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Wacław Krupiński
After their concert in Potsdam with Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg, the public awarded them with a 15-minute standing ovation.
In January 2008, when they played a two-hour concert of the music by Penderecki, Górecki, Kilar and their own in the famous Carnegie Hall, two standing ovations followed. This year in April, in the Barbican Center in London they performed a terrific concert with the band of Michael Nyman, a film score composer. In autumn they will play in Poland and the world-famous artist will enter a recording studio with the Cracow trio. In autumn 2000, the Motion Trio was awarded the Grand Prix of the Fourth Krzysztof Penderecki International Contemporary Chamber Music Competition, which was then exceptionally granted ex aequo. After years we can reveal that it seemed to have been accompanied by specific lobbing of the co-creator of the contest, Ms Agnieszka Odorowicz, the vice-chairperson of the Institute of Art. She was right; the years which followed showed that Motion Trio, established four years before by Janusz Wojtarowicz, are highly talented instrumentalists leading their careers consequently and deliberately. Today they are certainly the most eminent laureate of this Cracovian competition. Whether in the University of Chicago, private residence of the American multimillionaire Arie Zweig, Viennese jazz club of Joe Zawinul, prestigious celebration, like Andrzej Wajda’s birthday in Fabryka Trzciny Art Center or international festival, their concerts are always truly impressive. They always prove that the accordion is an important and serious instrument, and not some wrinkle, radiator, swine or shame, as sometimes scornfully called. Ennoblement of the accordion, showing a tremendous scale of its tone possibilities and use in every field of music and, at the same time, putting it on the pedestal of art was the purpose of the trio leader from the very beginning. Nine years ago he proudly stated that thanks to the Grand Prix in the Penderecki International Competition, the accordion was granted a quality certificate and proved that an accordion trio can be as good as a string quartet, that the instrument – condemned for so many years, is not worse than piano, violin or clarinet. He also mentioned that he dreamt of a concert in the Carnegie Hall or, as he added, abashed by the boldness of the desire, some other prestigious hall. He gave himself 10 years to fulfill the dream. He needed seven. The concert in the full Zankel Hall – second biggest room of the Carnegie Hall, one of the most famous concert places in the world, was dedicated to the memory of Andrzej Krzanowski, Poland’s biggest accordionist and composer. We were nervous, that’s true, but after the first few times we focused on the music. After the first part we knew it was good. After the break we appeared in our own outfits, not so official, which was a kind of sensation, and we played our pieces. We felt that people did accept our music, the two standing ovations, first one at once and the second one after the encore, which, as we hear, is rare in this hall, are the best evidence – said the leader after they returned. The sold all the records they took and gave autographs to queuing Americans and Poles. The flight to the Carnegie Hall was not his first visit in the country, as he had already given there some concerts with the trio and led master classes in the University of Chicago. - Thanks to my grandpa, my whole family left for the USA after his death in early 90s of the 20th century. I decided that I would eagerly visit that country after I have achieved something in Poland - Janusz Wojtarowicz said in 2000, having been awarded the Grand Prix. Now, he can also say to have come from streets to the Carnegie Hall. His experiences from playing in the street have been expressed in the Motion Trio record Pictures from the Street, available in about 30 countries all over the world. He himself has not played the accordion in so many countries; however, he has got to know very well the squares and streets of various parts of Europe. - Because of that I know what Vienna looks like, I will not be lost in Freiburg, Zurich, Rome, Strasbourg, Lyon, Dijon, Basel... – he enumerates. Whenever patrol appeared, he used to be warned by French tramps for 10-20 francs. He found himself terribly yelled at by an old Italian woman near the St Mark’s Square – he did not grasp a single word, but understood everything when a flower pot landed right next to him. Besides, all doubts were dispelled when he saw hot water poured from above. One of the Wojtarowicz’s greatest adventures was in Rome. He was playing, when he suddenly saw a fat Italian man wearing golden chains, accompanied by three grimly looking men. Using broken English they stammered that they liked his play but it was too quiet and, without ceremony, pushed him into their car which then moved, who knows where and what for… – The drive, which took a while, was a real horror – the musician recalls. Finally, we got to a music shop where I was given fantastic sound equipment and two modern mikes to attach to the accordion and then I was driven back to the place from which I was taken, because my sponsors wanted to hear how the equipment works. They disappeared as quickly as they appeared. I used the equipment for long years and then sold for a few marks. The leader of the Motion Trio can tell numerous similar stores, also about playing, cold and hungry. Just like his bandmate, Marcin Gałażyn. - I traveled around half of Europe with my accordion, alone and with my band Que Passa; we also played in Cracow at Floriańska street. I find that time really good, I learnt a lot - admits Marcin Gałażyn. He also remembers “one of the most import ant lecturers” throwing them a coin once. - Professors or lecturers should favour the young playing in the streets. Not only because it’s their earning, but also because it’s their first way to be seen and heard; they do not yet have an access to concert halls and it’s the street that gives them contact with listeners and allows them to watch their reactions and to approach them. It’s hours spent with the instrument… - convinces Gałażyn, as he remembers well that not everyone at the academy liked his playing. Their last playing that way was in 2003 – at the Lake Constance. They wanted to earn, among others, for the express train from Cracow to Warsaw, where they were to play with Bobby McFerrin. All the three of them were students of the Music Academy in Cracow. Marcin Gałażyn (called „Rudy” [eng. Ginger] because of the colour of his “coiffure”), 34 years old, has been playing the accordion for 19 years. Comes from the Mazurian District, Augustów, graduated from secondary school in Białystok, then studied in Cracow. Paweł Baranek, 31 years old, started playing the accordion in his hometown Kozłów, 20 km from Miechów, at the age of 10. He owes a lot to his teacher, Wiesław Kusior, who taught him from the 4th class in Miechów and then, having noticed his talent, took the boy with him to the music secondary school in Tarnów. He finished studies with honours and collected prizes from numerous contests. Leader - Janusz Wojtarowicz. He has been playing the accordion for 31 years. He started when he was 7, thanks to his father, Eugeniusz Wojtarowicz, director of the 1st degree music school in Nowy Targ, branch in Rabka. - He was the only pedagogue who taught me to play. Later, I mainly learnt by myself – he said after years. He finished the Music Secondary School with very good results. He was admitted at the Academy, which was then situated in the same building as the PWST (Ludwik Solski Academy for the Dramatic Arts), which made establishing contacts easier. He wrote music for the Salomea’s Dream of Silver, which was prepared by Jerzy Jarocki as diploma performance. Later he assisted Stanisław Radwan in creation of music for the same show, but in the Teatr Stary. He took a dean’s leave at year 3 and went to play in the street. Then, he accomplished year 4, still doing “something else”. He started cooperation with Grupa Rafała Kmity, wrote fantastic music to the prize-winning performance, Wszyscyśmy z jednego szynela, which is staged till now, and to “Oedipus the King” created in the Jaracz Theatre in Łódź by Eligiusz Brzyk. Similarly to other talented people, he still did “something else”, e.g. for a year he took private lessons with Andrzej Białko, to learn to play the baroque. – He is a master and I have always been eager for masters, geniuses. When he was at the 5th year of his studies, the rules of the Academy appeared too rigorous to have room for him and, first of all, to find understanding. Wojtarowicz knew precisely what he wanted. He founded the Motion Trio. Several musicians played there. The ones who have stayed are Baranek, who came in 1998 and Gałażyn, who joined a year later. They play great together, each of them has different technique, articulation and character. And maybe this is why they reach such tremendous effect, apart from their friendship, of course. They also get along well with their sound-man, Michał Rosicki. Thanks to the Grand Prix, the Institute of Arts, organizer of the competition, through the department of culture, has obtained new instruments as a result of which, since 2004 the trio has been playing accordions by Pigini, world-wide leading producer. Now, they could play with great artists like Bobby McFerrin, whom they met again at the jazz festival in Montreal with no anxiety of their instrument. In Montreal, the famous singer improvised to Wojtarowicz’s pieces of music. They could also stand at the side of the tabla and drum virtuoso, Trilok Gurtu, with whom they played in Cracow, in part one of the concerts of Joe Zawinul Syndicate. – Although I have never played with him, I consider Zawinul my spirituals patron. Our numerous talks about our music and music in general, about humbleness and attitude towards it mean a lot to me. The fact that he let us play in his Viennese club Birdland for five consecutive evenings in September 2004 was also important - emphasizes Wojtarowicz. They owe these five evenings (during one of them they played with Tomasz Stańko, who said “I’m fascinated with them even after one, short rehearsal”) also to Zofia Beklen, chief of the organization Wiener-Krakauer Kultur-Gesellschaft in Vienna. And this was the turning point of their careers. They received invitations from various prestigious places in the world which made them give 106 concerts in 22 countries within a year and a half, being invited to 17 festivals, e.g. the aforementioned Festival International de Jazz de Montreal, Urkurt Festival in Sweden, where world music was dominant, Lowlands Festival in Biddinghuizen in the Netherlands, to which rock, techno, punk and metal artists are invited, like: Apocalyptica, The Prodigy, Nick Cave, Korn, Marilyn Manson, Morcheeba or in Taiwan... they also represented Cracow at EXPO in Japan. 32 countries in total. This was the time when they eagerly participated in jazz, rock and modern music festivals, like Parkmusic in Germany, where music by Karlheinz Stockhausen and Janis Ksenakis is played. It was then that Wojtarowicz declared that they were equally fascinated with heavy metal, jazz and modern music and that they did not want to be pigeonholed in the circle of the “world music” which was so fashionable then. Recently they simply do not wish to be associated with this trend and are more and more deliberate while selecting invitations; they want to be individual, separate. Wojtarowicz likes giving McFerrin as an example – as it is impossible to classify him anyhow; he is just a master of singing, both jazz and classics, e.g. with the master of cello, Yo Yo Ma... The same is with the Motion Trio; on the one hand they play their own music, mainly their leader’s, very diversified, as it includes Sounds of war, inspired by the war in Chechen, You dance arranged in techno music, and nostalgic Little story; on the other hand they play compositions by Krzysztof Penderecki, Henryk Mikołaj Górecki or Wojciech Kilar, whose Orava is applauded continuously. Wojtarowicz, Gałażyn and Baranek are happy to enter such diversified worlds of music using various languages, because, as they say, it is better to know four languages than one. Their outfits are also chosen suitably to the variety of styles. These are either tail-coats (although not fully classic), or modern suits, or rockmen’s outfits. They want to appear in concert halls with their accordions also to bring some fresh air and attract the young. And they are successful. Screams of enthusiasm and joy accompany their concerts, as if these were concerts of some rock star. Janusz Wojtarowicz knows that the reason for their success is the fact that they play acoustically three accordions and offer something new – either their own pieces of music or transcription of works written for totally different instruments, as what is the sense of playing Bach on the accordion? “The trio of Polish accordionists mock at all habits and traditional way of playing the accordion, take the instrument into the future with no electronic effects" – wrote a Le Monde critic. Meeting Krzesimir Dębski was another event important to the musicians. It was him who prepared arrangements of their music played with the Deutsches Filmorchester Babelsberg. – As soon as during the rehearsals, reactions of the orchestra members, who had already played with Jose Carreras, Andrea Bocelli, Buena Vista Social Club or Metallica, showed that it was good – Wojtarowicz recalls. In September 2007 they presented the program with the Brazilian Rio de Janeiro Orquestra do Teatro Municipal, also at the famous Copacabana beach. Within the scope of that project, called Motion Symhony, the trio played with such bands as, among others WDR Rundfunkorchester Köln, Sinfonietta Riga, Sinfonietta Cracovia, Chamber Orchestra AUKSO, Orchestra of the Łódź Filharmony or Hanseatica Chamber Orchestra. The last significant step in the trio’s career and promotion of the accordion, which is constantly emphasized by Wojtarowicz, was this year’s performance of the Motion Trio with Michael Nyman Band in the Barbican Center in London. The concert, fantastically received by the public and the world-famous composer, is to be repeated four times in Poland – in autumn they will play in Gdańsk, Warszawa, Poznań and Łódź. A CD is also to be released with Nyman as the pianist. The CD shall contain mainly the score to Peter Greenaway’s films; its initial piece shall be the Piano theme, while the closing one shall be the piece by Wojtarowicz, Proms, from the latest record of the Trio, Metropolis. Of course, apart from concerts, the trio’s showpieces are its records, including Pictures from the Street, prized in Germany and in Poland, and Play-Station, the release of which has been reported in the New York Times along with the band’s picture. Both were released under the brand of the German Asphalt Tango and British Harmonia Mundi and are available in about 30 countries. Metropolis is under the brand of Akordeonus Records, that is, the company run by the leader’s wife, Anna. The album, which is a music wander across numerous cities in the world, joins the influence of baroque, music by Szostakowicz and Strawiński, and trance club music. Now, the CD with Nyman will join, which is to be included by the composer in the catalogue of his own record company. - Recording this CD is a great satisfaction. Not only shall it be released at Nyman’s, it will also include my piece - Janusz Wojtarowicz said. They are also planning to record a CD with a 25-person youth orchestra of accordionists from Koszalin, with which they played and were applauded in the French Lille, as well as an authoring CD for the forthcoming 15th anniversary of the trio. It cannot be out of the question that they will meet some famous authors somewhere on their way who, enchanted by their music, will propose cooperation on a common project. The Motion Trio has many a time proved, and will keep proving, that there is tremendous strength and magic in their play.