Interviews with the Finalists
About the Competition
- Looking back at the First Preliminary Round of the competition, can you give us an overview of that part of the competition and how you performed?
The requirements were clearly given to all participants before the First Preliminary Round. It was a challenge to fit both rehearsing and playing the piece in the limited time available. The orchestra was outstanding, musicians played repertoire by heart and followed conductor in every detail. It was an inspiration and joy to work with them.
- Regarding the competition, what advice did your mentor/teacher give you and what did you mostly focus on doing?
Concentrate on music and communicate with the orchestra.
- Did you prepare in any specific way for the competition?
I worked on the repertoire systematically, getting deeper into the pieces and arriving at my own view of them. It was a turtle's work - required patience and consequence - but full of reflection and self-development.
- Can you share with us how you felt and what you had in mind as you were about to begin conducting for the First Preliminary Round?
I felt the music in all parts of myself - it filled my mind and body. All moments of the piece were fitting together. I was focusing on breathing and adjusting myself to the tempo of the music, in which it would sound in its fullness.
- How did you spend the night after the competition ended?
I was still in my thoughts with the competition and going through the whole experience, my conducting, new meetings, and the feedback from the jury. Analyzing what went well and what could have gone better.
- Why did you choose the piece out of the three choices you were given?
I chose Beethoven's Eroica Symphony, because I thought it was the most demanding piece of them. I dreamt to conduct it and I felt it was the right moment to do it.
- When you were conducting the required piece, what particular aspects were you careful to stick to and what did you have in mind when you conducted that piece?
My goal was to inspire the orchestra with my way of seeing the piece. In the music I concentrated on bringing out the characters of themes, stylistic issues and building of an integral structural of the whole piece.
- Did you select the clothes you wore specifically for the Preliminary and the Final Rounds of the competition or was your attire one that you normally wear when conducting?
I made the final decision on the day before every round. I brought several different clothes, which I normally use during conducting, but it was the surrounding atmosphere of the competition and concert hall, which influenced my choices.
- Do you have a good luck item you carry with you when conducting? Or, for example, is there any particular food you eat or thing you do before a competition that you feel brings you good luck?
I prepare mentally for the experience, and this a foundation for my performances.
- Can you share with us how you felt when the winners were called out? Do you feel different now than you did at that time?
The verdict announcement is always a stressful experience, because it is a moment where the result no longer depends on myself.
- 11. Can you share with us how you feel now that you have concluded your debut concert? Has anything changed in your environment as a conductor after this concert?
I continue to be inspired by the spirited Japanese people. The way of making music is unique with every orchestra, because it consists of different musicians. Achieving similar sounding results from different orchestras requires often using different means.
About the conductor profession
- What made you want to become a conductor?
It is a profession in which all my skills join and I feel I fulfil my potential.
- What hardships did you encounter to become a conductor? On the other hand, what are the joys you experienced?
The conductor needs to continuously study music, literature, oneself and other people, and strive to be a better musician and person. In all this the conductor needs to believe strongly in oneself.
The greatest joy is to make music with other people and inspire the listeners.
- What do you always keep in mind or are careful about as a conductor?
The conductor needs to perfectly know the music they are about to conduct, it has to flow in big picture and every detail in conductor's mind and body. It is important to put music before oneself.
- In what kind of an environment do you rehearse?
Studying scores is possible in every environment, but I prefer quiet places where imagination can run freely. It is nice if there is enough light so that eyes can easily read the score and a mirror to check the manual technique. At different stages I like to play the piece or parts of it on the piano to support the imaginative work.
Music has been part of my life always.
It was a reason and goal of life in itself.
- Which is your favorite orchestra, composer and piece (irrespective of genre)?
very day I discover new orchestras, composers and pieces, and every day I discover anew the orchestras, composers and pieces that I earlier thought I know. Everything is in a state of change.
- Do you have any memories about music during your childhood days?
Music has been part of my life always. As a child, it was a solution to reality. Whenever I had a problem, I would start playing or listening to music, and the problem would go away. It was a reason and goal of life in itself.
- If you did not become a conductor, what kind of occupation do you think you would have been involved in? Is there any other job you would have liked to experience?
I would have been a cellist and played in orchestras.
- Can you share with us your future plans or goals and your determination to achieve this?
I would like to pursue full concert seasons with deep insight into specific repertoire. I care very much for creating long relationships with orchestras and I believe we can achieve this way more. International activity is important, as it broadens my experience and knowledge, and allows me to give from myself more.
- Would you kindly give advice to those who are considering taking part in the next Tokyo International Competition for Conducting?
Be well prepared with the repertoire and open your hearts to the new conducting experience.
Born in 1983, Maja Metelska received a Master of Music and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the Chopin Academy of Music, Warsaw, where she studied cello with Antoni Wit for her Master of Music. Ms. Metelska has attended masterclasses with Jorma Panula, Yuri Simonov, David Zinman (Aspen American Academy of Conducting), Marin Alsop, James Conlon and Leif Segerstam (Sibelius Academy). Since her debut concert with the Warsaw Philharmonic in 2006, Ms. Metelska has received repeated invitations from orchestras throughout Poland, and has also conducted the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Danish National Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Scottish Symphony Orchestra, among others. Ms. Metelska is currently a conductor with the Warsaw Chamber Opera.