Kinga Augustyn, a Polish violin virtuoso now living and working in New York City, gave an extensive interview in February for Presto, a Polish-language periodical covering music, film and arts. Titled, “Ten niemożliwy Nowy Jork” [This Impossible New York], the article covers Augustyn’s artistic trajectory and provides her explanation of why New York City is sometimes considered “impossible.
As it turns out, Augustyn’s settling in New York City was an accident of fate. While still in high school Augustyn commuted between Wrocław and Hamburg, where she took lessons with Professor Petru Munteanu. Disappointed with the family with whom she lived in Hamburg, Augustyn flew to New York to audition for Juilliard School of Music and, against very high odds, was accepted. The incredibly competitive atmosphere of this amazing school actually suited Augustyn quite well and she made lots of friends among her fellow students, graduating with Bachelors’ and Masters’ Degrees from Juilliard. She followed it with a doctorate from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Summing up her experience, Augustyn said that, “my teachers at Juilliard had forever inculcated in me the drive to constantly refine my skills and continue my artistic development. It’s not about being a workaholic—it’s about something much larger than that.”
Augustyn’s impressions of New York are shaped by the very high cost of living and the great variety of concerts—some truly excellent, others less so. “There is so much going on here that every day there are hundreds of artistic events—a paradise for the music lover. As far as performing goes, there are many orchestras where you can find work. You can also play gigs. Everyone can find something.” In spite of her respect and admiration for many superb orchestral musicians, Augustyn doesn’t see herself in that environment. “I much prefer solo work and recitals, including chamber music concerts. Therefore I strive to continue doing that kind of work and expanding its scope. Besides that I love to teach and I have a knack for it. I have several good students.”
Asked about her everyday life, Augustyn said, “I simply love New York… I’ve become accustomed to the city’s life. I like the ‘quick pulse’ of this metropolis, even the city’s proverbial ‘rat race’ that my mother noticed after visiting me here. I considered leaving and resettling in another town, trying something different. The truth is that in my line of work—i.e. concertizing—travel is a big factor. […] It’s easier to move around the world now as compared to fifty years ago. But this is my home base and my starting point. My contacts are here. I consider New York the most appropriate place for me. From here I aim to achieve my highest potential.”
Augustyn has performed in some of New York’s most prestigious venues, including Carnegie and Weill Recital halls, and Metropolitan Museum of Art and has made recordings of violin and piano music (see here recordings for Naxos and other labels at www.kingaaugustyn.com Clearly, Augustyn finds New York “impossible” only in the sense that it would indeed be impossible not to live there. She concluded that, “I think that to answer your question we could jointly agree that, in a way, New York is a place of possibilities. One has to ceate them for oneself, which doesn’t happen on its own. It isn’t easy either.”
[Sources: press release, www.prostoomuzyce.pl. Photo: PeterSchaaf]
and Polish Music Newsletter http://www.usc.edu/