing the piano. The vocal became her instrument.
In the conversations with Tomasz I made it clear that I was looking for musicians who not just wanted to play their music, but who could see themselves as performer in a larger setting of play, texts, images, scenes. He was enthusiast about this and it was a clear motive for him to introduce Magdalena also. Initially I had the idea to ask three pianists, and he proposed also Laurens de Man, a very good classical pianist. Laurens was also there on the fifth of November at my place, a wonderful evening with the actresses and musicians who met each other for the first time, and also ten Brazilian and ten European artists. A great mood, still to see in the trailer. Some time later Laurens had to decide not to continue in this project, because all kind of other ambitions and work he had to do and I decided to move on with just Tomasz and Magda.
The moment I invited Tomasz and her to work on the project, I could see that she held back her inner joy to be chosen. I could sense in everything that she really wanted to do it and I was looking forward to see her performing. The occasion was there at her masters concert in the Conservatory. A great night with a surprising program in the big performance room. In a unique concert she showed all her musical and performing qualities. She sang her compositions and adaptation of Polish folk music, accompanied by some musicians. A contemporary and personal program in which she transcended herself and in which you could see how much she was in her element and could express herself completely and convincing.
Her silence and a certain wait-and-see or prudence had ceased and a strong self-confidence and devotion had taken over, great, powerful and magical. Her voice expresses vulnerability and power at the same moment, a singing paradox but exceptional true. This just confirmed my choice and I praised the coincidence to find her. But I believe in coincidence, it’s like Botho Strauss says in Couples and Passants: the coincidence is to put yourself in a symbolic field of force and to add something secretly.
Her greatest inspiration are people, ‘I love people’, that simple and true as she says it. People intrigue her, by biographies, how lives are happening and moving on. This goes also for encounters, slowly unravelling the other, peeling of the layers of the encounter until she gets to the core, from herself and the other. Through Piano Etudes she rediscovered the piano again and it’s in this special project that she can show both qualities, the playing and the singing, integrated and in interaction with all the other performers.
photos: Marta Golebiowska