An interview with Classical musician Margarita Pinkosz

by | Feb 18, 2022 | Interviews

Margarita PinkoszMargarita Pinkosz is an established Classical musician and a promoter of Polish music. She’s a Top prize winner of countless international competitions and performer of countless festivals. Based in San Francisco, she recently graduated from her third Masters degree while studying with Grammy-nominated Corey Jamason. With a keen interest in Polish music, especially from the 21st century, Pinkosz seeks to become a composer for youth, performer and educator of the next generation of musicians.

1 In Music: What is unique about you and your music?

Margarita Pinkosz [MP]: I am specialized in performing Polish music, starting from the 19th century, all the way to newer music. My passion is unusual because I also want to teach people about the music from my country. I know Poland is unknown in the USA and is mostly confused with Holland. So I want to educate the audience about my country and how beautiful and original the music is! Most of the time you can hear the influences of folk for example. Take Scherzo n. 1 of Fryderyk Chopin; in the middle part, you suddenly hear a motif of Poland’s most delicate Christmas carol that was transformed into a classical piece for piano. I’m not sure if people know this. I love to find these little local/folk elements hidden in Polish music. At the moment I am also preparing to perform more modern repertoire such as: Witold Lutoslawski, Grazyna Bacewicz, Alexander Tansman, and more recently my new inspirations are: Agata Zubel, Elzbieta Sikora… One of my projects is based on strictly music of Polish female composers. Stay tuned!

1 In Music: What or who shaped your music and who supports you?

MP: I have been living in Poland since I was 6 and that’s where I went to school to continue piano education. My teacher, Maria Niemira, was my main supporter. At first, she criticized my hand position; she claimed my pinky was too curved and that it should touch the keyboard even if I don’t use it. When the old habit was fixed we could finally focus on interpretation. To my surprise she never had a lot to change in the way I was playing anything. I felt that my intuition was guiding me on how to play all these different composers. I mostly loved to play Russian and Polish music though! Many of the composers such as Kabalevski, Prokofiev, Lutoslawski, etc. had a full repertoire for kids and teenagers. These were my first steps into learning Polish music. Professor Niemira was sending me to local competitions where everybody had to play Polish composers, mostly Fryderyk Chopin. She really believed in me! I started to receive first prizes for my interpretation of Polish music. I got more and more invitations to perform in concerts and festivals in Poland… Many times after the concert, I would have people approach me and say: “You are a natural for Polish music!”. I was only about 9 or 10 at that time I think..

1 In Music: When did you realise you were going to make music professionally?

I think I was around 6 years old. I was invited to play my first show of a few Polish composers in the National Philharmonic in Warsaw, Poland to open for the bigger artists coming after. I was so inexperienced that after my performance I just stayed on the stage just literally standing in the middle and not knowing what to do next. The announcer thought I wanted to bow more so she asked me to do so, more and more for the next few minutes since I still wasn’t leaving. Finally she understood what was going on and suggested that I go and sit and listen to the next performers. This is the moment I just knew I wanted to perform more and more and that the next time I would definitely know what to do.

1 In Music: What type of music do you listen to?

I listen to everything! Some days I just wake up, put some random music on Spotify and cook or relax. I always Shazam things: in the movie theaters, in the bars… Later, I listen to it again and learn about the musician. I also go to a lot of random music events: besides operas and symphony, broadway musicals, live music in bars, group muses, open mics… I am a very curious person! And then, there is my passion for Polish music! I learn constantly. I regularly read and listen to what’s recommended on culture.pl– the website of the biggest Polish music center in the world which is based in Los Angeles.

1 In Music: Who, to you, is the most undervalued music artist?

The most undervalued music artists are female composers! There are more and more of them and that’s great, but people are not used to listening to their music. The program of the symphony on the regular night is mostly 100% male composers. This art is still underground and the public is just learning about those new names. When I open the page about female Polish composers of the 19th century there was only one! Maria Szymanowska. And then 50 or more male names. It’s sad that only way later in the mid 20th and 21st century, women are finally allowed to create. Now they don’t have to ask for permission.

1 In Music: How do you prepare for your performances?

MP: Oh that’s complicated! If I play solo I need to put aside a few hours a day to just learn a repertoire. I first listen to other interpretations if I don’t know the piece very well, then just sit and look at the scores. I observe and see what info the composer left and I try to mentally learn to look carefully, especially when I start to learn the piece at the piano or harpsichord.

I feel like there is a different work for fingers (fitness) and for head (memory, the right habits).

For me, it’s always more efficient to study the music in silence and not only move the fingers. When I prepare a group performance then I love to practice with my music partners at least twice a week or more. We have to play like one body so getting to know each other’s playing habits and how to get along on the stage is the most important. We have to stay extremely synchronized and think musically the same.

1 In Music: What do you do when you don’t do music (creative or otherwise) and that you are passionate about?

MP: I mostly like to walk by the ocean and try new exotic foods. I love to recharge my energy by being alone but I am also a very social person so meeting my friends on a regular basis is extremely important. My friends are like my family! I also like wandering in the city without a plan and just discovering new places and nice streets. I enjoy fashion but I am very into sustainable living so you can definitely see me at the thrift store in Valencia or Haight st. I also LOVE to travel and learn new languages. Last year I was traveling a lot in Europe but for some reason it’s never enough! I hope to visit all states of the USA soon.

1 In Music: Success to you is…?

MP:

[Success to me…]Is to be a happy and a good person. In Music, to me success is to put on paper all the compositions I have in my head and to make Polish music famous and played around the world.

1 In Music: What do you wish you were told when you started out and that you think would help anyone who starts out?

MP: I wish somebody told me that

all my dreams are great and they might come true if I worked hard enough.

I think I missed that extra push! I realized that years later and I really have to catch up! Even trying would make me feel accomplished.

1 In Music: Any upcoming projects?

MP: I am working on learning a repertoire that includes compositions by Polish composers with the emphasis on female ones. I don’t want to jinx it so please cross fingers. I also have a project with a Polish-American actress from New York City, Ewa Maria Wojcik, to prepare a program for piano and voice where we involve the art of sound and word at the same time. Here again I will work 100% on Polish art. So you see I have a lot of projects involving Polish music!

1 In Music: Where do we find your music projects?

MP: Please check out my YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDd87vln8gsF1-vHiu_6PaA/videos. Please, subscribe to my YouTube channel as I am only starting and don’t have too many subscribers yet. Or my website if you want to get in touch for future collaborations:

http://margaritapinkosz.com

Thank you Margarita and we hope that you come to talk to us again about Polish Music and paricularly Polish Female Composers!