Who or what inspired you to take up the accordion and pursue a career in music?

I started playing the accordion quite late, when I was 11 and I began attending one of the national schools in Poland where I am from. I soon realised that this is what I wanted to do in my life. I was very lucky to have amazing teachers who were also great human beings so that helped me a lot in my decisions.

Who or what have been the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

I cannot name a single person in my musical career who has been the most important to me. I tend to take inspiration from everyone I have come across or worked with. My teacher Owen Murray from the Royal Academy of Music is one of them, for example, as someone who showed me the importance of sound quality.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

I think that maintaining the artistic vision in every concert is the biggest challenge but I think this problem touches most artists.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?  

It is very hard to name them as every performance is special for me and I try to give my best in each of them. If I have to choose one it would have to be my performance of Concerto Classico by Mikolaj Majkusiak for accordion and symphony orchestra in Vienna or my first album “Encuentro” with my group, the Deco Ensemble.

Which particular works do you think you play best?

I love to play classical contemporary works for accordion and I think that is the most natural repertoire in classical music for accordion nowadays. But, I enjoy playing all different styles of music as it helps to develop your musical taste.

How do you make your repertoire choices from season to season? 

My choices are based on my new discoveries. I love to go for the pieces or transcriptions which are not very popular or completely new.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

I think the Wigmore Hall is one of my favourite venues because of the acoustics. Also Studio S1 of Polish Radio is outstanding. I am also really looking forward to playing at the Wallace Collection for the first time as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency on 28th July.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

Works by Gubaidulina are my favourite to perform and Chopin to listen to.

Playing Chopin on the accordion would be one of the biggest mistakes possible.

Who are your favourite musicians?

My favourite musicians are the ones who I work with as I am often very lucky to meet people who are very talented but, more importantly, are nice people to work with. I think is really important. From the musical legends my favourites are Vladimir Horowitz, the great jazz pianist and composer Krzysztof Komeda, and Paco de Lucia.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

I remember playing for one of the political institutions in Brussels during an exhibition of pictures on the martology of Eastern Europe. I did not want to spoil the institution but the organisers asked me to play one of pieces in my repertoire called The Gulag Archipelago based on Solzhenitsyn’s book. Unfortunately, straight after the performance, the audience were supposed to move to the area where the post event reception was meant to take place. However, most of the audience went there after I started playing. I thought that it was a very bad concert experience until one lady came to my dressing room crying and explaining that her family went through the Gulag prisons and how touched she was.
We went for coffee together and she told me a lot of incredible stories from her life which were absolutely inspiring. Those kind of moments compensate for all the bad experiences in a musician’s life.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

I would have to say it is the concept of musical journey in the concert which the musician can reflect on.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

The word “perfect” should be completely erased from any language as there is no such thing in real life. For me happiness should be balanced between what you do, who you do it with and how you do it. Having a lovely family, doing a lot of concerts with my artistic vision and being able to enjoy life is as close to perfect as it can get in my opinion. Finding this balance in real life situation is the hardest bit.

Accordionist Bartosz Glowacki performs works by Scarlatti, Arvo Pärt, Trojan, Makkonen, Semionov and Piazzolla on Thursday 28th July as part of City Music Foundation’s Summer Residency at the Wallace Collection 25-29th July. More details here

City Music Foundation’s mission is to turn exceptional musical talent into professional success by equipping outstanding musicians at the outset of their careers with the tools, skills, experience and networks they need to pursue music as a viable and rewarding livelihood. 




Who or what inspired you to take up the accordion, and make it your career? 

After beginning piano lessons at the age of eight, my initial interest in the accordion came from hearing Scottish traditional music and one day I just walked past the local music shop and decided that I would like to begin learning the accordion. A few years later I attended a concert given by the Russian accordionist Oleg Sharov who is professor of accordion at the Rimsky Korsakov Conservatoire in St. Petersburg. A whole new world of possibilities was opened to me as I realised that the accordion could also be a serious classical instrument.

Who or what were the most important influences on your musical life and career? 

My father was a professional violinist and so I was immersed in classical music whilst growing up – his well honed performance skills and immense knowledge of repertoire, both orchestral and solo motivated me to focus on music as a career. I was very lucky to study with the Serbian teacher Dr Djordje Gajic, one of the most accomplished and inspirational performers I have met.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far? 

The classical accordion is still a very unfamiliar concept to many people, who tend to think of the accordion as purely a folk instrument. I have worked hard to promote it’s diverse repertoire and bring it onto the concert platform as an equal with other instruments.

Which performance/recordings are you most proud of?

As an undergraduate at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, I gave a recital which won me the Governors Recital Prize for Keyboard – a competition which was completely dominated by pianists, and this helped to raise the profile of the accordion within the Conservatoire.

In February 2012 I performed what I believe was the first solo accordion recital in Manchester’s Bridgewater Hall, as part of the Manchester Mid-Day Concert Series which was a great privilege.

Do you have a favourite concert venue to perform in and why? 

The Bridgewater Hall would have to be one of my favourite venues due to its wonderful acoustics which allow the sound of the instrument to fill the hall, but maintain pure clarity of tone. I have also greatly enjoyed performing in the beautiful setting of cathedrals such as Peterborough, Ripon and San Francisco.

Favourite pieces to perform? Listen to? 

I enjoy performing baroque works such as Bach and Scarlatti as they transcribe very nicely onto the free-bass accordion. ‘Romance’ by Franck Angelis is a contemporary work which allows the listener to descend into pure tranquility and is another of my favourite pieces to perform.

I listen to a wide range of music and have become fascinated with Tango – Astor Piazzolla took the genre from the dance halls to the concert stage and I am a founder member of the Scottish Tango Ensemble. Listening to the music being performed live by the Tango Orchestras on a visit to Buenos Aires in 2010 was an amazing experience.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are so many to choose from, but I admire the playing of Alexander Skylarov and Mika Varynen and I very much enjoy listening to the recordings of Horowitz as his musical mastery shines through.

What is your most memorable concert experience? 

This would have to be attending a concert of the Halle Orchestra conducted by Sir Mark Elder in a performance of Berlioz’s ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ in Manchester. He brought it alive in a terrific way, conjuring up such vivid images with the music.

As a performer sometimes the more intimate venues can be some of the most rewarding, and when in California earlier this year I gave a concert in Santa Cruz public library. Almost all of the audience were completely new to the concept of classical music being played on the accordion and had no idea what to expect. I began with Bach’s famous Toccata & Fugue in D Minor, and they were completely engrossed. A huge number of the audience came to speak to me afterwards and were astounded by the repertoire and possibilities of the instrument and it was humbling to hear their kind comments.

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians? 

Trying to understand what the composer is really trying to convey in his music so that we can interpret it, taking into account things such as their influences, religious beliefs, emotional state. Just as an actor would get into character, as musicians we must do the same in order to fully engage with music and convey its message to the audience. I believe that the use of mental imagery is a great tool as the associations it creates, help to shape the performance and project it to the audience.

Being focussed and efficient in practise is essential, as is an understanding of the business and promotional aspects of being a musician so that they come out of music college knowing how to actually find and make work for themselves.

What are you working on at the moment? 

I am currently working on some repertoire for a new CD to be released in July, which will include full transcription of Weber’s ‘Concertstuk’ as well as Piazzolla’s ‘Grand Tango’ for violin and accordion.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

My idea of perfect happiness is being able to balance professional and personal life so that my practise time and performance schedule allow me to spend quality time with my wife and young daughter.


Paul Chamberlain’s new album ‘Accordion Sensations’ is released on 1st July. Further information and soundclips here

Paul Chamberlain was one of the first classical accordionists to graduate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, where he studied with Djordje Gajic. He completed a BMus (Hons) degree and subsequently graduated from the conservatoire with a Master of Music Performance with Distinction.Whilst studying there he was awarded the acclaimed Governors Recital Prize for Keyboard, and was also one of the keyboard section finalists in the 2011 Royal Overseas League competition. Paul  is a highly accomplished player with appearances at international music festivals such as Baltica Harmonica in St. Petersburg – Russia, Sata-Häme Soi Accordion festival in Ikaalinen – Finland, and the world famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival, held annually in Scotland. He has also performed in France, Italy, Greece, Bahrain and the USA. In February 2013 he undertook a very successful tour of concerts around the UK and California which included his Bridgewater Hall debut with a solo recital as part of the long established Manchester Mid-Days concert series.In 2011, Paul released his debut solo album entitled “Classical Accordion” featuring a mixture of transcriptions of works by J.S. Bach, Rameau, Moszkowski and Khachaturian, as well as original works by Alexander Nagayev and Franck Angelis.He has also performed with the Paragon Ensemble as part of their “Travelling Home” concert celebrating their thirtieth anniversary, with the Scottish Opera Connect orchestra, and is a founder member of the Scottish Tango Ensemble.Paul has been featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ programme with Sean Rafferty, performing live in the studio, BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Classics Unwrapped’ and California’s KDFC Classical Music Radio Station in San Francisco.

Paul Chamberlain’s website