Wiktoria Szubelak is a Polish born classical guitar player. She rose above the pack to a world class level with hard work and dedication to her instrument. Wiktoria was a finalist in the prestigious Eurovision competition for young musicians in Poland. As a result, she performed with Wojciech Rajski and the Polish Radio Orchestra at the Witold Lutoslowski concert studio in Warsaw. Being a graduate at the Chopin University of Music, she studied with guitar instructors such as: Carlo Marchione, Pavel Steidl, Tomasz Muller-Pering and many more. The classical guitar competitions of Gdansk and Gryfice Trzebiatow were no problem for Wiktoria, as she took first place in both. In the International competition in Llerena, Spain, she was a finalist. Wiktoria travels the world performing in classical guitar festivals. We can only hope she will perform in the United States soon.
R.V.B. - What sparked your interest into playing the guitar? Why did you choose the classical genre instead of folk, popular or rock music?
W.S. - My father played a guitar and probably this was the reason I start playing. Actually, I started with the piano, but didn't enjoy it, so after 2 months I change instrument for guitar and fall in love with it! I grew up with classical music as I am playing it from beginning of my musical education. I love classical music because of its diversity, elegance, gentility and timeless beauty
R.V.B. - Was your family musical also?
W.S. - My father played guitar very often when I was a child. He is truly talented amateur :). My youngest brother also plays guitar, but he prefers electric one.
R.V.B. - What was your practice regiment like in your teens? Did you feel you were missing out on socializing with your friends when you were practicing?
W.S. - I was practicing almost every day for minimum 2 hours. Yes, at this time it was difficult for me to have kind of practice regiment, when my school friend went out, had meetings, a and lot of teenage' activities. This was a big problem for me then, and when I was arguing with my parents, I wanted to quit playing (for a day, next day I was in love with playing:)).
R.V.B. - Who did you take lessons from and where was your first official recital? What did you play and how did it go?
W.S. - I began guitar classes with great teacher Bolesław Brzonkalik, who was really nice and joyfull person and I love lessons with him. Then was Adam Mikulski, with whom I worked very hard and that caused several winings in guitar competitions. And after that came professional guitar classes with Marek Zieliński in Wroclaw and Ryszard Bałauszko in Warsaw, and of course, I took also a lot of masterclasses with great european guitarists, like Pavel Steidl, Tomasz Zawierucha, Marcin Dylla and others.
I can not remember my first recital. As a child I played often on a school concerts (as one of many young musicians). My first serious solo recital took place when I was 15. It was great experience and I was really happy playing works by Llobet, Tarrega and others :)
R.V.B. - Did you play any other instruments in High School?
W.S. - Playing piano is a part of musical education in Poland and it is obligatory for each student. I wish I had more time to learn more and better, but playing guitar, taking part in competitions and concerts was too time-consuming. So I was very bad piano player ;)
R.V.B. - How did you enjoy your college years at Chopin University of Music? You studied with some very talented guitar players. Do you still keep in touch?
W.S. - Studying at University requires a lot of independence, systematic and focus, especially in music study. I liked a variety of classes - from old music to contemporary, it was very inspiring. I had few great teachers and I enjoy classes with them, but I am very happy I finish my study and now I am completely independent.
With my guitar collegues I am still in touch, we are great friends and have a lot of meetings and "guitarists parties".
R.V.B. - How often do you practice these days?
W.S. - It was daily routine. You have to practice daily, systematically, when you want to be a professional player.
R.V.B. - You have received some very prestigious scholarships such as The National Heritage Scholarship, The City of Wroclaw and others. Did these come from some performances and hard work during school?
W.S. - Most of all, it comes from hard work during school and prizes in guitar competitions.
R.V.B. - Did you have a lot of fun competing in the Eurovision contest for young musician? Were you nervous?
W.S. - It was crazy, because in one weekend I took part in competition as a soloist, as a part of guitar quartett and in elimination for European contest. Three different programs, two cities and my first concert with orchestra with live transmission in TV. And it was really good orchestra - Polish Radio Orchestra. A little intimidating... If I wouldn't be so excited, I will probably be nervous, but it was extremely great experience, and everything went well! :)
R.V.B. - It must have been quite an honor to win the local guitar contests in Gdansk and Gryfice Trzebiatow as well as being a finalist in Spain. How do you enjoy competing with all the other talented players? Did you become friends with any other contestants?
W.S. - I must say, that after a lot of competition during my teens years, I don't enjoy playing at competitions. I definitely prefer playing concerts. What I really enjoy, is meeting people and making friends with them.
R.V.B. - I see all your hard work is paying off... You have played some high profile performances and have traveled the world. How was your South America trip? Were there any venues or performances that really stuck out for you?
W.S. - This year I had second trip to South America, I visited Peru and Venezuela. Last year I played concerts in Peru, Bolivia and Argentina. I have to tell you, that I am completely stunned by culture, music and friedliness there.
One of the most beautiful places I played a concert ever was beautiful Teatro Municipal in Sucre in Bolivia - strange experience being very far away from public, but fantastic architecture.
This year I heard peruvian guitarist, Ernesto Hermoza for the first time. He is playing his own music, mixture of flamenco, african and peruvian music, absolutely one of a kind! It was one of the best performances I ever heard - directly from the heart. I enjoyed it a lot!
R.V.B. - Do you get to enjoy museums or go walking through cities when you travel?
W.S. - One of the best part of being a musician is playing concerts and traveling. I love to discover the cities, culture, food, history and local music. I am always planning a small tour, when I am visiting cities for a concert.
R.V.B. - Do you have any other hobbies other then performing on the guitar?
W.S. - I am books addicted :)
R.V.B. - Are you in a relationship with anyone? Do you travel with anyone or go by yourself?
W.S. - I am a single. Mostly, I am traveling alone, only with my guitar :)
R.V.B. - Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. I appreciate it?
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
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